Saturday, 6 March 2010


Avoid Taking Lectures - They're Usually Inefficient.
If you already have a good background in your field, then minimize the number of additional courses you take. This recommendation may seem counterintuitive, but it has a sound basis. Right now, you need to learn how to think for yourself. This requires active engagement, not passive listening and regurgitation.
To learn to think, you need two things: large blocks of time, and as much one-on-one interaction as you can get with someone who thinks more clearly than you do.
Courses just get in the way, and if you are well motivated, then reading and discussion is much more efficient and broadening than lectures. It is often a good idea to get together with a few colleagues, organize a seminar on a subject of interest, and invite a few faculty to take part. They'll probably be delighted. After all, it will be interesting for them, they'll love your initiative - and it will give them credit for teaching a course for which they don't have to do any work. How can you lose?
These comments of course do not apply to courses that teach specific skills: e.g., electron microscopy, histological technique, scuba diving.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Simple Questions: The Introduction

The structure of the introduction

It is a good idea to keep to a simple structure. An effective introduction is one that begins with a very general statement about the subject, then gradually narrows down to the specific thesis statement. The pattern is shown below:
  • General statement about the subject
  • Beginning to focus onto the topic
  • Becoming more specific
  • (Essay map)
  • Specific thesis statement
If you analyse your assignment question, you can use this as the basis of your introduction. Begin with the Subject words and write a sentence about the subject. Then take the Limiting words and add sentences incorporating these. Finally, write a thesis statement incorporating the Direction words.
Here is an analysis of the example given above:
Question: Workplace diversity is now recognised as an important feature in organisations, especially in multicultural nations like Australia. What communication problems might arise in a culturally diverse workplace, and how can managers best deal with them?
SubjectMulticulturalism, Intercultural Communication, Cultural Diversity in the Workplace
Limiting WordsCommunication problems that may arise, and how they can be dealt with.
DirectionDescribe (What...?) and Explain (How...?)
1. Over the past twenty five years, since Australia embraced multiculturalism as a policy, issues of intercultural communication have become more and more prominent in the workplace.This is a fairly general statement bringing in the subject words 'multiculturalism', 'intercultural communication', and 'workplace'.
2. However, until relatively recently, little had been written on these issues, and even now, many organisational managers have no training or knowledge of how to deal with communication problems, even though most workplaces are staffed with people of diverse cultures.This sentence introduces the limiting words 'communication problems', 'dealing with communication problems'
3. Particular problem areas include the difficulties that some non-English speakers have in understanding safety instructions (figures produced by the ABS (1997) show that migrant workers have a higher incidence of accidents at the workplace); an ignorance of the different forms of non-verbal communication used by other cultures (for example it is considered impolite in some societies for an employee to look directly at his or her employer), which can lead to misunderstandings and unpleasantness; and the lack of knowledge about differing expectations.
This sentence is more specific about the limiting words 'What communication problems can arise?'.
4. Based on interviews with managers and staff in six organisations (public and private), this report examines these three problem areas, and shows that many of the difficulties faced by both natives and migrants in the workforce are caused by a lack of awareness of, and training in, intercultural communication.The thesis statement explicitly states the specific focus of the essay, giving the direction (treatment) that the topic will have.
Essay MapThe Essay Map in this paragraph is mainly in Sentences 2 and 3, which give the reader a good idea of the scope of the