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Lecturer's expectations

In this section, your lecturer - Tanya Kantanis - sets out what she expects from student assignments on this topic.

Understanding the task and preparing the assignment

  1. The assignment is a report, not an essay.

    • The report needs to map the data collected through observation on to aspects covered by the theory.
    • While students are not given any specific instructions about the physical layout of the assignment, the key elements of the task effectively signpost the structure of the report and the headings which may be used. Information is provided in the subject handbook as well as being reinforced during tutorials.
    • At this early stage, we do not expect students to move too far beyond interpretation of the data collected (some of which may be impressionistic) and analysis of that data. The analysis needs to show the manner in which the observation has validated key concepts of the subject, according to the selected frame of reference. (Refer to the frames of reference given in the section "Writing Assignment on Practicum".) We expect students to demonstrate an understanding of the subject's key concepts and explain how this understanding has been affected by the classrooms they observed.
  2. Although additional research by students would be beneficial, we do not make evidence of such additional research one of the criteria.
  3. The selected frame is crucial to the process of data collection. It determines the type of data collected and the manner in which these will be interpreted.
  4. Once the data are collected, in order to write the assignment students need to do the following:
    • Carefully read the instructions once again in the subject handbook.
    • Ascertain the relative importance of each section of the assignment and make provision for the time and effort they will need to expend. (Some students misinterpret the numerous but less-significant listings under the heading of "context" as being of equal value to the section entitled "analysis".)
    • Approach the individual tasks as "chunks", rather than attempt to respond immediately to the whole assignment. In this way, students can avoid inadvertently overlooking some aspect. When the separate "chunks" are then brought together to form the whole, the more methodical preparatory approach should lead to a more comprehensive response.
    • Review the entire assignment once the individual sections have been brought together, to ensure coherence and improve fluency.
    • N.B. Students who find analysis difficult may find it helpful to divide a page into two columns headed: "Description of observations" (i.e. what was observed) and "Analysis of data" (i.e. how and why it is relevant to the selected "frame") and organise their data and discussion accordingly.
    • Given that this assignment contributes substantially to the subject's grade (30% of the total mark), considerable time needs to be devoted to planning and completion. The minimum time devoted should be 12-13 hours.

The qualities of a good assignment

Typically a good assignment would:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the nature of the task, i.e. show an appreciation of the relative value of the various elements that make up this task
  • Complete all aspects of the task (including provision of evidence of the interview with the teacher)
  • Analyse the data and not simply describe observations
  • Make clear links between observations and the key concepts of the subject
  • Be written in clear and concise English
  • Show evidence of a development in the student's ideas since the oral presentation

A High Distinction assignment differs from a Pass/Credit in several clear ways. A High Distinction assignment would have a sharper focus, be tightly structured, draw meaningful conclusions from the data, explore weaknesses as well as strengths of the frames, and indicate any constraints/limitations of the task. A High Distinction assignment would not only respond to the task but also expand on its dimensions. Detailed supporting evidence and consistency in completing all sections equally well are typical features.

A Pass/Credit assignment would meet the criteria but not show evidence beyond a satisfactory level. It is common for assignments that achieve Pass/Credit grades to be inconsistent in terms of meeting the criteria because of omissions and/or lack of thoroughness in critical analysis and provision of evidence to support claims.

The assignment needs to contain all elements of the task:

  • Description of context
  • Identification of frame/s
  • Data from the classroom
  • Data from the teacher
  • Analysis of data
  • Structure, expression, within word limit
  • Demonstrated engagement with, and understanding of, the frame(s) selected for the purpose of data analysis. Assignments need to be structured logically and expressed clearly.
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