Sunday, 4 December 2011

7. Compiling a Literature Review

Compiling your first Literature Review within the college environment is quite difficult due to the guidelines you need to follow.  As you are trying to understand what a literature review is, you must source credible material for secondary research relating to the specific topic.  Secondary research comes from many media including books, journals, publications, previous research studies and websites. 

Having sourced the relevant literature, you then must read the information to gain knowledge and understanding on the topic.  This can take a lot of time but it is crucial to compiling a good literature review.  The next stage is to start writing your literature review in the third person, explaining your understanding of the material read and critically analysing the information. 

I found that the literature review on The Importance of Effective Communication & Diversity in today’s Working Environment allowed me to illustrate my understanding of the topic.  I focused on the areas of effective communication, multi-skilled and team oriented individuals as I believe they are relevant to social care work.  

At first there can be some anxiety in meeting the word count.  Don’t under estimate the time it takes to compile a literature review.  Where ever you use a quote or paraphrase you must include the reference i.e. author/date.  It is necessary to edit the final draft for possible errors, fluency and to check you have not exceeded the word count.  The Harvard style of referencing must be complied with when writing your reference list.  The final phase is up loading it onto Moodle where your literature review will be automatically screened through “turn-it-in” the anti-plagiarism system. 

  • Formal writing style.
  • Logical structure - introduction, body and conclusion.
  • Analytical thinking.
  • Clear and concise language.
  • Avoid plagiarism
  • Effective proof-reading.
  • Correct Harvard style referencing.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

9. Time Management

As a college student, are you trying to juggle lots of different commitments and are deadlines coming up close together?  If yes, it’s not surprising that you feel overwhelmed.  I know I do! 

There are many factors that play a role in time management and these can range from home life, work, study, socialising with friends and interacting with fellow students within the college environment.  Initially the course tasks may appear relatively easy and won’t take long to complete by the submission date.  So you postpone starting the assignment before realising the complexity of the task.  Then more work is assigned or activities are planned and soon you are overloaded with college work and social events which leads to compromises been made in your work life balance.  As a result, no area of your life is winning and you might say to yourself this won’t happen again!  This is why effective time management is recommended to reduce stress and anxiety associated with college life.

If you are coming to the end of first term, winter exams are approaching and you know that time management was not your forte, use this as your incentive to get organised from the beginning of the new term.

  • Create a master schedule that indicates on a term or year basis when holidays, exams, reports/essays etc. are due.  Post it in a prominent spot.
  • Create a weekly schedule
  • Avoid too much detail when scheduling – a schedule has to remain flexible.
  • Schedule tasks that may require maximum concentration during your “peak” or periods of optimum alertness.
  • Remember to schedule in rewards, after doing a difficult or challenging task.
  • Allocate times for relaxation, exercise, socialising.  This allows time to unwind and gives you something to look forward to.  

Friday, 2 December 2011

4. Effective Presentations

When you hear the word ‘presentation’ your mind goes into over drive.  You might think it is an unachievable assignment.  You first think about standing up in front of your peers and lecturer and their reaction to your presentation.  Your mind switches to choosing a topic and set criteria that must be met to achieve an effective presentation. 

Prior to presenting there were a number of factors I had to consider: the subject matter, specific information to present, effective time management and the presentation style. 

Remember the Mantra!
  • Tell 'Em What You’re Gonna Tell 'Em! (Introduction)
  • Tell 'Em! (Body)
  • Tell 'Em What You Told 'Em! (Conclusion/Summary)

It is a good idea to suggest that if anyone has questions to leave them to the end of the presentation as it might take away from the fluency of the presentation and the presentation itself may answer the questions the audience has.  

The design of your PowerPoint presentation should be eye catching and in a few words capture the main information you want to present.  The illustrations and video clips need to have relevance and support your presentation.  Your delivery needs to reach the target audience and the tone of the presentation needs to vary.  It is important to have cue cards to refer to as they may hold some information not displayed on the slides. 

I reviewed my presentation prior to presenting and re-evaluated the interest factor for the target audience to my chosen topic and slide presentation.  The real challenge was to ensure that I could deliver my presentation in five minutes without compromising my objective. Preparation, research, structure, accuracy and practice enabled me to give an effective presentation.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

6. Harvard Referencing

In previous studies I had to reference reports.  However, Harvard Referencing was a new area I had to learn for my college assignments.  This is a method of quoting references by the author/date system.  Referencing the sources of information ensures that the authors are acknowledged by the student thus avoiding plagiarism.  There are many forms of Harvard Referencing and it is important to adhere to and consistently follow the one you have been recommended by your lecturer or college.  We were given a referencing guide to support us and from this I learnt that there are different styles when referencing an article; book, online report etc. and the format for referencing within the text differs from the format used in the reference list or bibliography.

  • Record each reference correctly and in full as you are researching information for your assignment.  This ultimately saves you time and will reduces stress as the submission deadline draws near.
  • Refer to the referencing guidelines as they contain many examples of how to reference correctly both within the text and in the reference list or bibliography.
  • References in the reference list must be listed in alphabetical order.
  • Becoming confident in using the Harvard style of referencing occurs over time as you submit assignments, literature reviews and professional practice reports etc.
  • Being familiar with the referencing guide will also aid you in referencing during your exams when answering essay questions.
  • Do not leave yourself vulnerable to loosing marks in your assignment by referencing poorly or inconsistently.  Always proof read your assignment and reference list for possible errors prior to submission.
  • The Harvard system of referencing can be tedious but is worth the effort to maximise your % mark in assignments.

          Referencing a Blog

          Include the name of the blog author, the title of the message, the name of the web site and the date the message was posted.

          Bradley, P. 2010. Top 100 tools for learning 2010. Phil Bradley's web log [Online] 12 June 2010. Available at: [Accessed: 18 June 2010].

          1. Effective Note Taking

          A communication lecture on Effective Note Taking took place at the beginning of the academic year for 1st year students.  During the lecture and over the following weeks I learnt that effective note taking can be unique to the individual.  There is no single best way of taking notes.  It depends on the context in which you are attending the lecture, on the kind of lecture it is, and most of all on the way you work and learn.

          I need to ask myself what I hope to gain by making notes.  The beginning and the end of the lecture is an important time to take down notes as it sets the scene of the lecture and it summarises what has been covered in the lecture.  Listening and documenting the examples and illustrations helps me to remember and understand the subject/concepts discussed within lectures.  It can be very challenging talking down effective notes during lectures as time constrains play a factor during a PowerPoint presentation.  I find it is a good idea to take down the slide number and key words the lecturer mentions or words that will help me learn and understand the subject. 

          By reviewing both the lecture handouts and my notes I can develop and link/enhance the theory I have gained in the lectures.  Having effective notes improves my learning and I hope they will assist me in my continuous assessments and revising for my exams. 

          • Abbreviations
          • Symbols
          • Diagrams / Images
          • Slide Number
          • Key Words
          • Text Message Style
          • Mind Maps
          • The use of colour to make difference and show importance