A reflection on the process of writing my first assignment for this module.
As I was working on my assignment I wrote down how I felt about the process . . .
I spent some time exploring the essay question and instructions, outlining the requirements, allocation of marks to each section etc. Probably spent too long on this but it gives me a sense of having at least made a start. . . ! Or am I just putting off really getting properly started?
So, I began at the beginning (where else?!) and made reasonable but very slow progress. I tend to rewrite the first bit several times and only later remind myself to just get it down and worry about
rearranging paragraphs etc. later.
I noticed that I am enjoying it, even though it is slow, providing an opportunity to delve back into content covered earlier in the course.
Whilst I am feeling confident and making progress it is good. However, I need to take breaks when I start to doubt what I’ve done so far, and come back to it refreshed. Otherwise I start rearranging bits and a sense of panic can set in!
Why all of a sudden is there so much to say but so few words allowed! I know it’s a good discipline but I want it to read well and could say so much more . . .
So, in one weekend I made good progress on the essay, and did some further reading and reflection on it early the next week.
Later in the week I focused on the reflection, training myself to try to write more freely and in reflective rather than academic style. I adopted the technique of reading aloud as I wrote to try to have a more conversational style. This was a much quicker element to write than the essay and I enjoyed it.
It was difficult to select appropriate evidence to support my claims in my reflection, there seemed to be several good pieces but being restricted to only four meant being selective . . . I’m not sure how well I’ve done on that bit but will find out from my assessment feedback!
Having got both elements of the assignment fully drafted any slight sense of panic over whether I’ve really responded to all the requirements etc., tends to give way to a feeling of acceptance . . . that I could continue to work on it, but I take a pragmatic approach . . . that I’ve got to call a halt to it at some point and well ahead of the deadline would be nice (for a change :-)).
On my last day I updated my essay – it was good coming back to it after a week, I felt much less emotionally attached to all those carefully crafted paragraphs and more able to edit and rearrange (much-needed as at this stage I was well over the 1500 word limit).
I had been relatively disciplined in adding references as I used them, so I had a complete list that just needed a final check and edit.
I did a test submission before the final one, and have amazed myself that I’ve managed to submit on Saturday evening, well before the final deadline of Monday midday. I do have the option to review again and resubmit if I’m not happy, but to be honest I feel I have put enough into this first assignment and just want to leave it at that (hope I don’t regret that!).
Once I got into it I enjoyed the process and think it was good to start with the essay first, which was interesting and useful, revisiting earlier readings and the thinking around the topics and exploring some new readings too. The reflective commentary is a new component of a summative assessment for me, and is supposed be quite personal in terms of style and approach. I still feel my style is quite academic and constrained, but perhaps I have to accept that is just how I am, at least when I’m reflecting on my learning (not sure those who know me well would ever describe me in those terms)?!
The challenge as always, with both elements, was being able to focus on the requirements laid out for the assignment, covering everything I wanted to within the word count (1500 for the essay, 1000 for the reflective commentary). However, with generous application of the ‘delete’ key I’ve managed to get it down to within 3 words of the total word allowance!! Success on one of the requirements at least 🙂