MY colleagues and I recently found ourselves overwhelmed with marking assignments and final exam scripts for different programmes.
Many of us had wished we were Pyro -- the character from the X-Men series that has the ability to burn things -- during this episodic ordeal so that we could make a big bonfire and burn everything!
This is because many students had failed to show they have understood the subject matter, and, in turn, failed miserably. Others, on the other hand, had the fundamentals but not the right technique for answering questions effectively.
Communication is all about "justified arguments", so here are a few strategies and tips to help students excel:
Mass Communication students must understand that written and oral communication skills are vital to being an effective communicator. They should constantly improve on their language skills by reading newspapers, feature articles, books and journals.
2. Original ideas -- a flair for writing
Originality counts in writing. At the undergraduate level, lecturers do not expect an award-winning piece of writing from students; simple and clear ideas would suffice. Students must think outside of the box and use their imagination when they write.
3. Read to write
The more you read, the more ideas you have for writing. Ideas should not only come from textbooks; they can come from observation, experience and, of course, a lot of reading.
4. Taking notes
Students need to attend lectures and not rely on just notes available on the university portal as the lecturer often discusses examples during lectures. Notes without further elaboration may mean little to absentees.
If you prefer to study on your own, you need to firstly understand the basic principles of the subject matter. Secondly, determine how these principles work in the media environment and the effects. Thirdly, provide examples and valid discussions based on the question.
6. Discussion groups
Informal study groups and revision sessions also work. Always join a group of hardworking students whom you can learn from. Some universities have begun to practise PASS (Peer Assisted Study Sessions) that have been proven to help weak and strong students alike.
7. Tutorials are imperative
Successful students attend tutorials and come prepared with queries and ideas for assignments, projects or workshops. They listen, ask relevant questions and, most importantly, participate. They do not waltz into class late without bringing a book to jot down notes.
8. Effectual presentation of ideas
The standard way of answering exam questions is writing the introduction, body and conclusion. Take some time to think and organise your thoughts after reading the question. Create a mind map of your answers. An organised, easy-to-read presentation always invites high marks rather than one that is disorganised and disjointed. If the points are not in order, the examiner would have to play a "guessing game" to look for them.
9. Answer the question
Students tend to make the mistake of writing what they remember rather than answering the question. Exams are not for students to regurgitate the notes that have been given to them throughout the course of study, but rather to apply what they have learnt.
10. Legible writing
Your writing MUST be legible, preferably font size 12! Comprehensible writing is important as the examiner often has to battle with deciphering students' illegible scribbling topped with lingo and SMS language
LINA LATIF | email@example.com New Straits Times Learning Curve Sunday, November 04, 2012