Subject: Politics
Student status: Home, Graduate
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I certainly learnt how to write a 3000 word essay. That was probably the default method of being assessed throughout the year so a 3000 word essay midyear, 3000 word essay in an exam at the end of the year and a presentation in a seminar group, were how all of our modules were assessed. Any skill that I've picked up would be related to those three activities; being able to structure each of those things to your target audience was exactly what the department was looking for, putting the right phrases in, structuring it in the right way, using the right source texts, those kinds of things. I think any skills were probably related there.

The presentation in particular would have been presenting a handout, no more than two sides of A4 and then reading through it, was actually how the presentation worked. Since then, and probably even during, I was doing a reasonable amount of presentations to do with other things other than my course, my scout involvement and those kinds of things, I was doing presentations and the university seminar rooms seemed to be the only place that a presentation meant giving someone a two-sided bit of paper and then reading through it. That seemed to be a presentation within my course. Never during or since have I met anybody in the real world that thinks that's a presentation.

In my teaching placement at the moment we've been working on the kids developing their own powerpoint presentations on particular topics, they were doing something about an artist. They had to go away and find information and they put stuff on a powerpoint, then they read it out in a hall full of people. They considered that to be a presentation and so the 11 year old kids are at the same level as some of the people running seminar groups in university, is exactly how I see that. I don't think I developed presentation skills as part of my undergraduate degree at all because that's not presenting.

Is there anything that you did at university that you have used since?

[Laughs] I wondered if you'd try and move round to the positive.

No [laughs]

Do you know what I mean about presentations though?

I do, I absolutely do.

[Laughs] It's not a presentation, it's just giving someone a handout and reading through it. I can read! I can read off a bit of paper, I can read off the screen.

Is there anything else that you feel was like that that you didn't use as well as stuff that you have used? It doesn't have to positive,  just to get the whole picture.

I think I've certainly used the skill of writing an extended essay, the 3000 word essay was the default method of being assessed. I've used that in my subsequent postgraduate course of being a teacher, there's assessed parts of that. I now understand how just going through the process and making sure you're meeting what's required is the whole part of that process, to make sure that you can do that and you can prove that you can do it. I think it also informed the year in between my year working as an officer in the students' union where my role was probably more paper-heavy than any of the other officers. I was reading a great deal of reports written by other people all trying to get their point across to some committee about something or other and I also needed to write a reasonable number of reports, both short and extended.

One of the projects that I worked on was conducting a large-scale student survey, an evaluative process on their time at university and then producing a report to go back to the university and to an external audit agency as to what the student experience is here. Being able to draw on the experiences I had in my undergrad of writing those kinds of reports, I was able to structure it, use the sort of terminology and the type of language that you use in those kinds of documents much more competently than I would have done previously.