Friday, 12 June 2015

Better projects, dissertations and writing...

At this time of year, the whole cycle of student research, projects and writing and dissertations come into sharp focus.
I am always on the look out for good tools and models of good practice to help students understand and engage with the whole process in both a constructive and holistic manner.
Today's example was a slide explaining the contribution of some research into the teaching of derivatives to students of Economics.
Since I am often teaching engineers (of one sort or another) I often use the metaphor of engineering the document.
The image above comes from a presentation by A L Alzira Jimenez presented at the IMA International Conference on Barriers and Enablers to Learning Maths: Enhancing Learning and Teaching for All Learners, 10 – 12 June 2015, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, Scotland (programme details)
The example uses a table, which removes some of the pressure to write prose and at the same time, clearly states the contributions of the work and links back to sources discussed in the literature review.
IIt demonstrates (to a small degree) visual literacy - a favourite theme of mine, and hopefully removes some of the stress of writing.
The use of tables in this way is not confined to the contributions, however this is an area often neglected by students in their write ups maybe because conclusions and future work are stuff written at the end if the activity.
Perhaps most importantly, it can function as a thinking tool, helping author review and enhance the quality of their work - engineering a clearer explanation.
Anything which makes this process more enjoyable AND improves final product has to be a good thing.

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