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Planning your assignment

Charmaine Botha
Learning Skills Advisor
Monash South Africa
What do we want to achieve with an
academic essay?
Demonstrate to your lecturer that you are able to:
Embark on an inquiry analyse question
Find Information / research
Evaluate and Analyse the information
Organize the information
Apply the information to answer the question
Communicate your knowledge (written/oral)

Its like being a lawyer presenting a case
in court:

Assignment 1
Assessment task 1
A reflection on the development of the child and youth care (CYC) profession
Due date:
1 April 2014 by 5pm

Details of task:
To have an understanding about child and youth development, it is necessary
to understand its foundation. The foundations for working with children lies in various
disciplines but for the child and youth care worker it lies within social services, education
and community development.

Consider the work of the child and youth care worker in protecting the rights of children to
be safe, by telling a summarised story of the historical development of the Child and Youth
Care (CYC) field in 900 words. Make specific mention of the following:

Reflecting on the work of any pioneer that had an effect on you as you learned how
they contributed to protecting children.
Finding information on how children are protected in current society and work it into
your story (keep it simple to stay within your word count).

Begin by identifying the key concepts
e.g. the topic/content areas
Identify the directive words e.g.
analyse, discuss, etc.
Note any limitations e.g. scope, time
period, field of study, area

Break down Consider the work of the child and youth care worker in protecting
the rights of children to be safe, by
telling a summarised story
of the historical development of the Child and Youth Care

Reflecting on the work of

Combine: Essay work into your story
any pioneer
that had an effect on you

as you learned how they

contributed to protecting
Finding information

on how children are


current society

Find Witnesses
Once you have identified the content area you will need to
examine, you will need to consider what kinds of resources are
required (books, journals, websites, statistics, etc.) and set about
acquiring them.
Look at your reading list, use the reference lists of these books
and journals, and identify what will be required.
Remember you will need to evaluate the worth of these
resources, so read critically.
Decide what kind of supporting information will be necessary,
and set about organising your resources to achieve your goal.
Often books are good for big picture information, while journals
are often good for supporting details.

Library resources
Resource Name Keywords Results Comments
History of CYD Physical Book(s) SA has limited books in
SA Library
Eg.: Title: An introduction this area at least one or
Physical Books to child development two versus large number
of students (reserved)

Reading list
DATA BASES Keywords Results Comments
(G) > Journal articles / Articles relevant
Google scholar Books/ available
Web pages

Be sure to use wider resources than the provided reading and make it interesting with old news articles,
pictures and biographies. Reference at least 6 sources of information which you found through your
own literature search.
Make sure you have read the essay guidelines provided in your undergraduate student guide.
Adhere to the referencing guidelines given in your undergraduate student guide to avoid plagiarism. You
will be penalized if you use another persons ideas and work without the appropriate reference to it.

Plan your argument

Once you have analysed the topic and gathered

references, you will need to construct a rough plan.
Some students prefer to make a plan before reading,
some after. However, it is important to remain flexible,
as your knowledge of the topic and opinion on it may
change as you read more.
You might find that your witnesses are vague or
unreliable and you may need to find others


We all learn from experience and from thinking back
over our experiences. When done in formal ways to
identify areas for learning this process is known as

Reflective learning is a process of examining

experiences with the intention of learning or gaining
new insights to improve practice.

What is reflective writing?

Reflective writing is evidence of reflective thinking. In an academic context,

reflective thinking usually involves:
Looking back at something (often an event, i.e. something that happened, but
it could also be an idea or object).
Analysing the event or idea (thinking in depth and from different perspectives,
and trying to explain, often with reference to a model or theory from your
Thinking carefully about what the event or idea means for you and your
ongoing progress as a learner and/or practising professional.
Reflective writing is thus more personal than other kinds of academic writing.
Basically, reflective writing can be broken down into three parts:
1. Description (keep this bit short!) - What happened? What is being examined?
2. Interpretation - What is most important / interesting / useful / relevant about the object, event
or idea? How can it be explained e.g. with theory? How is it similar to and different from
3. Outcome - What have I learned from this? What does this mean for my future?
The essay/report structure
Can be seen as a diamond with the introduction and conclusion at the top and bottom and the
body paragraphs fitting into the middle of the diamond in a series of smaller diamond shapes.

Prepare to communicate your argument
After having completed some reading and/or
writing, set about constructing your response or
thesis statement to the question. Again, however,
remain flexible. There is no such thing as perfect
knowledge of a topic!
Often it is best to start writing on a body section,
as the introduction and conclusion may change as
your work progresses.

Body paragraphs
Paragraph element Purpose

1. Topic This sentence starts by referring to the thesis/your

Sentence argument. It continues to include the main point of this
paragraph (your voice)
2. Additional This explains further the point made in the topic sentence.
Information (your voice)

3. Evidence These are essential to justify your point. Your evidence

sentences comes from your research and may include examples,
data, quotes, statistics, graphics and illustrations. All
supporting evidence must be from authoritative sources and
cited in your essay. (quote or paraphrase reference voice)
4. Concluding Again, this sentence links the main thesis of the essay with
sentence the main point of the paragraph. (your voice)

Review / edit (final)
Read for content
Read for grammar
Communicate Read for spelling
: Essay
Get someone else to read and
comment By when?
Check your unit guide for rubric or guidelines (moodle)
Written assignments will be graded according to how well they meet all the following criteria: (see more details
1. accuracy (has correct names, dates, places)
2. structure (has proper introduction, conclusion, signposting)
3. expression (is clear/concise/grammatical/lively)
4. relevance (answers the question/avoids digression or repetition)
5. depth (has quotations, examples, drawn from a range of appropriate sources)
6. intellectual engagement (engages with the sources/makes an argument)
7. format (has a departmental cover sheet/has bibliography, notes if required)
8. presentation (has proper margins/no unsightly corrections)

Writing your essay
For more assistance on
writing or
communicating your
findings, contact a
learning skills advisor
in the library