How to prepare for your assignment

Photo of notebook and pencil

The first step to getting your assignment done is to understand what you need to do. You need to pull your assignment question apart to figure out how to put an answer together that will score you top marks.

So how do you analyse an assignment question? Follow these 4 steps.

1. Get the bigger picture

Do you know what the learning outcomes of the course are? You need to know how your assignment fits in with the course learning outcomes and aims.

Head to the course profile in myGriffith to find out what they are. How do they relate to your assignment? Understanding the connection will help you find the focus of the assignment.

2. Gather all the assignment information

You should be able to find all the assignment details in the course profile in myGriffith.

Identify when the assignment is due, how much it’s worth (e.g. 50% of your overall course grade), how long it has to be (i.e. the word limit) and what format it should take.

3. Decipher the assignment task

You need to identify directive, topic and limiting words in the assignment question.

Look for directive words like ‘examine’, ‘analyse’ or ‘compare’. If you aren’t sure what these words mean, look it up in a dictionary or consult this handy Definition of Directive Words from California Polytechnic State University.

4. Ask lots of questions

Now that you understand what you are being asked to do, it’s time to break down the task into mini questions.

Having a series of question to answer will help you focus your research and writing. It also helps you develop a logical response to the topic.

— Extract from Study Smart – Preparing for your assignment —

10 tips to help maintain mental well-being

It’s University Mental Health & Well-being Week next week! And to celebrate, Griffith University will be hosting activities across all campuses from 27-31 March.

The program includes engaging and inspiring activities to help raise awareness of the mental health and well-being of those who study and work at Griffith.

Be sure to get involved! There’s complimentary lunchtime seminars, mindfulness master classes, free massages, and snacks! Not to mention the free temporary tattoos, giant games, and cooking demonstrations.

Do any of these activities take your fancy? Check the program of events to see if they are available at your campus next week.

University Mental Health & Well-being Week was first developed by the University Mental Health Advisors Network in the UK, and now has more than 30 Australian and New Zealand universities participating.

How do you maintain your mental well-being? Griffith University Counselling and Wellbeing asked a bunch of Griffith students to share their tips for coping with uni pressure. Check out the ‘What Helps’ YouTube video to hear what they had to say.

Mental Health Australia also has ten tips for 10/10 to help maintain mental well-being:

  • Sleep well
  • Enjoy healthy food
  • Focus on one thing at a time
  • Listen to music
  • Cut down on alcohol
  • Switch off from the digital world
  • Engage with others
  • Get involved with your community
  • Exercise your mind
  • Seek advice and support

Head to the Uni Mental Health & Well-being Week website for more helpful tips, videos and apps.

9 research tips for finding information online

Do you want to be able to search databases and other online tools efficiently and effectively? Here’s 9 tips and tricks to help you achieve better search results.

1. Analyse your assignment question
Keywords are key! You will need to analyse your assignment question to develop a list of keywords to use in online search tools.

2. Brainstorm more keywords
Did we mention that keywords are important? Make sure you are using synonyms of your keywords. Consult a thesaurus; there are plenty of free versions online. Your topic is probably discussed by experts using a variety of terms and you’ll want to catch all of this research.

3. Watch out for words with different spelling options
You need to be aware of the words you are using which could have an alternative spelling. Remember, there are differences between British English and American English spelling i.e colour and color. Some search tools will automatically find both spellings, but some need you to include both versions.

4. Know your limits
Most search tools let you limit your results in a range of ways. Use these tools to focus your results to only the content you need. Do you need peer-reviewed journal articles? Do you need news articles from the last three months? Limit your search to what you need.

5. Keep keywords together
Sometimes you really need your keywords to stick together. If the words aren’t in the correct order, then the results aren’t relevant. For example, higher education. Most search tools will find your phrase in the correct order if you enclose the words in quotation marks e.g. “higher education”. This works best for two or three words.

6. Find multiple words in one go
Some search tools will only provide results for the exact keywords you use. For example, if you search for teen, it will only find results that contain teen. That’s fine, if that’s what you wanted. But chances are you would like results for teenteensteenager and teenaged. If you use truncation, you don’t need to type in all of these words. You just use a symbol (usually the asterisk *) to tell the online search tool to find any endings to your keyword. For example, you can search for teen* and find results for all of them in one go. Such a timesaver, right?

7. Use wildcards
A wildcard is a symbol you can use in the middle of a word to catch any alternate spelling options for that word. The wildcard symbol varies between search tools, but is frequently a question mark (?) or an asterisk (*). For example, if you are searching for the keyword behaviour and know there is an alternative spelling option, you can use the wildcard symbol to find both spelling options at once e.g. behavio?r

8. Combine keywords and synonyms
So we’ve already stressed the importance of keywords and synonyms. But you will need to think about how you are going to use all these words when you search an online tool (like the library catalogue or databases). And that’s where Boolean operators come in. Boolean operators are the terms AND, OR and NOT. They are used to join your keywords together to form a search strategy. Check out this YouTube video from Penfield Library to get an idea of how to use Boolean operators in your search.

9. Dig into references
Don’t forget to check the reference lists of the resources you find. They may list other helpful sources of information that you can then use.

Extract from Study Smart – Preparing for your assignment.

How to work effectively in a group

Not all university assessments are a solitary activity. Sometimes you will be required to work on an assignment, project or class presentation with a group of fellow students.

Group work can enhance your social skills, build self-esteem and confidence, and promote tolerance through the sharing of alternative ideas and points of view.

Working in a group will help prepare you for team environments in the workplace and teach you a range of values and competencies that employers look for in graduates. Here are some tips to help you work effectively in a group.

Start with introductions and set some ground rules

It takes time for a group of individuals to become a team. Meet your team members as soon as possible and get to know each other.

Decide how the group will communicate. Are you going have face-to-face meetings or communicate online through email or group discussion forums?

Whether you meet in person or virtually, create a schedule of meetings with agendas. Decide on team roles so that everyone keeps on track. And remember, play nicely with others. Be inclusive and treat each other with respect and courtesy.

Understand the assignment requirements

Do you understand what the assignment is asking you to do? Take the time to analyse your assignment topic. Identify specific tasks and estimate the time required to complete them.

Once you have done this, you will need to prioritise the tasks, set deadlines, and allocate the tasks to team members.

This will ensure work is divided fairly and effectively. Use your meetings to regularly review progress and revise deadlines.

Use technology to collaborate

Get to know your technology. There are so many technologies available to help you collaborate online with your teammates – from discussion boards, wikis and instant messaging to email, social media and Google Docs.

Make sure you are an active online participant: read, respond and contribute to the group’s postings.

Use effective strategies to overcome problems

Problems may arise within a group for a variety of reasons. They may result from unequal efforts from team members, disagreements about group objectives, clash of personalities, simple misunderstandings and straight-out differences of opinion.

Any issues need to be dealt with promptly and decisively. Learn to effectively manage conflict so you can facilitate discussion and come to a resolution. Contact the lecturer or tutor if a problem is not able to be resolved.

— Extract from Study Smart – Writing your assignment

Library borrowing: what you need to know

Image of bookshelves

Did you know that borrowing entitlements for students recently changed? And these changes are good news for you – because it means you can borrow more, for longer!

All undergraduate students, postgraduate students and staff are now entitled to unlimited standard loans. Yep, no limit. If you want to borrow 243 books on existential nihilism you totally could (though we’d be asking you why, and would have to check if we even had 243 books on existential nihilism…). Or, you know, you could do the usual and borrow books for assignments and stuff.

Undergraduate students get a 60 day loan period, while postgraduate students and staff members get six months. Though if someone else places a hold on an item you have out it can be recalled. So check your student or staff email for notifications – and for reminders when it’s close to the due date!

If the item you want is on loan or at another campus, you can place a hold on it. Once it’s returned or transported from the other campus, it will be available for you to collect from your chosen campus’s Express Holds Shelf. How good’s that?

Or, if you’re super keen to get hold of a book and Griffith doesn’t have it you can try using BONUS+. BONUS+ is an initiative formed by multiple universities around Australia and New Zealand to share books in order to give our students the best possible access to resources (want more info, check out this blog post).

You can check what you have borrowed out, due dates of items, and even renew your items online from your library account (just click on Griffith login).

For more information, take a look at what you can borrow and for how long.

Take care of business with new online resources

Are you studying business? You should check out the new business resources available online via the library catalogue. Whether you need an eBook on finance, accounting or banking, or an encyclopedia of economics, we’ve got you covered.

There are hundreds of new eBook titles available in Oxford Scholarship Online (OSO). Oxford Scholarship Online is an online library with over 13,000 academic books from Oxford University Press.

90 new titles have been added to the Business and Management collection in OSO. This includes books on industrial relations, accounting, knowledge management, marketing and more.

Or if economics and finance are more your thing, there are 126 new titles to browse, search and read in the Oxford Scholarship Online Economics and Finance collection.

From econometrics and financial economics to economic history and macroeconomics, the Economics and Finance collection provides a comprehensive coverage of the topic.

There’s also a brand new online encyclopedia available to you. The SAGE Encyclopedia of Economics & Society is a ‘non-technical resource for students and researchers within social science programs who seek to better understand economics through a contemporary lens’.

Emphasising the contemporary world, contemporary issues, and society, the encyclopedia features four volumes with approximately 800 articles ranging from 1,000 to 5,000 words.

For more online business resources, be sure to have a look at the business and government Library Guides.

It’s super easy to find your course readings

Did you know your course readings are available on Learning@Griffith

Your course readings are super easy to find, so there’s almost no excuse to not do your readings!

You can find a detailed list of all of your course’s readings by going to the Readings link in your Learning@Griffith course site, or simply typing in your course code here. Too easy, right?

Well imagine this is an infomercial, because wait – there’s more! Not only will it provide you a list of all your readings, it will also link you directly to them.

If it’s an online resource, you’ll see a link to the right which says Online Resource (makes sense, right?). Simply click on this link and it’ll take you straight to the resource. eBook, website, video – you’ll be ready to read or watch!

If it’s not an online resource, don’t fret, ‘cause it should be in our library! Simply click on the title, and you’ll be taken to a page which includes the availability and location of the book in our libraries.

You can even personalise your reading lists by assigning a read status to resources (will read, reading now, have read, and won’t read – ‘cause let’s be honest), and adding study notes.