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?Essay crafting trips up students
Essay crafting trips up students
Tuesday 26 April 2011 01.45 EDT
« When I came to put in writing my initially assignment, I cried, » says Daphne Elliston. « I just didn’t know what I was doing. »
Elliston graduated along with a degree in health and social care from the Open University. Though she’s hugely proud of her achievement, she says that inside of the early days she worked up to three hours a night for weeks on finish to construct an essay she was happy to post.
« At the beginning, by far the most difficult thing was just understanding the academic words, » she says.
« Then putting my individual words into academic language was hard. And it was difficult to believe I was entitled to my individual opinion or to disagree with all these academics who’d done years of research. »
Elliston started her degree after decades out on the education process, and with just an individual NVQ qualification to her name.
She believes the gap in her education was to blame but, according to some academics, loads of with the latest crop of students gearing up to A-levels will come to feel exactly the same when they start out university this autumn.
Margi Rawlinson, academic skills co-ordinator at Edge Hill University, says it is wrong to think that only so-called non-traditional students wrestle with crafting essays.
« We have people with A-levels who are arriving poorly equipped for academic crafting, » she says.
« I think 1 on the issues at A-level is always that they’re not being taught to research independently, and essays] it’s not just the creating – that’s only part of it. »
At Worcester University, Helena Attlee, fellow in the Royal Literary Fund and writer in residence, agrees.
« It appears to be to me there’s a lack of interface concerning A-levels and degrees, so the thing that people are required to do to get very outstanding A-levels isn’t equipping them to do what is required to get a degree. »
Over the last yr, part of Attlee’s role is actually to offer one-to-one sessions with students to help them establish the skills needed to carry out a well-written assignment.
« The absolutely normal thing is they have no clue that there’s a recipe for an academic essay. That can make life considerably easier for you if somebody bothers to tell you, » she says.
« Students can have no idea on the concept of making an argument so their essays are entirely descriptive. You know, ‘and then this happens, and such-and- these types of an academic says this about it, and then this happens, and so-and-so says that’. »
With the ability to think or craft analytically « there’s no conclusion for the reading you can actually do, » she says. « And, at that point, students start off to say they believe overwhelmed. »
Kate Brooks, principal lecturer and student knowledge co-ordinator with the faculty of creative arts on the University in the West of England (UWE), has carried out research into students’ go through with the transition amongst school and university, and says that essay crafting featured strongly in their comments.
« One issue was time management – do they begin the process of composing weeks before or the night before? » she says.
On the workshop sessions she runs, she tries to explain that, in fact, producing serves as a very small element in building an essay.
« Students can have an idea that it’s a linear thing – you do your reading, then you get a cup of tea and sit down to put in writing. We try to get across that it’s a way more cyclical approach; do some research, draft a bit, check out some way more, think, consider what you’ve written, redraft. I’ll explain that it’s like that for academics, too – after all, I don’t just sit down 1 working day and think, ‘Right, I’ll create a book!' »
Some universities are now actively addressing the problem in individual faculties or by generating generic cross-subject courses delivered by their study skills departments. But some students resist the help on offer.
« The English department listed here put on the compulsory module called ‘Writing at degree level’, but dropped it considering that the students rebelled, » says Attlee. « They felt it was remedial and offensive and they wouldn’t go. »
Attlee’s one-to-one sessions are voluntary and very popular. Having individual attention, she says, can make all the difference to someone who is embarrassed to say that they’re failing to master a fundamental – though far from painless – talent.
At Essex University, the head of philosophy, Professor Wayne Martin, is passionate about the voluntary module on essay crafting he’s created for MA and first-year undergraduate students – and he needs to be, mainly because it sounds distinctly time-intensive and just isn’t an official part of his job.
« Students do it due to the fact they hope to. They’re not assessed, but it’s really hard job, » he says.
« In philosophy, a particular ability that’s needed, and which needs time to create, is the representation of argument so you don’t get tangled up in creating longer, ugly sentences. And then, some very smart students can publish, nevertheless they get to university and they overreach themselves, implementing phrases like ‘hegemonic dialectical superstructure’! »
Sessions are run with all the students together within a room, so there’s an element of having to cope using a bit of gentle public ribbing at many of the additional desperate clangers. Developing an atmosphere of trust and constructive criticism is therefore essential to helping people believe safe and ensuring they prefer to come back again.
Essays are due into Martin’s inbox at midnight on Sundays. He is up the following morning for the crack of dawn reading them, so he can selects excerpts to the entire group to discuss and rewrite together.
As he points out, this type of tuition doesn’t appear to make economic perception, notably with universities beneath tremendous pressure to teach in a lot more efficient ways. But, he says, it is a whole lot more cost-effective than it sounds. « My strategy with that’s for universities to be offering a blend of very high-efficiency lectures – means that with hundreds of students] – but then use that efficiency to offer this kind of intimate instruction. »
But is it realistic to think that people’s essay-writing skills can improve significantly if they’ve not previously been developed over years inside of a school setting?
« Yes, incredibly. In addition to the biggest improvement is generally inside number one 5 weeks, » he says.
Elliston is living proof. By absorbing and working through all the feedback from her OU tutors over the six years it took her to get her degree, her marks went up from 56% on her initially assignment to 84% in her last essay of her final calendar year.
« That feedback, and therefore the nice way it was given, was so important, » she says. But she wishes she had been more desirable prepared for your shock of leaping into an academic environment.
« I think an obtain course would probably have helped me, before I started, to ge t the skills that had been going to be expected of me. » website for essay writing