Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Take a trip down memory lane...

The public are invited to take a trip down memory lane this afternoon and evening, when the University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD), Swansea hosts an archive exhibition focusing on its Mount Pleasant campus.Everyone is invited to attend the event, which is open between 4pm and 8pm.

mount pleasant campus circa 1930 447x640The archive exhibition will explore the history of the campus through the University's numerous archive materials. It will show some of the history of the Technical College, the first ten years of West Glamorgan Institute of Higher Education and a brief summary of the Mount Pleasant campus. West Glamorgan Institute became Swansea Institute of Higher Education in 1992 and Swansea Metropolitan University in 2008. In 2012, the University merged with UWTSD.

course mv eng 640x448A call is also being made for any new contributions to the University's archive. Those with items relating to the campus are invited to bring them to the Open Day.

The University's Mount Pleasant campus has a long history dating back to 1890 when the Swansea Education Committee adopted the Technical Instruction Act of 1889. From the start, the Swansea Technical College was very closely associated with the Swansea Grammar School, sharing premises on Mount Pleasant until the school relocated to a new site in Sketty in April 1951.

The Technical College continued to operate at the Mount Pleasant site and, over a number of decades, the campus developed further with new buildings to meet the needs of increasing student numbers. In 1976, Swansea College of Technology (as it was named then) merged with Swansea College of Art and Swansea Education College to form West Glamorgan Institute of Higher Education.

course cg 640x515University Archivist Gill Fildes said: "This event is open to everyone. The Archive team would also welcome new contributions to the University collections, so dig out any items you have kept that relate to the Mount Pleasant campus, or the College of Technology, and bring them along with you."

Friday, 22 November 2013

Memoirs of part-time study (and a few words of encouragement too) - Mary Davies Turner

We end our series on part-time study with a guest blogger – Dr Mary Davies Turner, Study Support Tutor with Student Services. Mary offers study skills support for students at UWTSD Swansea, so if you need a bit of extra help with planning or writing your assignments, or if you’re baffled by referencing, it might be a good idea to get in touch with her! Mary’s contact details can be found on Student Services’ Academic Skills Support website along with all sorts of useful tips and guides. Well worth a look! Here’s Mary with some really useful advice to help you manage your academic work:

Mary Davies Turner

Writing tips and strategies for the part-time research student
If you’re a part-time research student, the chances are you’ve commitments outside college – family, work – that eat into your time and make it difficult for you to find sustained periods for study. That was my own experience, during my Phd, and is still, when I am struggling to find time and space to write my research papers. One of the problems you may have is that you have long breaks between writing, when the thread of continuity is broken and your mind, occupied with other pressing things that belong to daily life, has left your studies on the back burner. There are things you can do to help.
Date your writing so that you know what is current and if you are working on several drafts, put a note, ‘Current’, or ‘Use this one’ alongside the date.
Don’t ever break off from your writing without leaving signposts to where you are going next. At the time, your ideas for your next section are all clear in your mind and you are sure you will remember and pick them up again when you return to your writing. So often, that doesn’t happen. So, leave yourself directions – notes, a quick outline of your structure, main ideas – for when you return.
Have a notebook with you wherever you go. That is your connection to your work. In here you can make quick notes, jot down thoughts and you can do what Peter Elbow calls ‘bits of writing’ – a quick sentence, or two.
Peter Elbow, a Professor of English and Director of the writing programme at the University of Massachusetts, is the man who came up with the idea of Freewriting. He developed this writing strategy as a way of getting over his own writer’s block and to help his students get over theirs. But it is not only useful and helpful for that problem. Freewriting is a way of writing something substantial, and often meaningful, and nearly always useful, in a short time. So popular is his technique, that in recent years it’s ‘gone viral’ around the world and spawned conferences dedicated to his approach. Peter himself describes it as:
“The most effective way I know to improve your writing.”(Elbow, 1998, 3) Here’s how you do it:
Write on paper
Write for 10 minutes 
Write in sentences – whatever comes into your mind.
Let yourself go off on tangents
Don’t stop
The crucial rule here is ‘Don’t stop’. So what do you do if you can’t think of anything to say? You can write, ‘I can’t think what to say’ as many times as it takes until you get going; you can repeat the last sentence – one word repeats are not allowed. You must write in sentences.
The beauty of this technique is that it makes you keep going. So often, we start a piece of writing and we hit a block and we stop. When you freewrite, you are not allowed to do that. You have to keep going and that pushing through is something, the more you do it, the more you will be able to take into your structured writing. Don’t worry about going off on tangents – see where they will lead you. After you have completed your ten minutes, read over your piece. Somewhere in there you will find a thought, a nugget of an idea which you can take and develop.
Let me know how you get on!

Peter Elbow, Writing Without Teachers, 19998, Oxford: OUP

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Winner of £20 Amazon voucher!

We are pleased to announce that the winner of our library competition from earlier on in the term (for new students to follow our Blog, Facebook or Twitter sites) is Counselling and Psychology student, Charlotte Adams.

Charlotte's name was chosen at random by Art & Design Assistant Dean Mark Cocks, and her prize was a £20 Amazon gift voucher, presented by Assistant Librarian Suzanne Taylor.

The aim of the competition had been to encourage new UWTSD Swansea students to follow our library social media sites. Our UWTSD Swansea librarians had been busy at their library induction sessions promoting the sites, and again we have been pleased by the increase in followers this year!

If you are reading this post and haven’t signed up to our Blog, followed us on Twitter or liked us on Facebook yet, why not do so now! It’s a great way of finding out more about the resources and services UWTSD  libraries have to offer you.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

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

We’re a studious bunch in the library and there are still a few of us with some thoughts to share about part-time study. Today we hear from Jessica Lawson-Hughes, who works as a Library Assistant in Townhill Library. Jess graduated with a BA (Hons) in English Studies and Art History here at Swansea Metropolitan University (as we were then!) in 2011 and went on to gain an MA in English Literature from Swansea University and a PGCE in post-compulsory education and training from Swansea Met. Jess is clearly a master of time management as she completed her full-time Masters while she was also studying on her part-time PGCE. She’s got some fab tips to offer!

Part Time Study: Make it Work for You
Jessica Lawson-Hughes
So you’re thinking of studying part time but you’re unsure how to manage another commitment?  I say take the leap!  Yes it’s likely to be difficult at times but the rewards will certainly outweigh the sacrifices…  
Employers and educators have long extolled the virtues of part time study.  From an employer’s perspective the skills required to juggle work and study will highlight values of commitment and an adeptness at time management, whilst educators tend to welcome the wealth of life experiences part time students bring.  With an increasingly competitive jobs market and potential applicants more highly qualified than ever before, gaining that extra qualification can really help you stand out from the crowd.  In terms of both personal and professional development the sense of achievement attached to acquiring a new qualification is unrivalled.
Having just finished studying for a part time qualification myself I understand some of the apprehensions part time students face: at times it can feel like you’re juggling anvils, particularly when assignment deadlines draw near.  So here are some top tips to help you maximize your studying potential:
Keep a digital record of your references and interests
You’re likely to read a lot of useful material and if you’re anything like me you’ll soon forget its origins.  Creating a personal blog will allow you to record your references digitally as you browse the web, and build up an electronic database of useful material.  Make the space work for you: your blog needn’t be too wordy, or even look publishable.  This is your space to make as colourful and engaging as possible: think of it as an ideas hub and try including a couple of relevant tags linked to useful web sources, videos and articles of interest.  And don’t forget to share content with your peers, as gaining other opinions on pertinent themes can really help develop your thinking around a topic.       

Check out what the professionals are reading
Have you trawled through the suggested reading list and found little of use?  If you ever find yourself at a loss for research material try looking at what the professional authors are reading.  Most academic authors will include a bibliographical list of their research at the end of their texts and some of these references are bound to yield results. 

Make every day count
When studying for a part time course no day is a write off.  Even days where you’ve not planned to study can be productive insofar as doing something useful.  The trick is harnessing this productivity: be it five minutes spent skim reading that library book that has sat on your shelf for the last fortnight, or a quick mind map of your thoughts around a topic.  Oftentimes the most serendipitous study encounters spark the best results.   

Thursday, 14 November 2013

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

Next up in our series of part-time students/library staff, we have Samantha Scoulding. Sam is an Assistant Librarian at Swansea Business School Library and one of the regular contributors to this blog. With a BA (Hons) in English Literature already under her belt, she made the decision in 2004 to become a professional librarian and enrolled on a course in Aberystwyth University. Here she tells us about her motivation and some of the challenges she faced:-


By June 2004 I had been working  as a library assistant at Swansea Institute Of Higher Education (as it was back then!) for 8 years and decided it was time to get serious about my career! I had always intended to qualify as a professional librarian but had somehow never got around to it. The thought of giving up a steady job to go back to university in Aberystwyth full-time was a daunting one, so I settled upon a different route towards achieving the same goal – I enrolled on the MSc ILS course as a distance learner. Luckily for me I was given financial support and encouragement by my employer and was appointed to a Trainee Librarian post while I studied, gaining valuable on-the-job experience at the same time.
Becoming a student again eight years after leaving the education system was certainly a challenge. I had to learn new skills such as writing reports and business plans – something I’d never had to do for my first degree in English Literature! Time management was also a big factor, it wasn’t easy fitting in all the reading and assignment writing around my normal working hours, although I was given some time in work to do this as part of my vocational training which helped a lot. The biggest challenge however was the isolation of being a distance learner. It’s not easy trying to motivate yourself without regular lectures, tutorials and the camaraderie of being around other students studying the same course (and going through the same problems) as yourself. I got around this by going to the residential study school once a year, making heavy use of the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) and various student forums, plus keeping in contact via email with fellow students…even picking up the phone to call my lecturer (in tears on one occasion!) when I was struggling to cope.
Due to personal circumstances I decided against completing my course to Masters level but I did successfully gain my professional qualification – PG Dip ILS – in December 2008 and am now working for UWTSD Swansea as a fully-fledged Assistant Librarian. The main lessons I took on board from my distance learning experience are; don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it, learn in bite-sized chunks (don’t look at the marathon ahead, concentrate on the current hurdle) and push your boundaries…you’re often capable of more than you think!

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

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

Today we're hearing about some tips Suzanne Taylor has picked up as a part-time student. Suzanne is an Assistant Librarian at Townhill Campus and is currently hard at work on her dissertation for a Masters in Library and Information Studies, which she has been studying as a distance learner with Aberystwyth University. Prior to that, after leaving school, Suzanne graduated with a BA(Hons) in Literature and History and went on to complete a PGCE in Primary Education, both of which were full time courses.

Suzanne Taylor
This could be entitled…..Things I wish I known sooner….
Returning to being a student after a break of many years was exciting, but also daunting and before I could start on my dissertation, I had to complete lots of modules, all of which had assignments.  Through trial and error, I picked up strategies along the way to help me organise my writing. I hope you find them useful.
Sometimes it is easy to get side tracked and before you know it your deadline is looming and you’ve written 3,000 words about how to sharpen a pencil, when really you were supposed to be writing an assignment on how to improve writing skills! I found it helpful to write my assignment question in the centre of a large piece of paper and deconstruct the title to determine what I’d really been asked to research. This also helped me get over the initial stage of not being sure what to write, especially as I found that putting pen to paper (or fingers to the keyboard) is often the hardest part when starting an assignment.
Once sure of the question, I would mind-map the assignment by briefly listing anything that I already knew about the topic. This helped to identify areas where I needed to find more information. I also found it useful, as I began to research, to keep adding brief notes to the mind-map, including the page numbers which had relevant paragraphs or good quotes. Then, I could come back to those pages once I began to write my assignment. I would also briefly list any different points of view on the mind-map, so that I could see if I needed to find a counter-argument or a quote to back up my point of view.
Finding appropriate literature for your research can sometimes be difficult, so if I found a good article in a journal, or a key chapter in a book, I would look at the references the author had listed and search for those which were relevant for my assignment. If I was looking for online journals, I found that lots of databases had folders where you could store the articles whilst you searched and then email them to yourself to read at a later date, a really useful tool if you were running out of time.
I also realised, after spending  far too long trying to find the reference for a key quote I’d used in one assignment, where all I’d written down was ‘Smith, 2008’ (!), that it was essential to keep a good record of books and articles that I’d found. I would open a new Word document for each assignment and as I made notes, add any new book or article references to the document (it’s quite helpful to split the document into two categories: 1) References, for direct quotes or paraphrasing and 2) Bibliography, for things I’d read but hadn’t quoted or paraphrased in my writing), but there are also computer programs which will help you with your references, making the job even easier.
I think with all study, it is a case of finding what works for you. I’m now half way through my dissertation and the one tip I would give is to focus on an area which you find really interesting, crucial I think, as the dissertation may take over your life……J

Friday, 8 November 2013

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

With apologies for the disruption during the network failure, we continue our series on study tips and experience with Celia Solari, one of our team of Library Assistants at Swansea Business School. Celia left secretarial college at 18 and has a great deal of experience working as a secretary in the legal profession. She completed a part-time, two year Access to Higher Education course whilst still working part-time before then enrolling on a full-time undergraduate programme. Celia graduated from King’s College London in 2006 with a BA (Hons) in English Language and Communications/Linguistics. Here’s what she has to say:-

Celia Solari
I’m sure you’ll have heard some, or all, of the following many times, but I do think they’re worth bearing in mind:
Be organised and put aside time each day for your studies, but don’t set yourself unrealistic targets – it’s important to maintain a good work/life balance.  If you can, try getting up an hour (or two) earlier than usual and use this time for reading/writing assignments.  You’ll be surprised at how much you can achieve by doing this.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions, however silly they may seem.  If you don’t understand something, then it’s likely that your fellow students won’t either, but in my experience, they don’t want to look foolish by asking the obvious!  They’ll probably be pleased that you took the initiative.  However, constantly interrupting lectures/seminars could become a bit of a pain for your fellow students, so if there’s something that you’re really not sure about, then ask to see your tutor privately.
You may be returning to education after a long break and be feeling apprehensive about ‘fitting in’ to student life.  Most of my fellow students were around 25 years younger than I was (I was 47 when I graduated), but I can honestly say that this wasn’t a problem. In fact, I was informed by one fellow student, “You’re pretty cool for an old bird”. I took this as a compliment!
You might find that there are times when it seems impossible to juggle your family life and your studies, and the thought of withdrawing from your degree course seems like a good idea.  If this does happen, don’t try to struggle through; talk to your course tutor to see if they can help.  You may find that taking a couple of days off from your studies can help you to see things in perspective.
I hope you’ll enjoy student life as much as I did!

Celia makes a particularly good point about asking questions if you’re not sure. That goes for the library too! Those ‘stupid questions’ that you’re a bit embarrassed about are often the most helpful to everyone, so please ask.