Sunday, February 15, 2009

OU marked paper number four


I'm sorry to go on so about the Open University, but it does seem to play a prominent part in my life. At the beginning of this course - my third (if you don't count the French one in which I decided not to take the exam because it was going to be done over the phone and I didn't feel confident enough five years ago to do a 25 minute phone call in French), I decided to use my blog posts to help spur me on in a way. I wanted to reveal my marks - good or bad - and post things that I considered quite interesting, as much to make them stick in my head as anything.

Well,last night I got the result of my essay on Edmund Burke and Wordsworth's view of the sublime and it earned me 82%. Now, realistically, I know this is a good mark but I was hoping that one of my essays would get over 85%, to help with my chance of getting a Distinction for this course. However, I think that now the chances of that happening are minimal and I guess I shouldn't be upset about it. My French course - the course work - got me 88% but as I didn't take the exam it was a technical Fail; my second course got me 64%; my third got me 77% and I suppose this current one - all being well with the exam in June - will get me about 80%. At least each course has been an increased mark - wait until next year when I hope to go up a level - to a Level Three (the hardest of all) course.

Anyway, the marked assignment question for this month is

Would it be accurate to suggest that Jane Marcet did as much to publicize chemistry as Sir Humphrey Davy in the period c.1780-1830.?

There are a few people on the OU student forum who are so cheesed off that a chemistry question is being included on a Humanities course that they are planning a one-word answer. It could just be talk though - I can't believe anyone would be that daft.

47 comments:

ladyfi said...

Thanks for your entry in my contest!

And congrats on gaining good marks! I actually like the fact that there is a chemistry questions (a broad one, anyway) in the humanities course - it makes you guys more like Renaissance people with a multi-faceted education.

Is there a humanities question on the science course, I wonder?

Frankofile said...

Marks are just irritating; discuss. Are your tutor's comments a guide as to how to get that elusive stratospheric mark?

I like it when there are no numerical marks, just 'Learning Outcomes'. Students can still get delighted (or irritated) but they seem to me clearer.

Dumdad said...

You seem to be doing very well.

My one word answer to that Jane Marcet and Sir Humphrey Davy question would be: who?

lakeviewer said...

Ah, classes and exams and fretting over results. Enjoy these moments of voracious appettite and banquets of information. You may not remember the details of these days, but you will remember the exhilaration and the acuity of it all. Congratulations, by the way. I'm curious to know the answer to the chemistry question.

Cynthia said...

How annoying! Do you get a rubric to see how the grade is calculated? I think the score is good because the question was impossible! Still maybe the next question on the chemistry topic has potential. I think its background has to do with a consideration of women's contribution to a field of importance...historical in emphasis. They are probably looking for a strong position on the topic and it probably has to trace the historical impact of each...focusing on the impact of public events. If you want to send me something, I'd be happy to look at it. I know that evaluation is different in Europe and the United States but some aspects might be the same. They could be looking for a specific type of 'jargon' that you are not using...if so it can be corrected easily. So sorry that the course professors are not taking their mentoring role seriously. I hate the 'sink or swim' school of instruction. Sorry about my own rant...I hope you feel more peace about this soon...I also get bothered about vague critera. <3

Cynthia said...

I did a bit of quick research. The question is looking at a more public relations type focus...Jane's 'conversations' built around fictional character's but featuring important chemistry discoveries/knowledge were popular. She was a woman -and from the United States, I believe. The Sir was a more important contributer to invention and/or practical application of chemistry discoveries. By far a greater scientist than Jane but the question is more about how literature can have an impact on a field...in this case chemistry. Conclusion? Yes...you could suggest that she had a greater impact in the field related to communication of ideas...and then support this with many specific examples. Also, support that the Sir was superior in knowledge and practical application but not communication to the masses. (Check for this information.)

I hope that is helpful,dear Mrs. FF!

Steve said...

82% is pretty damned good in my opinion! The chemistry question is mind curdling (for me) - I wouldn't know where to begin! I don't think one word answers go down that well in academia... though I have heard the story about a student asked to write an essay entitled "What is the definition of courage"... supposedly he wrote: "This is," walked out of the exam and got a first. I'm sure it's an urban myth though!

Mama said...

Hello there FF, Those roses are beautiful, hope you had a lovely day yesterday.

I think your marks are excellent. I did this Humanities course when I first arrived here. I gave up, half way through (I know, but I did,) never gave it another thought until I received the letter with "Fail" on it and boy did I feel it.

You, on the other hand are doing extremely well and should be very proud, I know I am proud of you. Kathy.

A Woman Of No Importance said...

I think it is a fabulous score, FF! Congrats, and you look to be on the road to a high pass at the end of the course?

As for Jane Marcet, I've never heard of her, so my one word answer would be: "No!" x

Larry M. Brow said...

First, I agree, it's a marketing question, or a popular culture question, or even a public education question, but it's not a question straight-up Chemists would ever ask themselves, or each other. Second, I'm now working on my fourth degree. (It's a family disease, my parents are the same.) I am just happy that my work is getting better, as is yours. And no one has ever asked about my grades. Having the degree is enough, because few will ever understand what it took to earn it. (Perhaps unfortunate, but quite common.)

The Accidental Fan said...

Good mark.

As Larry sayes it is not remotely a scientific question, and the allergic reaction of those humanities students to broadening their minds a little is quite disturbing to me.

I went through the sciences and got a good degree. I can say we did cover the history of the subject as an entrée and once we had to apply a sequence of fourier transformations to various different artistic styles (digitised paintings) to see if we could linearly differentiate between them using a neural network on a computer.

Not one student, I am happy to report, threw their hands up in horror about the arts infecting the sciences.

But then, quite a few were always down the pub. Perhaps they were the kneejerks?

French Fancy said...

ladyfi - good luck with the contest and thanks a lot. I do like being thought of as a quasi-Renaissance style person, albeit one who will not remember a thing about it a few months on.

Hello Frankie - well, my tutor is not very clear on how to rise to the top - she seems to think I'm there already - lots of glowing remarks and I'm wondering if she is someone who never gives students the chance to get a Distinction. If she did that her 'performance' might be checked and then it would be evident that she has not been giving the monthly tutorials we are meant to be having. We've only had one - the first one where she went a bit silly whilst using her piano to illustrate a passage from Don Giovanni

Dumdad - thanks. I could tell you 'who' but you'd die of boredom during the telling.

lakeviwer - *banquets of information* - lovely words. (no, Marcet did not do as much to publicize chemistry as Davy. I just deleted a whole explanation of my position on the matter and then thought better of it in case some student or other came across my words. :)

Cynthia - wow, thanks for all your input and information. I've got lots of Marcet's lectures in a book, together with Davy's and there is also a CD rom of both of their interpretations of the experiments. Marcet was a Brit but her father was Swiss and he let her learn science alongside her brothers, as was the custom in Suisse but not the UK.
Thanks for offering to read my stuff but I'd rather battle through alone. I have a good idea where I'm going with this essay - but repeated thanks.

Steve- yep, I also think it's a myth, similar to the one about the student and the paper that seems to be circulating at the moment.

Mama - I didn't know you had done it too. Shame about the Fail but I know how you felt 'cos I felt the same when I got my French Fail for not wanting to do the exam over the phone. In the UK it was a face-to-face oral exam and I asked if I could do that instead but was rejected. Someone would have had to fly out to examine me and they weren't prepared to do that.

AWONI - thanks for that. Marcet lived in the wrong age - nowadays she would probably have been like Carol Vorderman, endlessly on tv spouting stuff

Larry - Thanks and I never realised it was your fourth degree. Wow, although I know what you mean - I've also got the learning bug now.

TAF - thanks and I agree with you about how silly their reaction has been. Once you get into this month's Block - okay there *are* experiments to read and watch but you don't have to understand them - well I don't. But an essay is still manageable.

*fourier transformations* - help.

Lulu LaBonne said...

Congrats on the marks and all sounds very impressive.

Presumably that question is to get a discussion going on the fact that there have always been plenty of extraordinary women working in the arts and sciences but somehow they all get written out of history or maybe get an afterthought.

cheshire wife said...

Congratulations on your marks. I am sure that your OU course is a large part of your life. There is no need to apologise about it.

Blu said...

My thoughts are if you are enjoying each course and learn new things along the way surely that counts for a lot?..No??

Maybe you should be awarding yourself a score for enjoyment and knowledge gained.

French Fancy said...

Lulu - thanks a lot and id you know they reckon all the poems that have been published under the name*anonymous* must have been written by women, because women weren't able to be published before a certain time in history. It makes you think.

cheshire wife - thanks and it wasn't true sorrow I felt when I apologised - just courtesy apologia

Blue - you said it and it's true and I don't know why I have become so mark-obsessed, because I surely have.I could have almost cried when I saw another 82% - silly, eh?

Lane said...

82 looks pretty damned impressive to me!
As for your new assignment. ?? Although those students threatening one word answers could be dicing with nil points:-)

Lurve your roses btw. 100 percent.

Brother Tobias said...

I agree, it is not a chemistry question. Or at least, it could be, but is clearly not meant to be. Kind of like considering the educational role of Classics Illustrated in introducing and popularising literature. Or the quality press versus the tabloids.
82% rocks!

Larry M. Brow said...

On the subject of 'marks,' I've recently joked to myself about the difference between various educational paths here. We have GPA, Grade Point Average, which usually has 4.0 as flawless (A), 3.0 as adequate for Graduate School (B), and 2.0 as passing but unpraiseworthy (C).

Of course, not all class subjects are equally difficult. I've thought of adding a "degree of difficulty" calculation, like they do for Olympic diving or gymnastics. It would be hopelessly arbitrary, and endlessly arguable, but useful, particularly in noting the accomplishments of students with families, with outside jobs, with disabilities, or studying in a foreign country and/or language. It's a concept that would also help point out to students just how they are making things more difficult for themselves, perhaps unnecessarily. So one might be able to say, "I earned an MFA in Ceramics from the University of Iowa with a 3.3 GPA and 3.2 degree of difficulty."

Frankofile said...

If you are not getting the feedback (and tutorials) you are entitled to, let the OU know. Maybe start with a phone call to Student Services?

Contemporary Troubadour said...

Hooray for steady improvement in your classes from the beginning to now. If you don't feel you're getting enough feedback, is it possible to contact the instructor for guidance on what to work on for future assignments? I try to give my students at least one "things to remember for your next paper" comment among the rest I provide -- not necessarily because it will earn them the A but because it's the next step they need to focus on in the continuous process of refining their work (which naturally leads to higher marks).

French Fancy said...

Lane - the thing is that if students deliberately or inadvertently get poor marks for one essay, they are allowed a substitution mark made up of an average of their other essays. In other words you are allowed to produce one duff essay and not really get penalised.

I don't know why I'm not willing to do it like this - to me it's just wrong, but then I'm not having to hold down a job as well as study - some of them are doing just that and juggling family commitments and I don't know how they cope.

BroTob - As I sat there watching these experiments on the cd-rom I was completely unable to grasp the essentials. Then I thought 'so what, I can still cobble an essay together'. These complaining students are still shocked by the fact they had to watch science in action. I wish I did understand it, to be honest.

Larry - I agree with you totally. I bet you were a 4 for flawless though. As a matter of fact there are some students doing my course for whom English is not their first language and I don't know how they cope. Some of the texts we have to read are in very flowery 19th century language and fairly impenetrable.

Frankie - I couldn't land her in the ****, not when she is giving me quite good marks :). She's very sweet and kind and much more generous in her praise than I deserve. I think she has a bit of a phobia about the tutorials - after the first one.

French Fancy said...

ContemTroub - I was posting at the same time as you - I agree that she could do a better job of providing me with guidance. I only found out my mark in an email she sent me - I have to wait to receive a hard copy of my paper with her comments. She and I tried the electronic submission system but she got in a muddle and we decided I'd submit the old-fashioned way.

Last year's tutor divided each essay into four marking groups - so you had four marks each out of 25. That was the best system, but this current tutor likes to grade the whole thing.

Lucy Fishwife said...

OK, I'm scared of you now because you're clever. Do you want to borrow my felt-tips?
I got a First on one (ONE) of my finals papers, but that was because I had sat up all night, off my face on Pro-Plus, reading Roland Barthes, and while it was undoubtedly a sublime essay I can't remember a thing about it (as is often the way with last-minute cramming)...

Ian Lidster said...

What the hell? Give it to Jane. Given the misogynistic attiudes of the 18th and 19th centuries no doubt she did. See, I made it easy. Congratulations on your 82. I think that's a wonderful mark and I'll never reveal my uni marks here.

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Congrats on your marks. I mean that well and truly. Or as the Romans would say "gratulationes"!

I was never any good at Chemistry (my worst mark ever) but I may be more interested in it now...now that I know that the periodic table is based on Latin. (Or maybe I did know that then?)

BTW laughing gas = same effect as being "narked" (the effects of nitrogen narcosis) underwater. (Yes...I know this for a fact...as it has happened to me....)

French Fancy said...

Lucy - I read some Barthes last year during my Literature, Culture and Gender part of the course - I must say his style is very dry and I found myself longing for the next Block of study all the time. Fantastic that you did so well with him - I'm with you on that very little that I learn is actually retained. Look, I've only got so much space in my head.

Ian - ah,but some say that Jane's husband and also Michael Faraday wrote a lot of the book that got published first as *anonymous* and then, later, in her own name. Who is right? Can we ever really know the truth?

Hadriana - I was looking at a few clips on Youtube yesterday about songs to sing to remember the Periodic Table - I can't even remember the tunes I heard - and that's less than 24 hours ago - no hope really. Congratulations on being so good at Latin - I studied it at school but after the mocks I was quickly removed from the O-Level group.

Interested about being *narked* - It all sounds fabulous but I suppose is quite dangerous.

French Fancy said...

p.s. to Ian - actually I misinformed you - Faraday was meant to be behind the 10th publication of Marcet's book on chemistry - and that is the one reproduced in the course book I'm following. Her first ever published book - the original run - is the one that -so legend goes - made Faraday decide to leave his apprenticeship as a book-binder and become a scientist/engineer,

The Sagittarian said...

Being a boring b**stard from way back, how come "publicize" has been spelt with a "z"....

Carol and Chris said...

I think your doing brilliantly hon!!! You are too hard on yourself...you do know that don't you??

C x

French Fancy said...

The Saggitarian - I'm with you all the way on this one - I see the *z* substituted in more and more old *s* words

Carol - ta sweetie - I don't know where my newfound achievement obsession has come from. I have honestly never been like this ever before.

Jennysmith said...

Sweetie those are brilliant marks! I'm sure those other students are all talk and no trousers. Do what you know is right.

Best of luck with that question. Wish i could help (if only it was a question about fags! I'd help you clean up!) xxxx

Lucy Fishwife said...

In my daze of Pro-Plus I managed to retain but not enjoy. I HATE "-ise" words ending in "-ize" too - no problem with the US having different spellings at all, but it's the way my UK-based PC keeps telling me I've mis-spelled something if I'm spelling it CORRECTLY DAMN IT

French Fancy said...

Jen - they are still moaning even today and we've been doing this block now for two weeks.

Lucy - I remember Pro-Plus, do they still make them? I used to mix mine with Dimerol (sp?), a cough mixture around at the time - the follies of youth.

Elizabeth said...

Don't be too anxious about silly things like grades.
Just see if you feel you have learned something.
Where did you start and where are you now?
Of course one would love to be a star with straight 'A's'............
If they gave me a Frech exam I'd cry!

Marie Reed said...

Hi! I saw your comment about not having netflix in France:) The French equivalent is a site called Glowria.fr ! It's fantastic:)

Veggie Carrie said...

Well done!!! Usually an 80+ is a Distinction if that makes you feel any better (well, it was at my University).

French Fancy said...

Elizabeth - the thing is that I totally agree with you and I don't know where this new-found drive and determination has come from. Something in my psyche has seriously been altered.

Marie, thanks so much for that - you are une etoile.

Carrie - thank you - for some reason the OU try and set their bar that little bit higher - so nobody can ever say that their degree is a soft option.

French Fancy said...

Marie - I've checked out Glowria but it's a DVD club that one sets up a standing order to and received the discs in the mail. We used to belong to a similar venture that went belly up and continued taking our money and the bank could do nothing - not a thing. They took three months worth of fees from us without providing a service and we vowed after that to never use an online service like that again.

Thanks all the same though

A Super Dilettante said...

Well done, Miss FF! 82 is a first class!

(Very) Lost in France said...

Here's my contribution to your essay.

'Dunno'.

You're welcome to use it.

I did an introduction to Humanities weekend when I was still at school. I left it knowing how to say 'F*** Off' in American sign language. A skill I've put to good use on many occasions.

I've finally got round to adding you to my blogroll, having threatened it many months ago. Only trouble is I've just noticed I called you French Fance - shall change it toute de suite. VLiF

justme said...

Sorry, I can be of no assistance at all with your question, however, I continue to be well impressed with your marks!

Deb said...

Hi ~ I understand the 'purpose' of grades but I think that grades take away from the learning process. Instead of focusing on the process we focus on the end result- and true learning gets lost as we all work for our gold stars. Congrats to you on your grades - hold your head high and keep on learning for the sake of learning!

French Fancy said...

ASD - thank you sir

VLiF - all I can do in sign language are the vowels, which would give me no options whatsoever when conversing. You at least could make a point.

justme - thanks sweetie

Deb - Indeed, I have got very fixated on my marks - I wish we had gold stars, I got very few when I was young.

Cynthia said...

Hello again dear FF, please come over to Oasis in Puerto Rico and pick up some acknowledgment. <3

Laura Jane Williams said...

Those marks would get you a first in a degree! Well done!

P.S. I'm back!

French Fancy said...

Laura Jane - thanks a lot but unfortunately the Open University set the bar a bit higher - I have to get over 85% and that is on the two level three courses (finals) that I have yet to do. I'll be starting one of them in October though so fingers crossed.

Welcome back