The Learning Game
Researching and Writing Assignments
Doing research and writing assignments are two of the most important
skills you will need for tertiary study. Firstly, researching information
and secondly writing the assignment.
There are roughly 5 steps involved in researching information (depending on the nature of the task).
First clarify what specifically you are going to be doing and why. If preparing for an assignment, be sure that you understand what is required. Many markers suggest that students do not pay careful enough attention to the topic.
Once you have analyzed what is needed you should have a clearer idea of where to find information. There may be enough information in your study guides to complete the assignment. You may, however, need to get some books from the library. Some institutions offer postal services, so that students can borrow books from the institution's library by post. If this service is offered, use it. You will be surprised at how efficient many libraries are. See Using Libraries for more information.
More often than not you will find that you have more information than you either need or can read. You will not have enough time to read everything on the subject so the secret is to be selective. Scan each book or journal first to get a quick overview of what is covered. This will enable you to prioritize your reading and you will be able to avoid reading superfluous material.
4. Take Notes
Whether you are preparing for an assignment or simply broadening your
knowledge, the notes you take should be relevant to the task. If you are
taking notes for exams, for example, they can be broad overviews with little
detail. But if you taking notes for an assignment. be more careful about
where ideas came from and be careful to take all quotations down accurately.
You will be able to use the same information gathered for writing an assignment or for exam revision. But, the only way notes are going to help you learn anything is if you review and organize them soon after you've made them. Up to 60% of detail can be forgotten in the first 24 hours after first learning something. If you return to your notes within this critical time you will vastly improve your chances of remembering and learning the information. Any comments you have made or any summaries will still be fresh in your mind. You will now be able to expand any section or clarify obscure references. This will also give you an opportunity to integrate ideas. This revision period is when most of the real learning takes place.