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Five things I wish I’d known for my first OU assignment

Although the OU’s method of teaching is very different to the norm – with online tutorials, forums and remotely accessed science kit – there is still the very normal element of completing assignments and assessments.

Sarah Jones

Sarah Jones

But it can be daunting to be facing your first TMA (assignment), so second-year student Sarah (who’s also an OU Student Association rep) has put forward five tips to help you. As she says, everyone at the OU wants you to succeed, and there’s an “OU army” there for support you! there’s a Over to Sarah:

“Around about now you should be preparing to submit or have already submitted your very first TMA. I know how much of an incredibly nail-biting experience this can be, especially if you haven’t done any academic writing in a while. Bearing this in mind, I thought it might be helpful to share a few things that I have found really useful during my time with the OU:

1. Speak to your tutor

First and foremost, if you’re not sure of anything do speak to your tutor – they are there to help and no question is too small or daft. I know it sounds obvious, but students don’t realise how much their tutor is there to help them. I can remember feeling overwhelmed in my first year, and really not knowing where to turn. Studying alone can be tough, and juggling work and just life in general can make it even harder. Let your tutor know if you are struggling as soon as you can and don’t suffer in silence.

2. Check in with the student support team

OU student support teams are just a phone call away. They are a one stop shop for all the help you need from getting to grips with studying online and how to prepare your assignments. They are very, very friendly and there to help, I know as I needed to speak with them last year and they were very, very helpful.

3. Don’t forget about social media

Though we may not have a campus to meet at, there is a huge and vibrant community of OU students on social media. The main OU channels Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are great sources for top tips, helpful resources and incredible stories from fellow students to keep you going with your studies. There are also lots of social media communities for different OU faculties, disciplines and subjects which are all great ways of finding like-minded students. All faculty social media accounts are listed on their webpages – FASS, FBL, STEM and WELS.

4. Resources available on your module team website

Don’t forget about your module team website.

When you log in to StudentHome it’s easy to go to your module page and dive straight into your studying without seeing all the information there about “How to prepare for exams, how to get help studying with a disability”. There’s also links to the Students Assocaiation where there is a wealth of information including Peer Support and how to contact me. On StudentHome ther are also links to the Library and the Careers service.

5. You are never alone – an OU army has got your back

If there’s one thing that has struck me the most since I’ve started in my role as a student representative, it’s just how many people there are working behind the scenes at the OU who want you to succeed. From the teams that design and create your course materials, to IT support, to everybody – everyone here is on a mission to help you succeed!

I hope some of these things are helpful and I wish you the best of luck with your first TMA – come on, you can do it! And if you want to contact me at any time, you can find me on social media.


About Author

Kath works in the Media Relations team within the Communications Unit at The Open University. She is a skilled communicator with more than 15 years’ experience working in both the public and private sectors. She has a BA (Hons) English and American Literature from University of Warwick and specialises in stories from the Faculty of Social Science, Faculty of Education and Language Studies, BBC programmes, and student stories. In her spare time Kath enjoys touring the country in her hand-painted camper van, Trevor.

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