DD303 – the moment of truth approaches

I know when my course results are getting close – it means I check my StudentHomepage at least six times a day, “just in case”. Officially, DD303 results for 2010 are due out sometime before Friday 17th December, but in past years my results have been available a couple of days before then. Either way, this time next week I should know how I did and whether or not my “nuclear option” to do SD226 as well as DD307 next year is a possibility.

I’m not making as much progress with DD307 as I’d hoped I might do, given that the materials arrived a few weeks ago. So far I’ve watched the first DVD and read all of the chapters for the first block – but have barely started making any notes at all. I’d still like to have a draft of the first TMA written before the official course start date at the end of January / beginning of February. Maybe I’ll find some time between Christmas and new year to make a proper start.

I did say my last post on tuition fees would be the last for a while, but I do find the whole subject desperately sad and depressing. The report in the Independent this morning claiming that only a quarter of graduates will pay off their loans is particularly shocking and shows the act of vandalism being perpetrated on our universities and young people for what it is – right wing political ideology, pure and simple, which will actually cost both non-graduate and graduate taxpayers more, not less. So much for deficit reduction.

The Office for Budget Responsibility estimates that the Government will have to borrow £10.7bn to pay out student loans in 2015-16, compared with £4.1bn at the moment – with all but £1bn of the £6.6bn increase due to the tuition fees reforms.

A £2.9bn / year “saving” in the cut made to teaching budgets results in an additional £5.6bn cost to the taxpayer in 2015-16. An unsustainable system. Grrrr.

DD307 – first impressions

As the DD307 materials arrived a few days early, I’ve had a chance to browse through them and start thinking about the course this week.

Superficial perspective:

The books are certainly lighter than the DD303 cognitive psychology ones. That’s welcome, as it makes it easier to lug the course around while traveling. Slimmer books are definitely good, as it was often impossible to prop the monster DD303 text book up on a table and read while eating (when dining alone, of course) as it just kept shutting itself, even with salt/pepper pots weighing it down!

Excited perspective:

The project. It looks like it will be pretty interesting to do. Might be quite hard to listen to people, rather than to talk at them though.

Concerned perspective:

It looks like there’s lots of obscure words and jargon to remember the meaning of and learn how to spell. I’m already beginning to hate terms like ‘situated knowledges’, ‘epistemology’ and ‘phenomenological’. And will I really need to become a ‘cognitive hating feminist with a chip on my shoulder’ to get through the course unscathed as a friend suggested to me the other day? I hope not!

Practical perspective:

I’ve ordered a copy of Linda Corlett’s notes as I think I’m going to need some help with making sense of the material and organising it for revision purposes. I’m also thinking about booking on a revision weekend later on in the year too – either hers or the one run by OUPS.

DD307 course materials have arrived – early!

Unusually for me I decided to spend today working from home. It’s unusual as even if I have a day where I’m not with a customer or prospective customer, I’d normally much rather be in my office than working from home. It’s not that I’m necessarily more productive in the office, but I find myself having those strange conversations that you can only really have in the office that lead to all kinds of interesting outcomes.

However, today I needed to be really productive as I’m presenting at a conference on Thursday morning and other than a title and synopsis, I had no material. (It’s Seminar 4 on the list if you’re interested.) Fortunately, it’s been a productive day, so if you were thinking about coming along to hear me speak I guarantee it won’t be 45 minutes of silence!

My decision meant I was at home when the DD307 course materials arrived in the early afternoon. StudentHome is still suggesting they won’t be despatched until Friday, so it was a nice surprise to receive them.

The package contained two textbooks, a project booklet, a course guide, two DVDs and sundry other bits and pieces.  As the course doesn’t officially start until 29th January, there will be plenty of time to have a look through it all and figure out a strategy.

Starting early usually makes sense for me – and if I can get to the point of have written a draft of the first TMA by the formal start date I’ll be very happy, as that would put me 4 weeks ahead of the course timeline. Their early arrival means that taking SD226 at the same time looks more possible, but I will only even think about doing both together if I have managed a distinction on DD303, which feels pretty unlikely as I reflect back on my exam performance.

Even though DD307 is avowedly non-mathematical (statistics – pah!), I note with interest that the course timetable starts on week 0 again. I thought it was only computer scientists like me that started to count from 0 (and of course, the owners of Cardiff railway station). I’m obviously cut out for critical social psychology after all …

Psychology degree or conversion diploma?

I had a conversation recently with a fellow OU psychology student who told me she’d decided to switch from the (soon to be defunct) conversion diploma in psychology to the degree course. Her rationale was that a degree is more widely recognised by other people than the conversion diploma (and it takes far less time to explain what it is!) and that the credit transfer unit at the OU had awarded her the 75 credits of ‘free choice’ she needed to reach the required 360 credits for the psychology B.Sc. from her first degree.

This conversation has really got me thinking. To complete the conversion diploma you require 255 credits of study, made up from DSE212, ED209, DXR222 (or DZX222), DD303 and DD307. I’ve completed four of these courses already and have a place confirmed on DD307 next year.

To complete the degree requires exactly the same set of courses, plus the 30 credit SD226 – biological psychology course and 75 credits from anywhere else. As I’ve blogged before, I’m really not keen on the idea of taking this course, not because of its legendary status of being a 30 credit course which requires 60 credits of effort, but because I don’t like ‘yukky diagrams of the brain‘. (Yes, I know how wussy that sounds).

I spoke to the credit transfer unit at the OU and on the basis of the information they’ve given me so far, my 1985 degree in Computer Science should give me the additional 75 credits I would need for the B.Sc.  In fact, it looks as if any degree from anywhere in the UK and Ireland, started and awarded after January 1971 would do the trick.

So, for an additional 30 credits (and £390) it looks as if I could obtain a second degree. What’s even more attractive is that I would only need to gain a pass on SD226, as I already have 120 credits from level 2 at distinction. So even if I put almost no effort into it, my SD226 mark wouldn’t affect my overall degree classification, so long as I passed. With no final examination at the end of SD226 (it’s assessed on 4 TMAs and an end of course assignment (ECA)), I’m now very tempted to change track.

If I do decide to, I have to make a decision before 22nd December if I’m going to take SD226 next year. Given the huge uncertainty over fees from 2012 at the OU, I also think it’s a case of it being now or never for me. Taking SD226 next year would also mean I could still start my masters in 2012!

90 points from SD226 and DD307 in the same year and a (more than) full-time job.

How hard can it be? I think I may be about to find out …

DD307 – Critical social psychology: first thoughts

I know I said I was taking a break from all things OU, but it has been 9 days since the DD303 exam and my thoughts are now turning towards DD307 next year. I’ve been lent a few books by a fellow student (thanks Ruth) and I have had a quick look through a couple of them.

The first one I had a look at was Alexa Hepburn’s “An Introduction to Critical Social Psychology”. It’s quite interesting, as it tackles the subject from a number of different perspectives, but boy does it lay on with a trowel the old Marxism stuff. If the best thing that can be said about Marxism (according to Alexa) was Marx’s committment to ending poverty and oppression, then I can’t see what makes it distinct from the vast majority of other political or religious philosophies of the last 3,000 years or so. And I certainly don’t believe for a moment that the worst thing about Marxism is “the clumsiness of his materialist philosophy”. Surely the worst thing about Marxism is the venal and genocidal nature of some of the regimes his political philosophy inspired during the 20th century?

Anyway, after a while I found myself too wound up by her book to continue (I hope that’s not a sign of things to come next year) and so started to read the Wendy Stainton Rogers book “Social Psychology – Experimental and Critical Approaches”. This seems rather more measured in tone and I enjoyed her explanation as to why there is no “fluffy bunny” solution to the differences between the psychological approaches of experimentalists using the Scientific method (capital ‘S’) and critical social psychology.

One other thing I’ve noticed through StudentHome is the way in which DD307 will be assessed next year. There are 6 TMAs and an examination (fairly standard stuff), but TMA04 (which I assume is the project) is counted towards the examinable (OES) component of  the module rather than the continuous assessment (OCAS) piece.

This means that the exam proper only counts for 80% of the examinable component. (That sounds odd to people who don’t know the OU, but it does make some kind of sense as courses like DXR222 which have no exam but a project, are assessed as 100% OES, rather than 100% OCAS.)

This would definitely have been a “good thing” for me on DD303 this year, as I did well in the project and it would have been nice to have those marks “in the bag” going into the exam a few days ago. I hope I can therefore manage an equally good DD307 project next year, as if I do, it will take some pressure off towards the end of the module.


… and breathe

I’ve tidied away my cognitive psychology notes and books this evening, ready for their ritual transfer to the attic on Saturday. One more year down, one more to go on the psychology diploma. The most shocking thing about the exam for me on Monday morning was that of the 5 chapters I’d revised for part II of the exam (attention, perception, recognition, concepts and problem solving), all 5 came up! I was expecting to have a choice of 3 or 4 from the 6 questions, but having 5 to choose from threw me completely for a few minutes at the start. In the end, I went for the perception and concepts questions after I’d answered the ones on connectionist and rules-based models.

I’m not entirely happy with what I wrote, but I hope that it was good enough. I certainly wouldn’t have been able to write more in the 3 hours, but on reflection perhaps I could have written less and written it better. Anyway, all will be revealed a couple of weeks before Christmas, I guess!

I’m definitely going to take a break from doing anything related to OU psychology for the next few weeks; there’s a whole heap of things that have piled up in “real life” this year that I really need to take some time out to deal with. However, it won’t be too long before I get to have a peek at DD307. I see from my student homepage that the books are due for dispatch on 19th November – if that’s right, I think that will be earlier than I’ve ever received a set of books in advance of an OU course starting.

I know that there’s been a fair few people studying ED209 this year that have found my blog – I hope the exam went well for you all today and it’s been nice to hear from some of you too!

I’m now going to take some time to breathe again, but I’ll still be blogging. It’s been great to have your company over the last few months and if you’re doing the social psychology course next year I hope you’ll stick around – and even if you’re not, I still hope you’ll stick around!

One thing I’m absolutely certain of is that DD307 will be a very different experience to this year’s course. Onwards and upwards …

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