Homework and assignments serves as a vital link between classroom learning and independent study, though managing the workload can pose challenges. Adopting effective strategies transforms the homework experience into a more manageable and gratifying task.
This blog post explores five strategies to help you master the art of homework management.
Establish a schedule
Successful homework management hinges on creating a practical and achievable schedule. Begin by listing all assignments and their due dates. Prioritize tasks based on urgency and complexity. Allocate dedicated time slots for homework in your schedule, maintaining a healthy balance with other commitments. Consistency is key; adhering closely to your schedule fosters a productive routine.
Break it down
Tackling a substantial assignment can be overwhelming. Instead of trying to complete it in one go, break it into smaller, more manageable tasks.
Develop a checklist outlining the steps needed to finish the assignment, focusing on one task at a time. This not only reduces the daunting nature of the work but also enables effective progress tracking. Celebrate each small accomplishment, contributing to the overall completion of the assignment.
Designate a Productive Workspace
Your environment significantly influences your ability to concentrate and be productive. Designate a dedicated workspace for homework that is free from distractions. Ensure it is well-lit, organized, and comfortable. Associating this space with focus and productivity helps create a conducive atmosphere. Keep all necessary materials within reach to minimize interruptions and consider using tools like noise-canceling headphones.
Employ Time Management Techniques
Utilizing time management techniques can greatly enhance homework efficiency. The Pomodoro Technique, for instance, involves focused, 25-minute intervals followed by a 5-minute break. After four cycles, take a longer break. This method sustains concentration and prevents burnout. Experiment with different techniques to find the one that suits your work style and enhances productivity.
Seek Assistance and Collaborate
Do not hesitate to seek help when encountering challenges. If a specific concept or assignment proves difficult, reach out to classmates, teachers, or online resources. Collaborating with peers enhances understanding and fosters a sense of community and support. Teaching others can deepen your comprehension of the subject matter. Embrace collaboration to enrich your learning experience.
Effective homework management requires a blend of organizational skills, time management, and a proactive approach. By establishing a realistic schedule, breaking tasks into manageable portions, optimizing your workspace, employing time management techniques, and seeking collaboration, you can transform homework from a stressor into a fulfilling and enriching learning experience. Implementing these strategies not only improves academic performance but also instills habits beneficial throughout your educational journey.
Have you ever encountered writer’s block? Ever felt evasive when it comes to academic writing? Or procrastinate until the last-minute submission deadline?
Do not worry. You are not alone. I have encountered writer’s block more often than I thought I would.
What are the main reasons one feels anxiety about academic writing or writing in general?
There could be several reasons for fear and anxiety. Here are some of the common causes:
1. I am not a good writer
This, hands down is one of the foremost causes of anxiety about writing. Not having confidence or faith in one’s writing skills can have a long-standing effect on a person. Having writer’s block could be misunderstood as the inadequacy of flair of writing. Sometimes we tend to compare ourselves with our fellow students or colleagues who seem very natural and good at writing. One may believe that no matter how much effort and hard work they put in, they can never attain perfection or good scores for the assignment.
2. Writing is not my cup of tea
It is expected that one refrain from practising things that we do not excel in or require additional effort. Writing may seem outwardly difficult (maybe impossible) and thus a time-consuming task. It can be challenging to stay motivated when an assigned task seems difficult!
3. Language resistance
You will inadvertently feel uncomfortable writing in English if English isn’t your native language. One may not have adequate vocabulary built to express their ideas and thought processes.
4. Lack of time
We are all busy multi-tasking and juggling work, family, and studies simultaneously. There is always stress and fear if you will be able to finish and submit the assignments on time. And the situation could get worse if you are a procrastinator (like me…) who would always run out of time on assignments.
5. I lack knowledge
There are high chances that you experience writer’s block if you are not well versed with the topic of the assignment or do not have a clear understanding. You will feel the pressure of necessity of correctness and formality inhibiting. You may seem lost trying to figure out where to start writing, lack original ideas and fear critical judgement if quality work is not delivered.
While it may seem to be a grave issue, there are simple ways with which one can conquer the fear and anxiety of writing.
Here are 5 simple ways:
1. Follow 3 R’s of writing
For effective writing, the first and foremost step is to follow the 3 R’s – Read, Research, Reread. When submitting assignments, one needs to be a pro on the topic. Knowledge is power. Read as much as you can from different sources. The more you research and read, the easier it will be to present your thoughts and ideas on the assignment topic. Visit various resources to solidify your thoughts before starting.
Once armed with the power of knowledge, practice mind-mapping. Start writing down ideas, create an outline and write bullet points. If you are more of a visual’s person, draw a flowchart of your ideas right from the introduction to the conclusion of the assignment. And then proceed to elaborate your thoughts on each of the points.
3. Start early
Never add another stress point to an existing stress mix. If you feel you run out of time, always give yourself leeway and start well in advance of the assignment submission deadline. This will provide you with more time to read and research and brew your ideas.
4. Practice makes perfect
To overcome one’s fear, sometimes the best remedy is to face it head-on. Practice your writing on other subject related ideas and get in the habit of formulating and practising presentations. In due course, you will feel comfortable and develop positive writing experiences.
5. Just start!
Turn away from any distractions that are stopping you from accomplishing your goal. Simply start writing, no matter what and get yourself started on writing. When you achieve this first step, congratulate yourself and jump to the next step.
I hope these easy five ways will help you overcome writer’s block. I know there are many other methods that might work or have worked better for you. Which method did you use? Share some of the tips in the comments section below.
As promised in the blog about referencing and citation, this week, we bring you information and facts about academic integrity and how to avoid plagiarism.
As a master’s student, expect yourself to be surrounded by deadlines to submit assignments, academic papers, and dissertations for most of your academic life (follow our #DILO – A Day in the life of an RKC student series to know more). Academic integrity is a crucial aspect of academic studies, and strict protocols must be followed to abide by the rules of academic writing.
So, what is plagiarism?
When one submits another person’s ideas, writings, words, images, or data as their own, it is termed plagiarism.
Plagiarism is among the four most common forms of academic dishonesty, the other three being cheating, academic misconduct, and fabrication. While looking for ideas and information is good research, not giving proper credit for the work cited becomes plagiarism. It is easy not to recognise potential plagiarism in one’s writing. Here are some examples:
Using information from the internet is commonly considered public information. However, it is still required to be cited.
When one paraphrases (i.e. puts someone else’s ideas in their own words) and does not provide credit to the original idea.
When one sources information from reading material provided by the professor, it still needs to be cited. This is considered poor academic practice though, as you need to demonstrate independent research, and go directly to the sources mentioned by the professors in their lectures, rather than cite the lectures themselves.
When one copies their own ideas, used in previously marked work, and submits the same material for a new paper. This is commonly known as self-plagiarism.
How to avoid plagiarism?
As complex as it may seem, plagiarism can be avoided by simply citing and referencing your work wherever necessary and giving due credit to the original ideas, theories, words, quotations, images, or graphs.
Studying for a masters, working full-time, juggling work-life-study balance itself seems daunting. Do not get lost in trying to find the correct way to present assignments and avoid plagiarism. There are various sources that you can use to ensure effective writing every time.
Access the electronic library through your University account – there is always a guide to academic writing, referencing, and tutorial support directly from librarians
Ask for help from the tutors and student support services, who can help you get unstuck and direct you towards the resources that can help
I hope this prepares you well for authoring your academic papers and assignments. If you are stuck or have any questions, our highly qualified, world-class faculty will guide you through using the correct methods and techniques to follow academic integrity.
In my previous blog, I wrote a step-by-step guide on how to write an effective abstract for academic papers. Continuing further in the same direction, this week I would like to discuss referencing and citations. As I mentioned earlier, writing an abstract is not rocket science, and neither are referencing and citating.
Now, referencing is an important academic practice. But it becomes even more important when you are studying at University level. It is thus imperative to understand the correct way to reference and cite your sources in your master’s degree assignments, academic papers, or dissertation. This blog is your one-stop shop about what, how and where, style guides, and examples of referencing and citations.
So, first things first, what is the difference between referencing and citations?
While undertaking your masters’ studies, you will constantly hear from your professors to reference your work and cite the sources of your research and ideas.
As the name suggests, referencing refers to the source of work that you used in your paper. The readers should be able to find and read for themselves the original source of information that one has read or considered in their academic piece.
Citations, on the other hand, are brief mentions of the author or the external source used in writing the paper. A citation is, in other words, an abbreviated reference. While both inform the reader of the sources of information used, there is a fine difference between a reference and a citation. Here are some key differences between references and citations:
A reference is a complete record of the source that has been sought or cited in the paper.
A citation is disclosing the source within the main body and thus is also referred to as an ‘in-text’ citation. It provides just basic information such as the authors’ names, year of publication, and perhaps the page number if a sizeable quote is provided.
References are listed at the end of the document, on a page having its own title (“List of references”, “References”, “Works cited”).
Citations are presented within the body of the document where we speak of the ideas or results of the source we are citing..
References provide the reader with information such as the authors’ names, the publication date, the title (of the book or article), page numbers, publisher and place of publishing, etc.
A citation provides less information, such as the last names of the authors and the publication year, such that it does not disrupt the reading flow.
Both references and citations give credit to the authors whose ideas have been discussed in your work, in addition to supporting or criticizing an argument. This is additionally critical to avoid plagiarism in academic writing (topic for another blog!).
Different styles of referencing and citating
Different academic disciplines prefer specific referencing styles. In business programmes (such as the MBAs, MSc’s), you will often be asked to use Harvard or APA styles, whereas in Law programmes (LLM, LLB) you will most often be asked to use Oxford or OSCOLA. You should always check the programme handbooks and assignment briefs, and in doubt, with your instructor what referencing style they expect for the assignment or academic paper you are writing.
The references should be regrouped on a new page at the end of the paper. This list gives the complete information to identify and locate all sources used in the paper. There should be a corresponding entry in the list of references for all in-text citations that were used. References typically follow an alphabetical order of authors’ last names but under certain styles the order of appearance will rather be used.
Among the different styles used by different disciplines, here are the 6 most frequently used styles in writing academic papers, each with a very specific purpose they fulfil:
APA (6th or 7th Edition)
The style guides specify the kind of information and how it should be displayed for different types of sources (books, articles, websites, images, ebooks, etc.) – ensuring consistency across not only your work, but across the entire field of study that uses that style.
At first look, these may all seem complicated, and daunting, but there are tools that can help you manage your sources, references, and citations.
For example, Word has a tool called “Citations & Bibliography” which allows you to enter your sources in a database (“Manage Sources”), to insert in-text citations that are automatically updated if needed (“Insert citation”), and to generate your list of references (“Bibliography”) according to the specific style you need (“Style”).
External tools also exist, such as Zotero, Mendeley, EndNote, or CiteThemRight – which have pretty much the same functionalities – managing your references with one of these tools will save you a gigantic among of time and effort, so by all means, pick the one that works best for you and run with it.
I promised you some examples, so here goes:
Harvard / APA styles
Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill (2019), or Saunders et al. (2019), when the author’s names are part of the sentence, or (Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill, 2019) or (Saunders et al., 2019) when they are not.
Reference list entry
Saunders, M. N. K., Lewis, P. and Thornhill, A. (2019) Research methods for business students. Eighth Edition. New York: Pearson.
Oxford style (OSCOLA)
OSCOLA uses numeric references, with the full reference given in a correspondingly numbered footnote. So, in your text, you would simply put a superscript number by inserting a footnote1 and then the footnote would contain the reference as:
Mark NK Saunders, Philip Lewis and Adrian Thornhill, Research Methods for Business Students (Eighth Edition, Pearson 2019).
Reference list entry
Saunders MNK, Lewis P and Thornhill A, Research Methods for Business Students (Eighth Edition, Pearson 2019)
Note the difference between the footnote reference and reference list entry – in the footnote, you give the author names in “firstname, lastname” format, whereas in the reference list you give it in “lastname, f.” format.
If this looks complicated, it is! 😊 Which is why I reiterate my advice to use a reference management tool – whichever one works for you.
Hope this prepares you well for writing your academic paper or assignments. If you are stuck or have any questions, our highly qualified, world class faculty will guide you through using the correct methods and techniques for referencing and citations.
Taught Master’s are usually modular in form, featuring a range of optional modules the student can choose from, with a final dissertation at the end of the course, usually produced over the final semester.
Writing assignments at Master’s level
You must use language appropriate to the academic environment, and a coherent and strong structure to your work is essential. Assignments will be longer at Master’s level, even for unassessed pieces of work. Do not be overwhelmed by larger word counts. Remember, you made a large step up in intensity of work from school to university, so another step-up is well within your capabilities.
Clarity is important. Do not use over-elaborate vocabulary and grammar just because you think you have to. It is more important to be understood.
Time management is crucial for the Master’s student – with a heavier workload you will find that a good weekly plan, and a firm grasp of deadlines, is essential. This is especially true with the dissertation which will be the longest assignment you will have done yet at university, usually covering a period of several months. It is important to set yourself deadlines for drafts.
Here are the various aspects of writing skills that Master’s students should be concentrating on in order to succeed.
THE MASTERS LEVEL
One of the first things most Master’s students notice once they have started is how much more intense a Master’s degree is than an undergraduate degree. It is a less passive experience; you will not be guided as much by the lecturers, and will be expected to think for yourself more.
Master’s requires a new way of approaching academic work, all the groundwork has been done at undergraduate level. Let’s look at the features of a Master’s more closely.
A Master’s degree is geared towards the delivery of a piece of original research. For research Master’s students this will be your primary focus. For those doing taught Master’s this will form part of all aspects of your degree, not just the final dissertation.
In your original research you should also aim for originality where possible. You are being asked to look at your subject in a fresh and innovative way, and finding a new or underdeveloped area of your subject, or a new way of looking at an established area, will help you gain better marks.
Master’s are not exercises in description. You will need to find a theoretical basis for your work. Many Master’s will run modules on the subject of theory, it is advisable to attend all available classes on the subject of theory as it will help you to form an idea of the theory which surrounds your subject. Theory forms a useful framework to hang your research on.
Another important part of Master’s writing is critical analysis. A critical analysis is one which assesses the quality and usefulness of the sources which you are using in your assignments. This process involves considering all aspects of the source and its contents.