In contemplating this blog entry I spent some time trying to work out how to put assignments in a positive light. “Put assignments in a positive light, put assignments in a positive light…” Ahem, has it ever been done before? I’m pretty sure the only people who love assignments are lecturers, examiners and tutors. Fortunately I remembered the title:
Good – bad – ugly. Then I thought: “Hang on a minute, this is a great time to turn the title into an equation!” (as all good engineers think) and came up with this:
So to sum that up, two thirds of this post is most likely going to be negative, due to the nature of assignment work itself, sorry!
Introduction aside, let me begin now with the ugly.
“Inhale, exhale, focus…” It’s the day that an assignment is due and you’ve just discovered that, to your dismay, the assignment is a lot bigger than you had first imagined. Oops.
I recently submitted an assignment that hit me like a tonne of bricks, in a very similar way to the description above and I found my self battling to scale the behemoth that the assignment became. This time I got a lucky break though, the majority of students were struggling alongside me and our lecturer extended the due date to the whole class *sigh of relief*. So what do you do to prevent assignment work from sneaking up on you? Here’s my list of quick tips for getting assignments done on time.
- Know what assignment work you have coming up. I use my Red Frogs calendar from the beginning of the year to “see” what my next couple of weeks looks like assignment wise. Put up details such as weightings alongside the note and put it in a place that you’ll see it easily.
- Start early. Read over the assignment and make some notes in the couple of weeks before the assignment is due. There is strong research to suggest that the mind’s ability to process problems subconsciously greatly assists in conscious problem solving efforts.
- Set a date to begin the assignment, spend some time researching areas that need to be researched and start writing out a draft copy of the assignment.
- After finishing a draft, go back over it and read it though, also getting friends or family to have a look and iron out any mistakes you have made. Edit the errors and fill in the gaps before submitting right on time – or early hopefully!
Long hours, late nights and minimal social activity. That’s the reality of the mid semester, the agony of assignments week after week and multiple assignments due on the same day. The reality is that assignment work takes WORK. Being at uni isn’t like, dare I say it, a council job. When push comes to shove, lecturers, tutors and the examiners expect a standard of work from each student and to meet the standard and we get to spend hours of time researching, cataloguing references, penning arguments, solving equations, troubleshooting computer codes, rehearsing musical pieces, etc. We’re all familiar with it. It hurts.
To avoid some of the pain, make sure you take the time for breaks and strategise with your time. It is a good thing to take breaks periodically to get refreshed and be inspired. Personally, if I have been working on lots of math and physics related work and equations I’ll play guitar or do some songwriting in my break to switch between the left side of the brain to the right. I find it helpful and I am more refreshed after regaining my focus.
Another bad part of assignment work is the time component. I recently spent over 20 hours on a 10% assignment – LEARN FROM ME! Don’t waste too much time on assignments that aren’t worth much. If you’re finding yourself having trouble, go to your lecturer of tutor and ask questions of jump on the forums. It helps ALOT, and you won’t neglect your other subjects.
Finally, the good.
If anything good comes from assignment work it is these two things:
Firstly, the immense satisfaction of submitting the finished assignment. I love the moment that you see that the submission has gone through and then end knowing that you never have to work on that assignment again. Oh the joy!
Secondly, you actually learn something (most of the time). As much as is seems that the examiner is trying to torture you, the staff at university really want students so succeed, hence creating assignments that will challenge and grow us into students who are better equipped, more knowledgeable and perhaps even have a better work ethic at the end of our degrees than we did at the start. Think about how body builders build muscle: body builders strain and push against resistance, causing pain to themselves as the muscle fibres tear. Immediately after this resistance, the body begins to repair itself, “building” more muscle over the torn fibres and building strength. Assignments cause a similar process, resistance and growth.
Push forward into the resistance as the assignments continue this semester because despite the bad and the ugly, there will be good that comes from it.
Signing out, Josh.