The Second Coursework Submission

The Recordkeeping Professional module ran over the Autumn 2016 term. For this module, our coursework submission involved mixture of group and individual work.

The Group Elements

We put ourselves into groups of 6 or 7 at the start of term, and worked on the group aspect of the coursework throughout the term. We were asked to work together to produce the following set of 5 elements based on a pre-determined scenario of a fictional archives service:

  1. A SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats), taking into account how it currently operates and how it might develop over the period of the strategic plan (1-2 pages).
  2. A stakeholder analysis, taking into account how it currently operates and how it might develop over the period of the strategic plan (1-2 pages).
  3. A strategic plan which links to the service’s mission statement, defining aims and objectives and giving details of some core activities relating to one or more of these with appropriate timescales and performance measures for a period of 3 years (maximum 5 pages).
  4. A risk matrix that reflects some key activities outlined in the strategic plan (2 pages).
  5. An outline budget for the first year of the strategic plan, presented as a table with notes to explain how the figures were arrived at or any assumptions made, which specifies the resources you would need to deliver the service, and what the funding mix could be.

We met as a group for about nine weeks, for two hours a week after the lecture. Early on, we decided to create the coursework elements using Google Docs. This meant that we could all access and edit the same documents. One member of the group couldn’t come in for one of our meetings, but by accessing the Google Docs at home at the same time that we were editing them in our meeting, she was able to see and understand the changes that we were making as we were making them. I’d never used Google Docs before, but it was easy to use, and it worked really well for us.

The first five elements were fairly easy to research as many archive services across the English-speaking world had published their SWOT analyses, stakeholder analyses, strategic plans and risk matrices online. We covered these elements in our lectures as well, but we were all able to go away and have a look at various examples in order to prepare and put together the elements. For us, the outline budget was probably the hardest element. We were able to draw on some income and expenditure examples online, but deciding how many staff we wanted at which salaries, along with calculating employer’s pensions and national insurance contributions, and the kind of income and expenditure an archives service of our imagined size would incur was quite complicated.

The Individual Elements

The second part of the coursework concerned our professional development as individuals, and so the following items were to be created and submitted as individuals:

  1. Your own curriculum vitae (CV) or resume suitable for immediate use, (maximum 3 pages, free layout).
  2. A competency-based personal development plan to support you in developing your record-keeping career, skills and knowledge in your five years post-UCL (maximum 2 pages).
  3. An annotated bibliography of the sources you used in your coursework (1-2 lines for each title).

I’d applied for a few jobs in the weeks leading up to the end of term, which meant that my CV was up to date. As with the group elements of the coursework, we did touch on the CV and personal development plan in some of the lectures, but these elements were going to be very personal to each of us.

We’ve had guest speakers regularly throughout the module, and the most recent, Victoria Sculfor and Lee Seymour, were from Sue Hill and TFPL, recruitment consultants specialising in information management. Victoria and Lee provided us with some fantastic advice on our CVs: what to include, what not to include, what to emphasise, and how to set it out. With their advice in mind, I decided to re-jig my CV a little. Rather than having my work experiences laid out in a reverse chronological style, I changed the layout to primarily feature my archives and records experience, and then have any other experience following on afterwards. As I’m working towards a career in archives and records management, that seemed to be the most appropriate format. Victoria and Lee gave out a statistic: that employers spend around 30 seconds looking at a prospective candidate’s CV. This statistic was particularly influential to me. I’d previously spent quite a while writing my work experiences into nice explanatory paragraphs. With that statistic ringing in my ears, I changed the formatting to some clear bullet points instead.

I found the annotated bibliography element of the coursework fairly straightforward. Referencing is my strong point, so I already knew that I could provide consistent references, so it was just a case of providing a few lines for each item to explain how they were relevant, or how they had influenced my coursework.

Out of the three individual coursework elements, the personal development plan was the most complex. The plan needed to be competency-based so I chose the Archives & Records Association’s CPD Programme Competency Framework. This framework provided lists of requirements for each of the five levels of the competencies. These lists were helpful in determining where I was for each competency. With a two-page limit for the coursework, I picked out the competencies that I felt were the most important, and that I wanted to develop over the next five years.

The coursework was to be submitted as a single pdf, rather than as 8 individual documents. Obviously the reason for this is that it would be easier for the lecturer to mark a single item per person than hundreds of individual items. However, some of the items in the group element were created in a landscape layout, and others in a portrait layout. You might think that putting the two together would be an easy task. No, nuh-uh, no-way José, not in the slightest. It might just have been my own inability to master page breaks, but trying to get them to format correctly to enable some pages in a different orientation and keep the page numbers running continuously was a minor nightmare. When I thought I had it cracked, I’d scroll up to see a landscape table on a portrait page, or that the page numbers had gone awry. I managed to sort it in the end, (phew!) but if I never use page breaks again, it’ll be too soon!

After receiving a good grade for my first piece of coursework, I’m feeling more confident, but still apprehensive. I put a lot of time and effort into this coursework, I drafted and edited it to create the best piece of coursework I could, and that’s all anyone could ask. 

I’ve just submitted my coursework, so I’ll keep my fingers crossed for a good grade and have a little sigh of relief that it’s over, for now. The Christmas holidays won’t be all play, however. I’ll be starting my dissertation background research, and the usual two-weekly literature review to put together for the Concepts & Contexts module. No rest for the wicked! Although, maybe a little rest, it is Christmas after all!

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