12 Aug 2010

courseworks part II

After reviewing last year's coursework system, I've decided to change some bits of it. I will also elaborate a bit more upon the previous coursework post.

I was asked about how I actually used the index cards, to do sheets and post its when it comes to courseworks. Note that this can also be applied to any project that takes a while to complete, so is not only limited to university students!

Index Cards
Index cards are punched using my Filofax hole punch as and when I need them. I usually have at least one for each week as I like to make shopping lists and the like. However, when it comes to courseworks such as essays or something that needs forward planning (like an oral presentation), I tend to stick another one in. I don't have a picture of this as it appears I actually threw the coursework ones away but I can make a mock one up quickly for an essay I did last term.

The way I used index cards for courseworks is by making lists of things I want to include in the piece. I'll use my essay as an example (purely because I got quite a high mark for it so the index card must have helped!). On one side of the index card is what I want to include in the essay and in what proportion as you can see in the picture.

And on the other side of the card would be the list of references I need to include. I haven't written those on as I used about nine references and it is too much of a hassle to write all those down as the details include journal title, journal issue number, page numbers, and the like.

Post - It Notes
I would use these for important things required, for example, the line spacing required, the maximum word count or number of sides allowed and also the style of references. These are things that need my immaediate attention which is why I'd use a bright coloured sticky note. Also, if there was a requirement needed to be fulfilled which I hadn't done yet, I would also write that on a sticky note and stick it on the 'today' ruler. Each thing that needs to be done would be on an individual note so I can take it off the ruler and bin it once done (so as to not overcrowd that week's 'things to do').

To Do Sheets
To do sheets are an important part of the process. Each piece gets it's own side of a sheet unless it is a big project, in which case, it will get two sides or however many as it needs.The first thing 'to do' is almost always 'to start x' with x being the piece of coursework and the last thing is always 'hand in x'. Even though these seem like silly things to write on a 'to do' list, it does help with the motivation and the want to see these items crossed off the list. The first thing helps to get the ball rolling and the last one is kinda like 'closure' on the piece of coursework so it's officially out of the way. The list would also comprise of things that require doing, such as 'brainstorm some ideas for the bulk of the essay', 'write intro', 'first draft', 'review first draft', etc. These may seem trivial, but I find the want to cross them off helps with the motivation issue. The more the piece is broken up, the more crosses I can make and the more fulfilled I feel. Consequently, motivation increases ten fold with these tiny little tasks.

Sometimes, with the bigger tasks, I write these twice. Once on the to do list, and once in the diary. This means I see it twice, and because it is more important, it is more at the front of my mind which increases the chance of it actually being done.

Percentage System
After reviewing my percentage system, I've decided to give it somewhat of an overhaul. In the past, I just did it off the top of my head, randomly pulling a number out of the air with how much I thought I had did. From now on, I think I will use a bar system. I will draw a bar and colour in how much progress I have made after every task. When the bar is filled, the piece should be completed and ready to hand in. Because I haven't done this before, I am going to try it out with some projects I am doing this summer before I head back to start my second year at university. This will enable me to tweak the system until it is perfect and see what flaws and benefits there are with it. If I need to, I can also put a percentage number with this bar but with the bar being finitely long, it probably shouldn't be needed.

1 comment

  1. Wow, thank you for this post. You've given me a lot of ideas for a planning rehaul and (haha) motivation to pick up a few extra Filofax inserts/supplies.

    I also appreciate your use of redundancy. For a long time my holy grail of paper planning was to totally get rid of redundancy, but having something listed twice, or broken down in more than one way (let's say by content as well as by project tasks), could be a good thing as well.

    I really like the bar graph idea; I feel that visuals are really powerful tools.