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A Basic Guide to Core

Academic Skills

2009B
IMI GUIDE TO CORE ACADEMIC SKILLS

Prepared by J W Graham, J Steel and R C Wood, 1992. Copyright material except where
original sources indicate otherwise. ISBN O 9522294 0 4. Second and Third Editions revised by
R C Wood, 1997, 2000; Fourth Edition revised by I Sweeney, 2003; Fifth, sixth and seventh
editions revised by R C Wood 2004, 2005, 2006. Eighth and ninth editions revised by H Ross
2007 and 2008. Produced with the permission of the original copyright holders.

TABLE OF CONTENTS
1. INTRODUCTION .................................................................................................... 4
2. WRITING IN YOUR OWN WORDS .......................................................................... 4
2.1 What is writing in your own words? .......................................................................... 4
2.2 How to write effectively in your own words ............................................................. 4
2.3 What is plagiarism? ..................................................................................................... 5
2.4 Turn-it-In Plagiarism Detection Software…………………………………………... 6
3. WRITING AN ESSAY ............................................................................................... 6
3.1 Choosing your essay title ............................................................................................ 7
3.2 The essay writing process ............................................................................................ 7
3.3 Style points for essays ................................................................................................. 9
4. REPORT WRITING GUIDE ......................................................................................11
4.1 What is the difference between an essay and a report? ........................................ 11
4.2 Context of your report .............................................................................................. 11
4.3 Structure ..................................................................................................................... 11
4.4 Style requirements of reports .................................................................................... 11
5 SUBMISSION, FEEDBACK AND ASSESSMENT OF COURSEWORK .............................13
5.1 Submission of coursework and ‘late’ penalties ........................................................ 13
5.2 Return of coursework and feedback......................................................................... 13
5.3 General assessment and specific marking schemes (including examinations and
dissertations) .............................................................................................................. 13
6. REFERENCING ESSAYS AND OTHER WRITTEN WORK..............................................18
6.1 Referencing in the text .............................................................................................. 18
6.2 Referencing electronic sources .................................................................................. 20
6.3 Quotations ................................................................................................................. 21
6.4 Compiling the bibliography/reference list to your essay ........................................ 21
7. WORKING IN GROUPS ..........................................................................................23
7.1 Ground rules for group work .................................................................................... 23
7.2 Peer Assessment ........................................................................................................ 23
7.3 Leading a seminar group ........................................................................................... 23
7.4 Getting ready for a group or seminar discussion ..................................................... 24
7.5 Questions ................................................................................................................... 24
7.6 Dealing with problem individuals ............................................................................. 24
8. MAKING ORAL PRESENTATIONS ............................................................................25
8.1 Purpose ....................................................................................................................... 25
8.2 Audience..................................................................................................................... 25
8.3 Preparation ................................................................................................................. 25
8.4 Structuring the presentation and delivery ................................................................ 25
8.5 Delivery ...................................................................................................................... 27
8.6 Assessment of presentations ..................................................................................... 27
9. GUIDE TO REVISION .............................................................................................28
9.1 Test your learning skills ............................................................................................. 28
9.2 What is revision, when do I do it and how do I plan it? ........................................ 28
9.3 Revising a topic .......................................................................................................... 28
9.4 Note-taking ................................................................................................................. 28
9.5 Where to revise ......................................................................................................... 28
9.6 Memory aids .............................................................................................................. 29
9.7 Practical examinations ............................................................................................... 29
9.8 Before examinations .................................................................................................. 29
9.9 Final moments............................................................................................................ 29
9.10 Your answers ............................................................................................................ 30
9.11 Self evaluation............................................................................................................ 31
9.12 Do not panic! ............................................................................................................. 31
9.13 Signs of stress............................................................................................................. 31
9.14 How to cope with stress ........................................................................................... 31
APPENDIX 1: STUDENT ASSESSED WORK FEEDBACK FORM .......... ………………...33
APPENDIX 2: PRESENTATION ASSESSED WORK FEEDBACK FORM .......................... 34
1. INTRODUCTION
This guide is intended for use over the entire period of your stay at IMI and contains guidance
on the writing and presentation of essays and reports; referencing written work; working in
groups; giving presentations; and examination revision. A separate guide has been developed
on the writing of dissertations for the final year BA degree students.

2. WRITING IN YOUR OWN WORDS


During your time here in IMI you will be given numerous assignments to complete. These
assignments will involve research and lecturers will expect you to interpret the information that
you read and produce an assignment that shows your own line of thought. This involves
learning how to use other people’s work and referencing it correctly.

2.1 What is writing in your own words?


Writing in your own words (also called paraphrasing) involves reading other people’s work
(books, journals, magazines, internet etc) and interpreting it in your own way by using your
own words and phrases. This is an important issue to be aware of because by doing this it
helps you to:
• understand and remember the material that you have read;
• show that the work that you have written is your own; and
• avoid plagiarism.

Please read the following example, which highlights how writing in your own words should be
done. The following paragraph is taken from May (1990: 348, cited in
http://owl.english.purdue.edu)

Of the more than 1000 bicycling deaths each year, three-fourths are caused by head
injuries. Half of those killed are school-age children. One study concluded that wearing
a bike helmet can reduce the risk of head injury by 85 percent. In an accident, a bike
helmet absorbs the shock and cushions the head.

One way of writing this in your own words would be:

The use of a helmet is the key to reducing bicycling fatalities, which are due to head
injuries 75% of the time. By cushioning the head upon impact, a helmet can reduce
accidental injury by as much as 85%, saving the lives of hundreds of victims annually,
quite a number of whom are school children (May, 1990).

As you can see from this example, writing in your own words involves more than changing just
a few words.

2.2 How to write effectively in your own words


• Make sure that when you read material that you understand it. Do not make any notes
until you do understand it.
• When you find information that you are interested in using in your assignment, write your
notes in your own words without the original beside you.
• When you have completed your notes, check what you have written with the original. It
should be more than just a few word changes.

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• If you find that you want to use something exactly (direct quote) as it is in the source then
make sure to highlight this piece in your notes and record the source and page number
beside the quote.
• No more than about 10% of your notes should be made up of direct quotes, as this will
help avoid plagiarising when it comes to writing the assignment.
• Always record the source of the information beside your notes so that you will be able to
locate it easily at a later date (http://owl.english.purdue.edu).

2.3 What is plagiarism?


Plagiarism is the use of another person’s work, without acknowledgement of the source, as
one’s own. In other words it is the deliberate incorporation of material from books, journals,
websites, lecture notes or another student’s work which you do not reference to show where
you obtained the ideas or text. According to Clark, Riley, Wilkie and Wood (1998:249)
plagiarism is: ‘presenting the work of another as if it was your own, using the same language,
and without referencing the source…it is considered to be stealing someone else’s intellectual
property, and is thus a serious academic offence’. The correct way to reference and thus avoid
plagiarism is the subject of Section 6 of this Guide.

Table 2.1 shows examples of what plagiarism is. It also shows both the correct and incorrect
way to reference in the text. The penalties for plagiarism are severe and will normally result in a
‘0’ mark for that assignment. These penalties are outlined in the current edition of the Student
Handbook; the School’s Teaching, Learning and Assessment Policy available on the School
intranet and from the Academic Dean; and in Manchester Metropolitan University’s regulations
available in the Library (and issued to all degree students).

Table 2.1: Examples of what plagiarism is


Extract from Graham and Bennett (1998: 113) Human Resource Management

‘It is essential to achieve a good fit between worker and job; one of the aims of human resources management
is to see that employees are working in jobs which are suitable for them and that their jobs are designed with
due regard to the abilities and limitations of the employee.’

Examples of plagiarism include:


1. The unacknowledged inclusion of more than a single phrase from another person’s work without the use of
quotation marks; e.g. It is essential to achieve a good fit between worker and job. The correct way to
reference this statement is: According to Graham and Bennett (1998:113) ‘it is essential to achieve a good
fit between worker and job.’
2. The unacknowledged summarising of another person’s work by simply changing a few words or altering the
order of presentation; e.g. Human resource management aims to see that employees work in jobs which
are appropriate for them. The correct way to reference this example is: According to Graham and Bennett
(1998: 113) human resource management aims to see that employees work in jobs, which are appropriate
for them.
3. The unacknowledged and/or unauthorised use of the ideas of another; e.g. placing an employee in a job
that considers both their abilities and limitations is an important part of the human resource function.
Making sure that the employee and job are well matched is necessary. The correct way to reference this
statement is: According to Graham and Bennett (1998: 113) placing an employee in a job that considers
both their abilities and limitations is an important part of the human resource function. They believe that
making sure that the employee and job are well matched is necessary.
4. Copying the work of another person with or without that person’s knowledge or agreement and presenting
it as one’s own.

You can see in the examples above that the page number is given in number 2 and 3 even though there are no
quotation marks. It is good to indicate the page number if you have changed very little from the source. It also
makes it easier for you to retrace where exactly you have taken information.

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2.4 Turn-it-In Plagiarism Detection Software

1. Turn-it-in.com is a widely used and recognized anti-plagiarism programme


2. The address is http://www.turnitin.com
3. At IMI, Turn-it-in.com is primarily used for pedagogical reasons to support student
learning and only then as a control instrument to prevent and punish cases of plagiarism
4. Use of Turn-it-in.com is recommended by IMI for all courses with major writing
assignments, but extent of use is left to instructors’ judgment
5. Turn-it-in.com is open to registered students and faculty members at IMI to ensure that
a. Students can learn proper quoting and referencing with assistance of a reliable
self-control tool; and
b. Faculty members have a proven instrument to reinforce proper quoting and
referencing in academic writing and check adherence to generally accepted
guidelines of academic writing in final paper/project submissions.
6. Turn-it-in.com at IMI is administered by Mr Bozidar Prskalo
7. For optimal use of Turn-it-in.com, IMI students and faculty members have open access to
the programme as described below:
a. Each faculty member will have her/his own password-protected account with
Turn-it-in.com
b. Each faculty member will establish a class list and assessment deadlines for the
course(s) in which Turn-it-in.com is used
c. Each student on a submitted class list can establish her/his own account and
submit work directly to Turn-it-in.com to check for inconsistencies. Any
corrections prior to submission deadlines are allowed.
8. Turn-it-in.com is only a word-matching programme, interpretation of inconsistencies
have to be established by a review of the faculty member together with the student(s)!

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3. WRITING AN ESSAY
3.1 Choosing your essay title
It is likely that your lecturer will give you a choice of essay question. In choosing the question
you are going to answer, the following points should be kept in mind. First, do not always try
to locate the easiest question: there is no point in writing on a topic with which you are already
familiar because essay writing is a learning activity intended to test your powers of research and
comprehension. Think of an essay as a piece of research - not something that can be written
two hours before the submission deadline! Secondly, when choosing an essay title, consider the
need to develop breadth of knowledge within the class and course as a whole. Thirdly, always
choose an essay topic that interests you. Finally, always consult your lecturer about the choice
of topic whenever necessary.

3.2 The essay writing process


The process of essay writing can be divided into four stages: planning, reading, organising, and
writing.

When planning, analyse the essay topic you have chosen (indeed all essay topics) in some
detail. It is important that you try to break down the essay question and try to identify 3
different vital elements: (1) the topic area that it relates to, (2) the focus within that topic area,
and (3) the instruction that you have been give. An example of this is highlighted in Table 3.1.

Table 3.1: Example of how to analyse an assignment question


Example Question:
Compare and contrast on-the-job and off-the-job training methods used for operational level staff within the
food and beverage department of a hotel.

How to analyse this question:

1. Topic Training

2. Focus On-the-job and off-the-job methods of training used within the food and
beverage department of a hotel

3. Instruction Compare and contrast

It is important that you understand all three elements in order to write the essay successfully.
Make sure that you pay particular attention to points (2) and (3) as these are frequently
neglected. Further examples of the instructions that you could be given are highlighted in Table
3.2. Since essay questions will be related in some way to the curriculum you will have some
idea of how to develop a structure for your essay but, if in doubt, you should always clarify
with your lecturer what is expected of you in the essay. It is a good idea to sketch a draft
structure for your work as a preliminary to reading. Never be afraid to ask your lecturer for
advice on the structure, content and further reading.

Reading. Make maximum use of facilities offered by the Library. New students will receive a
library induction tour to assist with this process. When reading books or articles, do not try and
read everything but use the contents pages and index of a book to search for key words and
areas. Read the introduction of the book or paper (academics call articles in academic journals a
'paper', if you do not know what a journal or paper is, find out in your first visit to the Library).

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Table 3.2: Terms appearing frequently in the phrasing of essay questions
Analyse: Break a question/issue into its component parts and explain how they relate to one
another.
Assess: Estimate the importance or value of something.
Compare: Examine similarities and differences.
Contrast: Concentrate on the differences.
Criticise: Point out the faults, limitations and usefulness of the subject in question.
Define: Explain the precise meaning of something.
Describe: Give a detailed account of a topic.
Discuss: Explain the meaning of something and present a logical argument exploring it.
Enumerate: Write in list or outline form, giving points concisely one by one.
Evaluate: Weigh up the importance, success or value of something, using evidence to support
your view.
Explain: Give a precise account of something, with reasons for why or how it is as it is.
Identify: Recognize as being a specified example or case of something.
Investigate: Study a thing carefully to identify facts about it.
Illustrate: Use examples from a range of sources to demonstrate the subject of the essay. This
may include written description of visual materials – e.g. diagrams, photographs etc.
Interpret: Translate, give examples of, solve, or comment on, a subject, usually giving your
judgement about it.
Justify or prove: Make a case for a particular perspective. Establish the truth of something through
supporting evidence or logical reasoning.
Outline: Organise a description under main points and subordinate points omitting minor
details and stressing the arrangement or classification.
Relate: Show how things are related to, or connected with, each other or how one causes
another, correlates with another, or is like another.
Review: Examine how a topic has been studied and comment on the value and limitations of
its treatment.
State: Write the main points relating to the topic.
Summarise: Give the main points or facts in condensed form, like the summary of a chapter,
omitting details and illustrations.
To what extent? Similar to evaluate: explore the case for and against a claim.

Adapted from Bird, C and Bird, D M (1945) Learning More by Effective Study, New York: Appleton Century
Crofts; Drew, S and Bingham, R (1998: 57) The Student Skills Guide, Aldershot: Gower Publications.

Skim quickly through other sections and chapters to identify any useful material identifying key
sentences in each paragraph (with practice this will become second nature). Then read material
you consider to be important in a detailed way, making notes (also paying attention to the
advice in Section 2.1 above) and ensuring you have easy access to basic reference works such
as a dictionary, a thesaurus, and maybe one of the many books on essay writing and style.

Organizing and writing. There are several ways when writing your essay to organize the
material. You should divide your essays up into sections using clear paragraphs. It is NOT
normal practice to use sub-headings in essays. Always make sure you write an introduction to
your piece, outlining objectives, your understanding of the question and the terms of the title.

Essays should develop logically. It should be clear at all times what your objectives are and you
should make every word count toward achieving your objectives. To this end always try to
write at least one draft of your essay.

Having produced a draft it should be read and edited carefully so that all irrelevant material is
eliminated. It is always helpful to get a friend to read over your work – although remember that
plagiarism is an unforgivable sin! Once you have edited the draft of your essay (and indeed
whilst you are doing this) you should check for the presence of the following and dispose of
them accordingly:
(i) unclear, illogical development and structure of argument;

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(ii) ambiguous or unclear expression;
(iii) material which does not contribute significantly to the essay; and
(iv) repetition of material (apart from the conclusion where some repetition in the form of
summary is acceptable).

Having written a fair copy, make sure that you read the essay before submission to check for
the quality issues shown in Table 3.3.

Table 3.3: Issues to look at when trying to express your ideas clearly
Focus Suggestions
Words and phrases Use words in a way, which demonstrates that you understand them. When first
referring to an idea/concept give the reader enough information to understand it.
Do not assume that your reader knows.
Sentences If sentences are too short, the ideas may seem fragmented. If they are too long, they
may be difficult to follow. If you find writing difficult or if English is your second
language, short sentences may help you to avoid grammatical mistakes.
Paragraphs Keep to one main idea per paragraph. Ensure the idea is explicitly (clearly) stated
and explained.

Linking paragraphs Link ideas across paragraphs so your argument flows. Also, Moreover, in addition
show that you are continuing in the same direction; Whereas, Nevertheless,
However, on the other hand to show that you are changing direction.
Drew, S & Bingham, R (1998: 63) The Student Skills Guide, Aldershot: Gower Publishing

Finally, all written work should conform to the style and referencing conventions of academic
work. Some style conventions differ slightly between essays, reports and dissertations and these
differences are noted in these relevant sections (see Section 3.3 for style points to be aware of
in the presentation of essays). Referencing conventions do not vary at all and you should follow
the general guidelines for referencing outlined in Section 6.

3.3 Style points for essays

(a) Font, font size, line spacing and pagination (page numbers)
It is IMI policy that all assessed work should be typed and presented using the Times New
Roman font, size 12 except when otherwise stated by the lecturer. For line spacing, 1.5 or
double spacing should be used for all assessed work. Pages should be numbered starting with
the first page after the title page. Page numbers should be placed on the bottom right of the
page.

(b) Title pages


Essays should have title pages, such as that outlined in Table 3.4 which also use font size 12,
Times New Roman. Note the information given: question number, question title, student
number of student submitting the essay, member of staff for whom the essay is written, title of
unit for which the essay is written, date of submission and an abstract. Under no
circumstances ‘decorate’ the cover of your essays – keep it simple, straightforward and follow
these guidelines. Nearly all marking in the School is anonymous: therefore DO NOT put your
name on the piece of work you are submitting.

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Table 3.4: Typical title page for an essay
Question 3: Discuss the proposition that in respect of eating habits, polar bears prefer penguins to
porcupines.

By: Student Number

For: Professor/Dr/Mr/Miss/Ms A Lecturer

Unit: HM003: Food and Beverage Management

Submission date: 15th April 2006

Abstract: This paper discusses consumer preferences amongst polar bears in respect of penguins and
porcupines. Consideration is given to availability of the latter foods in areas inhabited by
polar bears; economic factors affecting purchasing behaviour; the relative social prestige of
penguins and porcupines as foods; and the relevance of the current state of polar bear
technology in catering to food choice. It is concluded that polar bears in fact prefer
porcupines to penguins, the major reason for this being that penguins taste better with
mayonnaise.

(c) Abstracts
An abstract is a summary of 100-150 words, normally written on the title page as shown in
Table 3.4, outlining the main themes and/or arguments of your work, the direction your work
takes and its conclusions. It is not an introduction to your essay. Check articles in the journals in
the Library to see what an abstract looks like.

(d) Paragraphs and sentences


When writing, it is a good idea to keep new ideas in new paragraphs. Do not number the
paragraphs. When moving to a new paragraph you should leave a line (or two) between
paragraphs so that it is clearly separated.

(e) Personal pronouns: I or we?


Personal pronouns are not used in essays, reports or dissertations– no ‘I’ or ‘We’, unless stated
by your lecturer. So ‘I interviewed three hundred managers’ becomes, ‘Some 300 managers
were interviewed’.

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4. REPORT WRITING GUIDE
4.1 What is the difference between an essay and a report?
Essays are normally used to explore ideas, points of view or to develop arguments. Reports are
used extensively in business as well as in education to communicate the results of research or
findings. As such, the layout and structure of a report is different to that of an essay. The reader
of an essay will often consider the strength and validity of argument and may reread different
parts several times. The reader of a report will need to absorb detailed information clearly,
quickly and in one reading.

4.2 Context of your report


It is important that you consider the context of the report briefing. This will include looking at
who the intended audience or reader of the report will be but also what it intends to achieve
(e.g. to inform, to recommend or to compare). Understanding these factors will dictate the
degree of detail, depth and the scope of your coverage.

4.3 Structure
The structure of the report will depend to a large extent on its size and nature. The list
highlighted in Table 4.1 (extensively adapted from Drew and Bingham, 1997, The Students
Skills Guide, Aldershot: Gower) explains the different sections often found in reports. They are
shown in the order that they normally appear and the items underlined indicate the sections
that should be in all reports.

4.4 Style requirements of reports


Reports require a consistent, itemized form of presentation allowing the reader to navigate the
work easily.

(a) Table of contents, sections, section headings and paragraphs


The table of contents should reflect the nature of your report and use a clear list of relevant
section headings and sub-headings. Table 4.2 shows an example of this. Main sections should
be numbered consecutively. Subsections should be ranked and numbered logically as shown in
Table 4.1 and the sample Table of Contents in Table 4.2. This is different from essays and
dissertations where sections and paragraphs are not numbered. Finally read the report carefully
before submitting it. Check that your English is correct, concise and grammatical and that your
content is consistent and accurate. Use a spelling and grammar check.
Table 4.1: Sections often found in reports
Section Description
Title Page This will normally be laid out as per the example given in Table 3.4 with the
Abstract being replaced by the Executive Summary (see below).
Executive Summary This gives the key points/findings of the report and is used by those readers with
no time to read the report to grasp its main points. It should only contain
information covered in the main part and it should be short. The executive
summary replaces the abstract in essays and should normally be placed on the
title page (see Section 3.3 (c)).
Acknowledgements Recognition of people or organizations that have helped the writer in the
collection of information or the presentation of the report.
Contents Lists the main sections of the report and page numbers on which they appear.
Aims This is a description of the overall purpose of the report (e.g. to provide a profile
of trends influencing the development of the hospitality and tourism industry).
Objectives These are specific items, which must be achieved in order to cover the aims of the
report (e.g. to identify and compare the roles of government in dictating or
influencing the development of the industry).

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Introduction Outlines what the report is about, including relevant background to the aims, and
objectives. It is important to note that if you choose to highlight your aim and
objectives separately then do so before the introduction but if you choose to
include your aim and objectives as part of the introduction, do not put them on
the pages before. Try to avoid repetition.
Methodology How you gathered information, where from and how much (e.g. if you used a
survey, who was surveyed, how did you decide on the target group, how many
were surveyed, how were they surveyed - by interviews or questionnaire?)
Findings/results Statement of what you found out (e.g. results of research or a project) with the
interpretation and analysis. Sections should be ordered in a logical manner, which
clearly develop the themes of the report.
Conclusions Draws together your findings, indicating your recommendations and telling the
reader what you think should happen.
Bibliography/References A bibliography references items referred to in the report. See Section 6.4 on
compiling a bibliography/reference list.
Appendices Detailed information which is important but which may distract from the flow of
the report can be included.

(b) Font, font size, line spacing and pagination (page numbers)
See Section 3.3 (a) above.

(c) Images
It is fully acceptable to use tables, graphs, diagrams and illustrations so long as they add to the
understanding of the report. They must be clearly labelled and referenced.

(d) Bold/italicised
Text should not be put in bold except for headings. Italics should not be used.

(e) Personal pronouns: I or we?


See section 3.3 above.
Table 4.2: Example Table of Contents for a Report
1. INTRODUCTION
1.1 Background
1.2 Aims and Objectives
2. METHODOLOGY (only applicable when carrying out primary research)
2.1 Primary Research
2.1.1 Questionnaire
2.1.2 Sample Frame
2.2 Secondary Research
3. FINDINGS (when applicable to your report; choose sub-headings appropriate to your topic)
3.1 Point 1
3.1.1 Point 1 sub point 1
3.1.2 Point 1 sub point 2
3.2 Point 2
3.3 Point 3
3.4 Point 4
4. CONCLUSIONS
5. BIBLIOGRAPHY/REFERENCES
6. APPENDICES
(i) Diagrams
(ii) Examples
(iii) Extracts

(f) Bullets and numbered lists


Bullet points and numbered lists may be used sparingly in reports but keep the style simple and
consistent. Do NOT use bullet points in an essay.

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5 SUBMISSION, FEEDBACK AND ASSESSMENT OF
COURSEWORK
The notes that follow in section 5.2 do not apply to dissertations and examinations.

5.1 Submission of coursework and ‘late’ penalties


The Institute has a policy on both mark submission penalties and the return of student work. If
you fail to submit work by the set submission date stated in the Unit Handout but do so within
an absolute deadline which is set at three weeks after the submission date, you shall receive a
maximum mark for the work of 40% (50% for MBA) unless there is prior agreement for late
submission; or a sound and documented explanation; or appropriately certified medical
evidence. If the absolute deadline is passed, the work will not be accepted and will gain a mark
of zero. You may submit evidence of exceptional circumstances which you consider to have
caused your late submission of assessments to the Academic Dean who will advise on
procedure as outlined in the School’s Teaching, Learning and Assessment Policy which is
available on the School Intranet for you to consult.

5.2 Return of coursework and feedback


Lecturers will always return coursework as promptly as possible, and in any case within three
weeks of the submission date, with comments and criticism that are geared to help you
improve your written work. The three week period is to allow for the second marking of
coursework by another member of staff which is a standard quality assurance procedure to
ensure fairness and accuracy. Feedback comments will be written on the School’s standard
feedback form (Appendix 1). If you do not understand a lecturer's comments, or disagree with
them or simply want some elaboration, do not be afraid to approach him/her and ask for more
detail.

5.3 General assessment and specific marking schemes (including examinations and
dissertations)
As part of its arrangements with Manchester Metropolitan University, IMI has programme
specific descriptors which cover grading bands and are designed to describe general levels of
(assessment) attainment. As a template for assessing student work IMI’s programme specific
descriptors cross-cut mark bands with four assessable themes. These provide the framework for
the assessment of content. The criteria for the assessment of the content of a piece of
student’s work are listed for each separate item of assessment in the Unit Handout for each
unit of study. The four broad generic themes underlying the grading bands are as shown in
Table 5.1.

Table 5.1: Generic themes informing grading


1: Understanding and initial response to the requirements of the assessment
70+ The question/issue/problem is clearly understood/defined and there is an excellent grasp
of the majority of relevant concepts, expressed clearly, and appropriately demonstrated.
60-69 The question/issue/problem is clearly understood/defined and there is a very good grasp
of numerous relevant concepts, expressed clearly, and appropriately demonstrated.
50-59 The question/issue/problem is not always clearly understood/defined and the grasp of
relevant concepts is not demonstrated in great number, clarity, and/or is partial and/or
superficial.
40-49 The question/issue/problem is generally not clearly defined and/or understood and there is
a failure to identify and grasp all but a small number of relevant concepts which are
generally poorly explained and presented in outline and superficial form.
30-39 The question/issue/problem is not defined and/or understood and there is barely any
grasp and/or understanding of relevant concepts or such grasp/understanding is entirely
absent.
Less than 30 The question/issue/problem is not defined or understood and there is no grasp and/or

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understanding of relevant concepts.

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2. Content: nature of analysis and use of sources and resources
70+ There is a substantial depth of critical and logical analysis, evaluation and understanding of
material and issues, displaying a high level of imagination and systematic evidence of
independent thought. A wide range of relevant source material including journals is used
and extensive reading is in evidence together with excellent referencing.
60-69 There is a substantial depth of critical and logical analysis, evaluation and understanding of
material and issues, displaying some partial imagination and frequent evidence of
independent thought. A good range of relevant source material including journals is used
and broad reading is in evidence together with excellent referencing.
50-59 There is little substantial depth of critical and logical analysis, evaluation and understanding
of material and issues, with very limited evidence of originality or evidence of independent
thought. A restricted range of not always relevant source material, typically textbooks, is
used and there is little or no evidence of consultation of journals or specialist monographs.
Referencing is basic.
40-49 There is an absence of all but rudimentary critical and logical analysis, evaluation and
understanding of material and issues with little or no indication of originality or
independence of thought There is little evidence of consulting relevant source materials
which are absent or simplistically summarized, and there is reliance on too few sources,
mainly textbooks. Referencing is limited or not present.
30-39 There is a complete absence of critical and logical analysis, evaluation and understanding
of materials and issues with absolutely no indication of originality or independence of
thought. There is scant or no evidence of consulting relevant source materials and where
scant, source materials are summarized poorly or inaccurately. Work may be plagiarized.
The material used is actively misunderstood and/or explained.
Less than 30 There is a complete absence of critical and logical analysis, evaluation and understanding
of materials and issues with absolutely no indication of originality or independence of
thought. There is no evidence of use of source materials. Work may be plagiarised.

3. Presentation and structure relative to content


70+ The work is presented in a logical, coherent, cogent and succinct format. The work is
interesting to read and not overly complex.
60-69 There is evidence of at least three of a logical, coherent, cogent and succinct format. The
work is interesting to read and not overly complex.
50-59 There is evidence of at least two of a logical, coherent, cogent and succinct format.
While generally interesting to read, the work may have an uneven flow of argument, and
a tendency towards simplicity and/or over-simplification.
40-49 There is limited evidence of a logical, coherent, cogent and succinct format. The work is
generally not interesting to read, being prone to regurgitation of received wisdom. The
work has an uneven flow of argument (or little/none at all) and is highly simplistic.
30-39 There is little if any evidence of a logical, coherent, cogent and succinct format. The
work is generally not interesting to read, being prone to regurgitation of received wisdom
or plagiarized. The work has minimal or no meaningful flow of argument and is highly
simplistic.
Less than 30 There is no evidence of a logical, coherent, cogent and succinct format. The work is
completely uninteresting to read and does not even evidence regurgitation of received
wisdom. The work has no meaningful flow.

4. Conclusion, interpretation and overall validation of the response


70+ There is a clear and unambiguous conclusion, which links both the analysis and evaluation
of materials to the question/issue/problem.
60-69 There is a clear and unambiguous conclusion, which links at least one of the analysis and
evaluation of materials to the question/issue/problem.
50-59 Conclusions are simplistic, largely unclear and potentially ambiguous and not for the most
part linking analysis and evaluation of materials to the question/issue/problem.
40-49 Conclusions are absent in all but skeletal form or are simplistic, largely unclear and
potentially ambiguous and not for the most part linking analysis and evaluation of
materials to the question/issue/problem.
30-39 Conclusions are absent or irrelevant; there is no explanation of any use to others.
Less than 30 Conclusions are entirely absent.

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The above themes translate into grading bands as shown in Table 5.2, the numbers 1 – 4
indicating the relevant theme above.
Table 5.2: Grading bands
Marks in excess of 70%
1. The question/issue/problem is clearly understood/defined and there is an excellent grasp of the majority of
relevant concepts, expressed clearly, and appropriately demonstrated.
2. There is a substantial depth of critical and logical analysis, evaluation and understanding of material and
issues, displaying a high level of imagination and systematic evidence of independent thought. A wide
range of relevant source material including journals is used and extensive reading is in evidence together
with excellent referencing.
3. The work is presented in a logical, coherent, cogent and succinct format. The work is interesting to read and
not overly complex.
4. There is a clear and unambiguous conclusion, which links both the analysis and evaluation of materials to
the question/issue/problem.

Marks in range 60-69%


1. The question/issue/problem is clearly understood/defined and there is a very good grasp of numerous
relevant concepts, expressed clearly, and appropriately demonstrated.
2. There is a substantial depth of critical and logical analysis, evaluation and understanding of material and
issues, displaying some partial imagination and frequent evidence of independent thought. A good range of
relevant source material including journals is used and broad reading is in evidence together with excellent
referencing.
3. There is evidence of at least three of a logical, coherent, cogent and succinct format. The work is interesting
to read and not overly complex.
4. There is a clear and unambiguous conclusion, which links at least one of the analysis and evaluation of
materials to the question/issue/problem.

Marks in range 50-59%


1. The question/issue/problem is not always clearly understood/defined and the grasp of relevant concepts is
not demonstrated in great number, clarity, and/or is partial and/or superficial.
2. There is little substantial depth of critical and logical analysis, evaluation and understanding of material and
issues, with very limited evidence of originality or evidence of independent thought. A restricted range of
not always relevant source material, typically textbooks, is used and there is little or no evidence of
consultation of journals or specialist monographs. Referencing is basic.
3. There is evidence of at least two of a logical, coherent, cogent and succinct format. While generally
interesting to read, the work may have an uneven flow of argument, and a tendency towards simplicity
and/or over-simplification.
4. Conclusions are simplistic, largely unclear and potentially ambiguous and not for the most part linking
analysis and evaluation of materials to the question/issue/problem.

Marks in range 40-49%


1. The question/issue/problem is generally not clearly defined and/or understood and there is a failure to
identify and grasp all but a small number of relevant concepts which are generally poorly explained and
presented in outline and superficial form.
2. There is an absence of all but rudimentary critical and logical analysis, evaluation and understanding of
material and issues with little or no indication of originality or independence of thought There is little
evidence of consulting relevant source materials which are absent or simplistically summarized, and there is
reliance on too few sources, mainly textbooks. Referencing is limited or not present.
3. There is evidence, but only partial, of a logical, coherent, cogent and succinct format. The work is generally
not interesting to read, being prone to regurgitation of received wisdom. The work has an uneven flow of
argument (or little/none at all) and is highly simplistic.
4. Conclusions are absent in all but skeletal form or are simplistic, largely unclear and potentially ambiguous
and not for the most part linking analysis and evaluation of materials to the question/issue/problem.

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Marks in range 30-39%
1. The question/issue/problem is not defined and/or understood and there is barely any grasp and/or
understanding of relevant concepts or such grasp/understanding is entirely absent.
2. There is a complete absence of critical and logical analysis, evaluation and understanding of materials and
issues with absolutely no indication of originality or independence of thought. There is scant or no evidence
of consulting relevant source materials and where scant, source materials are summarized poorly or
inaccurately. Work may be plagiarized. The material used is actively misunderstood and/or explained.
3. There is little if any evidence of a logical, coherent, cogent and succinct format. The work is generally not
interesting to read, being prone to regurgitation of received wisdom or plagiarized. The work has minimal or
no meaningful flow of argument and is highly simplistic.
4. Conclusions are absent or irrelevant; there is no explanation of any use to others.

Marks in range less than 30%


1. The question/issue/problem is not defined or understood and there is no grasp and/or understanding of
relevant concepts.
2. There is a complete absence of critical and logical analysis, evaluation and understanding of materials and
issues with absolutely no indication of originality or independence of thought. There is no evidence of use
of source materials. Work may be plagiarised.
3. There is no evidence of a logical, coherent, cogent and succinct format. The work is completely uninteresting
to read and does not even evidence regurgitation of received wisdom. The work has no meaningful flow.
4. Conclusions are entirely absent.

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6. REFERENCING ESSAYS AND OTHER WRITTEN
WORK
6.1 Referencing in the text
We can now consider the important topic of referencing which applies to all written academic
work. Referencing in your assignment text is important as it allows the reader to know where
your information has come from. If you fail to show where you have gathered your ideas from
then you will be guilty of plagiarism (see Section 2.3).

Several different systems of referencing exist but the most popular is the ‘Harvard’ system,
which comes in several forms, the model employed here being one of the most common. It
involves the insertion where appropriate of author family name(s) in the text, with the date of
publication of the author’s work, as in Table 6.1. This is an example of a single author citation
where Smith is the author of the work referred to. Always use the family name of the author
and not the first name. 1975 is the date of publication of that work. Dates of publication and
other details can be found (in the case of books) on the inside pages near the start of the text.

Table 6.1: Example of a single author citation

Smith (2004) has argued that polar bears prefer penguins to porcupines.

But what happens if you wanted to put your point more generally and show that it was a view
held by more than one author view? Look at Table 6.2. Note that in either case the 'e.g.' is
optional. However, it is customary to list references when used in this manner either in order
of publication (e.g.: 1979, 1980, 1981, etc.) or by order of importance of the contribution in
question.

Table 6.2: Example of how to reference multiple authors

Many people have argued that polar bears prefer penguins to porcupines (e.g.: Smith, 2004; Adams, 2005) but
they have been criticised by several writers on consumer behaviour (e.g.: Dibble 1989; Ellis, 1997; Cartwright,
2003).

In Table 6.2, it may be that Adams (2004) is recognised as the major authority in the field, in
which case it is permissible to promote him to the start of the list. Note the semi-colon - ; - that
separates reference citations from each other. The above examples illustrate what to do with
single author references. But what happens when more than one person wrote the text to
which you wish to refer? Look at Table 6.3. Note that we are now introducing certain Latin
academic terms such as 'et al' and 'op cit'. A short list of the meanings of these is given in
Table 6.4.

Table 6.3: Example of how to reference two or more authors who have written the same piece

1. Two authors: Smith and Brown (2006) have argued that polar bears enjoy peanuts.

2. More than two authors: Smith, Brown and Garfunkel (2007) have argued that polar bears enjoy eating
peanuts.

In the case of (2), if you cite the work of these authors more than once you can write from the second occasion
onwards:

1. Smith et al (2006) have argued… 2. Smith et al (op cit) have argued…

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Please note that when you use et al you must mention all the authors in the text before. Every time afterwards
you can use the abbreviation. Names of all the authors must be given in the list of references.

Table 6.4: Latin terms used in academic writing


c. circa, about or around (a year or date)
e.g. exempli gratia, for example
ed., eds editor, editors
et al and others
Etc et cetera, and other similar things
fig., figs figure, figures
i.e. id est, that is
ibid. Ibidem, in the same place
loc cit loco citato, in the place cited
op cit opere citato, in the work cited
P, Pp Page, Pages
vis-a-vis Face-to-face; as compared with
vol., vols volume, volumes

On some occasions, you might find yourself referring to two or more pieces of work by the
same author and published in the same year. If this arises, then references in the text and in
the bibliography are differentiated by the addition of lower case letters to the date of
publication commencing with 'a'. Look now at Table 6.5.

Table 6.5: Example of one author publishing more than one piece in the same year

Brown (1998; 1998a) has written that polar bears enjoy drinking orange juice.

If you find that you have found information from two different authors but they happen to
have the same family name then you need to include their initials so that you can differentiate
between the two. Table 6.6 gives an example of this.

Other common cases that you may come across when you are writing assignments are when
you read edited books or when the author of a piece refers to another author in that piece.
Edited books are those, which the editor has put together a number of pieces written by other
authors. Examples of how you would reference these in text are highlighted in Table 6.7 and
Table 6.8 below. There are other examples of references that you may come across during your
writing but they are not as common as the ones highlighted previously. Table 6.9 summarises
examples of these.
Table 6.6: An example of two authors with the same surname

A B Smith (1998) has argued that polar bears enjoy peanuts, but this has since been shown to be false (C D
Smith, 2000)

Table 6.7: An example of how to reference an edited book

Polar bears enjoy eating peanuts (Brown, 1998).

Where Brown is the author of a chapter in an edited book – see Table 5.14 on how to present this in the
references and bibliography

Table 6.8: An example of how to reference an author cited by another author

Smith (1998, cited in Brown, 1999) has argued that polar bears enjoy peanuts.

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This example highlights that you read the piece written by Brown (1999) but within this piece Brown referred to
Smith (1998).

Table 6.9: Examples of other forms of references

1. Personal Communication
A. B. Smith (1998, personal communication, 2 July) said that polar bears enjoy peanuts.

2. Unpublished Work
Smith (unpublished, 1998) argues that polar bears enjoy peanuts.

3. No Date or Approximate Date


Smith (n.d.) said that polar bears enjoy peanuts OR Smith (c. 1925) said that polar bears enjoy peanuts.

4. Anonymous
Polar bears enjoy eating peanuts (Anon, 1998) OR Anon (1998) argues that polar bears enjoy eating
peanuts.

5. No Personal Author, Sponsored by an Organisation


A publication by the WWF (1998) reported that polar bears enjoy eating peanuts. Note: well know
abbreviations may be used in the textual references, but should be spelt out the first time that you use it
in the text. (In this case WWF stands for World Wildlife Fund)

6. Newspapers
If the author is given then always use their name. However, if there is no author given: Weekend News
(25 Jan. 1998, p19) stated that polar bears enjoy eating peanuts.

7. Motion Pictures, DVDs/Videos and Television


• Wildlife on 1 (video recording) 1998 reported that polar bears enjoy eating peanuts.
• Wildlife (motion picture) 1998 reported that polar bears enjoy eating peanuts.
Note: Television productions are identified as video recordings.

8. Lecturers’ notes
For any notes that exist in written form: Caldwell (lecture notes, 2006)

(Adapted from “Guide to Referencing the Harvard System” cited in www.usq.edu.au)

6.2 Referencing electronic sources


Electronic sources come in many forms. When referencing from Web sites in the text of an
assignment you should always try to find the author of the information that you are using. To
reference this in the text you must follow the author/date format as highlighted in the tables
above. However, this may not always be possible. If you do not find an author’s name then
you should just give the main page address in the text – e.g. http://www.accor.com. Table
6.10 gives an example of this. You are only required to include the full page address in the
bibliography/reference list at the end, i.e. http://wwwl.apa.org/resources/feature0201.html. In
addition, at the end of the full page address (in the reference list) you should give the date the
site was last accessed by you. If you are using different links within a single web site and citing
these a lot, then the main page address should be modified using an alphabetical notation, for
example, http://www.accor.com (a). The full page address should then be given in the
reference list at the end (see also Section 6.4).

Table 6.10: An example of in-text electronic referencing

It has been noted that polar bears enjoy eating peanuts (http://www.wwf.org).

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6.3 Quotations
Sometimes you may wish to quote the work of other writers. Quoting means that you want to
use the words exactly as you read them in a text or website. When you do this, the quote
should not normally exceed 100 words and 50 words is typical. Longer quotations may be
single, 1.5 or double spaced and indented from both margins, being separated from the rest of
the text by a line space above and below. See Example 1 in Table 6.11 for an illustration. For
short quotes (up to 10 words) you can fit the quotation into the body of your essay and do not
have to separate or indent (see Example 2 in Table 6.11) but should ‘surround’ the quotation
with quotation marks. Note that you should use single ‘ ’ marks and not double “ ” which
are only used to indicate speech.

Table 6.11: An example of direct quotations


Example 1
It is often argued that the real reason polar bears like porcupines is that they can use the spines afterwards to
pick their teeth, as Johnson (1999: 24) notes:

There is little doubt that an advantage to polar bears of eating porcupines is


that the porcupine’s spines are a very useful dental care aid. In this way,
polar bears are rarely seen to visit the dentist.

That no less an authority than Johnson makes this point leads us to consider whether polar bears ever require
false teeth. In this respect there is little evidence.
Example 2
It is often argued that the real reason polar bears like porcupines is that ‘the porcupine’s
spines are a very useful dental care aid’ (Johnson, 1999: 24).

6.4 Compiling the bibliography/reference list to your essay


A bibliography/reference list is a list of all material that you read to complete your assignment
and which is cited (referenced) in the text. It is important to note as much of the information in
Table 6.12 when researching so that you can compile the bibliography. For websites you should
obtain full website details and ‘last accessed’ date.

All bibliographic references adhere to the same standards in terms of content, although
presentation may differ. The first thing to note is that bibliographic references for books and
journals are styled differently.
For both book and journal references, the separation of authors' initials does not need full
stops. Note that when a single reference runs to more than one line, all lines after the first line
are slightly indented. All bibliographies/reference lists should be ordered alphabetically by
author family name and/or website address. Table 6.13 gives examples of how to compile a
bibliography of all the different types of referencing highlighted in Table 6.12.
Table 6.12: Information needed to compile a bibliography/reference list
Book Name of author (Date of publication of book) Title of the book, Place of publication: Publisher
of book
Journal article Name of author (Date of publication) Title of article or paper, Title of journal, Volume number
where appropriate, Issue number: page numbers of article (from-to)
Internet Name of author (Date of publication) Title of article/paper, Title of journal (where
appropriate), Issue number (where appropriate), Page numbers of where article appears (where
appropriate), The type of medium (e.g. CD-ROM, Online), ‘Available’ statement (e.g. www
address, supplier and name of electronic database), Most recent access date

Table 6.13: Examples of how to compile a bibliography/reference list


Type of Item Example
Book Bear, P (1980) Funny Things Humans, London: Routledge
1 author

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Book Bear, P and Watson, H (1980) Funny Things Humans, London:
2 authors Routledge
Book Anon (1980) Funny Things Humans London: Routledge
Anonymous
Journal Article Smith, J A (1979) 'Polar Bears and Penguins', Icelandic Journal of Arctic
and Antarctic Studies, 3, 4: 198-205

2 books in the one year King, P (1984a) Polar Bear Fish Dishes London: Routledge
by the same author -------- (1984b) Cooking with Polar Bears London: Routledge

Edited Book Bear, P (Ed.) (1980) Funny Things Humans, London: Routledge

Books with different Bear, P (1980) Funny Things Humans, 2nd Ed, London: Routledge
editions
Chapter in an edited Smith, J A (1980) 'Polar Bears' in Brown, S (Ed) The Habits of Polar
book Bears, London: Hutchinson, 132-165

Article cited in a book Smith, J A (1980) ‘Polar Bears’ Icelandic Journal of Arctic
and Antarctic Studies, 3, 4: 198-205 in Brown, S (1990) The Habits of
Polar Bears, London: Hutchinson

Newspaper article Weekend News, 24 Jan. 1998, p10

Internet with no author www.electronicdatasources.com/open/search.http (last visited 23/04/02)

Document found via the Smith, J A (1997) ‘New perspectives on polar bears’, International
internet Journal for the Study of Furry Creatures [Electronic], 34, 5: 23-34,
Elsevier Electronic Journals, www.elsevier.com, last accessed 23.4.99
(Adapted from http://www.usq.edu.au/library/resources/pathfind/Lg-11.htm)

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7. WORKING IN GROUPS
There will be many occasions when you will be asked to work in groups. Your ability to share
resources, ideas and skills are being assessed here. One of the main reasons that group course
work is issued is to prepare you for work in the industry as employers today see this as an
important element when recruiting. The success of the group depends on a number of factors,
which will be highlighted here.

7.1 Ground rules for group work


When working in groups it is important from the beginning to set some basic ground rules.
According to Drew and Bingham (1998:115) these include the following.
• Always attend meetings.
• Agree an agenda for meetings.
• Nobody to speak for longer than three minutes at a time.
• No interrupting.
• No putting others down. Criticise the ideas and not the person.
• Encourage everyone to speak.
• Start and end meetings on time.
• Set deadlines and stick to them.
• Everyone to do what they agree.
Keeping to these rules will help to avoid problems that may arise. It is important to keep the
group work professional and to stay focused on the task at all times.

It is also important to understand your own behaviour when working in groups. It is not good if
one person totally takes over the group. Table 7.1 identifies some of the behaviours that can be
shown in group work. Ideally what you are trying to achieve is assertive behaviour. Being
assertive does not mean that you will always get your own way (aggressive behaviour) nor does
it mean that other people will always get their own way (passive behaviour). It is aimed at
getting a win-win situation where everyone is happy.

Table 7.1: Types of behaviour shown in group work


ASSERTIVE BEHAVIOUR PASSIVE BEHAVIOUR AGGRESSIVE BEHAVIOUR
• Being prepared to negotiate • Keeping quiet for fear of • Getting your own way no
solutions upsetting other people matter what
• Listening to other people’s points • Avoiding conflict • Getting your point across at
of view • Not expressing your feelings other people’s expense
• Showing understanding of other • Going along with things you • Being loud and noisy
people’s situations don’t agree with • Interrupting others
• Finding solutions to difficulties • Apologising excessively • Putting people down
• Being clear about your point • Inwardly burning with anger and • Manipulating people by using
• Having self-respect and respect frustration silence, sarcasm or ignoring
for others • Being vague about your ideas people.
• Respecting other people’s values and needs
and ideas • Appearing indecisive
• Expressing your feelings honestly
and with care
Source: http://www.canberra.edu.au/studyskills/groups.htm

7.2 Peer Assessment


Peer assessment is not used in IMI except for demonstration purposes in PDP units.

7.3 Leading a seminar group


Good leadership can do more than anything else to ensure the success of a seminar group
discussion. The seminar discussion leader's most important functions are to:

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• introduce and present the topic for discussion;
• stimulate the exchange of knowledge, experience and opinions;
• keep the objectives of the discussion clear before the group; and
• guide discussion towards the objectives without appearing to do so.

7.4 Getting ready for a group or seminar discussion


• Determine the objectives of the discussion and the major points to be considered. State the
objectives in outline.
• Prepare your own remarks.
• List for your own use questions to put to the group which will provoke discussion and
possible group responses.
• The session will be more productive if each member of the group takes an active part.
• It is often useful to get opinions from several people and then put questions to the group
based on them.
• Keep to the subject.

7.5 Questions
Questions are among the most effective techniques in discussions. Use them to:
• open discussion;
• stimulate interest;
• provoke thinking;
• accumulate data;
• get individual participation;
• develop the subject;
• change the trend of the discussion;
• limit or terminate discussion; and
• to arrive at a conclusion.

7.6 Dealing with problem individuals


All group members should be encouraged to participate. Watch out for the person who:
• talks too much;
• talks too little;
• talks about the wrong things (not the task in hand);
• knows all the answers;
• talks to make an impression;
• takes a long time to express them self; and
• starts a conversation with their neighbour.

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8. MAKING ORAL PRESENTATIONS
Some of your coursework may include the oral presentation of information. This is a way in
which your communication skills can be assessed. There are a number of issues that need to be
considered when you are asked to complete this form of assignment. The information here is
largely adapted from Drew, S and Bingham, R (1998) The Student Skills Guide, Aldershot:
Gower Publications.

8.1 Purpose
There are many reasons why you might be asked to make an oral presentation. Usually your
lecturer will issue the topic but it is important for you to understand what the purpose behind it
is. As with reports you could be asked to inform, to persuade, to recommend, to sell or to
demonstrate. Understanding this will help you to approach how you are going to deliver the
presentation most effectively. By analysing the task (see Table 3.1 on how to analyse a
question) you should be able to work out the purpose of the presentation. If in doubt, check
with the lecturer who issued the task.

8.2 Audience
Knowing whom your audience is going to be helps in the preparation of the presentation. You
need to consider what their expectations of the presentation will be (e.g. do they expect to be
informed or persuaded).You need to think about the number of people that will be there as this
may influence the way in which you choose to set up the room (e.g. if there is only going to be
a small number present in your audience then you may wish to change the set-up of the room
from row behind row to a more semi-circular shape and vice versa if there is going to be a
larger number present). You need to consider the level of knowledge that you audience has in
relation to the subject that you are presenting. This will influence the words and phrases you
use during the presentation (e.g. there is no point in using a lot of technical language if your
audience is not familiar with it).

8.3 Preparation
Preparing well in advance helps when the time comes to actually deliver the presentation. It
helps you to understand the material that you are going to present and will assist in reducing
nerves on the day. If you are going to make a group presentation then it is important that you
know what each member is going to prepare as this helps in the hand over from one member
to the other during the actual presentation. More information will be provided on this issue in
Section 8.5 below – Delivery.

8.4 Structuring the presentation and delivery


You need to arrange your material in an ordered way. The general rule for structuring your
material for the presentation is:
• tell the audience what you are going to tell them (the beginning);
• tell them (the middle); and
• tell them what you have told them (the end).

If you stick to this structure then it helps you to keep focused on the topic. The beginning of
the presentation is particularly important as it is at this stage where you are trying to catch the
audiences’ attention. It is a good idea to start with something interesting e.g. a story, an
interesting statistic, a question, a visual aid such as a picture. Once you gain their attention
then you need to try to keep it throughout the presentation. At this stage it is also important to
highlight what you are going to cover in the time period that you have been allocated. It is
important to indicate the aim and objectives of the presentation (i.e. tell the audience what
you are going to tell them).

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The middle part of the presentation is where you now elaborate on the aims and objectives
(i.e. tell them). You will need to divide your information up into sections to make it easier to
present. Order your information in a logical way and this should help you to keep the
audiences’ attention. If you jump from one point to another and back again you start to
confuse the audience. It is a good idea to prepare some visual aids to help you convey your
message. Examples of different aids and their strengths and weaknesses are highlighted in Table
8.1.
Table 8.1: Different visual aids that can be used in oral presentations
Visual aid Useful for… Cautions
White board Spontaneous use, simple Have spare pen, chalk, duster, and
messages, permanent rubber. Use quickly, can interrupt flow.
background information.
Flip chart Background information, Awkward to use. Needs to be easy to
revealing successive bits of see – bold. Leaving it up can be
‘story’, can record ideas from distracting.
discussion and be kept for
future reference.
Overhead projector Prepared slides, or acetate Turn off when not using. Cover words
slides which can be written on not referring to, as it can be distracting.
during a presentation. Can Get slides in right order. Check the
have complex ‘overlays’ of slides are the right way up and that the
slides. entire slide appears on the screen.
Learn to focus in advance.
Slide projector Real photos. Makes an Check the slides are the right way up.
impact. Learn to focus in advance. Can leave
slides on too long/short a time. Can
inhibit discussion.
Video/DVD Real/live input. Entertaining. Preview the material. Load, rewind,
and check sound/picture in advance.
Select sections to use.
Film Real/live input. Entertaining. Have a projectionist. Preview the
material, have a contingency plan in
case the film breaks.
Objects (models, Demonstrations. Makes an Model/experiment – ensure it will work.
experiments, products) impact. Explains a process. Big enough to see. Allow time to pass
Makes a dry subject item round the audience. Can distract.
interesting.
PowerPoint Prepared presentations and Learn to focus in advance. Can leave
presentations/Beamer makes an impact. Can slides on too long/short a time. Can
integrate sound and video clips inhibit discussion.
easily.
Laptop PowerPoint presentations Make sure that the laptop is compatible
with the beamer. Practice in advance.
Drew, S and Bingham, R (1998: 97) The Student Skills Guide, Aldershot: Gower Publications.

An important thing to remember when you are using visual aids is to keep them simple. If you
try to use complex aids then the audience is no longer concentrating on what you are trying to
tell them. Using visual aids helps to get the audience attention so make sure whatever you use
is clear. Always think about the person in the back row – make sure that they can see what you
are using and hear what you are saying.

The final stage is to end the presentation (i.e. tell them what you have told them). Here it is
good to summarise the main issues covered in the presentation and to tie them all together. It
is also good to summarise any discussion that may have developed through the presentation.
Your final conclusion can be given here together with implications for the future.

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8.5 Delivery
How you deliver the presentation is a part of how you are being assessed. There are a number
of points that you should take into consideration when working out how you are going to
deliver the material. It is good to have practiced your presentation, as on the day you may be
nervous and practising will help you to understand the research and give you more confidence
when you speak. Remember that you are the one that has done the research and you are the
one who knows the subject. You will not be expected to learn the information off-by-heart and
it is not a good idea to read information straight from your notes. Using both of these methods
of delivery becomes boring and you loose the attention of your audience. It is better if you take
a more natural approach and make use of speaker notes. Speaker notes are important and help
you especially if you are nervous. There are a number of way in which you can make notes for
yourself. Table 8.2 highlights some of these. Choose one that best suits you and that you feel
most comfortable with.

Table 8.2: Examples of speaker notes for oral presentations


Note type Comments
Cards Put each main point with notes on a card and number the card
Overhead projector Use them to remind you of the main points but be careful not to turn your
back to the audience
Highlighting main points in Margins can be used to indicate how long each section should take (and
bold on sheets of paper in the case of group presentation, who is covering it)
Full written out text Use this method only for difficult sections, but practice beforehand and
use the notes to reassure yourself but not to read directly from
Mind maps Highlighting your main points and linking with arrows which direction you
are taking
Drew, S and Bingham, R (1998: 95) The Student Skills Guide, Aldershot: Gower Publications.

There are a number of issues that you should consider for the actual delivery of your
presentation. Table 8.3 highlights some of these important points. It is natural that you may be
nervous about the presentation so there are a number of things that you can do in terms of
fighting your nerves. Be prepared, be on time and try to relax. You will feel more comfortable
and confident if you have practiced the presentation in advance. Have a glass of water near if
you think you are going to need it and finally, remember that other students will have to do a
presentation too and are also nervous.

8.6 Assessment of presentations


Presentations will be assessed using a standard pro forma as shown in Appendix 2.

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9. GUIDE TO REVISION
9.1 Test your learning skills
Answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to each of the following questions.
1. Do you research, plan and draft an essay before 8. Do you use a library or learning resources room
writing it? to help you with your studies?
2. Do you revise a topic if exams are not due for 9. Have you always kept your coursework folder up
some time? to date?
3. If you are having problems with a topic, do you 10. Can you easily identify the key points of a text
discuss them with your lecturer? to make your notes from?
4. Do you complete all your coursework in good 11. Have you drawn up a timetable for your
time? revision?
5. Do you study with the television or stereo 12. Do you know ways of improving your memory
turned off? when revising?
6. Do you read all the comments and corrections a 13. Do you always finish answering every question
lecturer puts on your work? that you are set in an exam?
7. Do you keep a glossary of technical terms for 14. Are you able to forget about schoolwork once
each subject? you have finished studying for the day?
If you have answered ‘yes’ to at least seven questions, you may regard yourself as well on the
way to becoming an effective learner.

9.2 What is revision, when do I do it and how do I plan it?


Revision is another word for reviewing. It is the process by which you re-read course essays,
notes and textbooks in order to understand and remember what you have learned. To be
effective, revision requires accurate notes and careful planning. Your chances of success will be
much reduced if you intend to cram one semester’s work into one week of revision. It is best to
begin your programme of revision at least one month before the exams. You should: (a) devise a
revision timetable that best suits your pattern of learning; (b) allocate enough time to revising
each subject each day, each revision session should last about forty minutes, with ten-minute
breaks; (c) try not to revise more than two subjects each day; (d) revise at the time of day you
work most effectively: mornings, afternoons or evenings; and (e) make sure you have time to
relax before going to bed. Revising does not have to be the solitary and laborious chore it is
often made out to be. Believe it or not, it can even be enjoyable. By learning a range of revision
skills, students who lack confidence can feel a lot better about revision and those who are over-
confident can be made more aware of their weaknesses.

9.3 Revising a topic


Read through your essays, notes and textbook chapters, listing key points and words under each
separate heading as you do so. Use different colours to make important points or to make
headings stand out. You should then try to list any of your own ideas under each of these
headings in another colour. It is useful to make notes while revising because it keeps you active; it
helps you concentrate and understand a topic more; and it saves you from having to read your
whole course file, because you can memorise your own notes more easily.

9.4 Note-taking
The quality of your learning will depend on the quality of your notes. Your notes should be
concise and relevant. Effective note taking requires the ability to distinguish between what is
important information and what is not important. Your notes should be legible to help you
understand them. If you rewrite your notes keep your final copy stored on index cards or in a
small notebook for easy reference.

9.5 Where to revise


The condition in which you revise will influence the effectiveness of your revision. It will help, if
you have prolonged study, to:

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(a) use a quiet, comfortable, warm, ventilated room that is well lit;
(b) use a comfortable chair and an adequate sized desk or table;
(c) have all files, books, paper, pens and calculators near you; and
(d) have all TVs, CDs and personal stereos switched off.

9.6 Memory aids


A MNEMONIC is a way of helping you remember information using abbreviations, words or
phrases. The funnier these are the better. To remember the colours of the spectrum in order, you
might use the mnemonic: Richard of York Gave Battle in Vain, using the initial letters of each
word to remember (in the right order) the colours red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and
violet. Diagrams can also help you remember and understand things. To make your revision more
varied, active and enjoyable you should set tests for yourself to assess how much you have
learned. Your answers can be written or recorded. You could even ask a friend to test you.
Forming self-help pairs or groups to assist your revision can be a great advantage. Working with
others can help fill in gaps in your understanding or knowledge and is bound to be more fun than
working alone. But be careful not to make your sessions all fun and no work.

9.7 Practical examinations


• Make sure the equipment and materials you need are available for you when you need them.
• Plan your sessions so that you do not waste time waiting for something to dry or cool.
• Set a target for what you are going to do in each session if there is more than one.
• Always follow safety rules when you work near machinery and chemicals. Use aprons, face
guards and gloves when necessary.
• Label your work with your name and/or student number.

9.8 Before examinations


• Be sure you are familiar with IMI regulations on examinations by referring to the notices
posted on the various information boards around the School.
• Be sure you know exactly where and when each paper of each exam is being held.
• It is important to remember your course, unit title, unit number (where appropriate) and
student number.
• Arrive for each paper on time.
• Bring the necessary equipment: black or blue pens, two plain pencils (pencils ONLY in
accounting examinations) and colouring pencils, sharpener, rubber, compasses, protractor, set
squares, a reliable watch, tissues and (if you need them) spectacles.
• If you suffer from hay fever or any other persistent medical problems, seek advice from your
doctor. Remember: some painkillers can cause drowsiness.

9.9 Final moments


There are various things to do before you start the actual exam. According to Cottrell (1999) you
should:
• try to relax and get into a focused state of mind;
• listen carefully to the invigilator's instructions;
• make sure that you have the correct exam paper in front of you as mistakes do happen;
• fill in your exam paper fully and accurately, making sure the exam is the one you are meant
to be taking;
• make sure you understand the instructions i.e. length of time available, the number of
questions to be completed, any compulsory questions etc;
• read the entire paper thoroughly (at least twice) before deciding on your questions;
• check both sides of the paper even if you think one side may be blank; and
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• calculate the amount of time that you should devote to each question and jot down when
you will begin each question.

Now you are ready to choose your questions. Cottrell (1999) suggests that you do the
following:
• choose a question that you fully understand. It is not advisable to just write all you know
about a subject as this only proves that you can memorise it. Marks are given on the basis
of your understanding of the question, and your ability to relate it to course issues;
• tick the questions that you think you could attempt but tick twice the ones that you think
you could do best. Take you time over this bearing in mind the point above;
• when you have chosen the questions that you are going to do, highlight the key words in
this. Work out if the question has different parts that need to be answered; and
• at any stage during the exam you can jot down ideas that you think of in relation to the
questions so that you don’t forget them. Do this on the question sheet and clearly mark
which questions the idea relates to so that you don’t get mixed up.

9.10 Your answers


• It is best to start writing the answer to the question that you feel most confident about.
• Spend a few minutes planning your answer in rough. In quantitative examination questions,
you should show all your rough work.
• If you find that your mind has gone blank – try not to panic. You may be too tense so try a
relaxation exercise for a few minutes. For example: close your eyes and breathe out slowly
several times until you feel a little calmer.
• When writing essay questions you should follow a structure e.g. introduce the topic, give
detail in the main body and finish with a conclusion. Examiners appreciate it when a logical
structure is followed and the work is clearly labelled e.g. questions numbered correctly.
• Draw large, clearly labelled diagrams in pencils. Mark graphs with the correct units and
always use a ruler to draw straight lines.
• Spend longer answering questions with more marks.
• If you are unsure about a question which requires a short answer, come back to it later. You
can then attempt an answer.
• Make sure that every sheet added to your exam booklet is completed with details such as
your candidate number. These pages should be securely attached and all pages should be
numbered and in order.
• Please be careful with your handwriting. Nobody expects perfection but if your writing is
illegible or difficult to read then examiners may miss points that you are trying to make.
• Do not speak or hand anything to anyone while in the examination hall, even at the end of
an exam. A simple misunderstanding could lead to disqualification.

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9.11 Self evaluation
According to Cottrell (1999:226) if you can answer YES to most of the following questions, then
your chance of exam success is high. Do I:

• read the whole exam paper carefully? • find questions that are similar to ones I have
• follow all instructions? practiced?
• answer the correct number of questions in • find I have revised enough topics?
full? • know what a ‘good’ answer looks like?
• plan time so that I can check my answers? • know which style is appropriate?
• know exactly how long I have for each • know the correct format or layout?
question? • plan my answers (on paper or in my head)?
• share out time according to the marks • develop a clear argument (where appropriate)?
available? • use example from the course materials?
• use all of the available time? • keep strictly to answering the question set?
• read each question at least twice? • avoid irrelevant detail and going off at tangents?
• spend time working out what all the • get to the point quickly?
questions mean? • avoid flowery language and vague introductions?
• ask myself what the examiner is looking for? • include an introduction and a conclusion?
• spend enough time considering the best • keep focused on the exam during the exam?
questions for me? • check my answers for mistakes?
• feel confident about what I am expected to • check my answers to see if they make sense?
do?

If you have not answered yes to most of these questions and are uncertain about any aspects
then it is advisable that you consult with a lecturer.

9.12 Do not panic!


The exam period is probably very stressful. The pressure of revision, the fear of failure, and
uncertainty about job prospects are probably a worry to you. In the face of this, it might not
seem very helpful to be advised to ‘keep calm’. You first need to be able to identify signs of
stress so that you can then take action to resist it.

9.13 Signs of stress


Many students experience stress around exam time. Stress causes us to worry and can cause
feelings of panic or loss of control. If you feel as if you are not fully in control, you might
become more disorganised. Stress can cause you to avoid tasks and make you put off what
needs to be done. You may think negative thoughts about yourself, such as: ‘I am useless in
exams’ or ‘I just can't get myself organised’. You may feel you are alone in your self-doubt and
that nobody understands your position or can help you. You may feel tired, irritable and this
can affect your health.

9.14 How to cope with stress


• ORGANISE your time productively. Identify your strengths and weaknesses. Develop ways
to overcome any weaknesses.
• Recognise that a vague, general feeling of anxiety might really just spring from worrying
about one or two subjects. Identify those worries and try to tackle their cause.
• If you feel yourself becoming tense, employ a breathing or relaxation exercise regularly. For
example, sit in a quiet room, relax your face and shoulders, take long deep breaths in and
out. Do this once before a revision session and once after.
• Relax by forgetting about work, by playing music or a sport, by watching television or by an
activity, such as a hobby, that helps you to take your mind off revision and exams. Physical
exercise is an excellent way of refreshing your mind and body.

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• Sleep for at least eight hours at night. Keep to a balanced healthy diet. Avoid drinking
coffee which can cause stress and stomach cramps. Try to keep everything in perspective
and try not to take your work too seriously.

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APPENDIX 1: STUDENT ASSESSED WORK FEEDBACK FORM
STUDENT UNIT CODE
NUMBER(S)

CONTENT (80%)

PRESENTATION AND STRUCTURE(10%)

REFERENCING (10%)

TOTAL MARK ADJUSTED TOTAL MARK (WHERE


APPLICABLE)

TO OBTAIN A BETTER MARK YOU NEEDED TO IMPROVE THE FOLLOWING

LECTURER’S SIGNATURE DATE

Undergraduate and PG Diploma MBA


DESCRIPTOR GRADE MARK BAND DESCRIPTOR GRADE MARK BAND
Excellent A 70%+ Excellent A 70%+
Good Pass B 60%-69% Good Pass B 60%-69%
Clear Pass C 50%-59% Pass C 50%-59%
Pass D 40%-49% Fail F Less than 50%
Fail F Less than 40%

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APPENDIX 2: PRESENTATION ASSESSED WORK FEEDBACK FORM
STUDENT UNIT CODE
NUMBER(S)

CONTENT and RESEARCH (50%)

PRESENTATION TECHNIQUE and DELIVERY (40%)

OVERALL INTERPRETATION OF ASSESSMENT TASK (10%)

TOTAL MARK ADJUSTED TOTAL MARK (WHERE


APPLICABLE)

TO OBTAIN A BETTER MARK YOU NEEDED TO IMPROVE ON THE FOLLOWING

LECTURER’S SIGNATURE DATE

Undergraduate and PG Diploma MBA


DESCRIPTOR GRADE MARK BAND DESCRIPTOR GRADE MARK BAND
Excellent A 70%+ Excellent A 70%+
Good Pass B 60%-69% Good Pass B 60%-69%
Clear Pass C 50%-59% Pass C 50%-59%
Pass D 40%-49% Fail F Less than 50%
Fail F Less than 40%

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