January Newsletter | Academy Online Learning

January Newsletter

Wed, 17/01/2018 - 13:14 -- admin
Welcome to our monthly newsletter, keeping you up to date with important deadlines, such as UCAS, and helpful hints on how to get the most from your course.

In this month's newsletter:

  • Deadlines for June Moderation
  • Improve your essays with in-depth evaluation

GCSEs

If you need to get your GCSE English, Maths or Human Biology, we have courses available with support from experienced tutors. You can still enrol now to sit your exams in May/June More information

The deadline to register to sit GCSE exams in May/June 2018 is 21 February 2018

Enhanced Learning Credits

Our Access to Higher Education Diplomas are eligible for ELCAS funding from the Ministry of Defence for students entitled to Enhanced Learning Credits.

Important Dates

Deadline for GCSE entries

21 February 2018

Dates for June Moderation

To complete your diploma in time for June moderation, you must achieve the following:

  • 15 Credits by 21st January (guideline)
  • 30 credits by 4th March (non-negotiable)
  • 45 credits by 15th April (non-negotiable)
  • 60 credits by 20th May (non-negotiable)

Want to write a blog?

We are inviting current and former students to write a blog about their experiences, which we will publish on our website. We were inspired by Abbie's excellent Blood, Blues and Babies blog about her experiences of being a student midwife. If you are interested in writing a blog, contact us and let us know.

Improve your essays with 'in-depth' discussions

In this month’s newsletter, we look at how to use ideas, theories and information to form in-depth discussions to improve your chances of achieving a high grade. 

In most Social Science assignments at least one of the assessment criteria will require you to demonstrate that you can structure a discussion or evaluate something; for example, a theory, a research investigation or a treatment method.

Grading Criteria
  • The grading criterion for achieving a distinction for “Application of Knowledge” is that your work “Makes use of relevant ideas and theories with both breadth and depth and an excellent level of consistency”
  • The criterion for a distinction for "Use of Information" is that the work "...makes extensive use of additional information and shows an excellent grasp of the meaning and significance of new information".

 

So it is not just a case of knowing the information, it is how you use the information that counts and how well you demonstrate that you grasp what it means in terms of the ideas being discussed.

Writing a discussion

To 'discuss' is to weigh up the different opinions on the subject of the discussion. For example, if the question was “Discuss the theory that stressful life events lead to illness.”, it would be asking you to discuss evidence for and against the theory.

Other terms in questions that have a similar meaning include, 'evaluate', 'critically consider' and 'critically analyse'. 

The following examples are used to illustrate how you might go about evaluating a theory. For topics other than stress, the content would be different, but the same principles apply:  

 
Example 1:

According to NHS Choices (2017) stress can cause headaches, muscle tension, dizziness and sleep problems, so if people experience a lot of stressful life events you would expect them to become ill.

This example is supportive of the theory and, therefore counts as evaluation, it also cites a source; however, there are problems with it. Although a source is cited, no real evidence is put forward in support of the theory (even if you visit NHS Choices, there is no evidence - it isn’t an academic source). There is also no further explanation of how headaches, etc. could lead to illness.

 

Example 2:

A study by Rahe et al. (1970) found that scores on the SRRS, a questionnaire that measures stressful life events, were positively correlated with illness scores.

The good thing about this response is that it uses evidence from scientific research that has been published in a reputable journal; however, although stressful life events have been shown to have a relationship with illness, there is still little depth. It is, nevertheless, a better response than the first example.

 
Example 3:

A study by Rahe et al. (1970) found that scores on the SRRS, a questionnaire that measures stressful life events, were positively correlated with illness scores. The correlation of +0.118 was small, but significant because of the large number of participants who took part (2664), it demonstrates that stressful life events are an important factor, but that other factors are involved in the development of illness.

This is much better, as there is a deeper explanation of the results of the study and what they mean in terms of the theory. There is still room for improvement; however, as the results are just being accepted as true. A deeper analysis would consider whether the results are valid.

 
Example 4:

A study by Rahe et al. (1970) found that scores on the SRRS, a questionnaire that measures stressful life events, were positively correlated with illness scores. The correlation of +0.118 was small, but significant because of the large number of participants who took part (2664), it demonstrates that stressful life events are an important factor, but that other factors are involved in the development of illness. A strength of this investigation is that the American Navy personnel who took part were on a tour of duty on 3 ships for the duration of the investigation. This means that they were all exposed to similar environmental conditions including weather and diet. However, all the participants were male, so the study is androcentric and there should be caution in generalising the findings to females.

This example is an improvement because it explains the results and there is a deeper consideration of the issues surrounding the research than in the previous examples. A good way to carry the essay forward from here would be to include an investigation that addresses the weaknesses of this one, for example, an investigation that includes female participants or that uses participants from non-military occupations.

 

Summary 

To produce an effective discussion with breadth and depth, consider the following: 

  • What evidence is there to support (or against) the theory?
  • What does the evidence mean?
  • How strong is the evidence? - What strengths and weaknesses does the evidence have?

...continue by weighing up further evidence in support and against the topic of discussion

 Next month: Keep your word counts down without losing any of the meaning.

www.academyonlinelearning.com

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