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Hannah's comments

Handling transition to university

In terms of what we did in our Education Faculty, we actually did focus in about week 3 on our transition to University. It was quite interesting, we had just gone through this ourselves and we were able to reflect back on it for our own personal experiences, and I think the whole nature of this subject, perspective on learning, when learning about learning here, we were able to look back at ourselves in our other subjects and see now what am I doing here now, we've learnt about this in education. Now this isn't appropriate learning behavior, or learning tendency here...and this is a good way for yourself not only are you learning something but it's also shaping your own tendencies and behavior in other subjects. In terms of other assignments and essays though, you haven't done an analysis on learning prior to that. And unfortunately I institute previously due to unforeseen reasons and I was I caught the video in the make up task, the catch up tasks and everything. But we hadn't done anything major in terms of analysis and observation. Our teaching rounds came up very early on in semester, my mum was quite surprised with that, and I knew for the first few days I was just, "What's going on, I'm a teacher now I don't know what's my role", I was really unsure what to do. But after a while I sorted of settled into it all and it does come to you, its not something that's scary, you just sit there and think, "All these people might secretly be going through the same process" And it was very much...you discuss and sit there and talk and its very much an open kind of approach instead of just having someone bombard us with information and discuss...

Writing the conclusion

A conclusion can be difficult at times simply because it's the last thing and I want to get this done. This kind of attitude does seem to happen a lot. In terms of my Psych reports, our conclusions are seen as a way we'll have our results and asking, "What have I seen in this subject, now what does this mean in terms of a broader population," - a kind of wider scope to it all. And I think that could then appropriate here...

  • "In this instance this has all happened, now what does this mean in terms of perhaps a wider community?"
  • "How can teachers overcome these kinds of problems with interest in motivation?"

Maybe a few suggestions, just to leave the reader just wondering perhaps, "Ok, there's some good points here." Just something to raise and leave an area open if someone wanted to go into further research. I mean I wasn't writing an experimental report or anything, but maybe a conclusion along those lines might've been a bit more appropriate.

How would you compare writing in Year 12 and writing in your first-year university course?

In terms of similarities between writing in Year 12 and writing in University, of course you've got your main conventions to an essay; your introduction, your way of conducting research, the citations, and writing up a report and everything. But I see it has been a big difference, I really have felt a big difference between the way that...our assessment tasks in Year 12, we were told very specifically what to do. We had our teacher with us everyday, they give us suggestions, we'll go home that night and change it, give it to them the next day, ask "Is this what it was?" We're on a weekly basis here at Uni, and it's very much you don't have that support constantly. It's still there, it's not like we're out in the deep end, but its not there so much.

Criteria wise, we knew exactly what the teacher wanted - how to go about it. I was, my Psych essay was like a checklist, and I needed to give this definition, so an example of this, what does this mean, and it was one paragraph. And the next paragraph was the next criteria we needed this, this and this. That made it a lot easier, I mean it still wasn't something that was easy, it was still work that had to be done; but in terms it was almost like filling out a form in a way, but in University its like: "You go out and get the books that you want, you will have recommended reading at times, but you need to go up to the library and I'm not going to tell you when the due date is, you've got the dates ...you've had them since you started semester." I've been caught out about a week and a half before an essay was due and I was like, "Oh, my goodness!" But it's very much you're on you own. Not so much as that's it, it's all you and no one is ever going to help you; there is support there if you do need it you just need to actively go out and find that.

In terms of my VCE though...I was very used to like doing Visual Arts and Photography and then coming to Uni and writing essays...I didn't have my photography kit to relax with and everything. I'm constantly writing and everything, but I do enjoy that and there is an important skill that people do need to develop I think the way that it's taught or the way that it's developing. University though is a lot better geared to work beyond University and the workplace whereas in VCE its very much you're not babied through it, but your own big support network, and if everything else falls apart it's ok it's not the end of the world. But you do have a lot of support at VCE and in terms of preparing you for University, I mean that depends on what school you went to if it's a country or if it's a state school or if you boarded there or what have you, but I'm not sure if it's the best way to prepare yourself for university. Even though if you can very much turn out an essay in 3 weeks, don't get to draft it and draft it and draft it, whereas in VCE we had months of Photography caps, a good six weeks. We weren't supposed to draft, draft and draft, but it was available to us like that. It's just not here at Uni, you need to be ...bring out the product instantly almost like work and work on it and have confidence...

Do you think the transition to university has had an impact on your writing?

My English teacher was ...that I was a bad planner, and I think that University has made me change my styles in a more positive way. I wasn't used to planning so much; I just wanted to write something straight away, something without structure, without purpose. And University has very quickly, in my first semester, it has given me the skills, I've written about five or six essays. Which is quite a few, but you only have one exam. So, I do think that it has changed my work for the better, but this is still something that's an on-going process. I mean I'll still be writing in my fourth year and still trying to improve; it's not something that will happen overnight. It will hopefully get better. I think in High School, it put the emphasis on using primary evidence and primary sources, it's very much - 'this is the opinion, this is the essay you need to write, have a look at this book, this is what they say.' Generally you take the approach of the book that you read. But looking in inference in primary evidence, it's very much now saying, this, this and this...What do I think? I've got some secondary sources, that's their opinion, now I don't have to agree with that, but then in High School, you did tend to agree with the secondary sources. But in looking at primaries, what we did in our assignment in Education here, we had this primary observation and data that we had to infer from we couldn't rely on someone else's opinion...follow through...

When did you realise the extent of the differences between writing in Year 12 and writing at university?

I always was aware that the changes would be quite profound and I would be on my own in terms of coming from High School University. I mean I had my fantastic 'O Week', and maybe that blinded me straight on that first Monday morning...but I had perceived an essay earlier on and I managed to get that to a tutor at ...and she absolutely picked that to death. And I thought, "Goodness gracious me, I'm never going to get through here." Then gradually I had essays, but I had little tasks to do, I managed to get hold of some sources on writing humanities essays and what have you. I was used to doing my Psych kind of stuff, so that was good; but I was always aware of it, and I think it's important to be aware of it because if you're just expecting something like High School, it is going to be a big shock for you and you will just not be prepared. I was fortunate enough though to have a teacher at High School who drummed it into us that, "You'll be on your own, take your own notes and work independently." Which was really good in that way. I was able to expect this and that from University. Our transition program at High School was quite good, I mean being 3 hours away to come 15 it was difficult to come to Uni and really experience the life, but I was able to talk to other students. I am the first in my family to go to Uni, so it is a bit of a new thing around. But I think it is a good thing to be aware of the difference and to try and just explore your options. Get to Uni if you can...

Are there any other significant differences between writing in Year 12 and at university?

In terms of discussing issues and everything in comparison to Year 12, there isn't a big shift in the words and the language that you use. We're not supposed to all of a sudden know all these superior terms, definitions and grammar, whereas I found the ...at Universtity seems to be a lot more conceptual in ways, very abstract at times. My subjects, my History - I do an Art History in Theory, and very much social subjects and ways that you see ...this piece of work, and what have you. And how does this reflect back on the culture and society? And these are very open ended kind of approaches and questions, and you make your own personal response and interpretation, supported with evidence. We're not so much doing it as definitions of this, this and this, as what it was so much more in school. It's very open - ended and it's you're interpretation...

What do you think was the main objective of this assignment?

I feel the main objective of course, we needed to be able to inserve from our observations, not move beyond a new description, we need to move into what all of this means. I think the fact that this was an independent kind of what xxxx advising, rather than to have a checklist, we had to see what are we are all doing here? We really had to sit down and think about this task, it wasn't something we could just do like any old other essay or any old other report. We needed to be able to in sense see what we, instead of being given, we were told what we had to do. We had to find out what we had to do, then of course we had to follow through and do that, and that was very much on our self.

Did you consult with anybody on problems you faced while preparing and writing the assignment?

In terms of consultations with others, It's been generally told to me that tutors over at Monash don't like to see a full draft, "Here have a look at this, is this ok?" ...I had a look at plans and ideas. I did though have the opportunity at the College I'm staying at, we have tutors who come once a week and look at our work in a very detailed ...just very helpful. And I was able to show a draft, I've got two tutors I can show work to for Education, one tutor...absolutely loved it, she said she thought it was really engaging to read, and she really enjoyed it, and that's something she finds within essay assistance. That person has done well to engage the reader to make them want to read it, not because they have to or anything... I didn't receive much comment in terms of any improvement - what else I could do, a few corrections or what have you. She sort of said I didn't need to show it to anyone else, but I did show it to my other tutor who did see quite a bit of grammar, I was to see, just some...and what have you. But she didn't give me any comments either with regards to 'Is this what I was supposed to do, was there any big fatal flaw that I hadn't done?' We hadn't discussed our drafts at all with Toni our tutor back at Monash. My part with my oral speech wouldn't really talk at all between our systems and our groups about our drafts and how it was all going. It's very much an independent process, and it is...sometimes it is right and you want to check and see and you just want that little bit of support whilst you're drafting it all, but I mean that's the nature of Uni, I mean if we are still...to depend on someone else once we're all finished and teachers in the real world. What are we going to do with all these unexpected incidents and spontaneous moments that we...

How effective was your approach to writing this assignment?

In terms of my approach, I think I undertook planning quite thoroughly, although I do feel I started the assignment late. It was two and a half weeks before completion and we did know what topic we were going to do before our mid-semester break. Which was about five weeks prior to this. We had our oral talk though, which helped us get ourselves into gear - look this is your topic, you need to do a presentation a few weeks before the assignment. So we had to do that and then we had our time to write up the report. I think though an important part of any essay is the planning stage and I felt that I did spend quite a bit of time planning, seeing what kinds my observations were, what this all meant, and then thinking, "Now in terms of the report, how am I going to put this all together?" And then that was the...of the essay came out quite easily in terms of writing it up. I had thoroughly planned, and I wasn't thinking all of a sudden, " Oh, but there was this that I hadn't thought of." I kind of managed to get to every single corner and I knew what I was doing...

How did you go about interpreting your topic and begin structuring your assignment?

I think how they did it was a good way of trying to do it. I mean you needed, instead of relying on something closely. "Ok, I need to give...this is what they said." We had to sort of interpret that and then give our own approach.

Your assignment was a report on observations made in the classroom. Were you told what things to look for?

Looking at my observations, I was left quite open, I wasn't really directed in any way. "You need to be looking for this, this and this..." and what have you. My actual topic: Interest and Motivation, hadn't been covered previously in our tutorials, so I was quite 'flying blind' - just a little. But I think if you were told, "You need to look for this" you could almost spend a whole day just trying to find something, that just won't happen. I mean...is quite spontaneous and you need to be able to, I mean you can't just try and fix observations to what you want it to be, but you need to be able to infer from that and it's quite hard because my topic was an abstract kind of 'non-directly observable thing'. I kind of got a sense of it after a few days, I mean I couldn't start doing this straight away on the first day; but I got a sense of the room, a sense of the kids. I could see who were the high achievers as opposed to those who pulled it off and were distracted quite easily. And from then I was just able to see some things were coming up, some main topics and what have you, I could see this and I sort of perceived that...

How did you go about writing the assignment?

Writing the essay just involved, I took a different approach to what I was used to just in starting from the start. In other works, I had started in the middle... "Ok, this is my main point, I can see a conclusion, now I'll tack on an introduction that fits all of this." But I mean you can't, you need to be able to link all your paragraphs and basic structure and what have you. So I said, I'll start at the start, I know what I'm doing, and I felt that once I get my introduction, "I'm into it!" It will just come out a bit easier, I mean my introduction gives me the sense of direction I need to follow, but just starting that introduction in my notes you can see it was a bit difficult. I didn't want to...I went on my practical assignment, I went to the school, I had to do this. So, you know my poor tutor had like 20 assignments almost like that. And I thought I'd try something different and almost creative in a way. Just to grab the attention of the viewer, to make it a piece that someone would want to read, not because they had to mark...So starting at the start, it took a lot to get that little 'grab' at the start. But once that came, I looked at it and knew I had my main body. My conclusion though, I wasn't quite happy with, and that's probably evident. It does seem to be tacked on, it's ok, but I think you can see a difference in the writing of the introduction, the main body and then there's this conclusion all of a sudden. It doesn't really sort of...it says what I've done of course, but it doesn't really seem to broaden it out in terms of what all this means.

Writing the introduction

I think the introduction was quite hard, simply because it was the start of the assignment and I wasn't sure. I hadn't been given the criteria or given what we ought to do; it was quite open ended and a bit 'wishy-washy', I wasn't sure. And in general its always a big barrier just to start something, I always procrastinate -put it off. But once you get into something...and it's fine. I wasn't sure if this was the right idea, if this was appropriate. I didn't know what kind of approach to take. I wanted to...I did want to say "Ok, I'm a student teacher, this is something really different for me, it's something I hadn't done previously, I was used to being a student for the past 12/13 years of my life and now all of a sudden I'm the teacher." And I just wanted to show that quickly, you know this is a kind of personal thing here, this isn't just a report, everyday thing you see. This is a personal account of my experiences and what I had...and what I think it all means. And I just hadn't had any guidelines, this idea of something creative wasn't suggested to us. But I thought maybe this would be a good idea to engage the reader, but yeah, I wasn't following any plan and I just still wasn't sure that...see how it goes and I'm happy with that, I like...

What initial advice or instructions did you receive from your tutor/lecturer?

In receiving stuff from our tutors, it was quite ambiguous and it wasn't really outlined in the way that I was used to or what I was expecting. We received a course outline or course book to our subject, and that told us about each of our assessment pieces and requirements. The nature of what we were told, wasn't so much "This is what you need to do, a checklist, criteria in a way." It was just written out as a paragraph, look at analysis in particular of what we were doing rather than description, it was emphasised quite a lot. In terms of a checklist perhaps, no we didn't have anything like that. It was very much presented in a way that was open-ended. Where I had to look at it and interpret what I think it is, and it was difficult to start with, but once I got into it, I thought, "Ok, now I can see what they're on about." I think it was quite hard to see what they wanted but it could be done and it was difficult but it was ...

What other advice would have been useful?

I think helpful advice maybe perhaps just in starting the essay perhaps maybe basic planning would've been helpful. That was something which I undertook quite extensively; the planning of my piece. And then perhaps the structure of the actual report, I mean, they said this was supposed to be written up as an actual report. I mean, I do studies in Psych and a report in Psych could be quite different to what they expect for Education. In terms of basic essay writing I kind of had an idea and I thought I'd structure it along the lines of introduction, outline, topic, the main body of arguments, points and of course the conclusion. In terms of combining the analysis with discussion, I thought I could say, "This, this and this means this..." I could do a point and then say that directly afterwards...

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