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Core Skills

Core Skills

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2007 - 2008


Core Skills
Edited by Catherine Boyle Skills for Learning Team CLSD (Centre for Learning Support & Development)

Introduction CLSD Teams Learning to Learn - Time management - Learning needs - Organising yourself - Managing institution - Managing assignments - Notetaking - Effective reading - Exam technique Communication - Essay writing - Project writing - Report writing - Giving a seminar presentation - Group work - Effective discussion Information Technology - Technical use of IT - Productivity applications - Data communications Information Searching - Understanding the need to use information - Packaging of information - Search tools - Locating and accessing information - Comparing and evaluating information - Organising, applying and communicating information sources to others including references and plagiarism
Acknowledgements: Staff in CLSD are particularly grateful for the contributions made to this guide by Alison Britton, Alison Cousins, Thérèse Lorphèvre, Peter Godwin, Robin Graham and Larry Krause, and for the help from other colleagues in the past.

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elcome to study at London South Bank University. This guide has been

designed to help you develop your skills so you can be successful in your study here at London South Bank University as well as in lifelong learning and employment. London South Bank University has developed a Core Skills Policy, which includes the skills of: Learning to Learn Communication Information Technology Information Searching Career Management Numeracy The policy also provides for benchmarks and diagnostic audits for each level of each skill. These can be found at www.lsbu.ac.uk/learningsupport. This guide provides you with some learning materials relating to Learning to Learn, Communication, Information Technology and Information Searching. The purpose of this guide is to provide you with resources to help you with your Personal Development Planning, a process designed to support you in building a profile of your skills and achievements which will enhance your study and employability. A brief guide such as this cannot hope to meet all your needs nor address all the skills in detail. The Centre for Learning Support and Development Team (CLSD) provide a wide range of academic and personal support services. Check out the web site for further details or www.lsbu.ac.uk/learningsupport for more about the benchmarks, the diagnostic audits, the learning materials, the classes and workshops and the other services available. We wish you well with your study and hope you enjoy your learning experience at London South Bank University Best wishes From Catherine Boyle and all of the CLSD Teams


The CLSD Teams
The teams are based at Caxton House, Learning Resources Centre and Perry Library and are designed to help you, to support your learning, personal and professional development. Whether you are looking for academic support or personal guidance to enhance your achievements as well as your employment prospects, the department can give you the help you need. All services are based on the main campus (Southwark). In addition, services are available at the Havering campus and East London campus. The services in Caxton House are accessible for students with mobility difficulties on the ground floors only. Should you have additional needs, you should inform the relevant service so that alternative arrangements can be made. General Enquiries 020 7815 6400 Website http://www.lsbu.ac.uk/learningsupport. • CAREERS AND STUDENT EMPLOYMENT

The Student Advice & Careers Guidance team (SACG) provides a broad range of services to students and graduates in choosing and applying for the right employment, part-time work or further study. Whether you are looking for direction in relation to long-term planning or shortterm opportunities to earn money to support you during your studies, SACG can give you the guidance you need. Services offered include quick query advice sessions, vacancy bulletins, a Jobshop, guidance interviews, an information library, support and mentoring schemes, workshops, presentations and recruitment fairs. SACG is based at Caxton House on the main Borough Road Site. All London South Bank students are welcome to use the Unit at any stage throughout their course and for up to two years after graduation. For further information, see separate flyers. Enquiries to Michael Swire Phone 020 7815 6407 email swirem@lsbu.ac.uk . ● JOBSHOP Are you looking to earn some extra cash and gain valuable work experience? The LSBU Jobshop, based in Caxton House, offers you the opportunity to register for part-time, temporary, one-off and vacation work. Once registered, you will be able to access the on-line Jobshop vacancy list which is updated on a daily basis. The Jobshop website also offers advice and guidance on employment-related issues. This service is also available to London South Bank graduates for up to two years after graduation. Enquiries to the Information Officer Phone 020 7815 6710 email: jobshop@lsbu.ac.uk Website www.lsbu.ac.uk/jobshop



• Study Skills Workshops This programme of workshops and one-to-one support is held regularly throughout the semesters offering essay and report writing, note taking, learning to learn, group work, presentation, revision and exam techniques. For further information, see separate flyers. Enquiries to Ahmed Mohamed Phone 020 7815 6409 email mohameac@lsbu.ac.uk Website http://www.lsbu.ac.uk/learningsupport •

Maths and Statistics Workshops

These include group workshops and one-to-one support in quantitative methods, statistics, mathematics etc. For further information, see separate flyers. Enquiries to Ahmed Mohamed Phone 020 7815 6409 email mohameac@lsbu.ac.uk Website http://www.lsbu.ac.uk/learningsupport • English Language Development

Two types of classes are offered: • For international students who have not studied in English and who want to improve their ability to communicate in English. • For students who have studied in English and who want to improve their ability to write and read for academic purposes For further information, see separate flyers. Enquiries to Ahmed Mohamed Phone 020 7815 6409 email mohameac@lsbu.ac.uk Website http://www.lsbu.ac.uk/learningsupport


Held over the summer, this programme offers tuition in mathematics, communication for academic study and IT to prepare students for further study. Current London South Bank University students wishing to improve their chances of success are also eligible. Shorter courses for postgraduate students at London South Bank are also available. For further information, see separate flyers. Enquiries to Ahmed Mohamed Phone 020 7815 6409 email mohameac@lsbu.ac.uk Website http://www.lsbu.ac.uk/learningsupport


PERSONAL SUPPORT • CHAPLAINCY Anglican and Roman Catholic chaplains are available at the University. The chaplaincy offers confidential, non-judgemental, pastoral care to all students of the University. Discussions and prayers are also offered for all faiths. For further information, see separate flyers. General Enquiries 020 7815 6400 Website http://www.lsbu.ac.uk/learningsupport • LEARNING SUPPORT (DISABILITIES AND DYSLEXIA) The Learning Support Unit is responsible for developing, providing and publicising support and advice to students, their tutors and other University staff on all matters relating to practical, personal and additional needs arising from all disabilities including dyslexia. The Learning Support Unit provides support to prospective students so that individual requirements can be identified at an early stage. The services offered to students include assistance on application for DSA, special exam arrangements, and negotiation with local authorities on funding and arranging one-to-one support workers and tutors via DSA. The support for dyslexic students further includes initial screening, diagnostic assessment, group study skills classes and on-line resources. Advice to tutors and staff training is also provided. For further information, see separate flyers. Website http://www.lsbu.ac.uk/learningsupport • STUDENT ADVICE and CAREERS The Student Advice & Careers Guidance (SACG) is responsible for providing advice to help students develop strategies for improving their academic and personal skills, which are essential for successful adaptation to university life, personal effectiveness and further study. Services include one-to-one sessions, drop-in sessions, group information sessions, support networks and referral to professional services. The kinds of issues SACG can help with include: ● Debt and money management ● Financial assistance (Access to Learning Funds and Charitable Funds) ● Well-being and support networks ● Exam anxiety ● Personal issues For further information, see separate flyers. Enquiries to Michael Swire Phone 020 7815 6407 email swirem@lsbu.ac.uk.



The Student Advice Bureau provides independent advice to all London South Bank University students. Details of all these services are included in the Student Handbook. Telephone: 020 7815 6060 • IT WORKSHOPS

Learning and Information Services (LIS) offers regular sessions on how to use IT to study more effectively. Sessions are held in the Learning Resources Centre (LRC). For further information, see section on training on the LISA website. (www.lisa.lsbu.ac.uk/training/sessions) Also available on the CLSD Website http://www.lsbu.ac.uk/learningsupport


Learning to Learn
1. Why time management is important Time is a finite commodity. It cannot be replaced or substituted; therefore you must make the most of it. Organising your time may be difficult but it is critical to your success. Life tends to interfere with our plans to study, and if you are a procrastinator, you will find yourself doing anything but study. Being a student is like an exercise in physics. When your life is already full, you cannot add something without something else giving! It is much better to plan what that something will be, rather than discover too late that things are not working out. One of your first tasks is to plan your daily/weekly schedule so you ensure that time is set aside for study. Planning your time will allow you to control it rather than it controlling you. Action: ● Begin timetabling with the fixed commitments. This is usually work, lectures, tutorials but may also include things like family, sport, music practice. Don’t forget you need to eat and sleep and get to and from university ● Plan also for those social events so you can juggle your time around those ● Now decide when you can study. This will be made up of previewing reviewing reading studying for tests and exams writing assignments One of the most common traps new students fall in to is UNDER- estimating how much time they will need for out-of-class study. 2. Factors affecting time management Your life is probably made up of the following categories: Work Travel Domestic chores Sleep Family and friends Recreation Now you will need to add ‘study’ to this list. Another factor affecting time management is your attitude to time and your ability to organise yourself but more about that later. Time means different things to us all but being a student means you may need to negotiate with others in your household about the chores. They may not understand the pressure on you nor what it means to be a student nor the time outside of your lectures that you will be needing to devote to study…so tell them.


Communicate what you need and negotiate with them. You will not be as available to your family; you may need them to help out more with some of the chores. These things are more likely to work if they are planned and negotiated. Remember these skills you are developing e.g. planning and negotiating and the next one, prioritising will be extremely useful to you in developing your ‘employability’ skills. Action: Think about who will be affected by your study. What changes need to be made? What responsibilities can you delegate to others? 3. Prioritising This involves knowing what is the most important thing to do and in what order. Sometimes we can put things off because we don’t know how to begin, but this adds to the stress levels. Break the big tasks up into smaller manageable ‘chunks’. Sometimes study isn’t the most important thing to do. It may be that you need a break or that you should spend some time with someone important to you. You will need to decide. Prioritising requires constant reviewing of the tasks and their order of importance. Action: Find out the dates of tests and assignments and exams and fill these in on a wall planner as well as in your diary. 4. Goals Study at this level can be very challenging. Setting goals will help you to keep motivated when the going gets tough. Your lecturers can provide you with ‘extrinsic’ motivators, like tests and exams but you need the ‘intrinsic’ motivators to know why you want to pass those exams. It is important to think positively but it is equally important to be realistic about your expectations. Having expectations which are too high leads to failure and disappointment. Action: Think about your long-term goals. What do you want to achieve? What are your career plans? What sort of employment do you want? Then think about your short-term goals. Basically these are how you are going to achieve the long term ones. Sometimes the big goals seem too elusive, so break them down and do what you need to do to get through week by week [or day by day]. 5. Maintaining a balance ‘Mens sana in corpore sano’ a classic Latin quotation meaning a healthy mind in a healthy body. So don’t give up the gym.


So far we have talked a lot about ‘study’ but you must plan to have time off as well as time ‘on’. Too much study can be just as ineffective as too little. You do have a life apart from study and so it is vital that you have time for relaxation and sleep so that you can return refreshed to your study. 6. Distractions Action: Think about what distracts you from studying e.g. mobile phone? TV? Friends? Work out strategies for managing these distractions, e.g. turn the phone off. One effective study strategy is to reward yourself after studying so that is when you can ring your friend back or watch your favourite TV programme but you need to recognise what distracts you from the study task and deal with it.

1. Learning styles There are various different models of learning styles. Basically they are cognitive and personality styles that help you to understand how you best learn. Ideally you need to aim to work with a range of different learning and teaching techniques. The more flexible you can be, the more scope you will have for accessing all modes of learning. Action: Read BRITTON, A. AND COUSINS, A. (1998) Study Skills: a guide for lifelong learners London: South Bank University pp. 4-6. 2. Independent learning Generally the aim of higher education is for you to progress from a state of dependent learning (where the approach is passive and reliant on the tutor/lecturer or the institution) to inter-dependent and independent learning (where the learner takes responsibility for their own learning and learns how to learn). To achieve this you need to become an active learner with a ‘deep’ approach to your learning. This ability will enable you to be a lifelong learner. 3. Factors affecting learning Many factors may affect how you learn. The important thing is to find out what suits you best. There is no right or wrong way to learn….just the best way for you. Recognising what affects your learning will help you. Some people like to study with bright lights, others, soft lights; some prefer noise and music, others silence; some like to sit in formal situations while others like to lounge around. Some of us work better in the morning than in the evening. Action: Ask yourself:


Environment When studying do you prefer: ● Sound (e.g. music) or silence? ● Bright or dim light? ● Warm or cool temperature? ● Formal upright furniture or casual more relaxed design? Emotional ● What motivates you to learn? ● Do you like to spend your time uninterrupted on a task or do you prefer to take lots of breaks? ● Do you like to be directed in what you should do or do you prefer to work it out for yourself? Sociological ● Do you prefer to work on your own? ● In pairs? ● With peers? ● In a team? Physical ● Are you visual, auditory or kinaesthetic? ● Do you like to eat as you study? ● Do you work better in the morning or the evening? ● Do you like to move around as you work? Psychological ● Do you like to see the big picture first or do you prefer to have information in bite sized chunks? • Are you left or right-brain dominant? • Do you make decisions instantly or do you like to reflect on these? 4. Memorising and understanding Both memorising and understanding are important factors in learning. However, just committing something to memory is known as ‘rote learning’. This can be very useful for new terminology and formulae but you also need to ‘understand’ what you are learning. To develop understanding: ● Learn actively ● Explore the subject ● Self question e.g. Why? How? What happens next? ● Find examples ● Get a global view of the topic i.e. know how parts of a topic fit together to give an overall picture


Action: Read BRITTON, A. AND COUSINS, A. (1998) Study Skills: a guide for lifelong learners London: South Bank University pp. 6 – 10. 5. Deep and surface learning Deep and Surface are two approaches to study. The features of these approaches can be summarised as: Deep
Focus on ‘what is signified’ Relates previous knowledge to new knowledge Relates knowledge from different courses Relates theoretical ideas to everyday experience Relates and distinguishes evidence and arguments Organises and structures content into coherent whole Emphasis is internal from within the student

Focus is on the ‘signs’ Focus on unrelated parts of the task Information for assessment is simply memorized Facts and concepts are associated unreflectively Principles are not distinguished from examples Task is treated as an external imposition Emphasis is external from demands of assessment

(ATHERTON, J. S. (2002) Learning and Teaching: Deep and Surface Learning [On-line]: UK: Available: http://www.dmu.ac.uk/~jamesa/learning/deepsurf.htm Accessed: 16 April, 2003) 6. Learning techniques Three stage learning This is a good practice to get into when learning something new. Stage one: Preview The purpose of ‘previewing’ is to help you understand class work, take relevant notes and get an overview of your subject. Action: Use your unit objectives to preview the next lecture. Do this by: ● Skim reading the relevant chapter(s) in your text ● Discussing the topic with someone else ● Thinking about what the topic may involve ● Asking yourself ‘What do I already know?’ Stage two: Listening/Notetaking Previewing will have helped you to form a framework for the structure of the lecture. Now listen to your lectures and take notes according to the framework you have developed and using the note taking techniques. (See Notetaking techniques)


Stage three: Review Within 24 hours, go over your notes. Reviewing regularly helps to store the information in your memory. ● Develop a review cycle ● Review actively e.g. edit your notes, pick out key words, make a mind map, make up some questions to answer, practise problems and get feedback, find examples ● Identify the bits you don’t understand ● Edit your notes. Do this by putting in headings, adding references, underlining and highlighting, writing key words in the margin, adding colour, noting problems. TIPS ● give each subject more or less equal time ● don’t neglect your best subject, nor avoid your worst ● as far as possible, plan each period of learning to reinforce the next; consider which topic will best follow on from the one you’ve been studying ● review your lecture within 24 hours. It is important to go over material as soon as you can to reinforce the learning and help store the information in your memory ● take plenty of breaks so your brain has time to process the information but make sure the breaks aren’t longer than the study periods! ● talk over your understanding of the subject with your classmates. This can help to clarify and consolidate your understanding


1. Punctuality and meeting deadlines Any employer is going to require you to be at work on time and to meet set deadlines for projects and meetings. The same applies at university. Your lecturers expect you to turn up for class on time AND even more importantly to hand in your assignments on time. Action: Check back on the Time Management section to see what strategies you can use to improve the organisation of your time. 2. Learning environment One of the factors discussed earlier that affects your learning is the environment. You need to choose what suits you best but as well as the actual place, whether that’s the library or a desk at home, you will be helped by organising the things you will need. Make sure you have good pens and paper and the textbooks you need so that when you sit down to study, everything you need is on hand. Action: Read BRITTON, A. AND COUSINS, A. (1998) Study Skills: a guide for lifelong learners London: South Bank University pp. 26-29. 3. Healthy lifestyle Achieving successful study does require maintaining your health. Your brain needs food and water to keep it functioning! Maintaining good health with good diet and plenty of sleep will help you achieve good results.

1. Support services On pages 4 to 7 of this book you will find many of the support services that London South Bank University provides for you, ranging from academic help plus information on financial help and a guide to obtaining spiritual guidance. Action: Check these out so you see what you can use to help you succeed.

1.Types of assignments ‘Assignment’ is a generic term for an academic task of work, usually for assessment. It can be an essay, a project, a literature review, an oral presentation, a report or one of other types which have a specified format. Other times you are just asked to carry out a set of instructions for which there is no particular format. The most difficult part of doing an assignment can be starting it. Breaking the assignment into manageable portions can assist this. A useful framework is:


Plan, Gather, Draft, Produce (a) Plan

● Instructions Analyse the instructions. Check out the meaning of the ‘instructional’ words and relate the instructions to your unit guide objectives. Ask yourself, what learning outcome does this assignment meet? What learning do I need to demonstrate? What is the topic and what aspects of the topic do I need to focus on? ● Marking guide Check the marking guide for any further information on how the assignment will be marked. What weighting is given, for example, to structure, content, research, and presentation?. ● Information need Decide what kind of information you need to complete the assignment. Do you need: ● up to date or historical information? ● opinion or fact? ● a range of opinions? ● local and or national or international focus? ● statistical information? ● reliable and authoritative information? ● Sources of information What type of information you need will dictate the best place to go, e.g. up – to – date information can be found in newspapers and journals and the web but if you want reliable, authoritative information you will need to use some of the resources from the library.

Check out Information Quest at: http://www.lisa.lsbu.ac.uk/quest/ to learn how to select the best resources. (b) Gather

● Access information ● Gather information from all sources ● Carefully note all the bibliographic details such as author, title, publisher, date and place of publication for a book; author, date, title of article and journal, volume, issue and page range for a journal ● Planning your assignment ● Decide on appropriate main headings to enable you to group your notes meaningfully ● Organise the notes under these headings checking back with the assignment instructions to ensure relevance


● Make a detailed outline giving the structure of the assignment using headings and sub headings and paragraph topics (c) Draft

Write out the draft using the outline. Be prepared to make many amendments. It’s important to start writing but even the most practised writers still make changes to their work. This is where word processing is so helpful as it’s easy to make changes and save your work. ● Acknowledging sources Make sure you acknowledge where you got your information from. Check out the referencing style used by your lecturers and ensure you have accurately quoted, paraphrased and written a list of references. (d) Produce

● If your assignment is a written piece of work, check the grammar, spelling, sentence construction, paragraphs (is there a topic sentence with supporting evidence?) referencing, relevance and topic. ● Hand in on time!

1.Why take notes? Taking good notes at lectures is particularly important. With other information sources you can usually go back to the original material to check but at the end of a lecture only your memory and your notes remain. There is no one ‘best’ style of taking notes in a lecture. The best method will vary with your preferences, the lecture topic, the nature of handouts or visual material presented, and with the lecturer’s style of presentation. In general, the lecturer aims to get across three main styles of information: facts, concepts and references 2. Notetaking techniques (a)SACHA: Space, Abbreviations, Colour, Headings, Artistic devices • Space: Leave plenty of space when taking notes so that when you review, you can expand your notes or add headings and keywords. • Abbreviations: Develop your own abbreviations for your subject e.g. nrse=nurse;bi=biology etc=et cetera!


• Colour: The effective use of colour in your notes enhances learning. Use colour to ● Highlight key points ● Box important points ● Select topics ● Divide subjects Colour makes your notes look more interesting – hence they are easier to read and remember. • Headings: ● Use different print size and font according to importance ● Indent to divide subjects ● Use a consistent numbering system Artistic devices: The main devices are asterisks, arrows, underlining, circles and squares. (b)Split page Divide your note-taking page into two columns with the left column about a third of the page. Take notes in class on the right hand side of the page. When you are reviewing your notes, edit them by colour coding related pieces of information, highlight or box or number important key words. Use the left margin for keywords, summaries, examples, references etc. ● Notetaking strategies • • At the beginning of each lecture, note the date, the subject and the lecturer. This will help you to file your notes in the right order. Having a system for filing your notes is very helpful when it comes to reviewing them. Invest in some folders, plastic envelopes, and a range of coloured pens, dividers, a hole-punch and plenty of paper.

● Patterned/linear notes Usually notes are taken in a ‘linear’ fashion. ‘Patterned’ notes begin at the centre of the page and radiate out rather than beginning at the top and coming down. Information is displayed according to its relationship. This eliminates problems of order and logic , starting and ending sections and organisation of data all of which are taken care of within the pattern itself. Patterned notes are openended allowing for the addition of other material. There are various models of patterned notes but the most well known is the mind map. A mind map is a creative pattern of connected ideas. Making a mind map can help you pick out the keywords, fit your keywords together in an overview and thereby give a visual picture which is easier to remember. They can boost your recall and help understanding.


Uses of mind maps include: As a reviewing tool As a memory aid As a planning tool To brainstorm To problem solve To link related ideas As an overview To summarise As a note taking tool To help order your thoughts To plan a presentation To introduce a topic Action: Practise making a mind map by putting your topic in the centre of a page. Add branches for key sub topics and then add detail to the branches. Personalise with colour, pictures, symbols and shapes. TIPS ● Print all words on lines ● Use at least three colours ● Use a different colour for each branch ● Use pictures and symbols wherever possible ● Use medium thick pens ● Vary the size of words by level of importance 3. Synthesizing information As well as notes from lectures, you will also be taking notes from texts such as journals, chapters in books and web sites. You will be combining these sources into your assignments. You can do this by: Quoting, Paraphrasing and Summarising Quotations must match the source document word for word and must be attributed to the original author. Paraphrasing involves putting a passage from source material into your own words. It must also be attributed to the original source. Summarising involves putting the main idea(s) into your own words including only the main points, without commenting on the ‘values’ in the work. Again the ideas must be attributed to the original source.


4.Evaluating information When using information from other sources, you need to critically evaluate its appropriateness for your uses. ● Is it relevant to my topic? ● Is it current enough? ● Who is it intended for – the general public? Students? Professionals? ● What authority does it have? Who is the author? Is this a credible, reputable publication? ● Is the level and language suitable? Not too difficult or simple? ● Is it biased? It is especially important to check out information obtained from the web. Indicators for evaluating the appropriateness of a web site can include: ● A URL suffix e.g. ac/govt/org/com/co ● Authority, responsibility, copyright ● Verification e.g. list of references ● Homepage ● Free from grammatical, spelling and typing errors ● Gives dates when written ● Design

1. Reading techniques You have probably had the experience of reading and getting to the bottom of the page and thinking ‘what was all that about?’ You thought you were concentrating but, looking back, you can scarcely recognise anything. This is very common. Our brains can function much more quickly than we can read and our thoughts can be easily distracted! A helpful strategy is to decide on the purpose of your reading. What do you want to find out? Then be detective-like and search out that information. This way your reading will be much more efficient and effective. Use different styles and speeds of reading to suit your purpose. (a)Skimming ● This involves moving your eyes quickly across and down the page without reading every line ● Focus only on headings and sub-headings, summaries and key sentences that carry the main points of the text ● The point is to get a general idea of the text, what it’s about and which parts are worth going back to later


(b)Scanning ● This is similar to scanning but the point is to locate precise bits of information e.g. a date or a name (c)Steady reading ● This involves going back to the essential bits you have identified. Underline any key points you don’t understand or parts you want to note (providing it’s not a library book.) (d)Intensive or slow reading ● This involves re-reading more critically any parts you have underlined. Look up words in a dictionary , make brief notes in your own words and give careful thought to the meaning of the text and your own responses to it. Jot down any questions or comments you have. (e)SQ3R This acronym stands for: Survey, Question, Read, Review and Revise S ⇒ Survey Survey the text to get an overview. Do this by: ● Reading the abstract/summary and the conclusion ● Reading the main headings ● Checking the diagrams ● Looking at titles, content pages and headings Q ⇒ Questions Make up questions to focus your reading. Do this by: ● Turning the headings into questions ● Making your course learning outcomes into questions R ⇒ Read Read with the aim of finding answers to the questions. Do this by: ● Reading introductions ● Reading first and last sentences in paragraphs ● Looking for keywords


R ⇒ Review Try to summarise the main ideas. Do this by: ● Putting the main points into your own words ● Listing the key ideas ● Mind mapping the main concepts ● Underlining the main points R ⇒ Revise Go over what you have read Do this by: ● Answering the question set earlier ● Practising with old exam papers ● Reciting or discussing the main points ● Mind mapping without reference to the original text (f) 5WH This is another useful reading strategy, which can be used when you are not sure what the purpose of the text is or what information you want to get from it. Use the framework of 5WH and ask: What? When? Where? Why? Who? and How? 2.Topic and support sentences Usually the main idea of a paragraph is expressed in the first or second sentence. This is known as the topic sentence. The rest of the paragraph is often made up of supporting sentences, which explain the main point further by giving examples or expanding on the point. Effective reading then can involve just skimming the paragraphs for the topic sentence. This is a useful technique when you are trying to get an overview of what the text is about [ whether that’s a journal article or a handout or a chapter in a book]. 3. Parts of a book Foreword: comments about the context of the book written usually by someone other than the author Index: a list of items included in the book in alphabetical order with page reference Glossary: a collection of specialised terms with their meanings Bibliography: a list of the works referred to in a text or consulted by the author 4. Bias As you develop your reading skills, you need to be evaluating what you are reading so you become more critical. Ask yourself who is writing this? What is their purpose?


Who is the intended audience? What value is there in what they are saying? Who may benefit? What sort of language is being used, e.g. is it emotive or persuasive? By examining the text ‘critically,’ you can recognise any bias.

1. Preparation …for exams begins right at the start of your course. Make sure you understand the scope of the course and what the lecturer expects. Listen for hints the lecturer will give, e.g. ‘This is particularly important…’ ‘This is something you will need to know…’. 2.Attend …the classes and take notes! Lecture notes should be reviewed and main ideas summarised as soon after the lecture as possible. These summaries can then form your exam revision notes. 3.Sort …your course notes according to the unit objectives. Use the objectives as a checklist. ● What do you already know? ● What can you work out? ● What do you need to learn? 4. Plan of action …Make a study plan by dividing your subject into topics and allotting a time to each topic on a daily planner. Ideally the serious revision should start about six weeks before your exams. Don’t leave the subjects you dislike to the end! Be sure to allow plenty of time for sleep and exercise. 5. Study …the subject using a variety of learning techniques suitable for the type of information and the way you will be tested. Choose your topics for each paper. It is not usually necessary to revise every topic which you have covered but you must make sure that you cover enough topics to enable you to answer the required number of questions. That’s why you need to be familiar with the exam papers.


6. Find out …how you will be assessed and practise similar types of assessments and get feedback on these. Use the Exam Paper Finder at www.lisa.lsbu.ac.uk 7. Use …old exam papers and your course and unit guides to create a bank of questions. As well as longer essay questions, devise lots of short questions. Use index cards and put the question on one side and the answer, or the key points for a longer answer, on the other. Every time you are studying new information ask yourself: ‘Why do I need to know this?’ ‘What questions about it might I be asked?’ This will help to make your learning active and will also help you to create more questions for your ‘bank’. Be sure to use the e learning resources and Blackboard Sites available to you as an LSBU student. Method Type of Test • Cards Short answer • Reading notes/summaries Multichoice • Mind maps/old papers/study groups Case studies/essays/long answers Example: • Mind maps for an overview • Cards for definitions • Flowcharts for processes 8. Practise ● using old exam papers ● making up questions and answering them ● answering questions under timed conditions 9.Test …yourself . Find out what you are learning and what you still need to go over. 10.Visualise success ● practise relaxation techniques ● visualise your exam setting and where you will be sitting ● visualise yourself successfully answering the exam paper


11.The day before ● Check and recheck your timetable so you get to the right place at the right time. Be sure you know exactly where the exam room is ● Organise any necessary equipment – pens, pencils, utensils, etc ● Review your key summaries briefly but try to do something relaxing and have a good night’s sleep 12.The day ● Recognise that it is normal to feel nervous before an exam. You will survive And some people even enjoy the experience once started ● Try and eat normally before your exam ● Arrive in good time but avoid your colleagues. You want to keep concentrating on the subject and not be distracted

Technique (a) First reading
● Read all the questions carefully. Usually you may write on the Question paper during reading time ● Decide which questions you will answer (if you have a choice)whether there are any compulsory questions and how the marks should be divided up ● Decide which order you will answer them in. Start with the easiest.(It is advisable to do your strongest question first or second but worth considering not leaving your weakest question to last especially if you are running out of time and are tired.) ● Check the time/allocation and decide on a basic timetable for answering questions. A possible format for 4 questions in 3 hours might be: 5 min read through the paper 20 min plan questions 1 and 2 30 min do question 1 20 min plan questions 3 and 4 90 min do questions 2 - 4 15 min read through and edit and correct


(b) Second reading Analyse the question. Remember that the most important thing to do is ‘answer the question’ so you should spend time really considering what the question is asking. Don’t imagine that it is the same questions as one you did for an assignment or one the lecturer addressed in a lecture. If the topic is the same you can probably use the same material. But the important point to remember is to arrange that material so it will answer the specific question being asked. (c) Plan your answer ● Brainstorm key words ● Check which key words are relevant to the question ● Link this information to the question instructions (d) Write your answers staying within the time allocation The examiners will look for demonstration that you have understood your topic that you can analyse and present relevant information. Always do the full number of questions. It is easier to earn the first few marks in a question so don’t spend too long on one question so that you run out of time on another. Don’t answer more than you are asked for and watch out for the ‘either/ or’ questions. If you are short of time, write in note form.

Writing essays and other assignments will be made easier if you learn to break down this large task into smaller steps. Don’t think to yourself that you have an essay due in x weeks. Instead, plan each step along the way, setting yourself deadlines for the completion of each task and trying to keep to them. Plan your research and start your reading and writing weeks, not days, before the essay is due. In fact, you should start thinking about your essay the moment you are given the title. You can think anywhere (in the queue for a coffee, on the bus, while washing up, in the bath.) So, what are the steps in writing an essay? Step 1. Some basics: do you have to use particular sources? If so, locate them. Is the essay a set length? Are you sure of its due date? Are there any requirements for its presentation, does it have to be word-processed?


Step 2. Understand the question! Essay titles usually contain one or more KEY WORDS, (such as analyse, contrast, define, discuss, evaluate, outline, summarise) which are your main guide as to what is required. Be sure that you note and understand these key words (there are many study skills books which define these and other key words in their chapters on essay writing). Step 3. Question the question itself. Brainstorm its possibilities, scope and limitations. Define each term used in it and use these definitions as tentative headings for your research. Essay questions at H.E. level are usually more testing, more subtle and more controversially worded than those you have confronted before. If you are unclear about what is wanted, ask your tutor for clarification. Step 4. Plan your initial research around questions relevant to the topic. It is helpful to note ideas, facts, and quotes on separate cards. This makes later organisation of material much easier, especially if you have to rewrite a draft. So, use small cards (or A4 sheets cut in half) on which to build up a file of material. See that your reading is not too general and that you do not amass material haphazardly and to no purpose. As you read and take notes keep on asking yourself how this material is going to fit in to your essay. Your subject may redefine itself as you become more familiar with the material. Step 5. Review all your material and make a rough outline plan which you will probably need to modify. Sort your ideas into a pattern that will best support the development of your ideas. This is a very important part of your work. It is rarely sufficient to summarise material. You will be required to use techniques such as analysing (detecting unstated assumptions, seeing interrelationships between ideas, distinguishing facts from hypotheses), synthesising (arranging ideas or information in such a way as to build a pattern or structure not clearly there before), and evaluating (making judgements about the value of material and methods for given purposes). Step 6. It is your responsibility, not your reader’s, to see that you make sense of your material. An introduction outlining the question and the organisation of your answer is necessary. In the same way, a conclusion that sums up and clinches your argument is necessary. Remember that side and sub-headings may be helpful in some subjects. Remember too to “signpost” the way through your essay for the reader. Do this by linking your paragraphs with phrases such as “In addition to. . .” “On the other hand . . .” “Having looked at a, b will now be considered . . .” Make it clear why you are moving from one point to another. Step 7. Leave your plan for a day or two and then come back to it and reflect on it. Make any amendments and then set out to write your essay following the standard essay format:


(a) Introduction i. Comment on the subject of the essay. (What do you understand by it? How is it important?) Explain any terms. ii. Introduce the points you are going to discuss. iii.Very briefly summarise the overall theme of your essay, indicating the main points to be made and the order in which they are to be presented. This gives the reader an idea of what to expect and greatly increases comprehension. Do not waste your reader’s time with padding. (b) Main body i. Develop your line of argument through several main ideas. Each new idea should start with a new paragraph. ii. Support each idea with examples and illustrations drawn from the books, articles and any other sources you have used. iii.As you develop your essay, make it clear how your argument in one place relates to other points you have used or will use. (c) Conclusion i. Summarise the main ideas. ii. Answer the question or comment on the topic. Step 8. Headings can help to divide your text into logical units for both your reader and yourself. If you use headings, the text should make sense as it stands. In other words, headings are additional to the essay. Employ a conventional format in your setting-out of headings. The following format can be used where there are many sub-categories to be discussed. CENTRE HEADING Free-standing side-heading Paragraph heading (Note the use of upper and lower case letters). Where there are only two or three units in your essay, freestanding side headings are the most appropriate. Step 9. Be prepared to write more than one draft. Use a straightforward, basically simple, and grammatically accurate style. Do a first draft as rapidly as possible concentrating on content rather than style. Then re-check your material against the question.


Beware of: (a) Oversimplifying issues-using jargon or clichés as a substitute for careful explanation. (b) Making generalisations without giving specific examples. (c) Using inappropriate analogies. (d) Quoting material that is irrelevant or out of context. (e) Adopting an emotive tone and writing in the first person (“I . . .”). (f) Using inconsistent approaches. (g) Making assertions without supporting evidence or argument. Step 10. When you write: (a) Use complete, straightforward sentences, not notes. (b) Follow accepted English rules for spelling. (c) Avoid slang, colloquialisms and undue flourish and affectation - this is formal work in which precision of language is very important. (d) Make your punctuation accurate. (e) Use a good dictionary (e.g. Concise Oxford) and thesaurus (e.g. Roget: Thesaurus of English words and phrases). (f) Check each paragraph for a topic sentence (which expresses the main idea of that paragraph) and for links with the preceding and following paragraphs. (g) Support your points with appropriate references and avoid plagiarism copying out chunks of material without acknowledgement. (h) Use quotations sparingly-paraphrase in your own words where possible. (i) Indent and single-space quotations which exceed three lines in length. Step 11. After a day or two, when the pride of authorship has subsided a bit, re-read your draft, preferably aloud and/or to a critical listener. The listener doesn’t have to be an expert on the subject. S/he can advise you on whether or not your essay is intelligible without understanding every word. Be ruthless in your pruning, redrafting, or even complete rewriting. Good work requires a great deal of effort. Very few people can rely on writing an essay without at least one preliminary draft. Step 12. Use references and bibliography to acknowledge your sources. Set these out according to scholarly conventions. Refer to the appropriate section in this guide for details, and look out for the Library Help Sheets on referencing. Step 13. Remember to consider your reader: (a) Consult your lecturer about any special requirements your Faculty may have. (b) Use any spell or grammar check your word-processor offers. (c) Double-space or 1 space, when typing. (d) Use lined paper when writing by hand and WRITE LEGIBLY. (e) Write on one side of the paper only. (f) Leave a generous margin (say 4 - 5 cm) for comments. (g) Staple pages together. (h) See that your name and subject title are on the paper.


FINALLY! Don’t be daunted by all this advice! If this is your first year of university study, it may take several essays for you to develop an efficient strategy.

This may be your opportunity to do a large-scale piece of work on a subject of your own choice. If you choose a subject which interests you, the result is likely to be much better. You will need to develop a plan of campaign to ensure you finish your project on time. 1. Define your topic You need to become familiar with the general subject area and the terms used to describe it. Dictionaries, encyclopedias, handbooks and general textbooks will help you to do this. Bear in mind any guidelines your project supervisor has given you before you start to choose your topic. Start to define your topic by concentrating on a distinct subject and then perhaps narrowing down by time period and/or geographical area. For example: ‘Care for mentally ill in the community in the Borough of Southwark 1980’. The sooner that you can narrow down and define your topic, the easier it will be to research! In the above example you will want to read about the general provision for the mentally ill, but you will soon want to concentrate on the local situation, writing to local centres and conducting interviews. Unfocussed projects can cause you much more work, because you will uncover hundreds or even thousands of references to books and journal articles if your subject is very broad. This is called “information overload”! 2. Get organized Work out the steps that are involved in doing your project. For example, they might be the following: choosing your topic and generating your research statement; developing a research outline you do this by answering questions relating to your topic and beginning with 5WH (“Who?” “What?” “Where?” “When?” and “How?”); presenting your research outline to your lecturer (you will be given a deadline if you have to do this); collecting data; planning your report; writing your report; getting your report bound etc. Make a timetable to cover these many steps and stick to it! Be very clear about when and if the project title or a research outline has to be submitted and when the whole exercise has to be completed. Pace yourself. Don’t try to do very detailed research first, and avoid leaving everything to the last few weeks. Research takes time, whether it involves conducting interviews, doing experiments or getting photocopied articles from other libraries.


3. Conducting and writing up your project Much of the advice in the next section on report writing is relevant to conducting a project. The kind of research that you do will depend upon your subject area; you must take advice from your lecturers on this and read any recommended material on research methods. When it comes to writing up your research you should follow the advice in the next section, unless you are given specific information by your lecturers.

Reports are part of all our lives. We get them at school, or when we buy a house. Employers often demand them when we take on new tasks at work and academic study, whether technical scientific or business, often requires us to write them. 1.What is a report? What is so special about a report? How does it differ from an essay? A report has a clear purpose. It is addressed to a specific group of people. It generally leads to suggested actions, or, at least, makes recommendations. Like an essay a report has a clear structure but, as shown below, this is more than an introduction, main body and conclusion. In addition, headings and subheadings are optional in an essay, but essential in a report. A report can seek to influence, provoke, evaluate, instruct, explain, describe or inform. This has to be done in a concise and logical way. 2.What to do first You will need to get clear guidance from your supervisor about what is required of you. You can think of this as your terms of reference. What exactly is your subject? What are the general aims of the report? What action should it lead to? What is the expected format? Is there a house style? Who is going to read it? How much do they know about the subject? This will enable you to keep in mind what you have been asked to do, what you intend to do, and how you intend to do it. 3. Researching Collecting information for your report will depend very much on your subject. It could involve collecting evidence from interviews, questionnaires, scientific tests or experiments, or reading written research (books/journals), or reviewing video or taped materials. It is essential that scientific findings are carefully noted down as you go along, recorded consistently with the same units of measurement. From these results,


conclusions have to be made. Unreliable results could lead to the need to repeat experiments. Interviews or information from books, journals or videos also need to be clearly noted down on cards or a form if you are to work effectively. 4. Assessing your findings You will need time to look over your findings. Have you been thorough? Have you followed your terms of reference in your research all the time? Can you pull together all your findings? When you are happy that you can do all these you are ready to proceed to the next stage. 5. Selection, arrangement and planning Taking all your findings, begin to arrange them into a logical structure. This will basically take the form of: Introduction/terms of reference Findings/main body of the report Conclusions Recommendations You are likely to begin writing with the main body of the report leading to the conclusions and recommendations, and then the introduction. 6.Writing the report Remember to keep it short and clear with no jargon. Be factual and avoid personal opinions. Use primary headings, secondary and sub-headings. Many reports number sections like this: 1 Primary heading 1.1 Secondary heading 1.1.1 Sub-heading 2 Next primary heading 2.1 Secondary heading According to the advice given by your supervisor and the nature of the report, you will now be ready to decide the full format of your report and to complete all the sections. (a) Title page: finalise your title. The sub-title may clarify what the research is about, e.g. Homelessness in Southwark: Local Council Policy 1979 - 1994. (b) Acknowledgments: mention those who helped you. (c) Contents page: headings and sub-headings of your report with their page numbers. (d) Abstract: likely to be written last of all. Consists of a brief summary of your research and conclusions. Look at the beginning of journal articles for examples. Introduction: what the report is all about. Sets the context and reasons for doing the report.


(e) Introduction: what the report is all about. Sets the context and reasons for doing the report. (f) Main body of the report: this should include: • • • • • • Methods: how did you do it? Results: what did you find out? Discussion: an interpretation of your results. Conclusions: pulling together the results from the work you have undertaken. Recommendations: these are the actions which follow on from your conclusions. Appendices: these are optional, and could include charts, tables, and copies of survey forms used. They are an interesting part of your research, but only support your findings, and are not essential reading. (Appendices is the plural of Appendix). Bibliography: a list of the books, journals etc, which you have consulted.

7. Revisions Do your first draft of the whole document and check for errors and omissions. Does it keep to the objectives set in the introduction? Is the structure of the report clear? You need to ensure that a reader could look at the title, contents page, summary, conclusions and recommendations without needing to read the main body of the report. You need also to ensure that the reader who is then interested to go through the main body is convinced by the methodology used and that the conclusions you have reached are logical and defensible.

Every year hundreds of people have to go on training courses to learn the elementary skill of presenting reports orally to their colleagues, clients and business associates. Presenting papers to your class is not just another assessment hurdle dreamed up by lecturers as an alternative to examinations, but it is also a chance to learn a vital skill which could be very helpful to you in your future career. 1.You must have a paper to present Talking off the top of your head should be kept for emergencies only. Experienced speakers who are thoroughly familiar with a subject may seem to be able to present material “just like that,” but even they put a lot of thought into each presentation and have only dispensed with notes because the material is so familiar to them. Approach the writing of your seminar paper in the same way


as you would approach writing any other assignment, but bear the following important points in mind: (a) your paper should be not only a good piece of written work but it must be informative and interesting to your fellow students. (b) you should treat the oral presentation as a trial run for your paper and then amend your argument in the light of comment and discussion. Write your final draft soon afterwards so that any new ideas are still fresh. 2.The presentation The task of presenting a seminar paper can become less daunting if you (a) understand the nature of oral communication (b) learn some ways to become a more effective speaker. 3.The nature of oral communication When you are speaking you face difficulties which you don’t encounter as a writer: (a) Your listeners have a limited span of attention. (b) The reader can put your assignment down and pick it up again later to reread difficult parts - your listeners cannot. (c) Your listeners can be distracted easily and so miss part of the presentation. On the other hand, as a speaker you have certain advantages over the writer: (a) As a writer you are remote from your audience and can seem impersonal. (b) As a speaker you can vary your style and material in response to reactions from your audience. (c) As a speaker you have a captive audience, while as a writer you can never be sure if you have been read or not. These characteristics of oral communication should be kept in mind when you are preparing your presentation. 4. Preparing your presentation While you are preparing for your presentation there are a number of areas on which you need to concentrate: your audience, your message, your audio-visual aids and yourself. If you are doing a joint presentation these points must be discussed with the other people involved.


(a)Your audience Your presentation must be tailored to fit the particular set of people who will be your audience. Ask yourself the following questions: ● To whom am I presenting my paper? ● How many people will be in my audience? ● Do I know how much they already know about my topic? Might they know as much as me, and, if so, how will I deal with this? ● What sort of things will get their interest and attention? ● How easily can they take in what I want to say? The answers to these questions will begin to determine the way you present your paper. For example, an audience that knows nothing about a subject will need more background material, and will absorb your message more slowly than a room full of experts. (b)Your message You can only put over a limited amount of material in an oral presentation. The amount of material you communicate can be increased only up to a certain point by better presentation. So when you have collected your material together it might be helpful to divide it into the following categories: ● Information my audience must have ● Information I should give my audience if possible ● Information it would be useful to give but not vital 6.Planning Start your planning well in advance of the presentation. You will need to write a seminar paper, but don’t even consider reading this as your presentation! Instead you must speak from notes which are on one side of a series of numbered cards (preferably 8 x 5 inches). Each card should contain one main point, preferably written as a trigger: a few key words which will remind you of the point you want to make. Make sure that your writing is large and clear so that you don’t have any problems reading the cards! It is a good idea to punch holes in the corners of the cards and hold them together with a ‘treasury tie’ or similar loose string tie. 7.Introduction The first part of your presentation, the introduction, should be designed to capture the interest of the audience. Tell them what you intend to say and how the talk will be of use to them. Point out what your main sections will be signpost the way that you will be going.


8.Main body Don’t try to cram in everything that might be relevant. Limit the number of points you make to about six, with supporting evidence. Try to relate your main points to your listeners’ knowledge and experience, if possible. 9.Summary and conclusions Try to avoid being repetitive, but remind the audience of the main points of your talk. Try to end on a challenging note, perhaps with a question or an idea for action. Bear in mind that your audience is likely to remember the last things that you say, so don’t just fade out. 10.Your audio-visual aids Only use audio-visual aids (A.V.) if they positively re-enforce what you are saying. Never use them for mere decoration. Used well, A.V. aids can: help to emphasise important points; help to pace material; add interest to your presentation and clarify the structure of your presentation. Used poorly they can; distract attention from what you are saying; slow you down too much; add nothing to your presentation, or actually be boring. Whichever aids you choose to use: ● They must be legible and clearly visible to the whole audience ● They must contain the right amount of detail for the points being made ● You must allow time for the audience to view and understand them ● You should stop talking while the audience comprehends the material. Microsoft PowerPoint is a useful tool when giving presentations. It helps you to summarise the main content and then acts as a prompt in delivery. However, do check out availability of equipment in the room in which you are giving the presentation. Be prepared with a backup should things such as a different room or the equipment fails. Sessions on how to use PowerPoint are available from the Learning Resource Centre www.lsbu.ac.uk/lrc. If you are using a Whiteboard or a Flipchart, make sure you take some appropriate pens with you, and something to clean the whiteboard. Never just assume the materials will be there! If you are not used to writing on a board or chart, practice beforehand. Get your writing big enough for people to read at a distance and in a reasonably straight line. Prepare your Overhead Projector Transparencies (OHTs) in advance. Make sure that you use the correct acetate, depending on whether you are producing them on a photocopier, a printer or by hand. If you use water-soluble pens, remember that they tend to smudge en route to the presentation if you don’t handle them carefully. Don’t put too much information on a sheet - use a maximum of 10 lines. Make your text, graphs or diagrams sufficiently big enough for people at the back of


the room to be able to read them. Do not forget to take along OHT pens for the presentation. Prepare handouts in advance and don’t leave the photocopying until the last minute in case the photocopier is out of paper or not working. Remember that you can always paste on items from other sources e.g. diagrams, charts, graphs, and pictures. Consider using coloured paper instead of white. Don’t make your handout too crowded - leave spaces to draw attention to items of your presentation. You might want to illustrate your presentation with clips from a video or audiotapes or by showing some slides. Choose carefully and never use too much. A little goes a long way. 11. Yourself Good speaking like good writing requires practice, but anyone can do it. The following tips can help you to be more effective in your presentation. • Rehearsal

Know your material well. Practise your talk to an imaginary audience (or the cat) at first. Put timing points (2 mins, 5 mins. etc.) in your notes to help you pace yourself. Then progress to a “friendly” audience. A sympathetic but critical friend or relative would be ideal. S/he doesn’t have to be an expert on the subject to give you some helpful feedback. Think, too, about likely questions from the audience. If you are doing a group presentation you must practise as a group. • Speaking rate and style

Make sure your audience can hear you. A common fault is to speak too quickly, usually as a result of nerves. When you are rehearsing, time yourself. 100 to 120 words per minute is a recommended rate. Pay attention to how you speak. Add variety by: pausing, changing pace, altering pitch, using different tones, and modifying your volume. • Eye Contact and gestures

It is very important to establish eye contact with people in the audience. Don’t just stare at your notes. Be aware of any annoying mannerisms that you might have, such as playing with your hair, jingling coins in your pocket, swaying back and forth. Try to control them. Try to gain and maintain eye contact with more than one person so the entire audience feels engaged in your presentation.


12. On the day of the presentation Get to the room early and check: ● Is the layout satisfactory and are there enough chairs? ● Will the audience be able to see you and any screen or board you plan to use? ● Is any equipment you plan to use in working order? 13.Some final thoughts about nerves If you are well prepared you have less reason to be nervous. But it is normal to feel nervous, and, in fact, the extra adrenaline released into your system is a positive help. Remember that nervousness doesn’t show, no one sees those butterflies in your stomach. Think positively and remember that your audience will be sympathetic as most will have been where you are now. Breathe deeply and try to relax. Most of the symptoms of nerves will diminish once you start to speak.

At some time during your course, you are likely to be expected to work in a group. This may be to produce a seminar presentation, or a group project. Group work is where a number of people come together to tackle a task that may be too large, or too complex to be undertaken individually. Groupwork is all about teamwork, where group members bring together their own individual talents and views to achieve a shared objective. Effective teamworking is a skill that is highly valued by employers, because many jobs require teamwork. 1. Some of the individual skills that are needed for effective teamworking are: • • • • • • • • Listening - to each other Questioning - each other Persuading - exchanging, defending and rethinking ideas Respecting - each others’ opinions and giving support and encouragement Sharing - ideas and resources and reporting back on your experiences Helping - each other Participating - taking part and not letting others do all the work Supporting - avoiding criticism, listening to problems, making helpful suggestions



2. Group dynamics Groupwork can be interesting and enjoyable because it is dynamic, involving bouncing ideas off of each other, debate, discussion, and negotiation. However, this interaction can also create tensions within the group that can be uncomfortable if you are not used to working with others. All groups generally go through a number of phases following their creation. If you are aware of these phases and what they mean, the experience of groupwork will be more understandable and less stressful as you will know what to expect. These phases have been described as: (a) Forming When the group, or team first comes together, people are mostly on their best behaviour. This is the time when everyone seems friendly, co-operative, and agreeable. Ideas are exchanged, tasks agreed and the future seems bright. (b) Storming Once the work gets underway, problems may begin to arise. Members begin to show their individuality, boundaries are pushed and limits are tested. In this way, members learn what other members will and will not accept. Sometimes this may seem a very uncomfortable period, but it is both normal and necessary. (c) Norming Once everyone has got used to working with each other and begin to understand each other’s working styles, things begin to settle down. This is the stage where any problems that may have arisen during the ‘storming phase’ need to be dealt with so that the group can move on to the ‘performing stage’. (d) Performing This is where the group are really working together as a team, ideas flow, tasks are accomplished, targets are met, progress is made, and goals are achieved. 7.Avoiding problems The following are examples of problems that can arise within a groupwork situation: ● The member who does not do their share of the work ● The member who wants to make all of the decisions ● The member who does not do what s/he agreed to do The first thing to remember is that groupwork is teamwork and that successful teamwork requires everyone to work together. Different members may make differing contributions according to their talents and abilities, but the golden rule is that everyone must contribute. A good way of avoiding difficulties is to be clear from the outset about: ● What needs to be done ● When it needs to be done by ● Who will do what ● Who will track progress


It is a good idea to begin by arranging to meet socially so that members have the opportunity to get to know each other. It is also sensible to arrange regular meetings to plan and to review progress. Should problems arise, they need to be dealt with promptly - left alone, small problems can quickly become big ones. When dealing with problems, it is important for all members to be honest, open and fair. Blame does not solve anything, a solution requires understanding, compromise, and commitment. If you have tried unsuccessfully to resolve a problem, the group should seek advice from their tutor, or project supervisor as early as possible. Remember, as with all academic work, groupwork should be your own work. If you have not contributed to the group, then it is not your work and you cannot expect to receive credit for it.

Many courses include group discussion sessions, usually called seminars or tutorials. Group discussion periods are also included in some practical classes. For convenience ‘seminar/tutorial’ will be used here to refer to all these group discussion sessions. Discussion is often misunderstood or undervalued as a way of learning. As a result seminars/ tutorials are not always used to their fullest potential. 1.What is a seminar/ tutorial? It is definitely not: • • • Just another kind of lecture, with more gaps for questions! An interrogation session to show up your weak points in front of other students. An easy option for which no one needs to do any preparation and where everyone can have a relaxed hour of chitchat.

It is a valuable learning opportunity. You are receiving information from several sources, not just from the tutor. You can ask questions when you don’t understand and sometimes have your problems solved right away. Through discussion you can often learn some things more thoroughly and effectively. 2.How does discussion help you to learn? • Asking questions is a way of learning, rather than an admission of ignorance. To be able to frame a question about a topic means you are starting to understand it. It is not until you begin to ask questions that you find out what you really know, or in fact do not know. Many subjects are not really mastered without dialogue and discussion. This is especially true in the social sciences and humanities, but it is also true of the sciences and engineering. All study is based on dialogue and discussion to further expand knowledge and understanding of subjects. By the time you come here to study you have inevitably acquired a ragbag of beliefs, assumptions and mental habits concerning the world,


ideas and the subjects you are studying. New concepts and ideas just get piled on top of the old. Through discussion you quickly come to identify your mental blind spots. Having done so, you can learn the new material much more efficiently. 3.Preparing for discussion The main topic for a seminar is generally announced in advance, together with suggestions for preparatory reading. Here are some simple steps to prepare for a seminar/tutorial. • • • Do the work asked for, read any suggested reference materials. Now write down two or three points about the work or reading that you found most difficult. Write down the two or three points you found most interesting. Look over any lecture notes, handouts and completed essays relating to the topic of the seminar/ tutorial. The seminar/tutorial is likely to be a good place to raise problems you have met in lectures or in your own written work.

4. At the seminar/tutorial • Take along the specified reading and any other material you think might be relevant. The aim is for everyone to share what they have found out individually on the subject, and precise references are more useful than vague memories. Bring the points you had jotted down as especially difficult or interesting into the discussion. They can be used to contribute to the discussion and give your tutor some guidance to problems you might be having with the course. Discussion sessions are very demanding. It is difficult to keep track of the conversation, join in and take notes all at the same time. Some students use a tape- recorder provided no one objects or feels inhibited by it, always be sure to check first never assume it will be okay. Successful discussions are those where everyone takes part. Here are some of the different kinds of contributions which have been found to be especially helpful:

(a) Seeking or giving information: “There is a good book in the library on this, by . . .” “Do you agree with this theory or . . . ?” (b) Clarifying and filling out: “Can you give an example of that?” “Were you saying that . . . ?” “Are we all agreed with that point of view or are we just assuming agreement?” (c)Making connections: “How does this issue relate to the course as a whole?” What are we aiming at in this discussion?”


If you are shy about joining in a discussion, try the following suggestions: (a) To get used to the sound of your own voice, try saying something early on e.g. make a sensible comment, ask a relevant question, before others have had a chance. (b) Take a deep breath before speaking, speak clearly without rambling or hurrying. Others will appreciate that they can hear what you are saying. (c) Compare what’s being said with what you know, and politely challenge if you disagree.

Information Technology
The open access computers throughout the University are available to support your academic development, to enable you both to develop your ability – subject-related IT, communication skills, information search and retrieval etc – and to write your assignments. To assist you the Learning Resource Centre (LRC) has training sessions, “dropin sessions”, at the start of each semester so that you can build your skill-set. Each subject (e.g. English, Internet computing, Architecture, Digital Video Production, Accountancy, Psychology, Electronic Product Design, Town Planning, Business Administration etc) will have its own specific application of C&IT (computers and information technology). You will also need skills in reportwriting, creating presentations, numerical analysis, databases, and using information sources, project management, etc – these and other “transferable skills” are all supported by generic computer applications such as MS Word, MS PowerPoint, and access to the internet and electronic resources etc which are on every open access PC. These generic areas are addressed below.

• Workstation – Mouse – Keyboard

Be sure that you are comfortable when using a workstation. Firstly, tilt the monitor to suit your eyelevel, and don’t sit too close or too far away. When using the mouse, be sure that your arm is relaxed, not stretched and that there is room around the mouse for you to move it sufficiently. Lastly, the keyboard – resting the base of your hand on the desk can make it easier. Best of all, learn to touch-type and you’ll be able to type without looking at the keyboard and save valuable hours over the course of your studies. Most importantly, be sure to look away from the screen sometimes. If you have been sitting down (preferably with both feet on the floor, not crossed under you), for over half an hour, get up for a few seconds, then when you sit down be sure to be sitting properly.


• Print

The printers at LSBU provide high quality output, but it is essential that you check your report before printing it. Most applications offer a “Print Preview” option. Printing from the internet can be more expensive than you think because it may create more pages of output than is apparent on screen. Ask at your local helpdesk for assistance while getting used to the different programs. • File management:

You will need to manage your own documents, keeping backups and taking responsibility for all your IT accounts. Check out the Drop-in session on ‘File Management’, ‘Windows’ etc – timetables on various notice boards but especially in the LRC. • Plagiarism

Plagiarism is covered in other areas – see the Student Handbook for details. Meanwhile checking out the help sheets and information on the LISA area of the LSBU website will help you avoid plagiarism. • Virus checkers

At LSBU, our anti-virus software is on every PC and is updated frequently to prevent the disabling of the computers or corruption and/or destruction of your work. This task is done by the Computer Services Department (CSD) and is not something students be concerned about.

• Document creation and management (Word Processing)

Word processors do not just allow you to type up your work, spell check and print it out but also have a wide range of helpful facilities which you can master as you get more familiar with the application. You can change the look of your document, add images, create tables of information, personalise a letter to multiple recipients and much more using products such as Microsoft Word. Word processors also allow you to re-organise your document at will, much easier than by pen and paper. • Essays projects and reports

Many assignments in the University are now expected to be word-processed. You can access training for this from http://www.lsbu.ac.uk/learningsupport/itsupport/index.html.


• Numeric manipulation and financial data (Spreadsheets)

These are great for tables of numbers which require calculations. Spreadsheet packages allow you to manipulate data (numbers) to provide real decisionmaking information. Appropriate graphs and charts can be created using the tools within a package like Microsoft Excel. You can access training for this from http://www.lsbu.ac.uk/learningsupport/itsupport/index.html. • Management of records (Databases)

Databases are used when much of the data you are collecting is not numeric. They are used by organisations for many reasons, to maintain security e.g. your ID card and the permissions granted to you, to track their customers and understand their buying habits, for focussed mail shots, by manufacturers to know exactly which parts are needed in an assembly and which parts can be used in multiple assemblies, etc. ● Presentations Presentations are now a feature of many units, often as an assessed group project. MS PowerPoint is a great tool for the design and creation of the presentation – and you can give the presentation either from a computer or by printing your slides onto colour or mono acetates. You can access training for this from the Seminar-on-a-disk tutorial or either the Help facility or the ‘Wizard’ within PowerPoint are useful too. ● Other functions Within MS Office, there are many smaller applications including a simple calculator, a basic photo viewer/ editor and much more – check out “Start, Programs, Accessories” on an LRC computer.

• Email

At London South Bank University, the standard package for most people is Microsoft Outlook, however Health students (nursing, PAMs, etc) use First Class. You also have access to web-based email such as hotmail, yahoo, bt open world, tiscali etc. The best training for MS Outlook Email are the drop-in sessions which happen at the start of Semester 1 – see the various LRC notice boards for information regarding sessions.


• Internet

The Internet – the most enormous resource in which to get lost regularly. There is a lot of “information” out there, but for LSBU students there are specialist electronic resources available on the LISA area of our website http://www.library.lsbu.ac.uk. This information has been prepared for you to use and is much more focussed than if you search on the World Wide Web. • Website development

Some units include web page and web-site development. Most resources are course specific, and therefore are mainly available in faculty IT centres. • Security

The London South Bank University network is protected by various software and hardware products. We use several products to protect every PC from computer viruses, with the effect that infected emails etc are rejected. These products are updated automatically on a regular basis and extra updates are received when necessary by CSD. • Legal issues

As a student at LSBU, you have signed an agreement to abide by the University’s rules which include rules related to using the computers on the University network. Many of the rules are national, i.e. they apply to everyone in universities across the UK because we are on the JANet – the Joint Academic Network supporting academic activity throughout the UK. Computer systems are provided to support academic activity and your rights to access the academic network can be revoked if you break these rules.

Information Searching
It is important that you become "information literate" while at university. It will help you to complete your course work successfully and develop invaluable skills for lifelong learning. This involves: ● Being able to use the libraries and information resources efficiently ● Doing "literature searches" ● Demonstrating the effective use of the information found ● Providing relevant citations or references to the resources you use


Information Searching
The six information skills you should acquire are: 1. Understanding the need to use information 2. Discovering how information is packaged and choosing suitable sources for research 3. Selecting appropriate search tools and a research strategy 4. Locating and accessing information 5. Comparing and evaluating information 6. Referencing and avoiding plagiarism These skills will be acquired gradually as your course progresses. Each skill is further divided up according to your level of study. As part of your course you will be given special sessions for your subject area from the Library staff. You will also be encouraged to use the Library web site and Information Quest (an interactive learning package).

Information is needed daily and can be in the form of news, practical help, printed guidance, advice by word of mouth, and any prior knowledge. Once you acquire this information, it can be used both for your own purposes and also to pass on to others. Successful information searching can result in an excess of material, known as "information overload" - this is especially true of electronic information. For academic purposes you will usually be doing your own independent research for an essay, project, presentation, or dissertation. Whatever the level, you will need to make sure that the concepts of your subject are very specific. It is often a good idea to use a basic reference book to make sure you have a clear idea of the scope of your study. Also consider what aspect of the subject you are concentrating on. For example, if you are looking at adoption, you might want to consider social issues, legal matters, UK or cross-border adoption, mixed-race issues etc.

The information you obtain has come from many different sources and has been reorganised to make it more easily searchable, e.g. by adding it to an index so that you can find your subject or author etc. Sometimes this means that the "format" changes - what started as an article in a newspaper can become available on several different electronic databases. Information is "organised" by physical format in the libraries e.g. books, videos/ DVDs, CD ROMS, printed journals, maps, teaching resources and models. Electronic information e.g. databases, electronic journals and web resources are available on most networked computers across the university. The key to understanding how to access these different resources is the Library


Catalogue. Different types of resources are displayed in different ways. Please ask at any of the Information Desks if you need help interpreting the details. ● You are expected to use both printed and electronic sources for your research ● Older material will more likely be in printed format only. Electronic sources are valuable for finding the very latest information and illustrations. ● Printed journals also known as "periodicals", "magazines", "reviews" or "serials" are published weekly, monthly, quarterly, or irregularly throughout the year. You should be aware that information is "packaged" for different markets - for academic research, for professional practices (e.g. accountancy or nursing ), for commercial purposes, or for popular and leisure pursuits. It is important to able to distinguish between these. You must also learn the difference between a primary resource - an original law report for example, or a secondary resource, which is a journal article COMMENTING ON that report.

(a) The Library Catalogue If you are searching for resources in stock in LSBU libraries you will need to use the Library Catalogue whether you are looking for particular books from a unit guide or information on a new subject. It will tell you the following: • • • • IF a particular item is in the library WHERE it can be found which library, what collection, what shelf or class no. WHETHER there is actually an available copy on the shelves AND it will link you to locations for electronic resources

(b) Databases & electronic journals You will need to use the LIS Web site "LISA" to get authorised access to all the quality electronic resources for which LSBU pay subscriptions. Find this at http://www.library.lsbu.ac.uk and add it to your Bookmarks or "Favorites" on your own computer for direct access in future. Select a database from the complete list of E-Resources on LISA or go directly to the specific page for your subject area to obtain journal articles, research papers or statistics. To do an effective search on a database you need to identify the key words from your essay or project title. Most databases have help sheets available.


There are different types of Databases: ● Bibliographic References - giving just the title and author of an article plus details of the title, volume number, date, etc. of the journal in which it appears. Sometimes there will be an abstract (summary) of the article. Example - ISI Web of Science (part of ISI Web of Knowledge) ● Full Text - the reference is given as above but the complete article is available as well. Example - Computer Database ● Financial Data - statistical tables. Example - FAME ● Some are a mixture of Bibliographic and Full Text, e.g. Business Source Premier If you already know the titles and details of the journals you need to see, then you should go to the E-Journal Finder for a complete listing of all the electronic journals LSBU take. Go to the subject page if you want to see the titles the university subscribes to. (c) Web-based Search Engines and Subject Gateways If you only use a Search Engine, such as Google, you will not get access to the complete articles within most academic and professional journals, or to the best subject databases, as these are only available on subscription. You will learn to use Google and Google Scholar alongside the subject databases to get the best information. We recommend you use one of the Subject Portals on http://www.library.lsbu.ac.uk to find the most relevant information. These are listed in each Subject Resources section on the front screen. You can find information by browsing on most web sites and following live links but to find SPECIFIC resources for your research you will need to SEARCH on the relevant subject database.

• • • To use the LSBU Library Catalogue go to any computer in the libraries or to the Search option on the LISA website http://www.library.lsbu.ac.uk To start - use the search box on the front page of LIS@ and use the Keyword search. Simply type in a word from the title and the author’s surname to find a particular book. To search by author - enter the surname first, followed by the first name if possible, or the initials (example : STARKINGS, Susan).Sometimes there will be no identified author, and the catalogue will then use the name of the organization producing the book, e.g. Friends of the Earth. Government publications may have the name of the Department as the author but some reports are known by the name of the chairperson, e.g. Macpherson


If you search by title keyword you only need to use the main words. You can search for print or electronic journals by title. CAVEAT LECTOR - Reader beware! - you may come across a reference to a particular CHAPTER in a book which you have been asked to read. The author(s) of this chapter may not be the same as those of the complete book and the title will also be different. In the example below the important word to look for is " in " which should be in italics. You will need to look for the author GERACHTY, C and/or the title The television studies book. (It is not the practice in libraries to use capital letters except at the beginning of a title or for proper nouns.) DANIELS, T. (1998) Television studies and race, in GERACHTY, C. and LUSTED, D. ( eds.) The television studies book, London, Arnold, p.131-140. You will need to look at the results of your search to check: ● How many copies there are ● Which libraries keep these items ● If they available on the shelf or out on loan ● At which class (shelf) number they are kept ● In which area of the library they are to be found (e.g. main collection) You can also go into your own personal details ("My Account") on the front search page to check : ● What books are on loan to you ● When they are due for return ● If you have reserved books waiting to collect ● Whether you can place a reservation on any book on loan to another user For further information consult LIS Help Sheet 2 - "Using the Library Catalogue". Finding books on the shelf: First make sure you have copied the entire class (shelf) number accurately and that you have the correct collection, e.g. the "main collection" for a book you can borrow. Use the maps of each library to find the relevant Level or Subject area. Interpreting the numbers: All books on the same subject are given the same numbers. Books dealing with a subject very broadly have a shorter number than books on a more specific aspect of a subject, e.g. Politics = 320 but British Politics = 320.941. If you remember this when you are looking on the shelves it will help you


understand the numbering sequence. Because LSBU Library use decimal numbers 330.15 comes before 330.2 so you must think of 15 as "one-five" and not fifteen. Where there are many books at the same number they are then filed either by the first 3 letters of the author's name or, for recently published books, by the first 3 letters of the title if there are more than three authors or only an editor. If you choose to browse the shelves you must remember that you will only see the books that are not on loan to other readers. You MUST check the catalogue by class number to find all the titles in a particular subject.

You have now learnt how to search for and find information. You will now need to go through the results to find the most relevant items. You will need to be ruthless when it comes to selecting the most useful results. You must use your skills to identify the main ideas for your purposes within each piece of research, and put them into your OWN words. (a) The same criteria apply whether you find your information in print or from the internet. You need to ask yourself the following: ● Is this information up-to-date? (Vital for science and law) ● Who has produced it? (Look out for any sponsorship!!) ● Is it unbiased or does it reflect a personal or corporate opinion? ● Can I trust the source? Is it accurate? ● Is it at the right level for me, does it cover every aspect of the subject with the emphasis I want? Remember that not all freely available information on the internet is reliable. Government web pages and those of organisations are usually free in the interests of publicity, marketing and freedom of information. Consider the presentation of the web page - the structure and design will influence your ability to process the message given.

It is good practice to keep a note of the sources you use to find your information as you progress. Also, if articles you print or photocopy do not make it clear where they are from, write out the details (journal title, volume number, date, page number etc.) on your copy while you still have access to the original (printed or electronic). You will need to get into the habit of writing down these sources following a standard and consistent method of Referencing. You will be expected to do this for both printed material and information from the Internet, whatever the source. If you use information from other sources you MUST acknowledge this and not pass it off as your own research. If you fail to attribute all the sources of


information you have used this is treated as an aspect of PLAGIARISM and you will be penalised. (a) What is plagiarism? Plagiarism is using the ideas and/or words of others without acknowledging them. It is a kind of intellectual theft, a serious academic crime! At university you will be engaging with other people's ideas in texts and in lectures. You are expected to incorporate these ideas in your course work to demonstrate that you have read widely and understood the theories and ideas associated with your discipline. However, you MUST acknowledge where you got the ideas from. Plagiarism can be deliberate or accidental; either way it is unacceptable. Actions that can be seen as plagiarism include: ● Using too many words and phrases from the original source ● Building on someone's ideas without citation ● Copying from another source without citing (b) How to acknowledge the ideas (citation) You can quote directly from the original source. If you do this you must copy the exact words and put them in quotation marks, and document the source according to a standard documentation style e.g. Harvard. This includes information taken from the web. Information sheets about the referencing style will tell you how to set out the citations and references e.g. Help Sheets 30 & 31 from the Perry Library. You can paraphrase i.e. put the ideas into your own words. You will still need to acknowledge the source. It is unacceptable just to change a few words; you must summarise the ideas in your own sentence structure and your own words. Quoting and paraphrasing in this way is known as citation. (c)What to acknowledge You do NOT need to acknowledge generally known information, but you must acknowledge ideas that are not generally known and ideas that interpret facts. The idea 'Blair's plan to implement top-up fees is unpopular' is not a fact but an interpretation, so you need to cite the source. (d) Why use citation • • • • • To acknowledge other people's ideas To show you are including other people's opinions To support an argument you are making To enable readers to track the material you have used Remember you are expected to include 'literature' in your assignments; you will gain marks for demonstrating that you have used a wide range of sources BUT if you do not acknowledge these sources you are guilty of plagiarism.


(e) Referencing One of the most common methods of quoting references is called the Harvard System. This system is used by most departments within LSBU but you must check first. There are two ways to make a reference to what you have read. This can be within the text of your essay or project, e.g. …..Dickens (2004) states that Nature, both external and internal, was a key concept in the making of the new Age of Reason. or at the end of a sentence, e.g. …..Nature, both external and internal, was a key concept in the making of the new Age of Reason (Dickens, 2004). If you are using an exact quotation you must put it all in quotation marks i.e. " " and repeat the author and date as in the above examples, plus the page number. Be aware of the difference between References and a Bibliography. Both are lists of materials you have used to prepare your work, but only your list of References should contain the items you have actually referred to or quoted. These lists need to be put at the end of your document, in alphabetical order by author's surname. Check with your Department or Faculty for any special requirements. • Referencing examples: Books DICKENS, P. (2004) Society and nature: changing our environment, changing ourselves. Cambridge: Polity Press. The author's surname is in capital letters, followed by the initial, then the date of publication in brackets. The title should be underlined or put in italics and if there is a subtitle, separate this from the main title by a colon ( : ). This is followed by the place of publication, another colon and finally the name of the publisher. All this information will be found on the TITLE PAGE (front and back), which is usually a couple of pages into the book. (Do NOT use the details on the book cover) Journal articles HILL, S. (1997) Squeezing the death out of food. New Scientist, 154 (2077) 12 April , pp.28-32. The journal title should be underlined or italicised in this instance to distinguish between the title of the ARTICLE and the title of the JOURNAL in which it appears.


The number following the title represents the VOLUME number followed by the ISSUE number or PART number in brackets. Finally you need to give the date of that particular issue and the page numbers of the article. Videos / DVDs. For commercial items always give full and specific details, especially for films where there may be several different versions available. Use the information on the library catalogue as guidance. For TV programmes recorded by LIS under licence, the date of recording and the TV channel are important e.g. CHANNEL FOUR TELEVISION (2003) Inside the mind of Tony Blair 28 September, London: Channel 4 [Videocassette] Web sites and documents There are as yet no agreed procedures for referencing electronic materials obtained from the web, so again your references should be as detailed and accurate as possible. For web pages you will need to prove the date you accessed a particular section and the web site address or URL you used to get there. Example: Web document DEPARTMENT OF TRADE & INDUSTRY (2004) Fairness for all: a new commission for equality and human rights [Online] Available at http://www.dti.gov.uk/access/equalitywhitepaper.pdf (accessed 9 June 2004) Electronic Journal Article (from a database or other full text service) BRYD-BREDBENNER, C. (2000) Consumer understanding of US and EU nutrition labels. British Food Journal 103 (8) pp. 615-629 [Online] Emerald. Available at http://www.emerald-library.com (accessed 9 June 2004) The Library produce Help Sheets on Referencing which will give you further assistance. If you still need help - please don't hesitate to ASK a member of staff. If you are not on campus, use the e-mail facility (see "Quick Links ") or consult the Help Sheets (see "Help & Training") within our web site http://www.library.lsbu.ac.uk.


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