Friday, May 22, 2009

Reflections on Assignment Writing.

As I write my assignments, what am I trying to achieve?
1. Answer the question.
2. Comprehensively examine the issues.
3. Make some insightful comments.
4. Write clearly and concisely.
5. Write something that impresses the marker.
6. Demonstrate understanding of the subject.
But perhaps I should be more interested in actually understanding the subject and asking questions about the issues.
Before beginning this course, I was unaware of "information skills models". I approached "information tasks" intuitively. If I now unpack what my process is, it would go something like this:
  • Read the question. Think: What do I know about this? What is this question really asking? What direction do I think my answer will go in? What material do I have at hand that will help me to answer this? What extra information will I need?
  • Read the material I have at hand. Make summary notes of important points and organise them in such a way as to be able to attach them to the relevant section of the question.
  • Begin to map out my answer. Think: What parts of my argument are missing? What extra information do I need to make my argument clear and well supported? Does my answer flow? have a structure? make sense to the reader?
  • Begin to write my essay. Read over what I've already written constantly, editing to change phrases or words as I go. Make slow progress as I reread and edit every few minutes.
  • Keep writing, rereading, editing...
  • Finally it is finished. Step away from the computer.
  • Look again at the essay. Reread it critically. Edit, edit, edit.
  • Submit essay when I can no longer stand to look at it any more.

As I read through this, I realise that once I start writing, I have set my course. Though I edit, edit, edit, I never go back to the question, or seriously reevaluate my argument. Interesting...

In other news, the renovation pace has slowed considerably. Basically the kitchen cannot proceed until we have the new bench top. Chris needs to get up into the roof to fix up some pipes for the laundry, I'm not sure if that is something he is planning to get to on the weekend. Also the external brickwork needs to be done, but it's not exactly the weather for that! After a disturbed night with heavy rain and gales, I said to Chris this morning, (tentatively) "You might want to go out and check the tarp.". Thankfully he was able to report that everything was safe and dry.

I'm going to see Jane Rutter's "An Australian in Paris" tomorrow night. I'm taking my flute students and their mothers. It's been a very long time since I've done something like this - something that I want to do and will enjoy, without reference to my husband or children.

What we're reading:

Chris: recipe books. He's cooking dinner for our weekly get together with my sister's family and is choosing something lovely to cook.

Me: Dean Koontz Life Expectancy - grabbed it at the library when I was there getting some books for Josh.

Alana: Stephenie Meyer Twilight - has just started it to see if it grabs her.

Josh: (sorry don't have author at hand) Lab rats in space - one of the books I chose for him at the library. I read the back and it sounded like something he'd like!

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