DD303 – the final countdown

So. October’s here and the DD303 exam is looming ever closer. I’ve now managed a complete circuit of the chapters I said I was going to revise, including the ones I’m intending to use as backup material. I feel ok, but I’m aware that I need to do rather more work over the remaining 15 days or so before the exam to get myself to the point where I stand a reasonable chance of getting the grade I want.

As part of the process, I’ve been revisiting my notes, correcting them and adding in links to other material as well as trying to answer past exam questions either by writing out essays (not very good at that still and my handwriting is bordering on illegible) or making essay plans (I’ve managed a few more of those, but still illegible).

Though these are unlikely to be my final versions of my notes, I’ve included links to my ‘version 2’ documents below (plus a new one pager on ACT-R), just in case they’re of use to anyone out there.

DD303 – Attention – Chapter2 v2

DD303 – Perception – Chapter3 v2

DD303 – Recognition – Chapter4 v2 and Bruce and Young’s model of face recognition

DD303 – Concepts – Chapter5 v2

DD303 – Problem Solving – Chapter10 v2

DD303 – Connectionism v2

Condensed notes on ACT-R (Cognitive Architectures, DD303 Chapter 16)

I’ve also decided to have a quick look at the memory chapters again tonight (glass of wine in hand, hic!) just to see if they stick any better than say, attention, which I’ve been struggling with somewhat. I don’t want to change horses at this stage, but I guess even if I don’t, I may find some material that could help with (perhaps) the cognitive architecture chapter.

Update 04/10/2010: Nope – the memory chapters won’t stick at all for me. Back to plan A!

DD303 revision progress

This week, I’ve been working my way through the chapters I’ve chosen to revise, largely by reading through my notes and the information provided at the OUPS revision weekend and trying to see how much I can remember. It feels ok at the moment – though I’ve certainly still got a long way to go. I definitely need to get in some practice at writing 45 minute essays by hand as it’s been a real struggle getting through 3 hours of writing for both DSE212 and ED209 in previous years.

I also decided to submit my final TMA – even though I think it’s the weakest piece of work I’ve done on the course so far. However, after having had my TMA05 result for the project this week too, it would be a major shock if TMA06 wasn’t good enough to achieve the OCAS score I’m after. The OU grade predictor suggests I’ll probably be ok, so it’s been submitted and forgotten about for the moment. So it’s just the exam I have to worry about now I guess. Well that, plus all of the other things that I have to get done at work this week …

DD303 TMA06 and more thoughts on revision

I’ve been finishing off TMA06 and attempting to get down to some revision this weekend, with a mixed amount of success as the rest of the household seems to be in chaos. I’ve also got the gloomy thought of having to drive down to Bracknell later on as yet again, I’m starting my working week there. As I’m leading a training course for the salespeople first thing in the morning, I’ve decided that the only way I can be awake enough to make it worth their while is to sacrifice my Sunday evening and drive down to the luxury Bracknell Travelodge tonight, rather than getting up at 5am to make sure I can get through the Monday morning traffic in time to get to the office for 8am ish.

At least my TMA06 effort now says that it’s at draft 6, so based on my usual form that’s probably good enough. I’ll leave it for a few days however before I submit it, just in case I get some further astounding insights on autobiographical memory and the ‘working self’ I feel I want to incorporate.

Revision is going less well. Having decided what it is I want to revise, I haven’t really made too much of a serious start, but I have been looking at the notes I’ve made as I’ve gone along through DD303. I’ve also downloaded a free copy of ARIS Express, with the intention that I’ll use the general diagramming tool for mind-maps and other revision-focussed things. ARIS Express is meant for modelling and thinking about business processes, but I’m finding it easier to use than most dedicated mind-mapping software as (a) I use it in my day job and (b) I don’t find I can live within the constraints of pure mind-maps when I’m revising!

I’ve also joined Facebook this week. I’ve decided to restrict my activities on it to family, friends of 20+ years standing that I don’t get to see enough of in real life and fellow OU students. If you fall outside of those categories, please don’t take it personally if I don’t accept your friend invitation! I just need to get used to this strangely compelling environment slowly. I already have enough ways of procrastinating already, you see.

Bracknell here I come …

DD303 revision thoughts

The Kone at Warwick University
The Koan at Warwick University

Following on from the OUPS revision weekend at Warwick, I’ve spent some time thinking about what to revise for the exam. I’ve now completed all the chapter notes I intend making (chapter 16 on cognitive modelling is my last) and just have TMA06 left to tweak before sending it in … that will be Thursday evening’s task. It’s then revision all the way from then until October 18th!

So, as I have to answer one methods question from a choice of 3; 2 questions from a choice of 6 from the textbook parts 1-4 (excluding TMA chapters) and 1 question from textbook part 5 from a choice of 3 (excluding TMA chapters), this is my current list in priority order:

Connectionism – (methods book chapter 2) – this gives me my part I question

Cognitive modelling and cognitive architectures (chapter 16) – this will give me my part III question (and fits in well with my methods book choice)

Concepts (chapter 5) – as it looks like a good chance of giving me a question in part II and I enjoyed the chapter and found the OUPS revision material very useful

Attention (chapter 2), Perception (chapter 3) and Recognition (chapter 4) – which on previous form, should give me a further 2 questions to choose from for part II

If I have time, I’m also intending to revise chapter 15 on Consciousness (which will give me a back-up part III question and fits in well with the Attention chapter) and chapter 10 on Problem Solving (for another possible part II choice).

I’m aware I need to supplement the chapters with links to others (as appropriate) and some additional reading if I can.

It’s going to be a challenge, but it feels at this stage more manageable than ED209 did last year and also a little less risky – it seems to be easier to predict which chapters and what type of questions might come up.

OUPS I did it again …

I apologise for giving this post such a terrible pun as a title, but I’m stuck for a couple of evenings in the luxury Bracknell Travelodge and it seems funny to me after a beer and probably the very worst cheeseburger I’ve eaten in, well, ever.

The food at the OUPS revision weekend at Warwick University was very much better (a constant topic of conversation being how much better it was than at the Bath University residential school) as was the company. It was great to bump into people from residential school, my tutor group and those I’d only ever communicated with online before. There were even two or three people who recognised me from this blog (*blushes*). As for a certain DD307 student, it was lovely to meet you, and I really don’t go in for rubber clothing. Of any kind!

Anyway, as I’m stuck in the wild party town that is Bracknell for the next couple of nights, I’m taking the opportunity to write up my handwritten notes from the chapters I took away on holiday with me (chapter15 on consciousness is here) and to finish tweaking TMA06. I’m also reflecting on what I’m going to revise for the exam (the consciousness chapter will be one of them), but I’ll post about that separately, probably tomorrow.

I don’t really have an axe to grind about Bracknell, it’s just that it’s not Derby and not home. What with holidays, the revision weekend and work, I don’t seem to have spent much time there recently.

Anyway, just to remind the family what I look like, this is me at the OUPS dinner and disco on Saturday night. I think the inappropriate wearing of yellow legwarmers suits me, don’t you? (Limes, thanks for the photo!)

Legwarmers
Inappropriately dressed - Tim finds a new use for 80s fashion items ...

DD303 – TMA06 progress

I’ve had quite a productive weekend on DD303 for once. I’ve managed to write nearly two-thirds of the essay for TMA06, having stuck with my plan to write on chapter 14 on autobiographical memory and the working self, and I’ve also read chapter 15 on Consciousness.

My intention is to make notes on chapters 15,16 and 17 by the end of the month, which may sound ambitious as I’m on holiday for part of it, but there’s only so much sitting around I can do. As for the rest of the family though, they seem to be happy enough not doing very much at all. So my books will be coming with me, as they did last year in Portugal on ED209 and two years before that in Italy when I was taking DSE212.

I found the chapter on consciousness a little disappointing if I’m honest, although relatively straightforward and nicely integrated with some of the earlier chapters on the course. I still remember with fondness the ‘thought experiments’ from the DSE212 chapter in 2007 (which I believe is no longer part of that course), even though I’d revised them inside-out and the chapter didn’t come up in the exam! Baar’s model of consciousness, for example, is only briefly covered in DD303 and because chapter 15 lacks a diagram explaining his concept of a global workspace, I’ve gone back to my DSE212 notes to see how it all worked. I remember comparing it at the time to an Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) – one of the software artefacts I spend my working days with.

It’s going to be a manic week at work, with most of it spent in Bracknell by the looks of it. Come Saturday, I really will be ready for my few days off.

I’ve had confirmation of my place on the DD303 revision weekend at Warwick University, so hopefully I’ll see some of you there. Just keep me away from the disco and the bars, please. I must remember to renew my Warwick Graduate’s Association card before I get there. It might just come in useful.

DD303 – Week 32 in week 26 …

As the TMA06 essay is on either chapter 13 or 14 this year, I’ve decided that it just doesn’t seem sensible to write it in 6 weeks time as the course timetable suggests, so this week will be week 32 for me, instead of week 26.

Having initially flirted with the idea of writing my essay on chapter 13, I decided last night that option 2, on chapter 14 (Autobiographical memory and the working self) seemed to be the better choice as it was the one that involves the least thinking about ‘yukky diagrams of the brain‘ as I’ve called them in other blog entries.

It also seemed to me to be the option which is easier to start writing an essay on, even if it might not feel like the one that is easier to finish writing an essay on in a couple of days time. I’ve resolved to stop procrastinating and just get on with it for once.

Having said all that, my procrastination scheme this morning has been to spend some time looking at past exam papers to try to decide on my priority chapters for revision (I haven’t worked it out yet, but at least I’ve started thinking about it!) and I’m about to take my youngest daughter who is newly returned from Borneo ten pin bowling for her birthday (which happened while she was out there) as that’s our tradition. She claims she won’t need the bumpers up this year … I’m so going to win!!!

I’ve also tried to book myself on the OUPS revision weekend at Warwick University. I’m not sure if I’ve been successful as I sent an email to them (with a scanned copy of my application form) on Thursday evening and I haven’t heard anything back yet. I’d originally thought I wouldn’t be able to go as I was expecting to be on holiday then … but I’d got the dates wrong (D’oh). I really hope I get a place – as the final East Midlands OU day school has been re-arranged to the one weekend in September that I can’t go to it. And I feel I definitely need some additional impetus to make sure I get through the absolute mountain of revision that appears to be needed.

Time to write my essay go bowling!

DD303 TMA05 – the project report

I haven’t posted for a while as I’ve been busy trying to finish off TMA05, which I’ve completed tonight (weighing in at 1,999 words – phew!) and trying to cope with the other non-OU things life keeps throwing my way. Consequently, I haven’t done much reading or note taking since I got back from the Bath residential school, but having now got the report out of the way I at least have a fighting chance of getting back on track over August.

I’m tempted simply to plough on into TMA06 and do the question on cognition and emotion as I have (a) read the chapter while sat on a ‘plane and (b) quite enjoyed reading it – but that may have been the free drinks. That way I could get all of the TMAs finished by the time I go on holiday later this month and it also means that the rest of my time between then and the exam in October can be devoted to the last 3 chapters and revision. That’s probably what I will do, but it all depends on how I’m feeling tomorrow, or rather, as it’s now past midnight, tonight.

I did get my result for TMA04 back earlier on – and even though I felt pretty rusty writing an essay again for the first time in about a year, I was given my best ever mark on a TMA essay question for it! So that also helps with the planning for TMA06 – it doesn’t have to be great for me to stay on track for the grade I’d like for DD303. In fact, spending more time on preparing for the exam is definitely the better strategy than worrying too much about TMA06.

So I’ve just convinced myself that ploughing on and getting TMA06 out of the way as soon as possible is the best strategy for me. Writing blog entries at this time of night does have its uses, you know.

DD303 – into the final stretch

I’ve now returned from residential school at Bath (via a long detour to pick Emily up from Exeter) and have just had a look at the timetable for the rest of the course. Two TMAs left to do – one of which is the project report and then the exam. Assuming I get reasonable marks on TMA04 and TMA05 (the project report) I’m going to spend rather more time planning for the exam than I spend on TMA06. This means reading and taking notes on the three chapters in section 5 of the textbook that could be examined (15,16 and 17 this year) and skim reading 13 and 14 – with the sole aim of chosing one to do TMA06 from. There’s some additional reading that needs to be done for TMA06 as well, hence my strategy.

This is the first year I’ve been notionally behind schedule at this stage (about a week by my reckoning), though I’m hoping to claw most of it back over the next month even if it means taking the textbooks on holiday with me!

Residential school was a good experience; long days and one or two fairly alcoholic evenings. I’m still not quite sure how I managed to be persuaded to go along to the Thursday night disco (I still can’t dance), but at least I did manage to get to bed for a few hours afterwards. I probably looked worse than I felt on Friday, though I did feel pretty rough too. Mostly self-inflicted (sigh), but I’ve also had a cold this weekend which I’m still trying to get rid of. Well, that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.

Anyway, the poster below was the final output from the experiment run by my partner and I. We were pretty amazed with the results – two significant and one ‘almost’ significant at p=0.059.

T4 poster from Bath DD303 residential school
T4 project poster from DD303 residential school

But the best part of the summer school for me was meeting so many other DD303 students in real life, rather than through the FirstClass forums or through the pages of this blog. Here’s to a successful conclusion to the course for all of us.