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An average NIE student, at any given time during any semester would be tasked with numerous assignments on a strict deadline. None is more apparent than getting started on written topic assignment. We have to ensure that we understand the topic at hand, source for the right reading materials, and most importantly having the vocabulary dexterity to compose a coherent and cohesive writing. Vocabulary is one aspect of writing that has been a frequent challenge for me over the assignments that I have completed in the past year.
It has often been the case that during the course of writing an assignment, I come across a situation that I would have to explain a definition or express my views accurately, and not being able to find the right word to form a proper sentence. This vocabulary handicap often hinders effective writing at best. The common solution to this 'handicap' would be for me to take the easy way out and conveniently refer to an online dictionary or thesaurus to solve my woes.
What the writing lab has taught me, in regards to 'Building your Vocabulary', has quite rightly hit a positive nerve in me. Past writing experiences have made me discover new words and find out the definitions through online sources, as earlier mentioned. The only drawback was that I would quickly learn these new words and apply them in my writing, but that is where it stops. I would completely not recall them at a much later time.
Based on the writing lab, I have discovered in one section of the online resource, which addresses my difficulty in vocabulary. The solution that this writing lab has advocated is to start reading up various text-heavy articles, ranging from online journals, and newspapers on a regular basis. After which, on a writing notebook, jot down all the incomprehensible words in one column, it's definition in another, and to construct a sentence on the third column. As a result of that, this writing notebook would be my reading bible and constant companion during any free time of the day. My task would be to read them over and over again, until I come to the point that I am most comfortable enough to use them in my next writing assignment. Words that I have previously given scant notice would naturally be at the tip of my fingers over time. This ability would also give me the freedom to paraphrase certain information that I have gathered from reading sources, thus reduces the risk of plagiarism. Nothing gives me more satisfaction than having to construct sentences in my own words with minimum fuss.
Unsurprisingly, it has also pointed out the importance of reading newspapers, some of which feature brief articles highlighting the use of certain difficult words, and explicitly explaining these words to their readers in a dedicated column. Keeping this habit up of picking up a newspaper on a daily basis will eventually lead to pique interest into discovering other new words to one's benefit. This particular acquired skill would allow me to express my writing more fluently and concisely within a much shorter time frame, than having to depend on other resources. This also allows me to further broaden my creative ideas and into paying more attention to the minute details of my writing, without compromising on the quality of my vocabulary.
The use of the thesaurus and dictionary is greatly encouraged, especially the latter. I have learnt that without a physical dictionary close by or within arm's length, it would only breed complacency by procrastinating to look up the meaning of an unfamiliar word. Turning to the dictionary frequently, is a good habit to pick up and a well-worn dictionary would signify that a great mind is constantly at work.
(c) USING THE ONLINE RESOURCE IN MY ACADEMIC WORK
Recalling my past academic written assignments, there were quite a few obstacles that I had to overcome, prior to deadline day. For my AED105 Critical Perspective in Education course, that covered topics like the history of education, contemporary beliefs about the values and purpose of education, curriculum matters, including excellence in teaching within and beyond Singapore context, I had to write an essay on the reasons to justify the importance of humanities and Science in education.
After exploring the online lab, there are quite a number of areas and sub-topics which could have helped greatly in improving the quality of my assignment and eased certain doubts during the course of writing. A case in example would be, having to the face the challenge of visualizing on the content. A good essay would have to have a certain flow and symmetry to it, as this would dictate the content from start to finish. This is where the online lab has addressed this particular aspect with the section titled, 'Outlining' which can be found here, http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/composition/brainstorm_outline.htm .
This would have helped me greatly to focus on what to concisely research for, and to visualize my writing in much better detail. In addition, this would also eliminate the chances of presenting my ideas in a disorganized manner, and not being able to group them according to relevance and proper sequence, and having an adequate balance of ideas without one overshadowing the other. As highlighted on the online lab, this aspect of 'Outlining', I would have presented my tentative ideas, as follows:
STEM and globalization effect
Brief introduction on STEM and humanities
II. Evolution of the Education System
Overview of Singapore education system
Benefits of STEM education
Aim of Singapore government on holistic education
Sciences without Humanities?
STEM's role in inventions
Importance of Humanities complementing STEM
Why Humanities allows better understanding of human psyche
STHEM contribution to student's overall development
IV. The pursuit of STHEM
Why Humanities makes a difference
What do students gain from STHEM system
Humanities effect in the world today
How has STHEM benefitted me
In comparison, from my earlier attempt at essay writing, I had delved straight into the topic and bunched up a whole chunk of information, before deciding on where to organize them. By contrast, this method from the online lab shows me to make a list of the vital areas to touch on. Additionally, it gives me a clearer view and a stepping stone with the possibility to transit ideas from one to the next. This also gives me the flexibility to monitor whether all the points have an equal balance, without overwhelming on the content of my other paragraphs.
This method of Outlining, gives me a whole new perspective in essay writing, and would aid me greatly towards finalizing the finished article, without missing out on the key points to elaborate on, albeit at a much lesser time. It provides me greater control of the content and the ease of organizing ideas to it their rightful paragraphs. The usefulness of this online lab gives me great impetus to further utilize and take full advantage of it in my coming assignments.