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Academic Conventions in Higher Education: A Personal Portfolio

Unit learning outcomes
  1. Demonstrate the following knowledge and understanding

A sound grasp of the nature and applications of academic conventions in higher education required to source books/research/policy papers/journal articles on any chosen subject and understand the academic protocol for citing them

  1. Demonstrate the following skills and abilities

The ability to present information and argument in a logical form, follow the rules for writing an assignment, use concepts accurately and following the rules of grammar, punctuation, spelling and Harvard referencing

This assignment is a 1500 word (+ or – 10%) personal portfolio comprising of three 500-word themed sections that will explore core academic skills and feedback from tutors on the portfolio will help students identify strengths and areas for development. 

The broad topic area informing the development of the personal portfolio is ‘How has the response to the COVID-19 pandemic shaped the experience of University students?’ Students are encouraged to be inventive but clear in their focus in how they interpret this question for the portfolio.

The portfolio comprises of three themed sections as follows

  • Theme 1: Finding and searching for information sources (500 words)
  • Theme 2: Evaluating information sources (500 words)
  • Theme 3: Academic writing (500 words)

The structure and content of the respective sections is the portfolio is explained below:

Students are to locate five sources of information that would help them write an essay based on the topic focus. The five sources must include a book chapter/ an edited book, 2 peer reviewed sources (e.g. research articles), a story from a magazine, blog or news source and an illustration (diagram, map, table, graphs, photograph, or other images relevant to the topic focus)

To demonstrate that students have grasped the nature and applications of academic conventions in higher education required to source a range of materials for academic purposes, the student must discuss the following in this section

  • Student should briefly explain their interpretation of the question and what they plan to focus on
  • outline what key words that will help them refine their search strategy (based on their interpretation of the topic) and explain how Boolean operators and delimiters were employed to find relevant information sources to support the focus of the discussion.
  • describe the search strategy used to locate the five sources and briefly describe what each of the five sources are
  • Students are not required to describe these sources in-depth in this section and only in-text citation should be used to identify these sources in this section.

The discussion should be written in full sentences and appropriate paraphrasing and paragraphing techniques should be evident.

In this section, the student should describe how they have evaluated the 5 sources selected in theme 1 using a specified evaluation criterion. This discussion must have supporting references from the core text and other materials to support how the sources selected in theme 1 were evaluated as relevant to an essay.

In this section, students should produce a 500-word essay on the chosen topic; incorporating the 5 sources found in theme 1 in the various sections of the essay using appropriate in-text referencing techniques.

  1. Introduction, using descriptive writing, should explain how you have interpreted the question and provide a coherent overview of what the essay will explore
  2. first supporting paragraph; using descriptive writing, should provide some essential background to the problem
  3. second supporting paragraph; using evaluative writing, should compare similarities or show contrasting perspectives between the sources found
  4. the third supporting paragraph; using argumentative writing, should highlight the range of ideas you observed across the sources and indicate which side you find most convincing and agree with
  5. Conclusion: written in reflective writing, should offer some summary of the main points in the essay and should have no references

The essay should be written in full sentences. There should be no sub-headings and bullet points.

A reference list of the five sources found in theme 1 and any other sources used to complete the portfolio should be provided at the end of this portfolio.  There is no minimum or maximum number of references, but students must engage with and include the core text in this list and show that the portfolio submission demonstrates engagement with a range of academic sources. The reference list does not count towards the word count.

At the end of the portfolio, students are also expected to reflect on the academic skills they have gained in the unit and provide a four-point action plan on how they plan to develop these skills during their time of study (this section is not part of the word count but a compulsory element of the portfolio that will serve as helpful task to enhance future development). The reflection and action plan does not count towards the word count.

Reflect upon your academic skills and think about your strengths and support needs to succeed. Present this information in line with the academic conventions taught on the unit.

How do I produce high quality work that merits a good grade?

These will be discussed in seminar sessions but will include the advice that

  • Students must use the portfolio template to submit the portfolio
  • Students ensure they attend all scheduled sessions
  • Students undertake all guided teaching tasks and as much as possible of the independent study resources on offer
  • Students should adhere to conventions of academic integrity
  • Students should engage with the range of resources on offer from the study hub team
  • Students are encouraged to complete the portfolio in stages across the teaching weeks

How does this assignment relate to what we are doing in scheduled sessions?

Scheduled sessions will introduce topics and tasks that will help to support the skills students will need to complete the portfolio, sessions on academic writing styles, constructing arguments, navigating the information sphere, evaluating sources, breaking down an assignment question, developing confidence with numbers and visual literacy skills will be on offer in the teaching schedule. A wealth of resources (including live and recorded sessions from the study hub team) are signposted to students under the guided, independent, and autonomous teaching resources for each week to help in the development of key academic skills in referencing and formatting references according to the Harvard system of referencing. There is also a weekly task to help students reflect and keep tabs on their skill development throughout the unit.

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