Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Memoirs of part-time study (and a few words of encouragement too) - Philippa

Today we hear about Philippa Price’s experiences as a part-time student. Philippa is an Assistant Librarian in Townhill Library, offering subject support to Education staff and students. She enrolled on the part-time PGCE in post-compulsory education here at UWTSD Swansea in October 2011 and graduated in June this year. Here are some tips she picked up along the way:-

Philippa Price
Enrolling on a part-time course whilst working full-time was certainly a daunting process, particularly as I know the lecturers who teach on the course quite well and was keen not to ‘show myself up’ in front of them! As it turns out, though, with some organisation and forward planning, the course was hard work but manageable and very rewarding. I wondered why I hadn’t done it years ago!
The most useful strategy I adopted along the way was to do ‘something’ every week. It didn’t have to be a big ‘something’, but I found just reading and making notes from a chapter or a journal article each week really helped me to keep on top of things without my studies taking over my life.
In my undergraduate days, I was definitely a pen and paper girl, handwriting notes and essays when I could. Since then, though, I’ve come to see the benefit of keeping notes on a computer, even if it means typing them up from my notebook. It makes it so much easier to move them around and group them together into different arguments when preparing for an assignment! I find it helpful to write in full sentences and paragraphs when writing notes from reading and to keep assignment questions and topic areas in mind so I don’t go off on a tangent. Quite often, when it came to gathering my notes together for an essay, a significant chunk of it would already be practically written. That’s a good feeling!
My other top tip would be to keep up with your referencing as you go along, especially if you start cutting and pasting notes to organise them. You don’t want to forget where you came across that insightful comment or useful quote, so cite as you make notes! Writing your reference list or bibliography as you go along also saves so much time at the end of the assignment.
If you're not sure how you should be referencing your reading, you'll usually find a set of guidelines on your course handbook. We also have lots of books in the library that can help you understand how and why to reference.

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