Quite often than not, students in tertiary institutions face a great deal and number of challenges doing their assignments and undergraduate research projects. Some have unfortunately dropped out from or suspended their studies in school.
The sad news is that this occasions are very heart-breaking, especially for those who had good intentions in school and to make their sponsors proud.
However, there is good news for all students who would meet the good luck of reading this well-researched article painstakingly written by a prospective university Don, because the mistakes that caused the failures of the past have been identified and the necessary panaceas provided to avert subsequent academic-tragic occurrences.
This article is divided into two sections:
how to confidently/appropriately write your undergraduate assignments, and how to confidently/appropriately write your undergraduate research projects.
Each section is aimed at providing you with the necessary pieces of information that are more than capable of guaranteeing academic successes in different tertiary institutions in and outside Nigeria.
How to Confidently/Appropriately Write Your Undergraduate Assignments
As an undergraduate, writing assignments in any tertiary institution could be very challenging, especially either when the lecturer is not generous in his or her offer of knowledge during lectures, or a student is not studious at all or in the right way. Below are the carefully-selected steps on how to confidently/appropriately write undergraduate assignments:
Have a Succinct Understanding of the Course/Topic: Emphatically, one cannot do well in any academic course without having a clear knowledge of components, scope and requirements of the course.
The brief summary about each of the courses offered in a department is always provided in students’ handbook. Unfortunately, many a student does not consider it pertinent to read through the course descriptions carefully provided therein the handbook.
The latent truth is that those descriptions are painstakingly written by prominent scholars- many of whom are national and international professors, renowned researchers, and academic doctors of no-mean repute- to assist students have a clear understanding of each of the courses offered in a the programme, History and International Relations, for example.
Therefore, a student who finds the handbook useful would never find his or her way stranded within the scopes and maps of any course. This knowledge, in a great deal, influences the general performances of students, including how each of the topics in a course is understood by a student.
Understand the cruxes or pivots of Question(s)
A lot of students are quite often than not in a hurry to attempt questions. This is a very bad manner for a student who is interested in making the best grades, A and B. Having an ample understanding of the ingredients of a question leaves one in a good position to do the ‘cooking’ correctly.
To have this knowledge, one must have a vivid understanding of the topic(s) from which the question is taken. This could be got through chiefly two inseparable ways: attending lecturers on time and reading.
When on understands the thematic concerns of a question, what would be left are all centred in researching on the thematic concerns. Simply put, when one understands the demands of a question, it would be easy to know the answers to provide. After all, it is not possibly to posit a solution to an unknown problem, is it?
Have a clear knowledge of the antecedents of the question
Almost every question has an antecedent. Put another way, every question has at least an idea or a concept to which it is linked or anchored. Most courses in Arts and Humanities are historically based.
Thus understanding the past and present of the question offers a crystal view of where the answers to a question should be placed. In most science-related courses, many questions are answered using formulae. Even in that angle, formulae have antecedents which account for their validates, applicability and obtainability.
In a nutshell, therefore, when a question is approached from its antecedents, it would not only give a guide to toeing the right path to answering the question but, it would also account for the validity of the answers one provides.
Understand each lecturer’s academic idiosyncrasy
Each lecturer has his or her idiosyncrasy. This means a way of behaviour or mode of doing things that is peculiar to a person. Each lecturer has a way of attending to questions, and every lecturer also has a way he or she wants questions to be answered.
Some would want students to go straight to the point and nail formidable ideas within each sentence: these ones do not appreciate lengthy write-ups, they want it brief and precise.
Others would prefer conscious expatiation or elucidation of ideas/points and backing each point up with copious examples.
One may ask: how can one know the academic idiosyncrasy of each lecturer? The answer is simple: every student is at liberty to approach a lecturer and ask such a question as “how would you want a student to answer your questions?’ This is every student’s right as a member and student of any tertiary institution. Suffice it to say why there should be a formidable, cordial relationship between students and lecturers in tertiary institutions.
Examine and understand how exactly a question should be answered
Each question has a way and pattern with which it should be answered. Some questions are sometimes asked with such verbs as discuss, explain, analyse, prove, examine, define, enumerate, etc. When one understands these verbs, one would know how exactly the question should be tackled. When, for example, a question demands you to discuss an idea, what is needed goes beyond defining and explaining terms and ideas: it needs a critical examination of the question, looking into the pros and cons that exist therein and, as a matter of importance, strike a balance on the cruxes and pivots of the discourse.
Commence the writing with a vivid introduction of the work
An introduction gives an in-depth, clear insight to what a work centres on. A good introduction should always capture the title or topic of the work. Then after, a well-placed antecedent of the issues therein the question should be raised; this becomes the foundation on which one’s ideas and points are raised. Note that the idea of antecedent does not suggest theoretical framework; while ideas are borrowed from the antecedents of an issue, the theoretical framework is but a lens with which these ideas are considered valid. In all, a well-cooked introduction prepares a lecturer’s mind to approach your scripts in good and positive light. These impression has a lot to do with what score and grade a student may get.
Arrange your ideas and findings chronologically
Many students go through the stress of researching and gathering all the necessary pieces of information and ideas only to find it difficult to situate them chronologically. No matter how sound one’s ideas are, if the arrangement of the ideas is not coherent, the efforts of getting the ideas would as well be fruitless. In achieving this coherence and chronology, one must ensure that each paragraph captures ab complete idea, and the next paragraph must have a thematic relation with the former. When this is done, it becomes possible to have a work with coherently arranged ideas and points. Remember, English language has rules. Therefore, when one writes using the English language, these rules should consciously be adhered to, please.
Give a clear conclusion of the work
The conclusion of every academic work, including assignments, is as important and should be treated importantly as the introduction. Lecturers go straight to the introduction and conclusion of any work to have a good taste of the entire assignment, for example. Therefore, when writing a conclusion, remember the following:
- Briefly say what the work has done
- Briefly say the scholarly positions of the people whom you borrowed ideas from
- State your position: this must be a product of your research, that is, it must be informed by your findings.
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Your first work should be a draft
Never submit the first copy of any academic work; it is a draft that needs to be furnished and modified. Every student who wants to succeed immensely should learn how to appropriately use, perhaps manage time. Time is everyone’s major enemy: a second lost is gone and wasted forever! When an assignment is given to be done within a week, it is very wrong for a student to feel that he or she still has enough time before the date of submission. No! That could as dangerous as anything: such is would be a major threat to not just academic success but success in general.
So, when an assignment is given, a studious, serious-minded student should kick off the work immediately! In this manner, one would have the time to read through the work over and again. The result of such proof reading would give reasons to rebrand the first copy of the work and, therefore, come up with a more finished work.
Submit your work on time
There usually should a deadline for the submission of any assignment. It is advisable not to beat the deadline. Try to submit every assignment well within the time frame given by the lecturer in charge of the course wherein which the assignment is given. When a student submits his or her assignment early, it creates an impression that the student is serious and ready to move forward. Academics has zero tolerance for laziness.
This work has discussed the nitty gritty of doing good assignments as an undergraduate. Its pivots and cruxes were: understand the cruxes or pivots of question(s), have a clear knowledge of the antecedents of the question, understand each lecturer’s academic idiosyncrasy, examine and understand how exactly a question should be answered, commence the writing with a vivid introduction of the work, arrange your ideas and findings chronologically, give a clear conclusion of the work, and submit your work on time.
N/B: The sequel of this article will discuss How to confidently/Appropriately Write Your Undergraduate Research Project and Be Sure of the A Grade