Today I am going to talk to you about writing assignments in Distance Learning (DL) MBA.
My programme has at least three modules (lessons) that require submitting an assignment in order to complete them.
A typical assignment will require about 3500 words about a topic that analyses or delves deeper into the module subject matter. What is required of you is to prove that you have substantial knowledge of the theories put forward in the module and you are able to apply them in real life situations. In order to do this you have to have indeed a substantial knowledge of the whole module although the assignment may seem to focus on a specific part of it.
Moreover, once you start preparing the actual assignment, you have to be a good housekeeper: provide a clear structure (and if necessary reinforce it with headings and subheadings), be critical with reasons when you see something being able to improve or simply lacking common sense, do not be afraid to speak up (after all being a manager is all about speaking up!) and of course pay your dues to the people whose theories and ideas you use making the correct references without plagiarising. This way, your assignment will be a window with a view to what you want to communicate to your reader. In Fulmer’s words “a manuscript’s window is ‘dirty’ when its organization is awkward, unclear, or a poor fit with the concepts being explained, or when the writing is sloppy” (2012).
Avoid plagiarism is crucial for many reasons but I will try to share these with you in later posts.
In my opinion, the secrets for submitting a good assignment in Leicester’s (DL) MBA programme are:
- Find a topic that really keeps you wake at night!
- If the topic is a given, then try to apply it to your known contexts (present or previous jobs) so you can get accustomed to it.
- Read a lot, read a lot, read a lot! Not only scholarly articles, or academic books, but read as much and as widely as you can. Most of the times the difference is made by something
found where you could least expect it! Of course, try to check what you read for accuracy because you would not want to use sources for your writing that do not check out!
- Start writing well in advance. Do not wait for the last week before the deadline. Start writing even if it is unconnected sentences. This way, stress is relieved and when the deadline approaches you will at least have the basis for your work ready (experience though suggests that once you have your first few words typed, the rest follows naturally before you know it!).
- Do not submit your assignment as soon as you are ready. You may be tempted to do so and let go of the pressure but it is best to keep the assignment away for two, three, four
days (this is why it is so important to start writing ahead of schedule!) and then go back at it, read it, read it, read it (many times!) proofread it, cross your t’s, dot your i’s, delete phrases that seem redundant, change everyday words with more formal ones, etc. etc. You get the point!
And for dessert, below you can find the reference to what I quoted previously (you see referencing is not just about being a good housekeeper; it is also about helping your reader to go to your source and….read, read, read…!)
Foulmer, I.S. 2012. Editor’s Comments: The Craft of Writing Theory Articles—Variety and Similarity in AMR. Academy of Management Review, 37 (3): 327-331.