IRISH INSTITUTE OF TRAINING & DEVELOPMENT WRITTEN ASSESSMENTS - GUIDELINES. Irish Institute of Training and Development 2013 Version 2

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1 IRISH INSTITUTE OF TRAINING & DEVELOPMENT WRITTEN ASSESSMENTS - GUIDELINES Irish Institute of Training and Development 2013 Version 2

2 WRITING GUIDELINES TABLE OF CONTENTS 1.0 Introduction The Thinking Phase Definition of topic 2.2 Audience 3.0 The Writing Phase Researching the topic 3.2 Structure of an assignment 3.3 Evaluation and editing 4.0 The Organisation Phase Sequence of elements 4.2 Paraphrasing and plagiarism 4.3 Textual References 4.4 Quotations 4.5 Bibliography 4.6 Appendices 5.0 Summary Checklist

3 1.0 INTRODUCTION This paper gives a general introduction to the skill of writing assignments/projects. It outlines the complete process, starting with topic research, through the assignment plan and finally the writing stage. It also contains a section on academic conventions, which should be adhered to in order to achieve a good mark. The terms assignment and project refer to any piece of written work that needs to be undertaken as part of the assessment process on IITD Professional Practice Certificate programmes (or individual Modules thereof). For the purpose of this paper the term written assessment will be used throughout. Essentially, there are three phases in the preparation of a written assessment. 1. The Thinking Phase - Definition of topic - Audience 2. The Writing Phase - Researching the topic - Main components - Writing first draft - Writing second/final draft 3. The Organisation Phase - Quotations - Paraphrasing and plagiarism - References - Bibliography - Avoiding sexist language Note: The framework for this paper is taken from the Open University (Marshall and Rowland. 1993). 3

4 2.0 THE THINKING PHASE 2.1 Definition of Topic When undertaking a written assessment, the topic will be specified in the assessment guidelines provided by the tutor. When defining the topic it may be helpful to define it as a problem that needs to be addressed. This can be done by working through the following sample topic as a guide. Write a report that examines the effectiveness of evaluation methods within your training department. (a) What is the topic about? Ensure that you fully understand the wording of the brief and what you are meant to address. When planning and writing, frequently ask Am I fulfilling the given brief? It is also necessary to have an understanding of any underlying assumptions. With reference to the sample topic on the effectiveness of evaluation methods, the key words are examine and effectiveness. This involves giving a detailed account of evaluation methods, describing current practice within your training department, and evaluating the effectiveness of these practices. The underlying assumptions are that the effectiveness of evaluation methods could be improved and enhanced. (b) What are the main points of the topic? Generally speaking, guidelines are given in the brief as to the main areas to be covered. From the example it is obvious that the four stages or levels of evaluation, as outlined by Kirkpatrick, must first be described in detail before discussing their effectiveness within your company. You need to decide on the main points that you will address in your submission. Limit yourself to three or four main points, or chunks of information. Some of these are likely to come from your own knowledge and experience, some from class notes or course texts, and some from web sites. (c) Imposing a Structure This involves organising the main points into a logical order. You must decide which points to include and which to omit. Only include those points that are directly relevant to the topic, and edit out irrelevant points, no matter how interesting they might be. The overall structure must include an introductory section, a main or middle section and a concluding section. 4

5 2.2 The Audience Who will read your work? It is generally recommended that you write in a style accessible to all, including those who do not have an in-depth understanding of your particular topic. This will require that you write simply and clearly, structure your work, and define all technical terms and jargon. Do not make any assumptions about the knowledge of the reader. While you will write primarily for the tutor, for assessment purposes, you should also write in a style that will be accessible to a work colleague or manager. 3.0 THE WRITING PHASE In order to produce a satisfactory piece of work, write at least one rough draft. At this stage, grammar, punctuation and organisation are not particularly important. Remember the dictum of writers: All good writing is second writing. A first draft will give you a working document, which can be reworked, edited and proof-read. You are then ready to produce a final draft. Each draft, however, should contain three main sections, a general introduction, a main section (body of text) and a conclusion. 3.1 Researching the Topic Once you have decided upon the theme of your work and the main points that you intend to include, the next step is to research the topic. This involves the collection of all relevant source material. There are a number of sources for this material, the most obvious being lecture notes and course textbook(s). Other valuable sources include internet sites, and company policy documents or manuals. You may also source additional material in libraries. It is easy to become distracted by the amount of information available on particular topics, so it is important to keep focused on the topic question at all times to avoid the inclusion of irrelevant material. 3.2 Structure of an Assignment All assignments should comprise of a general introduction, a main section and a conclusion. Introduction The purpose of the introduction is to catch the interest of the reader and ensure that they read on. The introduction is basically an outline of the essay. The introduction should include some information about yourself, your company/organisation, and your role. It should include a definition of the topic and identify the main themes to be covered in the written assessment. Main Section This is where you present the main points of your work. First, you need to decide which points you will include and how you will order them. 5

6 You can draw up a provisional plan at this point. Each point can be written up as a separate section containing one or more paragraphs. A paragraph illustrates one key idea that is relevant to the main point. Once you are happy with the order and composition of the sections you can then clarify the links between them using phrases such as: However Following on from Having discussed X, I will now consider Y If you are offering some recommendations, following from your analysis of the main points, they can be included in this section. In general, limit yourself to three or four main recommendations. The work should flow, making it easy for the reader to read. It should move smoothly from one paragraph and section to the next. The inclusion of sub-headings is important large blocks of text without a sub-heading may make written work difficult to follow. It is often helpful if you include your plan or a table of contents at the beginning to clarify the structure for yourself and your reader. An example of such a plan is given on page 8. Conclusion The conclusion is important because it rounds off the written assessment. It is where the material considered in the main body is summarised and reflected upon. It should be related to the introduction and can include your personal opinion and suggestions. It could also include some personal reflections on your learning while undertaking the assignment or programme. No new material should be included in the conclusion. 3.3 Reviewing, Checking, Editing and Proofreading This is where the rough draft is checked and rewritten to produce the finished product. It is part of the task of assignment / project writing to adhere to the recommended length. Therefore, you should evaluate everything you have written in the context of the assignment title. Overly long assignments are inappropriate and will be penalised accordingly. Check spelling, grammar and presentation. All assignments / projects must be typed, font size 12, with 1.5 line spacing, and presented in accordance with Institute requirements. 6

7 PLAN of WRITTEN ASSESSMENT (Sample Topic Evaluation ) INTRODUCTION Introduce yourself, your company and your role within it Definition of evaluation methods General importance of evaluation Consequences of poor evaluation MAIN POINT (A) Literature Review Outline and review theoretical models & concepts relevant to evaluation methods. (Theory) Summary of main levels of evaluation. MAIN POINT (B) Practice Outline and critically analyse current practice within company. Describe what actually happens. (Practice) Summary of main practices within company and their impact. MAIN POINT (C) Consequences Explore the gap between theory and practice, between the rhetoric and the reality. Offer recommendations to close the gap. Summary of impact. CONCLUSION Summary of main points Personal conclusions Reflections on personal learning 7

8 4.0 THE ORGANISATION PHASE 4.1 Sequence of Elements in Written Assessment. The following points illustrate the appropriate order for each element of your written work. Project Cover Sheet Table of Contents Introduction Main Body Conclusion Bibliography Appendices Cover Sheet The main purpose of this sheet is to clearly indicate your name, programme name, module / subject title, assessment topic, date and word count. As indicated in the student guidelines, the cover sheet MUST carry the definition of plagiarism AND the signed acknowledgement statement. Table of Contents The table of contents simply provides the reader with a list of the contents of the written work and may indicate the relevant page number. Introduction For more details about the introduction see page 6 of this document. Main Body For more details about the main body see page 6 of this document. Conclusion For more details about the conclusion see page 7 of this document. Bibliography For more details about the bibliography see page 12 of this document. Appendices For more details about appendices see page 14 of this document. 8

9 4.2 Paraphrasing and Plagiarism Paraphrasing refers to taking the ideas, words or work of another, putting it into your own words and crediting the source. This is acceptable academic practice provided you ensure that credit is given to the author. Plagiarism refers to copying the ideas and work of another and misrepresenting it as your own. This is completely unacceptable and is prohibited in all academic situations. It is a serious offence and may result in a fail grade and/or disciplinary action. All sources that you use in your writing must be acknowledged and included in the reference / bibliography section (see page 12 for details). Plagiarism is generally easily identified by the tutor, either through a change in writing style, the inclusion of irrelevant material or through familiarity with the source text. If a particular piece of writing proves difficult to paraphrase, or you want to include it in its original form, then it must be enclosed in quotation marks. Note: Remember - every written assessment submitted must include the plagiarism statement & signed acknowledgement. 4.3 Textual References Academic conventions regarding referencing have their origin in the reporting of scientific information. They are designed, for the most part, to assist you in the clear and accurate communication of material. It is important that you write to these conventions from the beginning so that eventually they will become second nature. When referring to the work of another author within the text of your written assessment you just give the author's surname and the date the work was published. Full details for each source are then given in the bibliography at the end of the work. This method has the advantage that the flow of writing is not interrupted through having to refer to footnotes or endnotes. Examples of referencing within the text Single author Smith (1990) holds that absenteeism in Irish workplaces is on the increase. Single author, multiple publications in different years Smith (1978) believes that Smith (1990) disagrees with Single author, multiple publications in the same year Smith (1978a) believes that Smith (1978b) disagrees with 9

10 Different authors, present by year order Smith (1978) and Anderson (1981) both concur that Two authors Smith and Peters (1981) propose Three or more authors Smith et al (1978) argue that 4.4 Quotations You use quotations when you want to illustrate concepts, add flavour to your work or analyse a quotation in depth, such as when it is given as the topic to discuss. There are two types of quotation, short and long, and these are presented in different ways. Short Quotations These comprise of no more than a few words and are included in the text. You must enclose them in quotation marks and give the name of the author, year and page number: Northedge (1993:149) describes the purpose of essays as "to help you consolidate what you have been studying" Long Quotations Long quotations are set apart froth the text usually by missing a line below and above the quote. They are indented, typed in a smaller font size from main text, and are referenced in the same way as short quotations. For example: lvancevich and Matteson (1987:8-9) define stress as; "an adaptive response, mediated by individual differences and/or psychological processes, that is a consequence of any external (environmental) action, situation, or event that places excessive psychological and/or physiological demands upon a person. " 10

11 4.5 Bibliography The bibliography is a list of all the books, journals, internet sites etc., that you claim to have studied for the purposes of your assignment or that you have directly referred to in the text. An accurate and thorough bibliography is an essential academic requirement. The bibliography is always presented in alphabetical order. How to reference books in the bibliography The author/editors name (surname first, followed by initials of first name) Year of publication (in brackets) Title of book - in italics Publication details Example of Typical Bibliography Entries Example (a) for Books Ivancevich, J. M. and Matteson, M. T. (1987) Organisational Behaviour and Management. Business Publications: Texas Example (b) for Chapters in Edited Books Payne, R. and Pugh, D. S. (1976) Organisational Structure and Climate, in M. D. Dunnette (ed.), Handbook of Industrial and Organisational Psychology. Rand McNally: Chicago How to reference journals in the bibliography The author / editor s name (surname first) Year of publication - (in brackets) Title of article - in inverted commas Title of journal - in italics Volume Issue Pages Example (c) for Journal Articles Beehr, T. A. (1986) The Current Debate about Job Stress, Journal of Organisational Behaviour Management. Fall/Winter pp MacLachan, R. Transformed and Geared Up, People Management IPD, Vol. 2, No 18, pp

12 How to reference government publications in the bibliography o The Government Department o Year o Title o Publishing Details Example (d) Government Publications and Reports Central Statistics Office (1991) Labour Force Survey, Stationary Office: Dublin How to reference oral information in the bibliography Speaker Year Title/Topic Location Example (e) Oral Information From a Lecture McGinn (1994) 'Perception in Organisations'. Lecture. NCIR, 7 November. From an Interview Smith, B. (1990) Interviewed by Joe Bloggs, 9 January. How to reference an internet site in the bibliography Title of organisation / company / institute Web site address Example (f) Internet Site Irish Institute of Training and Development International Federation of Training and Development Organisations 12

13 4.6 Appendices An appendix is suitable to display background information or information which is too long to insert into the main body of the assignment / project. All other information which is directly discussed in the written assessment (e.g. tables, diagrams, etc.) should be included in the main body of the text. 5.0 SUMMARY Having identified the scope of the topic, you can work out your plan. This is important for two reasons. Firstly, it will ensure that you focus appropriately on the appropriate topic areas. Secondly, it will help you identify areas that you need to research through further reading. Then you are ready to write your first draft. At this stage include everything that you feel is relevant to the topic. The order of the material, grammar etc. are not important at this stage, these can be tidied up later. When you are satisfied that you have dealt adequately with the material, you can break it down under headings and sub-headings using key words and sentences to link the material together. Finally, ensure that you have adhered to the academic conventions in terms of layout, referencing of material and so on. You are now ready to produce the final draft! Good luck and happy writing! 13

14 6.0 CHECKLIST 1. Has the cover sheet been correctly completed? 2. Have you met all the requirements of the tutor / Institute such as presentation, word count and academic conventions? 3. Does your written assessment address the topic question? 4. Is the theme of the written assessment clearly stated in the introduction? 5. Do your main points reflect the theme? 6. Is all the material relevant to the topic? 7. Have you provided enough evidence to support your main points? 8. Are all central terms clearly defined? 9. Does the written assessment follow a logical structure? 10. Are your main points and paragraphs adequately linked? 11. Where you have used practical experience to illustrate a point, is it relevant and integrated into the main theme of the work? 12. Does your conclusion relate to your introduction and reflect the material in the written assessment? 13. Is the bibliography complete and presented in alphabetical order? 14. Have you credited and not plagiarised the ideas contained in the essay? 15. Is the writing style your own? Adapted from Marshall and RowIand (1993) 14

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