Tag Archives: skills

Sources of advice about academic writing ***UPDATED!***

Here in Leeds, it’s that time of year when students are either getting a lot of work back, or looking forward to work that’s due soon (mentioning no names, the DISSERTATION). In the last few days and weeks, I’ve spoken to a lot of students about the mechanics of writing, which has led me to put together this list of resources which I have used in the past, or found helpful. I hope to be able to add to it over time too.

Continue reading Sources of advice about academic writing ***UPDATED!***


Dr Barker’s essay checklist

It’s late at night (or possibly early morning), and you’ve just got down the final sentence of your final paragraph of that essay that’s been haunting you for days. And the deadline is tomorrow/later today. Excellent. Job done. Now you’re finished, you can relax…

You probably know by now that’s not the case. There’s a whole bunch of stuff that needs to happen when you finish writing but before you can submit a finished piece of work. The thing is, realistically, you might not have much time between finishing writing and submitting, and sometimes things get shoved to one side and you only remember them when they’ve been circled & underlined and handed back to you by your marker. It’s annoying and frustrating, for both you and your marker. You might well even have lost marks for things that you know you meant to do… Only you never did them. And that’s probably the thing that niggles the most.

I’ll write more about the stages of writing an essay and the importance of giving yourself time to edit in another post, but for now, here is my checklist of things to check before you hand your essay in. It’s divided into two main parts – Content and Style.
Continue reading Dr Barker’s essay checklist

Doing It For the First Time: A Beginner’s Guide to Research Pt. II

Well, it’s hard to believe but the summer is officially over and now begins the chaos of the start of term. In the midst of moving house, catching up with friends and generally getting back in to the swing of things, it is easy for an ongoing project like a dissertation to be pushed to the side-lines but at HE History Hub we’re here to make sure you keep it front and centre.

In earlier posts we have looked at some of the things to bear in mind when embarking on a dissertation and some of the practicalities of getting to the material that makes a dissertation possible. In this post I want to think more broadly about managing a project like this, both in terms of the data you’ve collected and in terms of time. Continue reading Doing It For the First Time: A Beginner’s Guide to Research Pt. II

What’s in it for *ME*? Why we ask you to work in groups as part of your degree

A few things have prompted me to write this post. I’m putting together some new module outlines, and I’ve been thinking about how to assess these. I’ve also spoken to several students about their experiences of group work recently, both as part of the official feedback process and in general conversation. And I talk regularly with my colleagues about how teaching is going. These situations typically prompt me, and my colleagues, to reflect upon our practice, but also how we communicate that practice to our students – in other words, do we make it clear why we ask you to do the things we want you to do? Ideally we should, but there’s a big difference between listing some bullet points in a module template’s ILOs (Intended Learning Outcomes) and really explaining to students how the different parts of their studies all fit together. That’s one of the reasons we started this blog – to de-mystify the process a bit.

What really got me to my computer though was finding out what students think about their studies when they’re talking to each other and not to a tutor. It’s Sabbatical Election time on campus at the moment – there are posters and slogans and people in colourful costumes all over the place! Over the weekend, I was reading about some of the policies suggested by candidates for the Vice President Education sabbatical post  (their debate was helpfully recapped on Twitter and then written up by the Exeter student paper Exposé.) I have the utmost respect for students who are engaged and driven enough to stand for election to these demanding posts, they play a crucial role in shaping how universities work, and I think even more students should get engaged with the process – if only through the simple act of voting! And I was impressed with many of the ideas and policies proposed by the various candidates. Several of the candidates brought up group work when outlining their policies, in particular ensuring that the marks awarded for group work were fair. The general point being made was that students should be rewarded for the work they, individually, put in. Seems reasonable, doesn’t it?

It did get me thinking, however, about how tutors are explaining group work to students, if it is mainly seen as leading to a grade based on hours of work done individually. The balance between the individual and the group is a tricky one to navigate, but group work is about much more than grades, and if tutors are not getting that across, then that worries me a bit.

Continue reading What’s in it for *ME*? Why we ask you to work in groups as part of your degree

Taking Charge: How to Deal with Running a Seminar

After a few weeks away, HE History Hub is back and this week we’re going to be thinking about student-led seminars. With increasing emphasis today being on ensuring that students leave university with a useable skill-set as well as knowledge, chances are that at some point you are going to be asked to run at least part of a seminar. This is can be a really daunting task: you have probably given little thought to what it is that your tutor does to prepare a seminar and now all of a sudden you’re faced with filling a big chunk of time and taking responsibility for leading your classmates through a particular topic, all the while knowing that you’re being judged on how well you do this by both your tutor and your peers. Once the initial panic subsides a little, you’ll find that the best approach is to work systematically through the various stages of what you’re being asked to do and, while this will differ from class to class, what follows should be broadly applicable to most scenarios.

Continue reading Taking Charge: How to Deal with Running a Seminar