New toy

I have a new toy that’s arrived for me today. It’s a 1982 Sinclair ZX Spectrum computer that I got off eBay for a few pounds. Needless to say, TMA03 is probably going to take a back seat for a few evenings until I’ve had a chance to play with it.

I’ve definitely decided to go with option 2 for TMA03 and spent some time on the train back from London this evening working out how to answer it. I think I’ll be brave and try to argue that the evidence for sibling and peer relationships influencing development is very limited; sitting as I am over 3 weeks away from the submission deadline I feel quite confident I can do it!

Given the amount of work ED209 is turning into, and on the basis that the two level 3 courses I’ve yet to do will have a far bigger impact on my overall diploma grade, then why shouldn’t I have a bit of fun? There’s still 3 more TMAs to go after this one and even if 3 goes horribly wrong there’s still plenty of marks to be had from 4,5 and 6.

See, I’ve just talked myself into it!

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 …

TMA01 – Submitted!

Having finished off a draft of my first TMA a couple of weeks ago, it’s only been this evening that I’ve felt happy enough (strong enough?) to pick it up and make a few final revisions. I’m particularly pleased that I’ve changed one paragraph in the essay that just seemed to hang there, without it being connected into the rest of the argument I was trying to make. Having tried to get it right a couple of weeks ago and failing dismally, I think I managed to achieve the effect I wanted in about 20 minutes this evening! The tip that tutors give you about writing an essay, putting it aside for a few days, reviewing it and then submitting it seems to work well for me.

I still struggle with essays, partly I think because what’s needed for PR and journalistic purposes in some aspects of what I do at work is very different. In that case, what’s needed are a number of paragraphs that can stand alone from each other, so that a journalist can choose what to use/ what not to use in their articles. However, at least I have the assistance of an excellent agency at work; no-one has that luxury when writing essays on OU courses!

Differently to DSE212 (at least when I took it in 2007) is that all of the assignments are submitted using the OU’s eTMA system. Which, theoretically at any rate, would have given me until 23:59:59 on the 13th to send my essay in, rather than having to allow a couple of days for the Royal Mail to jump up and down on the envelope, bend it, and send it by Aberdeen and Penzance before arriving at my tutor’s house before the deadline. Well, I never did lose a TMA in the post, but a few people I met at summer school last year had had that kind of experience. But what eTMA does introduce to the process is the uncontrollable urge to log in to the OU website 27 times a day to see if your tutor has marked it. Technology is great at helping me find new ways of wasting my time …

Madrid and TMA1

Weather permitting, I’m off to Madrid in the morning for a couple of days to work with my colleagues at Software AG in Spain. While the weather seems not too bad here at the moment, it looks as if Madrid might be in for some snow over the next couple of days, so I’m hoping that it all works out somehow as I need to be back in time to finish off the first draft of my TMA before my tutorial on Saturday morning. Well, I don’t need to be – it’s just that I want to keep up with the schedule I’ve set myself. The essay doesn’t have to be in until the second week of March.

I’ve gone for the first option – writing an essay on how far social and cultural influences are recognised in theories of child development. I’d forgotten how painful I find essay writing – I seem to go through six or seven attempts before I get something I’m happy with and it’s taken me all week to get a not very good half essay so far. Maybe Madrid will inspire me – and if not, perhaps the tutorial on Saturday will!