Tuesday, April 19, 2016

This Time Around, Things Were Easier… Perhaps in My Dreams.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I heard Professor Leslie describe this assignment a couple of weeks ago as “beast report”. Her statement certainly did not seem to fall short of describing its nature.
King Kong may have fallen short of embodying the nature of this report, however, if weren’t for the help offered by the professors of 20.109 the past few weeks. They were by far the most helpful resources for this report. First of all, the graded assignments were one of the sources that I took advantage of the most. The homework assigned this past module gave us an opportunity to think thoroughly about aspects of our report early, without needing to worry about our grade suffering as much as it would if we committed the same mistakes in our final drafts. The feedback I received from those assignments were invaluable. They not only gave me a head start on the assignment, but guided me in thinking about what I needed to focus on or avoid as I wrote the remainder of those sections. These assignments also acted as filters or reminders of potentially stupid mistakes that we could have made in our final reports (such as say misnaming M059K cells while describing a Western blot, which I may or may not have done earlier this semester *cough* *cough*).  

The other resource that was just as much of a life saver for me also stemmed directly from our great professors- office hours!!! I was able to attend office hours on several occasions in order to get additional feedback on my homework assignments, and to receive guidance during all of the moments in which I was lost with the direction of my report. I witnessed (and tested) that the professors were able to handle being bombarded with questions, so don’t be shy to ask (but remember to let them breathe once in a while- they won’t be able to answer questions if they collapse out of exhaustion).

In addition, some other very helpful resources arose from the communication workshops led by Dr. Diana. I was able to resort to the guidelines delineated in the PowerPoints by Dr. Diana, as well as the discussions we had about the rubric themselves. Furthermore, our class discussions concerning different parts of published research papers were useful at highlighting some of the do’s and don’ts of effective scientific writing. There were moments outside of the workshops where I tried to find research papers as additional sources of guidance for my own writing. I would like to warn you, however, to be careful if you also try this out. As I quickly found out, many sources out there follow bad practices that you should not be trying to emulate in your 20.109 assignments. I may have fallen into the trap of following some of those bad examples if it weren’t for the suggestions we received during those workshops. So the moral of this mini-story: pay attention in your communication workshops, they are even more useful than you may think!

One opportunity which I regret not taking advantage of, however, was setting up a meeting in the BE Communication Lab. Why didn’t I seek their help? I’ll narrow it down to three choices so you have a chance to take an educated guess: A) Bremy was busy jellyfishing with SpongeBob B) Bremy was busy teleporting between universes C) BREMY DID NOT MANAGE HIS TIME APPROPRIATELY. Maybe more than one of the answers above is accurate, but the best choice according to the answer key is C.

You may be tired of hearing this, but in case it hasn’t been deeply ingrained in your brain already, start your major research reports early! I certainly suffered and made my life a lot more stressful by not setting enough time to start this project well ahead of time. Despite having so much help from homework assignments and office hours, this report was nonetheless quite a handful. It definitely would have been more manageable if I had started early enough. In addition, even if you have pulled off completing major assignments at the last second before and think that you can easily do so again, you don’t want to end up like this:
Although writing this report will be a significant learning experience regardless, why torture yourself? Seriously, don’t learn your lesson the hard way like I did. 
What are you waiting for?

Start now!

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