Finally, I have a complete draft of my project report which has approximately the right number of words in it (just over 4,000) in the right kind of proportions. I’m drained. I need to go back to it before I submit it as the discussion is still too waffly and I’ve had some ideas for further research that I want to incorporate.
I have no idea what kind of a grade I’ll get for it. Having reset my own personal expectations I’m determined to regard anything over 70 as a personal triumph. Anything over 55 is not disastrous either. The fact that I have no idea what it’s worth suggests I still haven’t got to grips properly with this course even now.
Life outside of the OU dictates that whatever I have by the end of tomorrow will have to do. I’ve a stupidly busy schedule at work next week and it’s the Goodwood festival of speed next weekend, so I’m definitely not taking my project with me! Fortunately, on SD226, I have a sympathetic tutor who has already granted me a small extension (the only one I’ve ever requested for my OU studies) for TMA03, which is due in on the same day as the project. I’m still hopeful that I won’t have to use it, as I only have half of the essay question left to tackle, but better safe than sorry I guess.
Once these two assignments have been submitted, I’ll be just 3 TMAs, an EMA and an exam away from my second degree. At the moment, it feels like I’m just about managing to hang on.
So (as I appear to start every question I asked of my participants during the group discussion), it’s been a pretty productive Saturday writing up my project report. I think I’m around halfway there, but unsurprisingly I have too many words in my background and research question section and too few in the methods section. I’m not sure whether the section counts given the project booklet are hard limits, or if the only hard limit is the 4,000 word limit for the assignment. If anyone can point me at the answer it would be useful, though I think it seems wise to stick to both.
My reward for a day’s satisfyingly productive session was a large glass of red wine, accompanied by completing a theme upgrade on my blog to a new revision (if it’s gone well you shouldn’t really be noticing much of a difference, if any). I’m now on my second glass, typing this and desperately trying to find anything decent to watch on the myriad of Freeview channels on the box. I’m sure telly was better when there were only five available. Come to think of it, it was better when there were only four!
Tomorrow I’d like to think that I’ll have something approaching a complete first draft which I can finalise over the next week or so. I also need to go back to complete TMA03 for SD226 soon too, before I forget it all and end up starting again.
Carrie (you know, the OU platform student blogger amongst her many other talents) tweeted at me earlier on in the week that doing a level 3 60 pointer alongside a level 2 30 pointer must be tough. She’s not wrong – it is! But I’m determined to make it to the end of the year and get my second degree. Somehow, it means so much more doing it this way, second time around, than getting the degree I’ve built my life on over the last 25 years. My OU psychology degree may not lead to a change in career, but it has already led to a change in me and how I see the world.
On the evening before Father’s day, I find myself wondering how my Dad would have reacted to what I’ve managed to achieve on this qualification if he were still alive. It would probably be my sheer bloody-mindedness in pursuing the goal that would have impressed him most. I’m not certain that the subject matter would have necessarily been to his taste. He was too much of a practical man to care very much about the philosophical debates that rage amongst psychologists over the nature of self and society. But I hope he’d be proud of me.
And on that note, before the wine starts to speak more loudly than me, I’ll stop writing. I need to save my words for finishing off my report!
I managed to conduct my group discussion for the project on Monday evening, as planned. It was an interesting experience and I think I've got some sensible data to analyse, even if I couldn't stop asking closed questions (which fortunately still received very open and long answers!) and asking a number of rather leading questions on a couple of occasions. I'd have never made a lawyer, that's for sure.
I managed to collect 49 minutes of discussion (we could have gone on for hours) and so far I've managed to get around 32 minutes transcribed in 7-ish hours of effort. That's not too bad I think as I've listened to it all the way through once and replayed and edited it in 2-3 minute sections as I've gone along to make sure I'm not missing anything. As well as the analysis, I also still need to search out some more literature, or rather, narrow down the literature I've got already to enable me to write up the introduction to my project.
Overall, given my horrendous work commitments between now and the end of the month it's going to be a bit of a struggle to get there in time, but I'm hopeful I will.
I've also got SD226 TMA03 to cope with, although it looks as if my tutor for that will be happy to give me an extension if I need it. I'm hoping I won't. I'm two questions and half an essay in, so unless the DD307 project takes far longer to complete than I'm expecting, then I should be ok. It's crazy I know, but I'd really like to say that I got through all 28 TMAs on the degree without ever having to ask for an extension!
It's funny how my TMA marks are colouring my perspective of the two courses though. I've had two great marks for SD226 and three rather poor ones (by my standards) for DD307. I now like SD226 a lot more than I did at the start of the year and DD307 a whole lot less, but if I reflect on them properly, it's actually DD307 that's more interesting to me – as it's far more challenging than SD226 is.
So. Three TMAs completed for DD307 which have resulted in the 3 lowest scores of my degree. I really thought that I was going to score better on the project proposal than I did (after all, I managed to write a really good one for DD303 last year.) Unless I’m missing something, there’s not a huge amount of difference between the two courses in the skills required to put together a proposal. Literature searching, grounding your proposal in what’s been done before and so on. But the feedback was useful and I can use it to help with the actual project, so it’s not all bad.
It has meant that I’ve definitely had to lower my sights on what I might get as a final grade for this course. As TMA04 – the project itself – counts as 20% of the exam this year rather than as part of the continuous assessment, the best I can now achieve is a pass 2 overall as my TMA scores when averaged and substituted and weighted won’t get me anywhere near the 85% threshold. I’m comforting myself with the knowledge that as I already have a level 3 distinction in the bag from last year, provided I end up with at least a pass 3 then it won’t adversely affect my final degree classification.
With a little bit of the self-imposed pressure off, perhaps I’ll be able to enjoy the course a little more and think with greater clarity about it and what it all means.
It looks as if I should be able to do my group discussion sometime during w/c 6th June, assuming my tutor is happy with my ethical approval form corrections. That would leave me around 3 weeks to get the project written up properly (as the course team are insisting this one is returned by snail mail.) On the final weekend before the deadline I’m off to the festival of speed at Goodwood. As that was my Christmas present, there’s no way I want the project still hanging over me then!
I’ve barely blogged anything about SD226. I managed to get TMA02 in on time. It’s not as good as it could have been, but I think it was good enough. TMA03 will be a bit of a challenge though – it’s due in on the same day as the DD307 project. I therefore need to break the back of it over the coming bank holiday weekend I think – otherwise, I’m almost certainly going to have to ask for my first ever extension.
So I’m sat here in a state of mild panic about the volume of work that needs doing during June. It will feel really good when July arrives!
I’ve just finished putting the final touches to my project proposal for DD307. The last section I completed was my proposed timetable. The advice on the project from the course team is that it is a very busy time – and having put the timetable together, they’re not joking! I’m hoping that having submitted my TMA03 documentation a week early it might mean that I get it back well within the normal 2 week turnaround time to buy me a little more breathing space. My (new) tutor has certainly been very responsive and helpful to my questions so far and has managed to firmly prod me in the right direction when it looked as if I might run in the opposite one!
Still, I now have a timetable and plan, so one step at a time should get me there. It’s back to SD226 this weekend however and the completion of TMA02.
I’ve been doing some planning for my project in the last few days, so I finally plucked up the courage to email my (new) tutor this afternoon with an outline of what I’m going to put on my TMA03 project proposal form. I really hope that she approves, as I don’t want to go through the planning process again before the 18th May deadline.
If she thinks my topic area and approach are suitable subjects, I’ll be using the discursive psychological perspective and focussing on the way that salespeople define and redefine their professional identities. While there’s a lot of social psychological papers out there on all kinds of subjects, there aren’t that many on sales – at least not from one of the critical social perspectives.
This lack of research might be explained by (critical) social psychology researchers not caring all that much about the world of commerce. For the moment, I’m speculating that could be because of the way that Marx (negatively) viewed sales and salespeople. An alternative reading could be the difficulties that academics face in attempting to persuade companies to let them perform research with employees that may not have an obvious payoff. I did however find one very interesting paper written five or six years ago from a discursive perspective on salespeople and there are a few written from more traditional cognitive and behavioural perspectives. I’m hoping that they’ll provide a basis for some kind of criticism during the TMA04 project write-up.
So as it seems to be a largely unexplored area, I’m quite excited about tackling the project. If I’m honest, it’s probably what I was looking forward to most in the course before I started it. I just need to make sure that I listen during the interviews, rather than talk too much (as I’m all too prone to do.)
If things go to plan, I’m hoping that it will see a further upward tick in my assignment marks before I have to get back into the swing of essay writing again for TMA05, 06 and the examination. October is approaching rather quickly …
My TMA02 result was returned yesterday evening and I’m pleased to report an 18.75% improvement on my mark from TMA01. (That sounds better than saying I improved by 12 marks.) Yay! However, it still makes it my second worst TMA score of all time (DD307 TMA01 being the worst), but I’m happy with it as it’s an improvement and it’s put me firmly into the pass 2 band.
I still can’t believe how hard I’m having to work at this course though for what last year I would have regarded as being a pretty minimal return for all that effort. TMA02 went through 10 drafts before I was happy enough with it to send it in. In the past, I’ve averaged 5 or 6 and some of the DD303 assignments went in after 2 or 3 drafts. And my first SD226 assignment this year went in after 3 revisions and scored a far better mark.
Still, the next assignment is the project proposal rather than an essay, so I’m hoping that will move my average up a bit further. I’ve decided to go for a discursive project as I still think the social psychoanalytic perspective is too odd to be taken seriously and I’m probably not suited to a phenomenological project as I find talking about (and then having to describe) ’embodied experience’ a bit too painful. Besides, I’m really quite interested in the idea of identities being contingent and being constructed from pre-existing discourse, so that kind of makes the decision for me I think. Now all I have to do (once I have ethical approval of course) is find a couple of willing participants …