Week 7 - my tips about assignments

This week there is no extra work, everyone needs to complete their assignment.  I've already submitted my assignment as I have learned from past Uni courses that to keep revising is not going to improve it much, I am at an end.   It has had several revisions before this. 

Lots of my fellow students are really stressing out about it on facebook though!  I'm no expert, but I have learned a few things along the way at uni, and here is my advice (for what it is worth):

  1. Understand the marking Rubic.  What is the lecturer looking for?  If you do not understand this, it is quite difficult to get a good mark.
  2. If there are templates or examples, read them and use them.
  3. You must explain HWWY - eg. " I discounted the date of birth on the death certificate" is not enough, you need to add WHY - eg "because, obviously the person giving the information was not at the birth". 
  4. Then relate it to the text, concepts and words you are being taught - eg "the distance from the birth is not reliable, and the death certificate is 3rd party information in this instance."
  5. Understand how the references are formatted.  In this case, for this course, it is REPOSITORY,  RECORD, DATE, RECORD NUMBER, NAME OF PERSON.   So, Where is the record held, what is the date, what is the reference number, page number etc. what is the name of the person it refers to? ALWAYS reference as you go along, even if it is not in the perfect format, otherwise you will be asking "where did I find that out".
  6. Above all, start early! Then revise, revise etc as you learn.
My assignment has 1300 words, it is supposed to be around 1000!  In this case there does not seem to be a penalty for going over 1000, but there are some tricks if you need to:

  1. Delete adverbs and adjectives
  2. Delete 'and' and 'but' - make two sentences
  3. Reduce the introduction - don't repeat information
  4. Delete the word 'that' and 'the'
  5.  Replace phrases with single words. There are always opportunities to say more with less. For example:
    • Phrasal verbs such as "ask for" or "put up with" replaced with"request" or "tolerate".
    • Replace "at the same time" with "simultaneously" and "by the same token" with "similarly".
    • The adverb "immediately" can be used in lieu of phrases such as "right now" and "as soon as".
    • Replace full clauses such as "It is clear that" and "It should be obvious that" with single adverbs such as "clearly", "obviously" or "evidently".
    • A sentence with "the reason why... is that..." can be rewritten with just the conjunction "because". For example: "The reason why ice floats is that..." becomes simply: "Ice floats because.
  6. Get rid of as many prepositions as possible - of, at, to, etc.
  7.  Pluralise - 'readers' instead of 'the reader, 'Facebook' instead of 'the Facebook group'.
  8. Use contractions, 'don't' instead of  'do not'

Some thoughts about the course - but strictly from my perspective.

Overall, I have not found the course challenging, I think the reliance on the people in the course for feedback is questionable, there is not enough reliance on concepts and critical thinking in the course (for me!). 

One of the people in the course seemed quite upset I suggested she stick to one question for the assignment and came back to me with a whole lot of justification for it!  She then proceeded to give me some criticism- not an issue for me, but she obviously did not like my suggestion!  Feedback is just that, you take some on board, you leave the rest as considered and discarded.

People new to university obviously struggled with firstly the computer system, then with the marking and assignment.  There could be a video, right at the beginning, to cover some of that, written documents are not enough.

Some of the audio in the videos was of very poor quality.  My husband, who is an audio engineer, came in and asked me about it!  Some microphone technique training is required. Actually, videoing a lecture with added slides is more engaging.

I am glad I did the course, and have enrolled in the convicts course, so I will see how that goes!  


  1. Lovely to see the hints put so concisely. Should be mandatory reading for all students. Pity it takes experience to realise these points. Well said

  2. Thanks John,
    When I did my first uni course I learned a lot. I wait to see if the word count will effect my mark on this one!


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