One way of saying thank you

After I’d cross-posted my last blog entry onto the B07 Facebook group, some one asked me if I was still using the notes I’ve published here to help support a charity. Back in 2010 I asked readers of this blog to think about contributing to the HOPEHIV charity – and we jointly managed to raise around £700.

The justgiving page I created for this purpose is long since closed, but if you’d like to make a donation to HOPEHIV I know that it would be appreciated by them and used well. Their own donation page is here should you wish to drop them the odd pound or two. For those of you who don’t know what they do, they support a wide range of projects in Africa to help children orphaned through HIV.

More recently, I’ve also become aware of the work of a charity known as The Matthew Project – who work with people and communities affected by drugs and alcohol in Norfolk and Suffolk. It just so happens that their chief executive is part of my wife’s music group – and charity does begin at home (even though it should never end there). You can find their donations page here if you’d like to support their work.

If you have (or are!) finding my notes useful in your studies and are able to – and only if you are genuinely able to as I do appreciate how tough times are for many – please think about donating a small sum to one or both of these incredibly worthwhile causes.

Thank you.

DD303 – the final analysis

I always feel a little bit deflated after receiving exam results even if, like this time, I achieved the grade I wanted. I still remember finding out the result of my first degree in 1985 and thinking “now what?”

At least this time around I have DD307 to look forward to next year and I may also decide to register for SD226 as well – but I only have until the 22nd December to make my mind up if I really want to do both courses simultaneously. However, I’ve definitely decided to switch from the diploma to the degree and I’ve updated my records on StudentHome already to reflect this change of plan.

When I took my computer science degree at Warwick in the 1980s, before the wonders of the world wide web, the way you found out your result was to fight your way through a melee of students outside Senate House to squint at sheets of closely typed A4 paper to find your name and result alongside those of your fellow students.

Anyway, I picked up my DD303 result just after 7am this morning by the wonders of my laptop (a fantasy in 1985) and a wireless broadband internet connection. I still remember thinking the first 56k modem I owned was really, really fast.

I digress.

Looking at my result in a bit more detail, the question that let me down (these things are relative of course!) was question 7 on concepts. This surprised me – I’d thought it was my second best answer on the day but as the other three were good enough, I’m not going to worry about it too much.

The other surprise was that this year the OU don’t seem to have provided a detailed breakdown of how you did on each individual question – something I did get on both DSE212 and ED209. On those courses you saw how you fared on each question broken down by accuracy and level of understanding, use of evidence, critical analysis, clarity & structure of your answer and your focus on the question. This time around there’s just the overall grade band each answer falls into.

The part of the results analysis that I suspect most people like to read is the indication of how others fared on the exam and the questions they chose to answer. It’s all reported anonymously, unlike the sheets of paper on the noticeboard at Warwick in the 1980s.

So I know there were 974 of us who took the exam and that 80 of us achieved the top grade. I also know that the question on connectionism was the least popular from the methods section (only 108 attempted it), that I chose to answer two of the three most popular questions from part 2 of the exam (the one on concepts and the other one being on perception) and that I was one of a hundred people who answered the part 3 question on cognitive modelling. The part 3 question on consciousness, with a staggering 798 attempting it was by far the most ‘popular’ question on the whole of the exam paper.

Well done to everyone who passed and commiserations to those who didn’t get the result they wanted. For some I know it also marks the end of your OU journey.

Maybe you’re like the 21 year old me and thinking “now what?”

Whatever your answer is, I wish everyone the best for the future.

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.

I hate waiting

There’s now less than 3 weeks to go before the DD303 results will be out. I’ve completely lost any realistic sense as to how I might have done. Not as well as I wanted to do is still my over-riding fear.

Friday 17th December is the “official” date for their release and the culmination of another year’s OU study. But if past form is anything to go by, the results could be out as early as Tuesday or Wednesday of that week.

Or even earlier.

Or perhaps later.

I hate waiting.

… 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 …

Less than 10 days to go …

Just in case anyone was wondering, the DD303 exam starts:

too late – it’s all over now!

So stop reading this blog now (or in my case, writing it) and get on with that revision. You know you want to do it. The time for procrastination is over … well, maybe tomorrow anyway.

Best wishes to all for the exam – and let’s hope the questions (and the examiners) are kind to us.