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Multidisciplinary study: the value and benefits
This free course, Multidisciplinary study: the values and benefits, explores the advantages of studying more than one subject and will help you to decide if multidisciplinary study is for you. Featuring videos with students on the Open University’s ‘Open’ qualifications, you will learn about the unique skills you can gain from studying a multi-subject qualification and how it can benefit your career prospects.The Open University would really appreciate a few minutes of your time to tell us
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Except for third party materials and otherwise stated (see http://www.open.ac.uk/conditions terms and conditions), this content is made available under a http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2

Introduction

This course introduces you to the concepts of:

  • open educational resources (OERs)
  • issues involved in the creation, use and re-use, and pedagogy of OERs
  • a range of tools and media to support you in developing your own teaching and learning practices.

It will provide you with the skills and confidence to engage in further OER work as both creator and user.

Find out more about studying with The Open University by 
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Acknowledgements

The content acknowledged below is Proprietary (see terms and conditions) and is used under licence.

Course image: Courtesy of banlon1964 Flickr [accessed 27 October 2006]

All other material within this course originated at the Open University

Don't miss out:

If reading this text has inspired you to learn more, you may be interested in joining the millions of people who discover our free learning resources and qualifications by visiting The Open University -
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3.1.2 Identifying the stages of revision

Although you will eventually develop your own particular approach to revision, it is valuable to reflect a little on the stages you might go through in preparing for your next exam. To do this, we suggest that you adopt a technique called mind-mapping.

Mind-mapping can be used to collect and organise ideas at any time during your studies. Some people have the kind of memory that uses visual cues very effectively, and mind-mapping taps into this memory style. It enables you to lay out yo
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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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4.1 Underlining and highlighting

To be able to make sense of what you are reading, you need to read actively. One method that can help is to use a pen.

Activity 2

Did you underline or highlight any words as you read the Layard article? If not
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3.2 Reading to learn

In order to learn you need to follow the argument as you read. With an important text, you should slow right down and take it bit by bit. Here is a student describing how he tackled a particularly challenging chapter:

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2.3 Coping with difficult parts

Salim and Lewis mentioned that they found some sections of Layard's article difficult. So did I; for example, anyone without a background in economics would have difficulty grasping the arguments in paragraphs 13 and 14.

So what should you do when you can't make sense of what you read? Should you search online to find out about taxation theory? For my own satisfaction I searched for a definition of ‘marginal rate of taxation’ just to get the gist of it. I also tried to write down th
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2.1.3 Concept cards

Another way to tackle unfamiliar words is to start a ‘concept card’ system, using index cards. When you meet a word which seems important, take a new card and write the word at the top, followed by any useful information you have found. File the cards alphabetically and add details as you come across new information. (It is worth getting an index card box anyway, then you can try out various ways of using it to organise your studies.)


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Learning outcomes

After studying this course you should be able to:

  • ask questions to encourage analysis of personal reading material

  • think about what the key concepts and issues are

  • detach from disagreements with the author's views.


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Further reading

de Bono's Thinking Course by Edward de Bono, published by BBC Books, 1999; An interesting general consideration of thinking skills with tools and techniques for developing thinking in a general way.
Use Your Head by Tony Buzan, published by BBC Books, 1995; Lots of useful information on how to make the most of your brainpower.
The Mindmap Book by Tony Buza
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7 Giving structure to thinking

Two common thinking problems are: a feeling of not being able to 'see the wood for the trees', and difficulty in being logical and orderly. The key to solving them is being able to think about ideas and information in a conceptual and systematic way so that you have ways to structure your thinking. This can involve:

  • looking at the broader context

  • developing mental models and frameworks to hang ideas and information on

  • bein
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6.2 Turning the spotlight on your work

Having established some general principles, try now to subject your own work to the same scrutiny.

Activity 14

Take one of your most recent essays or reports and ask yourself, ‘What does it look like?’ That is, d
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5.1.2 ‘Good enough’ is OK

We can almost hear you saying that you never have enough time for your assignments, whatever your approach, and we empathise with this view. This may be even more of a problem if English is not your first language. It is well known that time constraints are a barrier in distance learning, and you may well have to be satisfied with doing what is good enough, whatever your circumstances. Your aim should not be to submit the ‘perfect’ assignment (even if there were such a thing). Look again
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6.2 Different kinds of ‘evidence’

The terms you use and the ways in which you support your argument depend on the subject you are studying and what kind of text you are talking or writing about.


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5.2 The value of the text

We now turn to a critical assessment of the poem as a poem; the question is, is it a ‘good’ poem? To that we should add ‘of its kind’. As we saw, we must judge it as a lyric poem – it would be inappropriate to think of it in the same terms as, say, an epic, because the conventions that govern the epic's form (its subject matter, purposes and formal elements) are very different. It is always important to understand what kind of text you are dealing with no
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3.1.1 When are tables used?

Within your course, tables are likely to be used as a particular structured format to summarise numerical information. They tend to be used to present data as a summary and as a starting point for discussion. But someone always prepares tables. So always be aware of where the table that you are looking at has come from. Could the source be trying to tell you something in particular? For example, if a table were summarising the costs of running a hospital, would you expect figures from the gov
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1 Getting the most from charts, graphs and tables

Do you sometimes feel confused about how to create a chart, graph or table?

Are you not always sure which of these to choose to illustrate your set of data?

Why do we produce charts, graphs and tables anyway?

Spend a few minutes writing down what you think are the reasons why we choose to present data in this way before you read on.

One student has said:

If an exam or assessment question ask
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Local colleges and schools

The local newspaper is a source of reference here, or your local library. Alternatively, most schools and colleges nowadays have evening or daytime courses that are open to adult learners. Many of them will have an advice point, so that you can telephone or drop in to discuss what you are looking for. Many will have an open-learning centre where self-assessment tests and open-learning materials are available.


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4.1 Reading data from tables

Tables are used as a way of describing what you are talking about in a structured format. They tend to be used to present figures, either as a summary or as a starting point for discussion. Tables are also probably the most common way of presenting data in educational courses.

Tables have always been compiled by someone. In doing so, the compiler may have selected data and they will have chosen a particular format, either of which may influence the reader. You need to be aware of the co
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