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6.2 Pie charts: Activities

Activity 14

7 Further reading and sources of help

Where to get more help with using and interpreting tables, graphs, percentages, and with other aspects of numerical work.


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4.8.2 Median

The median is the middle value of a set of numbers arranged in ascending (or descending) order. If the set has an even number of values then the median is the mean of the two middle numbers. For example:

1, 1, 2, 5, 8, 10, 12, 15, 24This set of nine values is arranged in ascending order and the median is 8.
32, 25, 20, 1
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4.8.1 Mean

The mean is found by adding up all the values in a set of numbers and dividing by the total number of values in the set. This is what is usually meant by the word ‘average’.

For example, if a company tests a sample of the batteries it manufactures to determine the lifetime of each battery, the mean result would be appropriate as a measure of the possible lifetime any of the batteries and could be used to promote the product.

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2 Reflection on mathematics

Mathematics is a subject about which people have strong views, and these can be negative, positive, or a combination of the two. Our own experience, as tutors and students of mathematics, is that mathematics is often seen by others as something that ‘isn't for me’, and one where beliefs and feelings, especially worry and even fear, can be strong, as a result of previous unhappy experiences. We have written this section to help you to look at your mathematical background, so that you can u
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7.2 Brushing up on your computer skills

If you want to brush up on your computer skills, you may find the following websites useful.

The OpenLearn Web Guide (accessed 8 November 2006) offers a brief guide to making effective use of the web.

SAFARI (Skills in accessing, finding and reviewing information) (accessed 8 November 2006) is an online course provided by the Open University and aims to help you improve your information skills.

The Absolute Beginners' Guide to Using Your Computer (acces
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6.1 Introduction

As a student, you're likely to engage in a variety of writing tasks. You'll almost certainly handle significant amounts of text and, depending on your course, perhaps also numbers or diagrams.

This section looks at the different way that you write using a computer, and also provides some referencing advice.


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4.8 Not everyone is participating

It can be annoying if there are some people in your tutor group who don't participate in discussions. You may feel that this is unfair, or that you are doing more than your fair share of the work.

There's often a minority of people who don't join in at all, for a variety of reasons – pressure of personal circumstances, illness, shyness, or deliberate decision. And different people may be at different stages in the course. A benefit of studying online is that you can fit your studying
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3.1 Introduction

One of the most useful and rewarding things you can do with your computer is use it to communicate with your tutor, other students, and course staff.

If you like exchanging ideas and information, sharing support with other students, asking questions and getting feedback from your tutor, then online communication can add a whole new dimension to your learning:

“Email from another student really kept me going
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3.2 Using diagrams of your own choice and design

This option is the most challenging and most rewarding, as it clearly shows that you have explored and analysed the source material and reworked it for yourself. In many cases, the source material may not contain any diagrams, simply text or numbers, perhaps expressed as a table. Alternatively, you may have had to make some specific observations or undertake an experiment to produce your own data. In this case, you may be expected to produce a diagram to enhance or improve your assignment. If
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2.2.4 Reading graphs and charts: extracting information

When you are sure that you know what a chart or graph is all about, start to look for any main trends. Jot down for yourself a few conclusions that you think can be drawn. It often takes a little time before you can interpret the chart or graph properly. It is worth the effort, however, because information held in the form of a graph is highly patterned; and as our memories work by finding patterns in information and storing them, the information in graphs is easier to remember than informati
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2.2.3 Reading graphs and charts: getting started

Graphs and charts ought to be easy to read, since the main point of turning numbers into diagrams is to bring out their meaning more clearly. However, they are abstract representations that attempt to summarise certain aspects of the world in a condensed form. Consequently, they require a degree of mental effort on your part to bridge the gap between the formal pictures on the page and the aspects of ‘reality’ they represent. It is important to approach graphs and diagrams caref
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3.7.2 Language

Your language should be direct rather than fancy. Don't strive for effect. You should always go for short and simple sentences where you can – especially when you are building up a basic essay-writing style. You can play with more elaborate words and grammatical structures later, when you have established a secure basic technique. Don't beat about the bush; pitch straight in to answering the essay question in a direct, purposeful way.


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3.7 Writing clearly

A final point that emerged from our analysis of Philip's and Hansa's essays was that a good essay is easy to read. Grand-sounding phrases and elaborate sentences do not make an essay impressive. Clarity and economy are what count. Such ease of reading is achieved at several levels.


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3.6 Taking an objective, analytical stance

One of the things I said an essay should be is ‘objective’. What does that mean? Being objective about something means standing back from it and looking at it coolly. It means focusing your attention on the ‘object’, on what you are discussing, and not on yourself and your own (subjective) feelings about it. Your ideas should be able to survive detailed inspection by other people who are not emotionally committed to them.

An essay should argue by force of reason, not emot
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1.3.5 Stage 3: Details

Now examine the piece in more detail. Read it again slowly making sure that you are able to follow its logic from sentence to sentence. Are there any obvious gaps in the argument or any unsubstantiated statements or assertions? Do you agree with its argument or are you attracted by its message? Is its appeal principally emotional or analytical, or both? Analyse the piece in terms of what it doesn't say as well as what it does, and look for its hidden message. What is the scope of the sample o
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1.3.4 Stage 2: Find a way in

Bearing in mind your analysis of the overt purpose of the piece of writing, whether it is explicitly social science or art, politics, entertainment etc., try to establish its basic point, its most obvious message. What is the title or headline; is it clear and ‘factual’, does it refer to some previous debate or require some sort of previous knowledge? Are there sub-headings and can you get an idea of how the ‘story’ goes from them? Skim read the introduction and the conclusion. Can yo
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Introduction

Social scientists collect evidence to support their claims and theories in different ways. Such evidence is crucial to the practice of social science and to the production of social scientific knowledge.

You may be aware of the idea of active reading, which is about reading with the aim of understanding and grasping something: a definition, an argument, a piece of evidence. What that suggests is that active reading is about reading and thinking at the same time. In
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References

Croall, H. (1998) Crime and Society in Britain, Harlow, Addison Wesley Longman.
Smith, D.J. (1997) ‘Ethnic origins, crime and criminal justice’ in Maguire, M., Morgan, R. and Reiner, R. (eds) The Oxford Handbook of Criminology (2nd edn), Oxford, Clarendon Press.
Zedner, L. (1997) ‘Victims’ in Maguire, M., Morgan, R. and Reiner, R. (eds) The Oxford Ha
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2.3 Reading techniques: focused reading

Activity 4

Have a go at reading The Scotsman article again, this time in a more focused way. Think about each section of the text, breaking off at regular intervals in order to identify and extract the main points or examples, a
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