Hillcroft LRC

Posts Tagged ‘essay-writing

iPod in handOur colleague Andrew Checkley E-Learning Manger at Croydon College has been developing a Moodle Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) course with his Learning Resources (LRC) team which he talked about at the March 16 London FE Moodle Roundtable event. The course is on academic writing. Find out more about it on their E-Learning blog post.

As well as using material from the LRC on the course Andrew found some useful research material on the State Library of Victoria’s website. The resource covers:

 

  • working out what question you are trying to answer
  • finding the information
  • choosing the resources you use
  • making and organising notes
  • presenting your material
  • reflecting on your work.

There’s also some handy material on writing essays too which covers:

  • identifying the essay question
  • using quotations
  • writing
  • editing.

Plus there are tips on study skills:

  • stress management
  • dealing with exams.

Last but not least at this time of the year many of our students are doing GCSE examinations in English and maths so this BBC Bitesize app available on Android and iOS will help you. The app has flashcards which will help you revise and covers numerous GCSE subjects.

Critical thinking booksStella Cottrell’s book Critical Thinking Skills: Developing Effective Analysis and Arguments is a guide that can take you from college to university. It helps you look at what you read in a different light by demonstrating and explaining how academic authors build up their arguments in their writing.

How does that help you? It will help you understand arguments and guides you into weighing up the logic of them. This will not only assist you in evaluating different authors’ opinions and theories but will also benefit you in developing your own writing style to convince your tutors of how you have assessed others’ work and built up your own arguments with persuasive evidence.

The book gets you to identify bias, hidden meanings and follow a line of reasoning to its logical conclusion. It’s not only useful for essay writing, reading and making notes from academic literature but is also invaluable for debating and any piece of writing or presentation where you would need to persuade your audience of your arguments.

Cottrell’s book gives you exercises to do to build up your skills of critique, analysis and argument. It’s one you can dip into time and time again. Having read it myself it’s easy to recognise that had a book like this existed when I was university it would have been a key to getting a top grade!

Palgrave who publish the book also have a free companion website area Critical Thinking which sits under their useful Study Skills website.

If you’re just starting your studies then the Pocket Guide by Kate Williams called Getting Critical is a good starter guide and similarly advises on reading with a critical eye and developing your writing skills so you are analytical too. We also have another Critical Thinking guide by Debra Hills. Hills’s guide gives you a definition and takes you through the steps in the process of reading and writing critically and has a number of tips on using sources, note taking and planning your answers.

Psychology for Dummies on DawsoneraThis week we’ve added two ebooks in the Dummies series to our collection. They are:

Sociology for Dummies by Nasar Meer and Jay Gabler

Psychology for Dummies by Adam Cash

Our students requested these two. The Dummies series are a fantastic way of getting to understand a subject which is completely new to you. The books are great as they all come with lots of call-out boxes and diagrams to break up the text and give you tips and reminders.

We’ve got a number of ebooks and books from the series.  Other handy ones in the study skills area are:

Time Management for Dummies by Clare Evans

Writing Essays for Dummies by Mary Page and Carrie Winstanley

Speed Reading for Dummies by Richard Sutz and Peter Weverka

Information sources mindmap - available on the VLE

Information sources mindmap – available on the VLE.

To get the better grades in assignments they are looking for you to draw from a wide range of relevant information sources to reinforce your ideas. There is no end to good sources of information available to you, but navigating your way through to the best ones takes practice and guidance. Here’s a little guidance, but please ask for help from the LRC team if you are stuck.

To start out with it is advisable to find information from generalist sources such as encyclopaedias and subject specific dictionaries. For instance to find definitions of key words included in your essay question. They have more authority than Wikipedia when it comes to referencing. However, starting an assignment is scary and overwhelming, perhaps try listening to a podcast on the topic or watching a video to get more familiar with it in a short time without needing to open a book.

After getting a better picture of the topic and identifying the key words next you could move on to more specialist sources such as subject books, ebooks, newspaper and journal articles. We have access to these through the MyAthens log in page on the VLE and our borrowing service. Let us know if you have forgotten your password, it happens to almost everyone. Alternatively, search on newspaper websites and  such as The Guardian or through Google Scholar.

There’s a mindmap of information sources that is posted on the VLE under LRC FAQs –> Resources.

Sharing ideas and meeting others with similar experiences has been what the internet has enabled since its beginning. Twitter and Facebook and other social networking sites have taken this to a new level. However the humble internet forum still thrives to bring together communities online. There are forums for everything you can think of, from mental health and business women.

Their aims are to be supportive and informative. However, posting to a forum will require the same level of responsibility and care as posting anywhere on the web. More practical tips about e-safety can be read on this website.

On the Hillcroft VLE there are also opportunities to take part in discussion forums on different courses. Your views really are heard, so don’t be shy with voicing your opinion and reflecting on it. It is great practice for developing an argument for an essay or to be more assertive in everyday life.

'Poverty' by Paul Downey is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Poverty‘ by Paul Downey is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

The pre-access students are doing an essay on whether rich countries should financially help less wealthy nations.

We have a number of books with data and information pertinent to this question looking at poverty and social inequality. Here are some interesting points from some of the eresources you have access to at Hillcroft:

“One line of inequality has been narrowing and there is every reason to expect it to continue to do so: the old idea of a sharp division in the world between rich countries and poor countries no longer holds in the same form. The contrasts are now more subtle, as other lines of inequality are getting broader.” (Smith 2013 p. 36) from Dawsonera ebook State of the World Atlas.

“Since the late 1980s with the collapse of communism the term ‘Third World’ is still used but it remains to be seen for how long. These societies can be regarded as ‘super-poor’. As a concept ‘super-poor’ can be said to unite not just countries sharing common conditions, but disparate groups in several societies. Thus many women in Third World societies can be said to be ‘super-poor’.” (Marsh 2006 p. 434) from Dawsonera ebook Sociology: making sense of society.

The world stats mean that “the richest 85 people have as much as the poorest 3.5 billion.” (BBC News 2015) from article A richer world…but for whom?

You may also want to watch this video on Ending Poverty on Bibblio.org. Search Bibblio for more short and informative pieces to help you become more familiar with the topic and create an essay focus.


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