Learning through trial and error: Kevin’s story


MA English Literature

A new university, a new course, and new assignments. I think that’s how the order would go in terms of preference, too. With the festive season behind me, the date of my first deadline was in full view. However, between you and me, I had spent the entire Christmas and New Year period believing (or choosing to believe) that I had only one deadline due at the start of January. Unfortunately, this proved to be incorrect. I found out I had two, TWO four-thousand-word essays to write in just one week! The challenge was on.

Prior to undertaking the research and writing these assessed pieces of work, I had, fortunately, had the chance to draft a copy of my ideas in an unassessed essay, several weeks before the due date. For me, this was wonderful. Listening to all the information provided in the seminar room results in a head full of information and the want to put all that information down on paper in one essay. Not possible. This is a perfect opportunity to get everything down you think you could work with, then wait to get a thumbs-up, or thumbs-down. Although I hadn’t read half of the books at this time, the unassessed essay also gives the tutors an idea of students’ writing abilities and areas where they may need additional support.

The feedback, ready in a swift turnaround, was printed off together with my essay, allowing me see where I could make improvements. The tutors also made themselves available to go over their suggestions face to face. This approach works better for me as I can scribble down all subsequent suggestions while they ruminate over my ideas. With the tutors’ abundance of knowledge in each of the units, their feedback—with the occasional tangent that might appear off topic—has proved to be greatly valuable when making connections between ideas. These unassessed pieces will be used to my full advantage next semester.

I’m pleased to say I managed to get both essays written before the deadline, and my sanity was still largely intact. I’ve learnt that the time spent in seminars, with the ideas and opinions of others being openly discussed, has—consciously or not—helped develop my own perspective in analysis. The unassessed assignments, which at first seemed needless, were an element of the essay-writing process that proved to be the cornerstone for each of my essays. Hopefully this will have come through in my work.

Bring on the next assignments.

Kevin is in receipt of the Postgraduate Financial Support Package, now the Leeds Masters Scholarships Scheme for 2015 entry.  To find out more about this funding, please visit here.

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