ED209 TMA02 – Finished at last!

This has been a much more difficult TMA to sort out that I thought it was going to be and despite what I said about essay writing after I’d finished TMA01, I’m almost relieved that the next one is an essay question. As I’m ahead in the reading for the course, the coming week will see me make a start on it so I don’t get too far ahead and forget all I’ve read in the first three chapters of book 2.

The first part of TMA02, five 200 word short answer questions on methodological terms such as correlation coefficients, experimental design and reliability were fairly straightforward (I think!) and I’m happy with the answers I’ve given.

Part 2, on the ethics of  a replication of Bandura’s classic 1965 study on the ability of children to learn aggression by watching films of a man hitting a Bobo doll took much longer to do. I’m also far less happy with what I’ve produced, particularly for the second and third sections of the question.

I’ve now got to the point where it’s probably not going to get any better. It’s ‘good enough’, I hope, so I’ll be firing up the eTMA system in a couple of evening’s time to make sure I hit the Friday deadline. I also struggled to get in under the word count. My answer to Part 2 has ended up at 999 words (there was a 1,000 word hard limit), but I started off with a draft at nearly 1,600 words to prune from. I just hope I’ve pruned the right bits (unlike some of my recent attempts in the garden).

The first task for TMA03 is to decide which of the two essay questions to tackle. At the moment, I’m drawn to the second option on how children’s development is influenced by play with siblings and peers as the first option would mean reading the disgusting book 2, chapter 2 text again on disturbed and disturbing behaviour (see my thoughts in an earlier post on that particular gem).

For the rest of the evening, I intend finishing a nice bottle of Rioja that was opened earlier on today when my mother came for lunch, which I was unable to sample properly then as I had to drive her home and then take daughter Emily out for driving practice.

It’s Em’s third attempt at passing the practical test on Friday, so if you’re in and around Derby that day stay off the roads, or at least, don’t give any learner drivers you see a hard time!

12 ways to procrastinate when writing a TMA

TMA02 is now just about finished, honest. But I realised as I was writing it I was beginning to turn procrastination into an art form. So here are my top 12 tips for how to put off getting to grips with an OU assignment – all of which I’ve done while ‘working’ on this one.

1. Read your email and if there’s not enough of that, look in the spam folder to see if there’s a get rich quick scheme that could, might, just conceivably, possibly work.

2. Watch Burton Albion lose 1-0 to Oxford United on Setanta. Much as I want Burton to get into League 2, I’d love to watch them on Setanta again next season, which means they need to stay in the conference!

3. Paint the garden fence. I haven’t bothered doing this for years, but I was desperate to get away from the assignment.

4. Run out of woodstain while painting the garden fence, necessitating a trip to all three DIY stores at this end of Derby to get the right colour woodstain to continue.

5. Watch lots of old F1 highlights on the BBC Sport website. Then go to the old ITV F1 website and read James Allen’s blog.

6. Get up early on Saturday morning to work on the TMA and then watch F1 qualifying from China instead. Go Jensen!

7. Get your wife to drop the iron, necessitating a trip to Asda, Currys, Sainsbury’s and then back to Asda to find a suitable replacement.

8. Plant rocket and salad leaf seeds and return to them on an hourly basis to see if they’ve sprouted yet (they have).

9. Re-organise your web bookmarks, visiting every site in them as part of the task.

10. Upgrade your computer’s anti-virus program, necessitating lots of reboots and waiting for Windows to do mystery stuff. (Thank goodness mainframes don’t require this every time you try to change something).

11. Write a blog entry on procrastination and how to do it.

12. Read your email again, someone might have sent you something in the last five minutes. Repeat endlessly.

Avoiding TMA02

I’ve only got a small part of TMA02 left to complete now, but it’s been in that state for a few days now. Last night and tonight I’ve sat down at my computer with good intentions, but somehow I still haven’t quite managed to finish it. I’ve been so desperate to avoid doing it tonight that I’ve spent my time registering for next year’s course, DD303 on cognitive psychology, instead of just getting on with the assignment. Sigh.

Still, tomorrow night I won’t have any excuse for not finishing it off as I’ll be in the luxury Software AG dormitory, otherwise known as Bracknell Central Travelodge. It says on the hotel description that nightlife is available in Bracknell a mere 1.8 miles away; I’ve yet to find any! TMA02 it is then …

News is obviously thin in Derby at the moment …

I know it’s Bank Holiday Monday, but the Derby Evening Telegraph website really did ought to stop printing non-stories at the top of its pages. Today’s headline screams: Millions of developers’ contributions is unspent in Derby and for once the spin on the story is not that the Council is wasting taxpayer’s money, but that it isn’t spending it fast enough.

It’s not until you get to paragraph 11 (obviously way too far for the usual suspects who have commented on it in shock and outrage that the Council hasn’t spent the money yet) that the inconvenient truth of the journalist’s freedom of information request is exposed; all except £200,000 of the £8.5 million raised (just under 2.5%) is currently unallocated. I’d call that a contingency fund with my project manager’s hat on.

That a large part of the allocated money hasn’t been spent already is probably good news for the citizens of Derby. Either the money we’ve raised as a city over the last five years from developers will now go further against the projects it has been allocated to; that is, if you believe all the stories in the DET about the credit crunch and the way in which building contractors and other developers are being forced to cut their rates in the teeth of greater competition. Or alternatively, it might allow the Council to reassess funding priorities in the light of the gloomier economic climate.

I wondered a few days ago what would happen when the DET journalists forgot about the credit crunch; we now appear to have the answer. Mindless use of the freedom of information act to the rescue!

Whatever happened to real investigative journalism?


I gave up chocolate for Lent this year. I managed to stick to it as well, with the exception of a couple of cappuccinos with chocolate powder sprinkled on the top (they don’t count.)  So, this morning, surrounded by eggs and other chocolate (including some I was given at Christmas and hadn’t eaten) I was determined to eat my fill.

Guess what – I didn’t enjoy it. Not one little bit. I’ve just had another piece and I still didn’t enjoy it.

Next year, I’m giving up alcohol for Lent to see if it has the same effect!

We'd like to write credit crunch stories … but we can't!

Our friends in the dead tree press are still trying to write credit crunch stories, but it seems like they’ve had a tough time of it in Derby today. Isn’t it annoying when reality won’t match your editor’s expectations?

Four examples from the DET website today:

Footfall figures up 15% in city centre despite recession “… Footfall has increased 15% in St Peter’s Street, Iron Gate and Sadler Gate in the past year, defying the credit crunch …”

New bar’s the White place at the right time “… The new owners of a Derby bar, which has been closed for three years, say they have decided to reopen it because of the city’s vibrant future…”

Primark and Tesco top of shopping list “…Midday on a Thursday and Derby’s Market Place is swarming with people…”

No yolk as egg sales on roll “…Retailers say sales of Easter eggs have increased this year – despite the credit crunch…”

I really do hope that things are getting better. And if they are, how long will journalists take to stop trying to write every story around a credit crunch theme, warranted or not?

ED209 – Week 12

The result for TMA01 appeared just before I set off for my Easter break. After more than a year’s absence from essay writing, I’m pleased that my mark was closer to the one I got for the final essay I wrote on DSE212 than the first essay I wrote for it! Onwards and upwards, hopefully.

Well, who would have thought it? Skegness, at the start of April, with decent weather, (compared to the other times I’ve come to Spring Harvest over the past few years) a Costa Coffee bar in Butlins and wireless internet access too. Fantastic!

The week has been fun, with lots of good teaching – particularly the studies on Acts in the big top, led by Gerard Kelly. Just as enjoyable have been the talkback sessions, with him and Pete Broadbent fielding questions from a few hundred people at once …

It’s been a good place to get away from the hassles of daily life and put some time into the course. I’ve been rewarded with a week I’ve really enjoyed, particularly when I compare it to some of the stuff I had to wade through last week. This chapter makes sense, because, I think, it has a consistent and well-structured narrative that uses the work of the researchers being cited to make its points, rather than simply to appear to name-drop them like the previous chapter did. What’s confusing is that the two chapters share an author in common. Maybe chapter 2 was written on an off day 😉

Anyway, I find myself relating to points made about both conflict and co-operation between siblings being an important part of development, certainly thinking back on my own experiences of growing up and that of my own children.

I found the acknowledgment at the end of the chapter that although psychologists have spent a lot of time studying the face to face interactions of children, the rise of disintermediated contact between children (though mobile ‘phones and the internet, for example) is likely to change not only our understanding of how children interact, but has the potential to influence their development in new ways.

It’s certainly arguable whether such changes brought about technology are ‘good’ or ‘bad’; but what is required is research in this area to understand the nature of these changes. If I ever get as far as my Masters(!), this would be one area that I’d be interested in researching myself.

By the way, thanks to everyone who’s sent me messages saying they’re enjoying the blog and the notes I’ve been producing – this week’s are here. I hope they’re helpful, though the health warning attached to them is that they’re produced for me, they are unlikely to be 100% accurate(*) or complete (as I’m just a student like everyone else) and I’m sure other people’s notes are better than mine. But, if you find them useful, that’s great.

(*) If you do spot something that isn’t right, please leave me a comment!

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