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7.3 Review the whole process

Before you file away your assignment and return to your current study, spend a little time reviewing the whole process of preparing, exploring, implementing and reviewing your assignment. Review what you did and how you did it in each of the four phases. Trying to identify just one thing that went well and one thing that you could have done differently can help you in your future study. Remember that your review should focus on the process of the preparation
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6.2 Monitoring your performance

As you move into actually doing the assignment, the emphasis on consciously trying to monitor how you are performing continues to be important. This involves checking your work while you are working on the task rather than waiting until you have almost completed it before you look back at what you have done. You may wonder why we place so much emphasis on monitoring what you are doing. The reason is that if you check regularly what and how you are doing and are aware of your progress a
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2.3 Your learning history

Activity 3

You do not need to explore this in detail - just pause for a moment and think about:

  • one good (enjoyable and effective) learning experience
  • one experience that was perhaps less effect
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2.2 Your motivation

Activity 2

Why did you decide to become a student and what do you hope to gain from your studies?

Think about this question for a few minutes and then note down your response.


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2.1 Introduction

In encouraging you to think explicitly about how you learn, as well as about what you learn, we are drawing on research about learning which has shown that this approach can actually improve your performance. Certainly it can and will make you a more efficient and effective learner. Before we start to explore the process, let us consider two general points about learning.

  1. There is no single method of learning that guarantees success. How
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1.2 What do we mean by learning how to learn?

Activity 1

This activity will help you to explore what we mean by learning how to learn.

Think back to an example of study you have done in the past, or any fairly structured learning opportunity you remember. Focus on a particular ac
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1.1 Examples

Each activity is followed by a discussion and examples of the responses of two students. Both students are studying Open University courses that will eventually count towards a degree. These are nine month distance learning courses.

Course material is delivered to students by post, email or online. Their assignments are submitted by post or email, marked either by a computer or a tutor, and returned. Open University students are provided with a tutor, regular tutorials and guidance on c
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Learning outcomes

The broad aim of this unit is to provide a framework for learning-based activities and reflective exercises. More specifically, it is designed to offer you the opportunity to:

  • think about and understand how you learn;

  • apply the ideas and activities in this unit to your own learning experiences;

  • learn how to become a reflective learner.


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References

Entwistle, N. (1997) ‘Contrasting perspectives on learning’ in Marton, F., Hounsell, D. and Entwistle, N. (eds) The Experience of Learning: Implications for teaching and studying in Higher Education, Edinburgh, Scottish Academic Press Limited.
Marton, F. and R. Saljo (1997) ‘Approaches to learning’ in Marton, F., Hounsell, D. and Entwistle, N. (eds) The Experience of Learning: Implications for teachi
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7 Conclusion

Reading is a core activity in most courses of study. The purpose of it is to enable you to learn. But learning is not a passive process, you don't just let ideas wash over you. You have to make sense of them as you read and then use them to think with.

Key points


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6.1 What is a ‘good’ reader?

If you ever worry about:

  • your rate of progress as you read

  • how much you understand

  • how much you will remember later

then join the club. Here is one student offering support to another who expressed self-doubt in an online chat room:


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5.1.6 Are the conclusions justified?

Though I was interested in the idea of treating high incomes as ‘pollution’, I did wonder whether taxing people to pay for the pollution caused by their rising incomes would work. In general though I was reasonably convinced by the conclusions Layard drew. On the other hand, if I was studying the subject more seriously, I might find that wider reading and further thought would make some of the conclusions seem less convincing.


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5.1.5 Is there an alternative school of thought?

I guessed that plenty of economists would disagree with Layard's point of view, if he is right that they have not used measures of happiness and have treated rises in real incomes as an unquestioned ‘good thing’. If I were studying this topic seriously, I would search for an article which tackled Layard's arguments from another perspective. When you encounter new ideas, it is useful to get more that one perspective on them, so that you can weigh one against the other.


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5.1.4 What evidence is offered?

Layard frequently offers evidence for his main points. I had the impression that this was just a sample from a wide range of relevant evidence that he had reviewed. Because of the prestigious context, I tended to assume that the evidence would be reliable and that Layard's interpretations would be pretty watertight. Nothing in the evidence seemed to conflict with my existing knowledge. However, if I were studying the subject more thoroughly, I would go back to the lectures from which his arti
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5.1.3 Does the argument follow logically?

As I was making sense of paragraph 3, I did pause to consider whether it was logically possible to say that on average richer people are happier, yet getting richer has not made us happier. Later, when I read that women in the US were less happy since their incomes had come closer to men's, it occurred to me that they would be unlikely to volunteer to revert to previous levels of inequality. This made me question what happiness really means, if it is not necessarily a state that a person woul
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4.4.1 Engaging with the content

For example, when I read in paragraph 3 of Layard's article that ‘41 per cent of people in the top quarter of incomes are ‘very happy’’ I asked myself:

  • Why is ‘very happy’ in quotation marks?

  • Is 41 per cent about what I'd expect?

  • What is this telling me?

As soon as I thought about it, I realised that ‘very happy’ could be a response that people had ticked on a questionnaire. Perhaps th
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4.3 Does writing on a book seem wrong?

Obviously you have to take into account whether you own the text you are studying and, if so, whether you intend to keep it. Does it seem extravagant to write on a book and make it unfit for selling on? How important to you is selling it? Is it really a saving? If a book is important, why not assume you
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4 A thinking disposition and the process of development

In order to make effective use of opportunities for developing your thinking, you need to develop a thinking disposition as well as thinking skills.

Activity 5

The following checklist covers some of the important elements of a thi
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4.5.4 Informal approaches to learning

Workplaces are, again, useful informal routes to learning – though in this case it is a question of learning from colleagues. You share ideas and experiences and find shortcuts to what is expected of you, rather than the more formal work-based learning and training programmes that teach you what management wants you to know and do.

In Section 3 you learned about different communities of practice, and you could find further opportunities for learning in this way by:

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4.2.2 Human capital theory

This theory argues that the development of people as a resource (human capital) is as important in creating an internationally competitive country as the equipment to make things (industrial capital), or the money to set up new enterprises (financial capital). The need to develop the right sort of human capital can be seen to underpin many social, as well as economic, policies – education and training are prime examples of policy areas where human capital thinking is used to highlight the i
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