Thursday, 22 February 2007

S204 - TMA-1

Its time to look at the first TMA. I have to admit to a bit of nerves facing this first one.
Its my first 2nd level course, and the workload is more than in S103, so I'm not really familiar with the territory.

There are just two questions - which is nice.

  1. Question 1
    1. The first question is in three parts and is focused on taxonomic detail.
      We are asked to use the GLO to give the full taxonomic tree of two organisms. This means things like family, phylum, class, order, genus and species, and sometimes things in between.
      The GLO is in the Guide to Living Organisms which is a computer program supplied with the course. It is basically an interactive encyclopaedia of organisms that you can search. It has details about various levels and includes pictures and other facts of a large range of organisms.
    2. The second part of question 1 is to produce a table listing details about the four different phyla of gymnosperms. This involves a fair bit of searching through the GLO for information.
    3. The final part of the 1st question is to compare particular aspects of gymnosperms.

  2. Question 2 - write a report discussing "Biodiversity in large or complex protoctists".

    Ok - this is the big one for me. You are allowed 1000 words to write the report. Diagrams and pictures are encouraged. References are essential, as are example organisms.

I have to say this whole question takes me several weeks in total. Question 1 (a) I found reasonable easy after getting to grips with the GLO. Question 1(b) was a bit harder, as often it was difficult to find the same level of detail about each phyla. You might find data on, say, how high typical species of the phyla grew for say the conifers, but it was missing for one of the other phyla. 1 (c) seemed a little easy, which worried me that I wasn't understanding it correctly.

Question 2 took the most time, as I kept coming back and adding examples, tweaking diagrams, rereading the question notes to see if I was including everything. Its funny how these essays go, I usually write less than required, rather than more. So I crept up to the 1000 word limit. 500, 700, 750, ... 900, 1100! Wow what happened, finally as I approached the 1000 words, I overshot suddenly, and I still wanted to expand the intro/conclusion.

As I got nearer the deadline, and was reasonably happy with the way things were looking, I suddenly had doubts that the way I had approached the question was not consistent with some of the notes on answering it. Should I throw this away and start again?
In the end I stuck with what I'd done, not having the energy to try again. I handed in the completed answers at the first tutorial, that way knowing it wouldn't get lost in the post!

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