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Study skills for Delta: what you have to be able to do


This is a guide that you should be following before you start a Delta course, not when you are coping with the demands of being in one.

There is a sister guide to this one called Be prepared for Delta and the aim of that is to introduce you to the broad outlines of some key concepts that you will encounter on the course.  That way, you will be able to recognise what it is that your tutors are talking about or that you are being asked to read about and set the ideas and issues in some kind of context.
If you would like to open that guide in a new tab, click here.

This guide is different because it focuses not on what you need to know but on what you will need to be able to do in terms of learning, thinking, writing and teaching successfully to pass a course.
It is arranged in six sections which more or less follow the taxonomy of skills developed originally by Bloom (1956) and revised later by Anderson and Krathwohl.  That taxonomy seeks to set out:

a framework for classifying statements of what we expect or intend students to learn as a result of instruction.
Krathwohl, 2002:212

and it applies to you as much as your learners.
In what follows, we'll be using the verbs we need to describe each of the skills you need to deploy on a course and we'll also try to identify what it is that the tasks you are set (or choose to take on) during a course are asking you to do.  For that, we'll focus on some more verbs.


Remembering and knowing

When you are sitting at your desk preparing to teach or reading about teaching and language, there's little you have to remember because references are to hand and there is time to think.
However, in the Module One examination and when you are actually teaching, there are no references to hand so you have to rely on your memory alone.  There is no short cut to memorising facts and terminology but help is at hand on this site.  In the Module One section, you will find links to lots of terminology tests and reading through the guides to various language and methodology areas will acquaint you with more.
Advertisers, of course, are keen to discover how often people have to see something before they remember it and the usual figure they settle on is seven.  We can do a bit better than that because we are actively trying to remember something rather than have it foisted on us by an advertising copy writer.  A better rule for us is around four times:

To shorten the time it takes to remember something, it's a useful idea to write it down.  The act of writing means that the fact or idea is both noticed and recalled more easily.
However, if you never read through your notes, your time will have been wasted because the item will be pushed out of your short-term memory and deleted.
To make sure that it remains in your long-term memory, you have to be aware of how your memory works.  Schmidt (1990) provides the following, based on Kihlstrom:

input diagram

What this means is that you may pay attention to an item but if you don't retrieve it from your short-term memory store and do something with it (such as write it down), the item may be lost and forgotten.  The usual figure given by psychologists who specialise in this kind of investigation is that the short-term or working memory store decays in 20 to 30 seconds so that's the time in which you have to make a note before the item is lost (lumen, no date).

Moral: take notes immediately on what you read and hear and review them frequently, once the next day and once more after a few days have elapsed.  When you do the first review, take the time to re-write the notes in a neater and more memorable form.  The act of doing so constitutes retrieval and rehearsal and it is that process which contributes to the item sticking in your long-term memory store.

Verbs which are asking you to be able to recall ideas, concepts and terms are, for example:
Identify, List, Name, Recall, State, Tell, Define
and so on.



It is, naturally, not enough to be able to remember lots of facts and ideas.  You need to understand them and demonstrate that you understand them.
There are some simple ways to make sure that you have understood something:

When you are writing on a Delta course, usually in a Background Essay for Module Two, you need to show that you have understood the concepts you are discussing and the system above works well in this regard.  Make sure you:

and that requires you to write in prose as well as itemise ideas and facts with lists and bullet points as we have done here.

Verbs which are asking you to be able to demonstrate understanding of ideas, concepts and terms are, for example:
Compare, Describe, Discuss, Explain, Illustrate, Rephrase, Talk about
and so on.



Once you have managed to recall and understand terms and concepts, it's time to ask yourself how to apply these to the real worlds of teaching and learning.
In Delta Module Two Background Essays, this will mostly concern you when you are setting out the teaching solutions to the issues you have identified with the system or skill you have analysed.  At other times, for example, in the Module One examination, you are explicitly marked on your ability to apply concepts to the data you are given in the question paper.
In Module Three, too, whichever is your topic choice, you are expected to demonstrate that you have read and understood a good deal but also that you are able to apply what you know to real-life scenarios.  Here are some examples of how you may want to do this:

As you can see in all three of these examples, there is no point in being able to apply knowledge and understanding if you do not explicitly state what you are applying it to.

Verbs which are asking you to demonstrate the ability to apply your understanding of ideas, concepts and terms are, for example:
Apply, Complete, Demonstrate, Illustrate, Discuss, Relate, Explain, Outline
and so on and they all occur in all three Modules.



Analysis goes hand-in-hand with application and may be considered part of the ability to apply knowledge and understanding.
In particular, your ability to analyse data is tested and expected in the following areas (but also throughout any decent course):

Verbs which are asking you to be able to demonstrate the ability to analyse the data you have are, for example:
Analyse, Categorize, Distinguish, Examine, Investigate, Organize
and so on and they all occur in all three Modules.


Evaluating and judging

In all three modules of the Delta scheme, you are required to make evaluations of the data you have, the ideas you are suggesting and the ways you have gathered data and information.
Evaluation requires all the skills we have so far covered and in addition it requires you to be explicit about the criteria you are using to judge the target of the evaluation.
Evaluation is a high-level skill which requires you to apply all the previous four skills.  You have to judge what is relevant, what is crucial and what is peripheral and make a judgement concerning its effectiveness and usefulness.

There are no examples in the above simply because it is impossible to provide them but the verbs you should be looking out for include:
Appraise, Assess, Conclude, Evaluate, Judge, Justify, Measure
and so on and they all occur in all three Modules



This is the highest level skill you will need for Delta and it applies only to Modules Two and Three simply because it is almost impossible reliably to asses anyone's creative abilities via an examination.

At any time in these processes you may be asked to:
Assemble, Collect, Combine, Construct, Create, Design, Devise, Formulate, Make, Manage, Plan, Prepare and Propose

That can be quite a daunting list but this is the part of a Delta course that most people find the most rewarding and personally satisfying.

all combine

Combining the skills

In this guide, the assumption may appear to be that the six skills are separable and discrete entities but in the real world, of course, they are often combined in various ways.
For example, when planning a lesson, all six skills will be in play because you need to:

At other times, not all the skills will be needed but it is reasonable to assume that more than two will be combined for any task you are set unless it is simply a matter of rote learning (and few good courses ask only for that).
In training sessions, therefore, be prepared to be asked to list and analyse, to identify and evaluate, to apply and create at various times.
This is, of course, much easier to prepare for if you know what skills you are being asked to use.

If you are preparing independently for Module One and / or Module Three of the Delta, use this guide to make sure you are aware of which skills you should be using and when you should be using them.  That gives you a head start.

Here's a handy cut-out-and-keep aide memoire to keep by you.  We have taken a small liberty with this in reversing the order of Apply and Analyse because that's the way it's done in most Delta essays and plans.  The two usually go hand-in-hand in any case.

delta skills

Bloom, BS, Engelhart, MD, Furst, EJ, Hill, WH and Krathwohl, DR, 1956, Educational Objectives: The Classification of Educational Goals, London: Longmans Green and Company
Heick, T, 2018, 50 Ways to Use Bloom's-Taxonomy in the Classroom, Retrieved from https://www.teachthought.com/learning/ways-to-use-blooms-taxonomy-in-the-classroom/ [March 2019]
Krathwohl, DR, 2002, A Revision of Bloom’s Taxonomy: An Overview, Theory into Practice, Volume 41, Number 4, College of Education, The Ohio State University
lumen: Introduction to Psychology, Module 7 (n.d.), available at: https://courses.lumenlearning.com/wmopen-psychology/chapter/reading-storage/
Schmidt, R, 1990, The role of consciousness in second language learning, Applied Linguistics 11: 129-158