Dr Ariadne on Contextual Studies

I enjoyed a very useful tutor lead work group yesterday evening. The discussion focused on what makes a good CS submission, including making appropriate uses of supporting materials (ie theory and other references). It covered thinking that is absent from the CS course materials and possibly the OCA’s current approach to teaching research. Dr Ariadne Xenou is an OCA assessor and moderator amongst roles in other institutions. A sign that any advice is to be highly valued. While late in the day for me, it will still be useful as I work on the final adjustments to my CS work.

The most important points for me:

  • The ‘first and last things looked for in CS submissions are cohesion and coherence.’ That the work flows and is carried by a main thread, and that it makes sense.
  • The use and value of supporting materials was discussed at length. I have found it difficult at times to avoid the weight of supporting voices drowning out my own and I think this still needs further work in my final edit. A common issue in submissions is sources replacing the writer’s own voice. Whereas they should be used to amplify the voice by adding a chorus or making it stand out by offering a counterpoint; using an opposing voice to make one’s own point.
  • When using sources it was recommended to introduce the context and person, bring in the source and then analyse – this way the writer’s voice comes through. The same approach is suggested when using images – treat them as a different form of text.
  • Ensure that theory is not used to tick boxes – it should be part of the design of the argument.
  • Finally, I raised the question of bibliographies (so research examined but not referenced) as my current draft does not include a bibliography. No definitive answer was offered in the context of the OCA but their value through their influence on thinking was noted. Concluded that it is unlikely that one would be penalised for including one, and it could always be ignored by the assessor if they weren’t interested in it.

There was a slight diversion in to Literature reviews versus dissertations. Noted that key is to engage in why the resources are useful, but that it is not necessary to develop an argument around them.