Tag Archives: TMA

Need help from students with Dyslexia

DyslexiaDyslexia, I need some help.

As some of you may know, I was recently tested and diagnosed with Dyslexia, I knew I had it when I was a kid but it was probably over 20 years ago I was last tested. I was given a good lot of good advice and equipment, mainly a smart pen, dictation and mind map software. The post about it all can be founf at “Studying at the Open University with Dyslexia“.

Anyway its now been a few months and I have been trained in the software and found out what is useful and not useful for me, so I thought happy days. However, now that im doing level 2 module’s I need to take notes for revision and it’s really getting me down !!! All my level 1’s I did without notes and was able to do them fine and with good results, but knowing that I have exams at the end of S283 I really need notes to revise.

I have currently been making them through chapters 1 to 5 (S283) and, I have found it takes about twice the time to make my notes and dictate them (I will explain that later) than it does to do my 2 read through’s of the chapter. So for what used to take 3-4 hours for a chapter now takes up to 10 or 12 hours (Both times exclude answering the questions). This has really sucked the fun out of it for me :(

This is my process:

  • Read the full chapter
  • Re-read the chapter and highlight important info
  • Do notes on each important info
  • Dictate them (This is so I can play back over MP3 while out walking)

Here is an example pic from one of my note pages for S283

Dyslexia NotesI don’t know if it’s just me ore does everyone feels like this? I feel I learn more from doing my research for TMA questions than doing notes.

So I guess my big question is “How do other students with Dyslexia cope with notes ??” I would love your feedback and suggestions.


Filed under BSc (Honours) Natural Sciences B64, Dyslexia, S283: Planetary science, Study Notes

You can now follow me on Facebook, who wants to Like me ???

I was playing around with the blog yesterday and noticed a new widget for Facebook, so after a little messing about I now have a Facebook page where you can follow My Open University Life.

All you have to do is click the Like button in the top right menu bar or just click on the Facebook logo and it will take you to my page and you can like it from there. It will mainly be for my blog posts but feel free to share it and post on my wall.

Ok its now time for study, I have a few hours today then a few hours tonight so hopefully get a good bit done. The cut off date for S283 TMA2 is 3 weeks today and by the looks of things im 3 week behind so its going to be tough, but not impossible :)

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Filed under BSc (Honours) Natural Sciences B64, Random Things

The Story of S104 Exploring Science…

S104 Exploring Science BooksS104 Exploring Science the story

S104 Exploring Science, it all started long ago – there was stress, sore fingers, thoughts of ‘can I do this?’ and ‘is it worth it?’. But finally I managed to get my box of materials for the Open University’s S104 Exploring Science course onto a desk and opened it…. It was bloody huge. 8 Books, a few DVD’s, rock samples and a few other bits and bobs.  So even though I have talked about the first few TMA’s etc before, I’m going to give a rundown of the full course in this post, and then tell you a little bit about what I thought of it.

S104 Exploring Science: Book 1 “Global Warming”

Weeks 1 – 3

This book was a good book – it eases you into things slowly. The workload feels easy and it starts to introduce you to the scientific terms and maths needed for the course. I had started S151 “Maths for Science” a few months before starting this course so it really helped with the maths side of things. The Book covered things like the Earths temperature, carbon and water cycles, the atmosphere and climate prediction.

At the end you have the first TMA and iCMA. Now, if you have never done an iCMA before, make sure you do the practice ones. I didn’t and went on to make a good few silly mistakes by just thinking that this is simple multiple choice etc. The best advice I can give after doing 9 of the things is this – Print the questions out, then work out your answer, check it over, then wait until the next day (if you have time), then just before inputing your answer check it all again. Also make sure you have the correct measurements ( Kg, m, mm, J etc) and have things to the correct significant figures. The first few iCMA’s cost me marks learning these things.

Results for S104 Exploring Science Book 1

TMA1 79%  Weighting 5% (see notes at end for what this is)

iCMA41 63%  Weighting 1.25% (Joint worst iCMA score)

S104 Exploring Science: Book 2 “Earth and Space”

Weeks 4 – 7

This book was also an enjoyable one that helped build on the maths and scientific methods for the course. Split into 2 parts, the first part dealt with the Earth. It covered earthquakes, volcanos, how rocks are formed, whats inside the Earth and plate tectonics. I enjoyed the maths parts of working out plate separation but didn’t like the rocks section as much. Part 2 was Space and gave a rundown of our solar system, the Sun, a bit about the wider universe and then newtons laws of motion. Again as this is maths based and where my interest lies I enjoyed this part.

Results for S104 Exploring Science Book 2

TMA2 74%  Weighting 10% (Worst TMA result)

iCMA42 93%  Weighting 2.5%

S104 Exploring Science: Book 3 “Energy and Light”

Weeks 8 – 10

This book was yet again a fun one for me but some people in the forums didn’t like it at all. It was very maths based and working with a lot of formulas. Topics in this one included kinetic energy, power, motion, electrical energy then onto light and how it behaves. The best part of the energy section was working out the equations. In one of them, i think it was for the TMA, you had to work out if a ball is thrown up at a speed of 2.2 meters per second how high would it go. Sounds easy enough, but quite hard to work out the calculations. The hardest bit was light and how it behaves like a wave but also particles. It takes a bit of getting your head around it but I got there in the end.

By this time the iCMAs were getting a little out of sync with the books so they might start to include questions from 2 different books.

Results for S104 Exploring Science Book 3

TMA3 94%  Weighting 10% (Best TMA result)

iCMA43 63%  Weighting 2.5% (Joint worst iCMA score)

S104 Exploring Science: Book 4 “The Right Chemistry”

Weeks 11 – 16 (Also 1 break week for Xmas)

I wasnt looking forward to this book as I have never done chemistry and have no interest in it. But in the end it wasnt too bad. This is the second longest book in the course and is a lot of work. It covered how atoms are made up, the elements, chemical equations, metals and reactive metals, chemical reactions, acids and bases, carbon compounds, functional groups and a few other bits and pieces. This was a hard and very time-consuming book, the break week helped me to keep up to date and in the end I got a good result in the TMA.

Results for S104 Exploring Science Book 4

TMA4 93%  Weighting 15% (This result with the high weighting really helped push my OCAS up)

iCMA44 93%  Weighting 2.5%

S104 Exploring Science: Book 5 “Life”

Weeks 17 – 22

For me this was the worst book of them all. I had thought I would enjoy it, but just couldn’t get into it. I probably didn’t help that it was around this stage that I was starting to feel the pressure of doing S282 as well but most people in the course didn’t like this one. This is the longest book and the main parts were species of life, the cell, chemistry of life, energy for life, ecosystems, meiosis, variations in genes and what genes are made off, gene structure, genomes and evolution. The worst parts for me were the sections on cells and how genes work – there was a lot of information that just didn’t interest me at all. Going by the forums I wasnt the only one, so that made me feel a little better.

Results for S104 Exploring Science Book 5

TMA5 79%  Weighting 15%

iCMA45 100%  Weighting 2.5% (Best iCMA result)

S104 Exploring Science: Book 6 “Exploring Earth’s History”

Weeks 23 – 25

This book was a bit of a so-so one. It covered environmental change, records of life on Earth, more on rocks and geology of the British Isles. Not much of this book interested me and from reading on the forums that the geology of the British Isles wasnt needed for the TMA I decided to skip this whole section. This helped with the schedule and with my sanity. In the end a good few people skipped this section. One good thing was that the books from this one onwards were getting shorter.

Results for S104 Exploring Science Book 6

TMA6 78%  Weighting 10%

iCMA46 93%  Weighting 2.5%

S104 Exploring Science: Book 7 “Quarks to Quasars”

Weeks 26 – 28 (With a break week at the end)

This book started to make me feel better after a few hard books. It starts off with the smallest things we know of and goes to the biggest. Its split into 4 parts Universe on a small-scale, in this you cover Quantum energy and uncertainty, atomic structure, nuclear processes and fundamental particles. The second part is about the expanding and cooling universe. Part 3 covers the rules of interactions and part 4 the history of the universe.

The best parts for me were about the universe and how it was created, the atomic parts were hard but also enjoyable.

Results for S104 Exploring Science Book 7

TMA7 86%  Weighting 10%

iCMA47 97%  Weighting 2.5%

S104 Exploring Science: Book 8 “Life and the Universe”

Weeks 29 – 30

Time for the final book and the shortest of the course. This one was around 100 pages long compared to 350 pages for the biggest books. It covered the origin of life on earth and the possibility of life elsewhere in the universe. This book also had an online tutorial question about water on Mars that counted towards the EMA, so be careful not to miss it. As this was the last book there was no TMA for it since the EMA was due a few weeks after.

Results for S104 Exploring Science Book 8

No TMA at the end of this one

iCMA48 97%  Weighting 2.5%

S104 Exploring Science iCMA 49

Weeks 31 – 34

This iCMA was a larger one, 25 questions instead of the standard 10. It covered the whole course so it takes time to relearn the bits needed. As it was due 4 days after the EMA, I only started it on the 2nd June thinking it would take me the 5 days to do it. In the end I got it done in 2 nights and managed to get a good score, I think, as the results are not out yet. Going by my calculations I got 84%. This keeps me in the distinction mark for the OCAS section of the course. The questions on this iCMA wouldn’t be any harder than the ones done during the course. The biggest pain was having to look back in the books trying to remember where you learnt the material needed.

S104 Exploring Science Results

iCMA49 84% (Estimated)  Weighting 6.25%

After all the OCAS parts ( Described below) of the course I should be sitting on 85% – this would be enough for a distinction. However, since I also need 85% or more on the final assignment I wont be holding my breath in getting a distinction.

S104 Exploring Science EMA (End of Module assignment)

Weeks 31 -34

So this was the biggie, it was released about 10 weeks before the due date but I never really looked at it until week 30. At first it looked ok, a little on the long side but nothing too daunting. People had been saying on the forums about how bad it looked and how on earth are they going to get it all done. Some people, who were ahead of the schedule were saying you really need all the time to complete it.  So at about week 32 I started it, looking at it I started to think this is going to be tight. I had 14 days to do 5 questions, so 2 nights per question with a few days off. Each question may have covered 2 or 3 different books, so a question wasn’t as easy as first thought, and with a few 400 word essays thrown in, it started to look hard.

So a week in and I was nearly half way through it. I was planning to just jot down notes for some of the essay questions as they really are my weakest areas, I then looked at the calendar and realised I had calculated the cut off date wrong. Instead on having 6 days I actually had 9 – I had thought Monday was the due date but it turned out to be Thursday. Dont ask me how I worked it out wrong but it started to make me think “I can get this all done now”.

So EMA was submitted on the Wednesday night – all questions were answered and only 1 question was cut short due to not knowing what else to write. I didn’t want to risk waiting until Thursday just incase something was wrong with the system. If this wasn’t submitted by 12 noon on Thursday it would have been a straight fail.

So now there is nothing to do but wait – the iCMA result should be available in a few days but the EMA result is due mid August from what I hear. So for now it’s just a waiting game.

To Pass I need a minimum of 40% – I think I should easily get this score. The best result would be a distinction but for this I need 85% and upwards. This is a much bigger task and to be honest I don’t think I will get near it.

S104 Exploring Science EMA

Result ??% ( Fingers Crossed)

The S104 Exploring Science Tutorials

Another thing this this course had was tutorials. These are classes that you can go to and were held every couple of months by our tutor. Now I only went to the first one, I think we had 4 in total but it was worth it. I wasn’t able to get to the others due to working etc. The class I went to covered books 1 and 2. It lasted about 5-6 hours all in with a lunch break in the middle.  We actually had two tutors taking our class as they merged us with others from Northern Ireland, so we had about 25 in our class. We were split into groups and went over course material and did a few different experiments with rocks and gravity etc.

A lot of people were asking in our forums if they should go to them or not bother, my advice would be to go to them if you can. A few times that day things clicked that might not have if I was just reading from a book. However on the other side if you can’t make the classes I wouldn’t lose any sleep over it, as if you are really stuck you can easily contact your tutor via E-mail or phone. So if it was up to me I would go, but only if it wasnt too much hassle.

Assignments, Results and Weighting for S104 Exploring Science

The course has 2 parts, the OCAS (Overall Continuous assessment Score) and OES (Overall Examination Score). To pass you need 40% or over on both parts, to get a distinction you need 85% or over on both parts

OCAS and Weighting

This part has 7 TMA’s and 9 iCMA’s, each assignment is weighted and the OCAS is calculated from the overall results. Weighting works like this – if an assignment had a weighting of 10% and you got a score of 76% then overall it would result in 7.6% for your OCAS ( 76% of 10%) , or with a weighting of 2.5% (Most iCMA’s) and you got 93% this would count 2.325% towards OCAS (93% of 2.5%).

You don’t have to worry about doing all these calculations though as there is a handy tool on the course website that will do it all for you. It’s called “Predict your module results”, it will contain your scores and let you enter predicted scores for assignments you havent completed yet. It will then give you an expected result. This is a handy tool for keeping track of your score and letting you know what results you need. It was this tool that let me know roughly what I needed in the last TMA and iCMA to stay within the distinction level.

One thing some people complained about was the length of time to get assignment results. iCMA’s are usually automatically put up a few days after the due date. You can sometimes get this a day earlier if you look in your gradebook rather than assessment scores. Dont worry if you don’t understand this – you will when you see the course website.  TMA’s are where some people had problems. Mine were usually returned 1 to 2 weeks after the due date and I was happy with this as we were told they get marked in the order they were received. As I usually submitted mine just before cut off I always assumed I would be one of the last marked. However, some people were waiting up to 4 to 6 weeks on their results. These people were few and far between but I’m sure it was a pain having to complete your next TMA without having the result and comments from your previous one. Overall I was very happy with my tutor, he gave me detailed comments and areas to improve in and always said if I needed help just to contact him.

The OES is straight forward, this the End of Module assignment, so only 1 result. You need to pass this with a result of 40% or above.

Final Thoughts about S104 Exploring Science

From the start I knew it was going to be hard, I had seen the reviews on the Open University website and this was my first 60 pointer. With hindsight, I took on too much with S282 starting midway through it, however, at least I was able to pull out without too much hassle. So for anyone thinking about it, make sure you have enough time. I’m self-employed, so can work around things and am a bit more flexible on when I can study. I also have a 3 year old son, so most study was done after 7pm each night.  The Open University website stated 16 hours per week would be needed – I think on average mine would have been 10 – 12 hours per week. However dont under-estimate the course, for most of it I was behind so ended up rushing through most of the TMA’s, so if you get a chance, start early and try to get ahead. With the high workload it’s hard to get caught up if you’re too far behind. Some tutor group assignments have due dates but if you’re behind you may not find out about them until its too late. So in general I wouldn’t like to get any more than 2 weeks behind.

The course content overall was very enjoyable and I feel I have learnt a little about a lot. My highlights were the space and physics parts but this was to be expected. The bits I didn’t like were chemistry and the life parts, particularly cells and how they convert energy etc. There were a few different experiments during the course like collecting rain water and growing mold in tomato soup. These were enjoyable and it was nice to do some practical stuff instead of just looking at a book. They are mainly in the first half of the course and give you practice in doing and writing up experiments.

Another recommendation would be to find the Facebook site for your S104 Exploring Science course – ours had over 400 members with about 30 – 40 regular posters. It was a great place for help and advice and general thoughts about the course. This group was much more useful than the tutor groups forum on the S104 Exploring Science course website. So if you can find one for any of your courses I would join it, it’s really good to talk with other people in the same position as you. One word of warning though, don’t get put off when people are way ahead. Sometimes it can feel that you’re not doing as good when they are 4 weeks in front but don’t worry about it. I would say a vast majority of people were either on schedule or a little behind.

So would I recommend S104 Exploring Science? …….. YES !! It’s very hard work, and sometimes you may ask yourself whether it’s all worth it. But the satisfaction you get when you have submitted the EMA is well worth it. From thinking at the start “how am I going to get through this?” to finally having completed it, is a good feeling and I even feel a little proud of myself. I plan to do B64 Natural Science Degree so needed to do S104 Exploring Science, however if you are just looking for a course in science I would still recommend it.  I have done 2 short courses S151 “Maths for Science” and S196 “Planets” but S104 was far better than these and I got a much bigger sense of achievement in completing it.

Just a little side note

Just for an idea of the length of the EMA, my final word count was around 3150. This blog post is around 3050, so that’s a good indication of what would be the longest assignment of S104 Exploring Science.

If your starting to study or intend to study S104 Exploring Science then I hope this has helped you out.


Filed under BSc (Honours) Natural Sciences B64, DB123: You and Your Money, S104: Exploring Science

Taking 5 min for an update

It has been a fewy busy 2 months with S104 in full swing and S282 starting. Im currently in the middle of getting 2 TMA’s done, both due on the 17th. So just taking 5 min to give a quick update but will give a more detailed account starting this weekend, hopefully :)

S151 results due this friday

For S104 TMA 4 is in and result and TMA 5 is due in 2 days.

S282 has started and TMA due in 2 days as well.

I have also been looking into S288 to try and find out its all about.

Anyway back to S282’s TMA, 1 question left to do then get it submitted tonight.

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Filed under BSc (Honours) Natural Sciences B64, S104: Exploring Science, S151: Maths for Science, S282: Astronomy, SXP288: Practical science

TMA03 Result and S151 Work

First of all Merry Christmas, I should have been doing more work than I have done but finding it hard getting back into it after the Christmas break.  I had been hoping to get my result for TMA03 S104 before christmas, but it didn’t come but finally got it yesterday (Monday). I got 94%, a mark that im well chuffed with. Looking at the S104 Facebook forum I seen people had been getting good results, so I would have been disappointed with less than 85%. I got everything correct except in the first question describing the changes in energy of a pole vaulter.  I got have marks on that question and lost the 6%.

Adding this and my iCMA result from last week this brings me up to 25.44% out of 31%. Overall 82%

As for S151, I havent done as much as expected after christmas, however I had gotten a good lot of work done before it.  I have finished chapter 6 out of 10. I have also answered all questions on the EMA up to chapter 6, so far I have 18 correct on first attempt and 2 on the second.  I have 35 questions in total to do.

For the rest of this week I hope to get chapters 7, 8 and 10 done. It says on the course it can be passed by doing only chapter 9 or 10, both of these help in different types of science. So i will leave out chapter 9 unless I get an extra day or so to try it.


Filed under BSc (Honours) Natural Sciences B64, DB123: You and Your Money, S104: Exploring Science, S151: Maths for Science

iCMA43 Result, not as bad as expected.

I got my iCMA result yesterday and for S104 and it wasnt as bad as expected, 63% so slightly over what I expected.  The average according to the grade book was 74% so still well below but happy enough at it.

This now brings me to 15.1% out of 20%, so overall 75.5% down slightly from 76.88%. Hopefuly the TMA3 result will bring it up again.

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Filed under BSc (Honours) Natural Sciences B64, S104: Exploring Science

TMA3 for S104 is in aswell now

I submitted TMA3 last night, I’m feeling good about this one. After the last TMA I decided to check and recheck everything so hopefully that will get rid of stupid errors, of which I found 2. So fingers crossed, my target is 75% – 80% and hopefully I get a result before christmas.

Time now to get cracking with S151 as I have untill end of January to get it in.

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Filed under BSc (Honours) Natural Sciences B64, S104: Exploring Science, S151: Maths for Science

iCMA43 for S104 is now submitted

I filled in my answers for iCMA43 for S104 at the weekend and ended up really pissed off with myself.  On 2 questions I had written the wrong figures down so got them wrong first time and a few other silly mistakes. In the end i only got 4 correct on attempt 1, 2 on the 2nd attempt, 3 on the 3rd and 1 incorrect. So over all I would assume a result of 50%-60% will be on the cards for it. Not happy but at least this iCMA is only 2% of result.

Time for the finishing touches to TMA03.

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Filed under BSc (Honours) Natural Sciences B64, S104: Exploring Science

Results for TMA02 and iCMA 42 in S104

So my results have been posted for my TMA and iCMA in S104 Exploring Science. Well the iCMA was in about a week ago but wanted to post them both together.

Firstly the iCMA, I got 93% in this one. This was expected with getting 8 out of 10 correct in the first go, so im happy with that. This iCMA was worth 2% so every little helps.

Next is the TMA. I was hoping for around the 80% mark, I felt I had put more work into this one but I had to rush it a little due to the holiday. In the end I got a 74%. I was disappointed with this to start off with but in reading the S104 Facebook group postings, a lot of people found it harder than the first one. Some of it was silly mistakes but one or two were just me not picking it up correctly. 

Anyway these results now put me at 13.84% out of 18%, so 76.88%

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Filed under BSc (Honours) Natural Sciences B64, S104: Exploring Science

TMA02 and iCMA42 for S104 are in.

Since I was heading off on holidays to Boston for a week on the 18th Nov I had to get my skates on and get my second set of tests in. 

This time I was a lot more carefull with my iCMA and managed to get 8 of the 10 questions in the first attempt and the other 2 in the second, so I was happy with that.

This TMA was harder than the first one, it all looked straight forward enough but when I actually sat down to do it I was more time-consuming than I first thought. It was 5 questions in total each concentrating on its own part of the book.  The last question was on how i thought I was doing in the course and what I could improve on, I thought this kind of strange getting points for this 8% i think it was.

Anyway there both in and im off on holiday :)

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Filed under BSc (Honours) Natural Sciences B64, S104: Exploring Science