Tag Archives: referencing

Assessment Due Dates

With due dates either already past or looming, it’s time to look at the importance of meeting submission deadlines. 

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Without fail the three most common reasons for students losing valuable marks in assessments are:

  • handing in assessments late
  • not reading or following the assessment brief
  • poor referencing 

By ignoring just one of these simple, standard requirements you are guaranteeing yourself a loss of at the very least 20% of your total mark. There are very few, if any, students who can afford to take such a knock when it comes to their grades.

PicMonkey Collage

ASSESSMENT DUE DATES

One of the quickest ways you can kiss between 20% and 100% of your mark good-bye is by handing in an assessment late.

What Does the Student Rulebook Say?

Section 5.8.v – Late Submissions:

Students must hand in or submit projects / assignments during their allocated class time; in the required format specified by the lecturer.

Penalties for late submissions are applied as follows – if a student submits his / her assignment:

  • immediately after the allocated deadline = minus 20%
  • one day late = minus 50%
  • two days late or more = 0%

These penalties are applied across all subjects and are not negotiable. If a student is absent on the date that the assignment is due, a valid medical certificate covering illness during the day of hand-in or the day/s directly after is required in order for the student not be penalised. If a valid and legitimate medical certificate is not presented and affixed to the project / assignment the penalties apply. 

No documentation from a medical institution without an official diagnosis signed by the doctor will be accepted. In other words, a letter simply stating that a student visited the clinic is not a valid medical certificate. In any other situation, valid official documentation is required.

No telephonic conversation will be entered into, nor will an e-mail be accepted. 

What’s Your Excuse?

Believe me when I tell you, your lecturer has heard it all before but for argument’s sake let’s take a look at the most common excuses for handing in an assessment late:

I needed more time

If this is your “go to” excuse then you may need to reassess your time management skills. You can find tips and strategies to help you better manage your time here.

If time management isn’t the issue then perhaps a lack of class attendance may be the reason for you running short of time on assessments; the BMH Student Rulebook (2017, p. 26) clearly states that:

Students will be informed in class of assessment briefs and dates at least two weeks in advance…It is the student’s responsibility to ensure that they are fully informed of all assessments prior to the actual assessment date.

If you are not attending classes regularly, you are at risk of receiving assessment briefs late, or even worse, not at all.

I need extra time because *insert credible reason here*

If for some or other legitimate reason you are unable to submit your assessment on the specified due date you may apply for an extension. However be very sure to read the rules for this special application carefully:

Section 5.8.iv – Applying for an Extension:

Students requesting an extension on an assignment due date are required to do so in writing at least ten (10) working days before the due date, by completing an Extension Request Form available from the Student Information Desk / Centre; after which it will be submitted to the relevant Academic Manager and lecturer. If the request is granted, the Extension Request Form will be signed off by the relevant lecturer and Academic Manager and will be placed in the student’s record file. The student will be notified telephonically (sms) and / or in writing, whether an extension has been granted or not. 

My USB broke / isn’t working

Always save your assessment to a spare / back up USB or drive. Technology fails all the time and this won’t be accepted as an excuse for submitting an assessment late.

The printer broke / ran out of ink / paper OR The queue  for the printer in the library was long.

Don’t leave the printing of your assessment to the last minute meaning you have no time to arrange a back up plan or find an alternative printer. Technology fails all the time and this won’t be accepted as an excuse for submitting an assessment late.

My taxi / bus / lift was running late.

On the day of an assessment due date ensure that you arrive well in advance of the hand-in time. Transportation issues will not be accepted as an excuse for submitting an assessment late. 

download (1)


Reference:

Boston Media House. (2017). Student Rulebook, 2017. Johannesburg, South Africa.

 

Referencing and Plagiarism

Whether you like it or not referencing is an essential academic skill that you not only need to learn, but to master. Poor referencing and plagiarism are a sure way of losing valuable marks.

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By now you should be aware of what referencing is, why it is important, how to reference; and that Boston Media House makes use of the Harvard Referencing System.

The purpose of this post is not to teach you how to reference correctly, you have already been taught that in your Academic Literacy 1 class, but rather to highlight where students go wrong when referencing and to provide you with tips on how to make referencing a little easier.

Where Did I Go Wrong?

a) Not referencing in-text 

This refers to when you quote, summarise, paraphrase or re-word another persons idea/s within your assignment.

When citing in-text, you need to provide the:

1) author or editor’s surname/s,

2) year of publication, and

3) page number/s of where you have drawn the information from.

For Example:

Smith (2012, p. 88) states that ".....quotation.....".

or

When looking at the first generation,"..........quotation........." (Smith, 2012, p. 88).

The only time you need not include the page number/s is when you paraphrase or summarise an entire piece of work.

For Example:

Smith (2012) asserts that change through the generations is continuous and inevitable.

By not acknowledging the original source or author of an idea which you have included in your assignment you are committing plagiarism; an offense Boston Media House takes extremely seriously:

“…Any student who is found to have plagiarised will be penalised and may in addition face disciplinary action, which may include receiving 0% for the assessment, a warning letter and/or a disciplinary hearing, which could result in their expulsion from the Institution. (Boston Media House, 2017, p. 27)

Do not assume that your lecturer will not notice if you fail to reference an idea or quote within your assignment, because chances are someone else in your class has used the exact same idea or quote and you will be caught out and you will be penalised for plagiarising.

b) Not checking that ALL in-text references are linked to a corresponding reference in your reference list (and vice versa)

For EVERY in-text reference you have made within your assignment there MUST be a corresponding reference in your reference list.

For Example:

In-text reference –

Smith (2012, p. 88) states that ".....quotation.....".

Corresponding reference in your reference list –

Smith, W. (2012). The Generation Gap: Are we really so different?, London: Routledge.

When grading you on the technical aspects of your assignment if a lecturer picks up that you have included references in your reference list that are not cited in your assignment OR you’ve cited references in your assignment but have provided no reference in your reference list, you will be penalised.

If you do not know what is being referred to by the “technical aspects” of an assignment, please go read: Understanding an Assessment Brief.

c) Not realising that you have plagiarised

ANY TIME you:

  • directly quote
  • summarise
  • paraphrase
  • re-word
  • refer to
  • copy

another person’s work / ideas / thoughts / creations / writing / inventions / theory / compositions / opinions / pictures / designs / artwork etc. you MUST acknowledge them as the original source.

When in doubt, ask yourself: “Is this 100% my own, original thought / idea / composition?” If there is any doubt that it is not 100% yours: go back, find the source of your inspiration / idea / thought and reference them.

Unfortunately for you “I didn’t know I was plagiarising” is not an accepted excuse at Boston Media House and you will end up being penalised.

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Tips for Referencing 

  • When researching your assignment, highlight any direct quotes or ideas you plan on using in your assignment – this will assist you when the time comes to start drafting your response, as well as your reference list. 
  • Get into the habit of writing down the referencing information and page number/s of the source immediately, whilst you are using it. If you wait to sift through all your readings or sources once you’ve completed your assignment you a) may not be able to remember which source it was you used and, b) you may not be able to go back and check on the details.
  • Don’t rush when creating your reference list. Give yourself enough time to ensure that you are following the correct Harvard Referencing format; and that for every in-text reference you have a corresponding reference in your reference list.

References:

Boston Media House. (2017).  Student Rulebook, 2017.  Johannesburg, South Africa.

Palgrave Study Skills. (2015). Referencing and Avoiding Plagiarism. Retrieved from: http://www.palgrave.com/studentstudyskills/page/referencing-and-avoiding-plagiarism/. [Accessed: 21 August 2015].

University of Leicester: Student Learning Development. (2015). Ten Tips for Good Referencing. Retrieved from: http://www2.le.ac.uk/offices/ld/resources/writing/harvard/content/2.23-ten-tips-for-good-referencing. [Accessed: 21 August 2015].

 

Assessment Due Dates

With due dates either already past or looming, it’s time to look at the importance of meeting submission deadlines. 

tumblr_mqr9fkBrdz1s4baulo1_500

Without fail the three most common reasons for students losing valuable marks in assessments are:

  • handing in assessments late
  • not reading or following the assessment brief
  • poor referencing 

By ignoring just one of these simple, standard requirements you are guaranteeing yourself a loss of at the very least 20% of your total mark. There are very few, if any, students who can afford to take such a knock when it comes to their grades.

PicMonkey Collage

ASSESSMENT DUE DATES

One of the quickest ways you can kiss between 20% and 100% of your mark good-bye is by handing in an assessment late.

What Does the Student Rulebook Say?

Section 5.8.v – Late Submissions:

Students must hand in or submit projects / assignments during their allocated class time; in the required format specified by the lecturer.

Penalties for late submissions are applied as follows – if a student submits his / her assignment:

  • immediately after the allocated deadline = minus 20%
  • one day late = minus 50%
  • two days late or more = 0%

These penalties are applied across all subjects and are not negotiable. If a student is absent on the date that the assignment is due, a valid medical certificate covering illness during the day of hand-in or the day/s directly after is required in order for the student not be penalised. If a valid and legitimate medical certificate is not presented and affixed to the project / assignment the penalties apply. 

No documentation from a medical institution without an official diagnosis signed by the doctor will be accepted. In other words, a letter simply stating that a student visited the clinic is not a valid medical certificate. In any other situation, valid official documentation is required.

No telephonic conversation will be entered into, nor will an e-mail be accepted. 

What’s Your Excuse?

Believe me when I tell you, your lecturer has heard it all before but for argument’s sake let’s take a look at the most common excuses for handing in an assessment late:

I needed more time

If this is your “go to” excuse then you may need to reassess your time management skills. You can find tips and strategies to help you better manage your time here.

If time management isn’t the issue then perhaps a lack of class attendance may be the reason for you running short of time on assessments; the BMH Student Rulebook (2017, p. 26) clearly states that:

Students will be informed in class of assessment briefs and dates at least two weeks in advance…It is the student’s responsibility to ensure that they are fully informed of all assessments prior to the actual assessment date.

If you are not attending classes regularly, you are at risk of receiving assessment briefs late, or even worse, not at all.

I need extra time because *insert credible reason here*

If for some or other legitimate reason you are unable to submit your assessment on the specified due date you may apply for an extension. However be very sure to read the rules for this special application carefully:

Section 5.8.iv – Applying for an Extension:

Students requesting an extension on an assignment due date are required to do so in writing at least ten (10) working days before the due date, by completing an Extension Request Form available from the Student Information Desk / Centre; after which it will be submitted to the relevant Academic Manager and lecturer. If the request is granted, the Extension Request Form will be signed off by the relevant lecturer and Academic Manager and will be placed in the student’s record file. The student will be notified telephonically (sms) and / or in writing, whether an extension has been granted or not. 

My USB broke / isn’t working

Always save your assessment to a spare / back up USB or drive. Technology fails all the time and this won’t be accepted as an excuse for submitting an assessment late.

The printer broke / ran out of ink / paper OR The queue  for the printer in the library was long.

Don’t leave the printing of your assessment to the last minute meaning you have no time to arrange a back up plan or find an alternative printer. Technology fails all the time and this won’t be accepted as an excuse for submitting an assessment late.

My taxi / bus / lift was running late.

On the day of an assessment due date ensure that you arrive well in advance of the hand-in time. Transportation issues will not be accepted as an excuse for submitting an assessment late. 

download (1)


Reference:

Boston Media House. (2017). Student Rulebook, 2017. Johannesburg, South Africa.

 

Understanding an Assessment Brief

We are officially four weeks into Semester A – 2017, which means that assessment briefs have either already been issued or are about to be issued. 

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Reading & Unpacking an Assessment Brief

Regardless of the subject, lecturer or assessment style, you cannot go wrong by adopting the following two habits when approaching an assessment brief:

  1. Read the assessment brief carefully as soon as you receive it. The sooner you become familiar with the assessment brief, the more time you will have to analyse and understand what is expected of you. The simplest, most straightforward assessment briefs can turn out to be the most complicated, time consuming of responses to produce.
  2. Ask your lecturer about anything you are not sure of or do not understand. Do not be afraid to ask if you need help with understanding an assessment brief. A lecturer would much rather spend time helping you come to grips with an assessment brief than assessing an assessment that has totally missed the mark (See also: Student-Lecturer Meetings).

Introductory Information:

Boston Media House makes use of a standardised Assessment Brief Template, as such when receiving an assessment brief, regardless of which subject it is for, the brief will follow a standard format and will provide you with the following introductory information:

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Intro_AB

  From this introductory section alone, you now already know:

  • What subject you’re working on.
  • The type of assessment event i.e. formative or summative, which tells you how much the assessment will count towards your final overall grade.
  • Who to go to for assistance if you are struggling with understanding or unpacking the brief.
  • The due date, time and venue for submitting your assessment – remember late assessments attract harsh penalties (Refer to: Section 5.8.v – Late Submissions of the BMH Student Rulebook)
  • The importance of attending lectures as they provide you with a foundational understanding of the topic that is being assessed. By missing lectures you are not only missing important input and understanding of the subject and assessment topic, but you are adding to the number of hours you will need to put in, in order for you to catch up on missed information needed for the successful completion of the assessment.
  • The approximate number of hours it will take you to complete the assessment. This information is important for time management purposes, particularly when you have several due dates all around the same time.  It also gives you an idea of how far in advance you should start working on the assessment and, more importantly, that 3 hours of panicked effort the day before the submission date will certainly not be enough (See also: Time Management).

Assessment Brief Format:

Most essay or short question type assessment briefs follow a basic format:

  • An Overview
  • Task Words
  • Content Words
  • Limiting Words
  • Technical Information

An Overview

The lecturer may (or may not) set the stage by providing you with a quote or general introductory statement on the topic of the assessment, or a cue which reminds you of something pertinent that was discussed in lectures.

Task Words

Task words tell you what you have to do: the action you need to perform when crafting your response. You can identify task words by looking for the action words / verbs in the assessment question / statement. Words such as: identify, analyse, discuss, or illustrate, these action verbs provide you with instructions on how to approach the topic of the assessment. Also look for words such as: who, when, what, why, and where, these words further specify the task of the assessment.

Content Words

These words tell you what the topic area is and thus what it is you should write about. Content words set and define the assessment scope; they assist in focusing your research and reading on a particular area.

Limiting Words

Limit and focus the topic; they define the focus of the topic even further, highlighting aspects of the topic you need to concentrate on.

Example 1:

“Describe in detail, referring to Ansell, how to prepare for an interview. Outline your answer in steps. Start from when the journalist receives the brief from the news editor and end at the point where the interview is about to take place. Include aspects to consider such as strategies, contexts, what to take, how to record, potential problems and body language.”

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Assessment Brief.2

 Example 2:

“Use the following information to write a hard news story (200-300 words). Only use the facts provided. Do not add any other information and do not comment or mention yourself in the article. Your piece must be purely factual and objective – not your opinion. Make sure your story provides answers to the five “W”s and “H” questions of news writing and use the inverted pyramid style.

 Facts:

  • Xenophobic attacks
  • Broke out in Johannesburg and Natal
  • 6 killed, including a teenager
  • Presidents and ambassadors from other African countries have condemned South Africa’s slow reaction to the violence

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Assessment Brief.3

Technical Information:

This includes instructions such as –

  • formatting rules – font, font size, spacing
  • structural guidelines – length, referencing system
  • mark allocation and / or marking rubric
  • penalties – late submission, plagiarism
  • submission date 

Assessment Brief.4

 The “Non-negotiables”:

The “non-negotiables” of an assessment brief refers to the technical information i.e. formatting rules, mark allocation, penalties etc. This may not seem relevant to your planning and drafting of an assessment response, but it is where marks are most often lost because students have not read or followed these non-negotiable rules.

The information provided in this section of the brief also provides you with hints as to how to go about responding to the assessment question. For example, if the lecturer gives you a maximum word / page count for the assessment, they are telling you how many pages or words it should take to adequately cover the topic. If an assessment is meant to be a maximum of 3 pages, you know you need to be concise by making your point early and supporting it with clear and definite evidence. Whereas, if an assessment response is meant to be a maximum of 10 pages, you have the “space” to be more complex and detailed in your response. If, however, you are only able to squeeze out 4 pages for a 10 page assessment, you need to either review the assessment question to ensure that you are picking up on all the parts and requirements of the question, or you need to go speak to your lecturer and ask for guidance.

Final Words of Wisdom:

DO:

  • Do use “spell-checker” – but make sure that it is set for either UK or South African English.
  • Do get a friend to read through your assessment response for you – a new set of eyes can pick up spelling, grammar and other mistakes, as well as give you feedback on whether or not your response makes sense.
  • Do ensure that you have referenced correctly throughout your assessment – BMH makes use of the Harvard Referencing Method. Don’t know what that means? Start attending your Academic Literacy classes ASAP!
  • Do give yourself enough time to research and complete your assessment – having problems with time management? Refer to the BMH Student Wellness Blog for help with: time management, concentration, studying skills etc.

DON’T:

  • Do not spend more time on the cover page than the actual assessment – pictures, coloured pages and expensive binders are no replacement for a well thought out and written assessment. This obviously excludes an assessment brief which requires some form of creative presentation.
  • Do not use huge fonts, wide margins, or extra spacing as a way to padding your assessment – these “tricks” an be easily spotted and merely highlight the fact that you are purposefully trying to bulk up your assessment.
  • Do not use text speak, abbreviations or slang in your written assessments e.g. b4, U, wld, cray-cray – unless the inclusion of such serves an actual purpose and forms part of your response to the assessment question.
  • Do not answer an assessment question using bullet points – unless otherwise stated, always write in full sentences; one idea or main point per paragraph; punctuation, spelling and grammar are important.
  • Do not plagiarise – refer to Section 5.8.viii of the BMH Student Rulebook for information regarding plagiarism.

 

For more tips on approaching an assessment brief click here.


References:

The following works were consulted and / or adapted from in order to create this guideline. Please click on the links below in order to be directed to the original works.

Martin, C., Uys, G. & Gradidge, C. (2015).  JRN1: Summative Assessment 1 [Assessment Event Brief / Scope]. Boston Media House, Johannesburg, South Africa.

The Learning Centre, The University of New South Wales. (2012). Answering Assignment Questions. Retrieved from: http://www.lc.unsw.edu.au/onlib/pdf/assignquestions.pdf. [Accessed: 19 August 2015].

The Writing Centre, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. (2012). Understanding Assignments. Retrieved from: http://writingcenter.unc.edu/handouts/understanding-assignments/. [Accessed: 19 August 2015].