A bit disillusioned with the Open University

(34 Posts)
Fifyfomum Fri 28-Mar-14 07:26:45

There is no scope for further reading, I have just handed in an essay which I got a lower score than I expected for and some (not all) of the reasons seemed to be that I was not keen to reference the Open University books and instead preferred to extend my reading. This is not something that they like at all, they have said there will be no secondary referencing allowed whatsoever (even if it is in the correct format)

I was 'told' in tutorial to reference a certain part of the text in my essay but I took this as a guide not a rule and I have been marked down for formulating an essay based upon my understanding of the text rather than what the tutor's understanding was.

I am really quite peeved about it, I will be making sure my work is a cardboard copy of everyone elses in future in order to get the best grade but it is very different from the 'brick' university where I did my first two years study.

I think that the OU should be setting people up for further study and should not be so far removed from what is going on at brick uni's.

Meglet Fri 28-Mar-14 07:31:27

What level are you studying? I'm doing level 1 and my tutor said that while most of what we need comes from the textbook we can reference from the OU library, other books if we want. (I haven't because I'm not confident enough yet).

Ithinkwerealonenow Fri 28-Mar-14 07:35:18

I never it beyond the first courses because of this approach. After having done a degree at a rg uni, the approach was very different and didn't encourage actual thought. Boring.

Ithinkwerealonenow Fri 28-Mar-14 07:35:57

never made it

MagnaCharge Fri 28-Mar-14 07:37:17

I am doing level 3 and always use wider reading as well as provided primary sources (I am doing history) I have been specifically told not to quote from ou text books directly only to put them in bibliography.
I am averaging 77 for my TMAS and this is my 4th module.

Fifyfomum Fri 28-Mar-14 07:48:38

I am doing a level 2 module. I asked if there was a reading list, if we could use further reading and I was told to 'follow the material given'

I took that to mean we didnt NEED to read further but actually its quite clear from my tutors comments that what he wants is a bunch of essays that tick the correct boxes and only deal with the material he is used to.

He only wants us to cite the Open University book we have been given.

Teabellie Fri 28-Mar-14 07:52:20

I'm doing my masters with them, the more I reference outside sources the higher a mark I seem to get. You do need to refer closely to module materials to show the tutor that you've "got it", but as long as you've done that then you should be able to read and cite wider sources.

Fifyfomum Fri 28-Mar-14 07:53:56

He doesn't like it. He doesn't want me to reference higher sources or in fact reference anything other than the OU books they have given me.

That is what he has said, no matter how many people say 'oh but I do OU courses and I reference outside' it isn't how this tutor wants to behave

MagnaCharge Fri 28-Mar-14 07:58:14

The tutors are all different, you just have to work to their rules for that module to get to the next. FWIW I never needed to look at anything other than the course books until I got to level 3. Study for me is a means to an end though not something I do for enjoyment, if I wanted to enjoy it I would have stopped long before now.

Fifyfomum Fri 28-Mar-14 07:59:48

That's the thing though, when I do my masters I am going to need to be able to cite outside sources, I am not going to have to produce a carbon copy of everyone elses essays so I fail to see how this OU tutor is setting me up for anything at all.

Its crap.

MsMischief Fri 28-Mar-14 08:00:38

I found the same. Also the OU books were quite vague in places and i needed to read around the subject to understand it and then just reference the OU books confused
I didn't find it academically rigorous at all. I did a level 2 science module and quite often it didn't go any further than A levels.

pinktransit Fri 28-Mar-14 08:07:27

From my experience with OU - Level 1 - you have to use only their resources AND agree with their conclusions.
Level 2 - you have to use mostly their materials, but with some outside reference materials. You can come to your own conclusions, as long as you can evidence this.
Level 3 - much, much more open on materials. They do like you to use their materials, but expect you to do further research too. Sometimes they will suggest other material to use, and expect you to have at least read and referenced it to some extent, but you can certainly use your own resourced material.

It is totally dependent on the individual tutor though - one of my level 1 courses I pretty much had to rephrase the course material. Another, expected far more.
Level 3 was by far more difficult than level 2 in my experience.
I found that it was worth sticking with - I discovered just how much I love learning, even though I don't necessarily love proving what I've learned smile
(Graduated 2012 with a 2:1 Bsc Hons Open degree, mostly Social Science modules.)

Fifyfomum Fri 28-Mar-14 08:13:40

Well that is comforting, that I might actually get the opportunity to read more than the (frankly badly written) OU material I am given in my next course is music to my ears.

I am just going to hope to scrap through this level 2 module as best I can. Cardboard copies here we come.

BoulevardOfBrokenSleep Fri 28-Mar-14 10:40:06

I'm assuming this is an arts subject?

I've only done science, but IME, the tutor's going to have a pretty strict mark scheme, and the word limits are fairly tight - basically, if you're going to get a good score, every sentence you write needs to be ticking off a point on the mark scheme.

Since the mark scheme will only give credit for stuff that's in the textbook, bringing in anything from external materials won't gain you extra marks, and it'll use up precious words you could've spent on mark-worthy stuff.

(I love that I've written a really long-winded post on the importance of succcinctness grin)

You clearly know how to read around the subject and reference correctly so I don't think you'll have a problem going on to a Masters.

Also, the jump between Level 2 and Level 3 can be quite substantial.

Fifyfomum Fri 28-Mar-14 10:42:16

It is social science.

BoulevardOfBrokenSleep Fri 28-Mar-14 10:43:06

"I was 'told' in tutorial to reference a certain part of the text in my essay"

That was the tutor's way of saying, on the mark scheme for this TMA question, most of the credit is for referencing (and discussion?) of that part of the text.

If you didn't do that, then you didn't get the marks for that section, no matter how brilliant the rest of the essay was.

motown3000 Fri 28-Mar-14 11:08:24

I am midway though an Access Course Yo32 . I am reading what is written with interest, as I would like to do the " Introduction to social Science Module" from October. I have been averaging about 75% on my TMAs / ICMAs , which I am quite pleased with , as I have not done any study for 22 years, and that was only Level 2 City And Guilds/ BTEC.

I have never written in a "Academic" way before, my Gcse from 1989 were E Grades with 1 D , so you can see its a big "Jump" for me.

Some of the Students on my Access Course , are struggling with understanding how to Reference , as this has only just been introduced to them.

CalamitouslyWrong Fri 28-Mar-14 11:13:42

It sounds like it's your tutor that's the problem here. Some of the ALs at the OU can be a bit of a nightmare and actively work against the course team's aims to get students reading more widely and thinking for themselves.

I did the Openings Course Understanding Society last year and we were given a great deal of help with referencing by the tutors, also a written module guide which was very useful. I have also completed 4 short scientific modules at Level 1 and need to take a 30 or 60 credit module from October. In the scientific modules it has not been necessary to reference unless you have used material from outside the course materials or quoted directly from the course materials. I have frequently had to refer to outside materials to clarify issues but have never used them to obtain additional information, so haven't referenced them. I have not come up against any tutor saying you must not use them at all though. Hopefully it is a one-off for this module and not widespread.

Have you thought about ringing the study advisor team for a chat about this? I'm not sure if they go into that level of detail, but they might be able to tell you what the actual policy on this is (or indeed if there is one).

Blithereens Fri 28-Mar-14 11:30:46

I'm really surprised to hear this, as I always reference secondary reading (and don't reference the module blocks nearly enough if I'm honest) and I've always been praised for it.

I think your tutor is the problem. They all like different things. Contact Student Support; I had to ask to be re-assigned to a different tutor at one point because I felt I was being marked down for no reason. When I got moved, my mark came back an unbelievable THIRTY ONE points higher shock

On the other hand, do be aware that at Level 1 and 2 they want you to demonstrate that you have read and understood the course blocks. It might comfort you to know that for the EMA of one of my current Level 3 modules I'm not allowed to reference the course blocks at all, and have to source all my own secondary material!

Fifyfomum Fri 28-Mar-14 11:54:30

He does not want me to do any further reading. I am just going to battle through it and move on in Level 3 I am nearly half way through my TMA's now so I think I'm just going to deal with it. I'm annoyed because it has pushed my average down but not by much, Am averaging 66% now so it won't take much to push that back up to a reasonable mark.

TinyDiamond Sat 29-Mar-14 19:16:57

Is it DD206? It is a terrible module anyway just get it done and run away from it. The situation greatly improves at level 3 I promise but you'd probably also benefit from changing tutor.

Fifyfomum Sat 29-Mar-14 19:23:03

208, but so close!

TheNightIsDark Sat 29-Mar-14 19:29:21

I submitted a level 3 essay last month, used nothing from the ou textbook and got a 71.

Is it worth taking it up with the student advisory whatsit? Different tutors and courses expect wildly different things I've found.

gingergran Sat 29-Mar-14 19:38:54

My experience of OU at level 1 and 2 is that you are marked on how well you understand the OU materials rather than what you know about the subject. You can criticise the points made or the approach taken in the materials as long as you use evidence to back up your argument. I was told by my tutors that at least 80% of evidence should come from course materials.

Having said that I always read around the subject even if only to get things clear in my head and am sure this contributed to getting good marks (pass 1s).

Level 3 is a whole new ball game - not only are you encouraged to read other materials but you are actually expected to.

I think it depends on what you want to gain from your studies

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