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Methods of delivery


Coursework is a piece of work set for participants to be completed during the time the training takes place. It can be a fairly substantial piece of work and if formal marks or grades are being given, it will count towards the final results. If the training course is fairly short, the coursework should be a shorter piece of work. If the training course is longer, it is possible to set more detailed and challenging coursework. Of course, it may not be appropriate to set coursework at all.

Setting coursework

When setting coursework it is important to be very clear about what participants are expected to do. It is a good idea to provide them with written instructions which include:

It is a good idea to check with everyone in the class at some point during the course to make sure they understand what they have to do and are making progress.

Examples of coursework

There are many different approaches to setting coursework. Here are some examples to illustrate the methodology.

Action plans

One of the most effective types of training coursework is an action plan. This involves the participants selecting a topic or project that they have been addressing at work - or plan to tackle in the near future. The project should be related to the topics covered in the training course. Participants are asked to research the problem and come up with an action plan that they could implement when they get back to the office. The coursework can be delivered as a written piece but in a shorter course the best way to see what participants have done is to get them to produce a short presentation for the rest of the class.

This coursework will require the participants having access to a library of material or at least the internet. Time can be alloted in the training course programme or it can be "homework" for participants.


Most people are familiar with writing essays from their schooldays. However, many people are not comfortable producing long texts of a theoretical nature so essays need to be used carefully in the context of training. When setting essays as coursework it is very important to be clear about the kind of information and detail you are seeking to get from the participants. You will also need to think about how you are going to mark the essays so that you assess each individual's work according to the same criteria. In the context of archives and records management, essay writing is not as important a skill as writing reports and procedures so it can be better to focus coursework on work assignments of the kind described below.

Reading and comprehension

A good option for coursework is to set some reading. The class can all have the same reading or different groups or individuals can have different texts. You can also set more than one text if comparison or a fuller picture of the topic is required. It can be helpful to set some questions for the participants to consider while reading or to answer more formally when they have finished. The coursework can be delivered as written answers to the questions or as a group presentation or class discussion.

Desk research

Desk research is where the class is set an assignment to investigate a topic or issue. They may be given some leads or they may be expected to base their investigations on reading lists or presentations given during the course. This kind of coursework could be very tightly focused with a "right answer" or it can be more general and used to develop the participants' own interests or research skills. These are very valuable skills for archivists and records managers so coursework like this is particularly effective.

Work assignments

Where the training is very practical and delivered primarily to participants who are in the workplace, the most effective coursework emulates the types of documentation that is required at work. The subject matter might focus on one or more of the topics covered in the training but the delivery of the coursework is in the form of a report to management, a presentation to colleagues, a specification for a software company or other workplace product.

Giving feedback on coursework

It is very important to give feedback on coursework. Participants will have taken their assignments very seriously and will expect some indication of the quality of their work — even if the course is not formally evaluated. Here are some ways of structuring your feedback to participants:

When giving feedback it is important to develop a style which is honest, critical but positive and encouraging. If you are not able to identify and point up weaknesses as well as strengths, the participants will not learn from their own mistakes, one of the most effective ways of learning. On the other hand if you seem to be too critical and harsh, participants may become discouraged.

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Last updated: 20 December 2005