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Writing at masters level for PGCE

Discussion in 'Trainee and student teachers' started by canoequeen, Oct 29, 2012.


  1. Hi, I experienced similar difficulties during my PGCE. I didn't end up getting the "Masters" qualification just QTS. If you are studying at a University and have access to the library they shoud have copies of previous assignments for you to have a look at. I had been out of education for many years and didn't have a clue what was expected. If you can manage to get something written down make an appointment with acadaemic support services and get them to read/critique it or speak to your personal tutor. I didn't realise this type of support existed untill it was too late. There are books on helping to write your Masters research etc. They are big on critical analysis and being able to synthesise various literature. Throw in lots of "in addition" "Moreover" and "Furthermore". Hang on in there.
     
  2. Nikki786

    Nikki786 New commenter

    Yes two of my modules are Masters level so I will get QTS qualification and 60 credits at Masters which is why I'm really worried. I'v tried asking the library but they were not much help, I was told to go and search on the online library catalogue but I couldn't find anything. Yh,from what I have searched on the net that's what I have found out too, but I did that for my undergraduate assignments anyway so I don't know what the difference is :s
     
  3. Do you know if your university runs any academic support sessions? I'd say it may be a good idea to go to some of those if you're feeling particularly uncertain, and they are usually free. I know I may be going to some with regards to aspects of M-level writing! ;) And of course, you could always seek advice from your university tutors.

     
  4. Can you ask for the mark scheme. We've been given it at my Uni. Apparently they don't usually give old papers for you to look at which may be why they don't want to give you a copy of one, and instead want you to find it for yourself.
     
  5. I got 82% on my masters assignment so hopefully I can give you some pointers. Masters level is very tight on certain things. Critical analysis is one of them. You need to be able to extensively review literature and back up your own claims. Basically, this means a lot of reading. I spent quite a few weeks just reading and making notes on key points. I'll try to break it down for you as tips so it doesn't end up a huge amount of text:


    1. Don't just use books. Get hold of journals, any official documents etc. The university will want to see you have researched extensively. Use the library service to get advice about searching; using key words for example and use 'AND' 'OR' in your search terms to gather together a bank of related articles.


    2.Keep the focus in your head. Try not to deviate and look for key points. If something is loosely related, note it down but don't follow the lead too far so as not to take the relevance away from your research question.


    3. Use reference strings. My own terms, but I spent a huge amount of time scanning through reference lists for further 'leads'. If you find a book that is as relevant as you can get to your area of research, look through its reference list for related articles. Often references are quoted directly in text, and you will need to pay attention what exactly was referenced so you know it is relevant information to follow.


    4. Once you've read in great detail, start to mindmap or link things together so you can get an overall feel for how researchers view the issue and what their claims are. This is when you need to also start critically analysing them. Do claims differ? Why? What are they disagreeing on? What do you think? This is a particularly hard skills as you really have to read between the lines. The idea here really is that you are making space for your own claims. You can't just claim something without back up. Sometimes it could be simply nodding along with other researchers by referencing them when making a similar point, or suggesting your own ideas referencing researchers who support this.


    5. Methodology - this is also a biggie as at masters level they like to see you carefully choosing your methodology. This isn't always needed if it isn't an independent research project but if it is, you need to carefully decide how you're going to carry it out. Think of it as a science experiment really with validity, reliability etc. You also need to give reasons for why you're doing it that way. 'I chose an interview because a lot of research states that this is most suitable for giving a certain kind of answer', as an example.


    6. Easily the most tedious part of research, is the reference list. This has to be 'perfect', literally. You must check how your university expects you to organise referencing, as it can differ. I really don't know why it's so important, but it is. Always write your references down as you go along, and try and reference them properly from the start as it can take hours to get a full reference list right (mine was 6-7 pages long).


    I hope this helps. It's heavy reading I'm sorry, but the two key things are backing up your reasoning/claims, and good referencing. That's just extra on top of the normal undergraduate requirements.
     
    eddimob, creido and natwalk87 like this.
  6. Nikki786

    Nikki786 New commenter

    Thank you for your detailed response. I will definately use your tips. The only problem is the word count. I am not very good in keeping with in the word count so I am restricting myself from the wider reading and secondly because my assignment is based on current issues in the education,I can only find newspaper articles and a few journals so I dont have the wider reading from books to back it up, do you think that would make a difference?
     
  7. Jenerena, thank you so much for the detailed response to this!! I started the Primary PGCE in September and am just about to start the second Masters module of the course. It's been 10 years since my undergrad degree, so I have no clue about what is involved at Masters level - but your well written tips above have helped clarify some of the initial queries I had. Thank you! :)
     
  8. Glad to help! I came straight out of a 3 year Science degree with the words 'referencing' tattooed on my forehead. If I'd have had a 10 year break I'd have been a bit worried as well. There were plenty of people on my course who were in this position so don't worry - you aren't alone. Just make sure you note any advice from the university and go to any extra sessions to help further. Good luck! It's a slog but it'll all be worth it when you're in that classroom!
     
  9. Wow, thanks so much Jenerena. I'm working on my first M-Level essay atm, I think it's going quite well, I got a very high 2:1 in my History degree just last year, but I am worried about the lack of journal resources my new uni has access to compared to my last one, it is really limiting my research so far. Tempted too go back to use my old uni's library but graduate subscription costs a bomb. Also have no idea how our uni wants us to reference and I can't find it anywhere. I try and ask these questions in person and they always put off answering them, 'we'll touch on that next week/later/after half term.' Such a nightmare for anyone who doesn't want to leave it until the night before the deadline.
     
    zakibilalsharif likes this.
  10. Have you heard of Sconul access? Not sure if you can get it, depends on your uni and your course.
    It means you can at least go to other libraries and use their print journals, but probably not electronic.

    It is frustrating when you find something and you don't have the access, but I think, well if we needed it that much on the course then hopefully the uni would have it. Plus you can inform your uni about a journal that you think they should subscribe to, I know it might not be possible, but you never know!

    In terms of your uni referencing, it should be somewhere on your student online portal as well, have you tried searching? My uni provides resources and drop in sessions if you need it, so maybe try contacting the library or student services directly?

    Hope this helps
     
  11. shideh1146

    shideh1146 New commenter

    dear Jenerena
    I am a PGCE student in London .
    would it be possible to have your email as I need some advice to do my assignments please.
     
  12. eddimob

    eddimob New commenter

    That's an excellent guide there, and so concise when you consider the fact that there are many fat books on the topic of writing at masters level!
     

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