Rushed TMA – not my finest hour

Studying on a train
How I started the course…

It’s probably not a huge surprise that with a lowering of tweets and posts on this blog that I’ve been pretty busy.  Today I got the results back from my second rushed TMA and I’m disappointed, but I’ve nobody to blame but myself.

The OU is pretty clear that you should study about 16 hours a week for a 60 point module and about 8 for a 30 point module.  As I’m doing M208 (60 points) and DB123 (30 points)  this means 24 hours of study alongside a (very) full time job.  Given my love for maths and the ease with which I do pick it up, I got away with less than half the recommended time and still got distinctions for the level 1 modules I’ve done so far.

Up until Christmas I was in a fairly good routine – I attended the tutorials, managed to study on the trains in the morning and evening, plus an extra half day as necessary to do the TMAs1 and I was getting the scores I was used to.  Then I took too much of a break at Christmas and got on the back foot – the rate at which the M208 TMAs came, business travel preventing me from attending tutorials and not being able to study on the trains2.   For the past two sections, and also the current one, I’ve managed to get through about half of the first book (about an eighth of the required study) before having to start the TMA and rely on question spotting to find an appropriate example to copy from the text books rather than any true understanding.  While it is possible to get extensions on the TMAs, this only serves to get you further behind unless you know you have a large amount of free time in the future for catch up3.  I’m about to start the third TMA following this pattern, and not only does this put the distinction for the overall assessment at risk, but also means that my normal one day of revision before the exam is likely not to be enough this time.

I am disappointed and need to make an effort to change.  I’ve got two long flights next week, and some nights away from home which should get me back on track, if I can get my OCAS4 average back above 85 for M208 then I’ll be happy.

DB123 is less of a concern – I’m waiting on the score for my final TMA and then it’s just the extended assignment and the module is done.  It’s been interesting, but only in passing – I don’t feel I’ve gained anything new from studying it, and the style of teaching for the social sciences isn’t a good fit for how I learn5.  While I’d like to get a distinction, I’m not losing sleep over it.

So for now, making sure I have everything I need to do the latest M208 TMA and getting this finished.  The latest score was a wake up call  – I either need to change what I’m doing and step up or accept that paying for these modules was a waste.

  1.  Tutor Marked Assignments
  2.  Mainly due to lack of space, but also the need to be on calls with members of my team based in different timezones.
  3.  Which I really do not!
  4. Overall continuous assessment score
  5.  Too much group discussion and it’s too slow for me.

Published by


Dr Janet is a Molecular Biochemistry graduate from Oxford University with a doctorate in Computational Neuroscience from Sussex. I’m currently studying for a third degree in Mathematics with Open University. During the day, and sometimes out of hours, I work as a Chief Science Officer. You can read all about that on my LinkedIn page.