Friday, 29 April 2011

DD101 Introducing the Social Sciences - TMA03 Submitted

Well I have submitted TMA03 now, and in the end it wasn't as bad as I had feared it would be, but I suppose the mark it is given will be the final judge of its value.

Both part 1 and part 2 were within 10 words of the maximum word count (550 &1100) so in the end there was no problem in writing, the difficulty is ensuring that the right things have been included and also staying on course to answer the question. It is very easy to go off on other tangents, so continually re-reading the question is necessary.

I managed to reference loads of ideas and theories, but in doing this you add to the word count, especially if the ideas are cited by other authors.

Now for the other hard bit, waiting for the thing to get marked. I'm not expecting anything back until the middle of May, so a lot of study to do between now and then.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

DD101 Introducing the Social Sciences - 23rd April, a Free Week

This is supposed to be a 'free week', in that there is nothing scheduled, i.e. no reading/tasks for this week, so I guess for most it is a bit of a catchup week to finish TMA3 (Pts 1&2, due 4th May) and get ready to start the next bit of the course on 30th April.

I have managed to get both Parts of TMA 03 finished and have submitted the TMA to the OU website - if I have time I will re-read the final version during the week and if necessary re-submit a revision, but it is basically done - so the pressure is off and I can enjoy the bank holidays without guilt or stress.

Part 2 was a bit of a slog though. I think I have managed to crowbar in as many references and theorists as it is possible to do, the word count was looking very generous until a sudden flash of inspiration took me over 1100 words, it has now been cut back to just shy of the absolute maximum.

The assignment booklet being available online, along with the student notes made things easier to organise. I copied and pasted both in to my assignment document, then highlighted issues to comment on and deleted sentences of no consequence. I then deleted parts of the article about Stratford as I wrote about it, which meant I made sure I commented on everything that was important. Unfortunately, I don't think there will be an opportunity to do this again :-(

The next problem is the motivation issues associated with the 'post-submission slump' and the wait for the assignment to be marked, and with the next assignment being 1500 words and due on the 1st of June, May could well have a busy end to the month.

Monday, 18 April 2011

DD101 Introducing the Social Sciences - TMA 03 : Part 2, Spin, Spin, Spin

I've finally got round to reading the text on which Part 2 is based.

There is a friend of mine, who if forced to try and present certain dismal situations in a more positive light than they deserve, is often heard to say "The problem is you see..... you just can't polish a turd". Newham Borough Council, through the medium of this article, appear to have managed to varnish their's.

It is an incredible piece of spin, one that Alastair Campbell would have been proud of, but I wonder if the good residents of Stratford would recognise their own home town from this description - especially as many of them have been written, or even photographed, out of the description.

The article has a photo with evidence of 3 white residents within the cafe, probably 4 non-white outside - strange photo for an area promoting cultural diversity, and no mention of  the social problems of poor education and long term unemployment, which was swept under the carpet, but funniest of all, London Transport described as 'fast and fantastic' - I had to re-set my irony meter.

I need to re-read the chapters, but Part 2 would seem to be about the claiming, manufacturing & presenting of identity through language and associations.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

DD101 Introducing the Social Sciences - Week 11

The suggested time table for Week 11

     ‘Conclusion’ to the ‘Connected lives’ strand (30 minutes)
     Online Reflective Quiz: Making Social Lives,‘Connected lives’(10–15 minutes) 
     'Reflections on “Connected lives”’ (Audio CD 2) (30 minutes)
     Most of your time this week will be spent on completing Assignment 03.
    To be completed by 22nd April.

    The Conclusion is only two and a half pages, the on-line reflective quiz takes 5 minutes, and the audio CD is pretty straightforward, so they are correct that most of this week will be spent on the TMA.

    However, because the TMA has been split in to 2 parts, I have probably spent as much time on Part 1 as I did on TMA02, and I haven't started Part 2 yet, probably because the week's break 23rd to 30th April gives us the time to sort it out if I am running behind - so this TMA is going to end up costing as much effort as the previous 2 TMAs :-(

    Thursday, 14 April 2011

    DD101 Introducing the Social Sciences - TMA 03 : Part 1, finished? Maybe!

    Well, that was more difficult than it was supposed to be! but I've now got 540 words (after some creative editing) and have managed to mention a fair bit about identity, data from the tables, plus marked/unmarked and positive/negative identities. So I'll leave this until Part 2 is finished and then re-read afresh.

    Time seems to have slipped by on this TMA and it is just as well we have a free week coming up as I think otherwise Part 2 would be a bit of a struggle to complete within the schedule. I guess I'll read over the chapters and notes again and then have a crack at Part 2.

    Wednesday, 13 April 2011

    DD101 Introducing the Social Sciences - TMA 03 : Part 1, a work in progress....

    I find it much easier to understand data if it can be represented visually, and Excel makes it so easy to produce graphs and pie-charts. Florence Nightingale, "The Lady with the Lamp," the 'self-styled' pioneer of modern nursing is widely creditied with inventing the pie-chart. She was a far better statistician than she was a nurse, and it is probably truer to say she popularised the use of pie-charts as a way of presenting statistical data, rather than inventing them.

    Regardless of who invented them, they do make it easier to see compoaritive differences and similarities of some data easily.

    Monday, 11 April 2011

    DD101 Introducing the Social Sciences - TMA 03 : Part 1

    I like working with numbers & statistics and I have a good understanding of arithmetic and percentages, so I thought that this part of the TMA would be right up my street and pretty straight forward - how wrong I was.

    Being a bit 'geeky', I put all the data on to a Excel spreadsheet, which makes doing repetitive calculations really quick, to see what obvious differences there were. It threw up several things to comment on for each table - so I thought I was pretty much sorted with Part 1.

    I was just beginning to write about the relative differences and similarities between Stratford and England, using what quantitative data I could from the tables, when I re-read the question. "What can you say about the identities of the people of Stratford, based on the tables provided"  I'm now thinking that this part of the TMA is not quite as simple as I first thought, and I now need to tie whatever quantitative data I decide to use to theories or ideas about 'identity'.

    Kath Woodward writes in "Social sciences the big issues" that identity is made up from, among other things, gender, race/ethnicity, visible signs, difference/same, place, body, job/life chances - so there is probably enough in this book and the DD101 course book to help tie the data to identity issues.

    This is one of the things they always say you should check - that you have answered the question set, not gone off on some tangent, so I guess its sort of back to square one for now..........

    Thursday, 7 April 2011

    DD101 Introducing the Social Sciences - Week 10

    The suggested time table for Week 10
         Chapter 6 of Making Social Lives (7 hrs)
         Online activities 20 & 21 (2 hours)
         Making Connections : Psychology & Geography (Audio CD 2, 30 - 45 mins)
         Online Quiz - Making Social Lives, Chapter 6 (10-15 mins)
         Reflection : Working Through Study Issues
    To be completed by 15th April.

    Another Chapter which was interesting, but didn't seem to cover too much ground.

    It started talking about the paradox of neighbours, in that we want friendly helpful neighbours, but still want our privacy. It is a fine line between friendly and prying, and one that differs with culture, but not always for the reasons you'd first expect. This section also looked at how people speak to each other to identify themselves as neighbours, rather than 'outsiders'.

    The next section was about the etiquette of neighbouring and how to complain about, for example, excessive noise.

    The last section was definitely the most interesting, but seemed more psychology that social studies. It talked about when neighbouring fails, with the examples of Catherine Genovese & James Bulger murders, and asked why bystanders do nothing, especially when there are multiple bystanders. The chapter then outlined experiments on 'bystander effect', which is definitely psychology based.

    Having read this chapter I'm struggling to see how this will help at all with the TMA......

    Tuesday, 5 April 2011

    DD101 Introducing the Social Sciences - TMA02 Marked and Returned

    It seems to have taken ages to get this TMA marked, however now that it has been marked and returned, life can go back to normal and not with me checking the TMA page every hour or so..... at least until the next TMA.

    Another Pass 1, and I should be really pleased, but I can't help feeling a little disappointed not to have broken the 90% barrier. Again there were thorough and encouraging comments from my tutor but only 4 points that they picked up on, 2 were referencing - one was on style, the other was an error, the others were a comment that an argument position I'd taken on one point wasn't universally held - although this point was referenced, and the final point was that I hadn't acknowledged that some people say consumer society does not exist. Seems a lot of marks to lose on these points, but I guess they must be marking against a schedule to keep marks consistent, so these must be areas they think are important.

    So, on to TMA03. I am pretty sure I know what i am doing for Part 1 and it will probably write itself, part two however.... I haven't a clue how to tackle this. Hopefully it is all in the next chapter.

    Still the deadline for the next TMA is 'Star Wars Day' (May the 4th), so let's hope the 'force is strong' and as they say 'May the 4th be with you'.

    Friday, 1 April 2011

    DD101 Introducing the Social Sciences - Week 9

    The suggested time table for Week 9
         Chapter 5 of Making Social Lives (7 hrs)
         Online activities 18 & 19 (2 hours)
         Case Studies in Social Sciences (Audio CD 2, 30 - 45 mins)
         Online Quiz - Making Social Lives, Chapter 5 (10-15 mins)
    To be completed by 8th April.

    A nine hour flight gave me the time, and an environment starved of recreational choice, in which to finish Chapter 5.

    It was a relatively interesting start to the chapter regarding the study of the identity of 'place' through the urbanisation of the population as people moved from the country-side to the city. It also challenged the notions of the two areas, what are 'city' and 'country' identity values and are they valid or rose tinted.

    It then explored the idea that the rich living on the outside of cities could still get to the city center but in a way that shields them from the sight of the poor and slum/problem areas. The chapter also dealt with qualitative and quantitative data - so this chapter is very relevant for TMA03 for several reasons.

    The last section was a bit slow, about the garden project and, as with the rest of this chapter, it took a great many words to make fairly obvious points.

    The other thing that I am having trouble with is what 'social scientists' (scientists... really ?) call evidence. It seems at times pretty thin and untested evidence. Somebody a lot cleverer than I (can't remember who) said that to construct a theory, say that 'all swans are white', you must carry out an exhaustive search for a black swan and then continue the search in to the future, so that your theory is 'all swans are white (until we find a black one)'. On some occasions social scientists seem to have seen one 'white swan' and constructed some theories.