What causes ADHD?

No one is sure what causes ADHD. There are many different theories but no one theory in particular has been proven yet. That said; many scientists believe that genes play a role. Results from copious studies suggest that the gene for ADHD runs in families. Because of this, researches are looking at many genes and gene factors that could cause ADHD.
Some learners with ADHD carry a specific version of a certain gene that has thinner brain tissue in the areas associated with attention. However, NIMH research indicated that the difference was not permanent and that as children with this gene grew up, the brain developed to a normal level of thickness. Their ADHD symptoms also improved. Research on this gene could help scientists to one day understand what ADHD is on a genetic level and thereby stop ADHD before is actually occurs.
In addition to genes, scientists are also researching an array of possible environmental factors that could cause ADHD. Some factors include, brain injuries, nutrition, and even one’s social environment.

Other possibilities include:

Environmental factors: Some studies suggest that certain environmental factors could add to the possibility of ADHD. For example, there seems to be a potential link between cigarette smoking and alcohol use during pregnancy that may increase the likelihood of children being born with ADHD. Other studies suggest that pre-schoolers who are exposed to high levels of lead might also have a higher risk of developing ADHD. Lead can sometimes be found in plumbing fixtures or some paints in older buildings.

Brain Injuries: Young children who have suffered from a brain injury have been known to exhibit behaviours similar to those of ADHD. However, it is important to note that this, like the above, is just one theory of many and only a small amount of ADHD learners have suffered from a brain injury.

Food additives: Recent British research shows a potential link between ingesting of certain food additives like artificial colours or preservatives, and an increase in activity. Research on the validity of this theory is under way.

Does Sugar Cause ADHD?

The idea that refined sugar causes ADHD or makes symptoms worse is popular, but more research discounts this theory than supports it. In one study, researchers gave learners food containing either sugar or a sugar substitute every other day. The learners who received sugar showed no different behaviour or learning capabilities than those who received the sugar substitute. In another study, learners who were considered sugar-sensitive by their mothers were given the sugar substitute aspartame, also known as Nutrasweet. Although all the learners got aspartame, half their mothers were told their children were given sugar, and the other half were told their learners were given aspartame. The mothers who thought their learner had received sugar considered them more hyperactive than other learners and were more critical of their behaviour, compared to mothers who thought their learners received aspartame.

Similar results show how easy it can be to misdiagnose or over-diagnose perceived “problems” of learner behaviour. We, as parents, tutors, and educators might forget what it was like to be young and no longer be familiar with as high levels of energy.
The possibility that learners are being misdiagnosed with ADHD will be discussed at a later stage. However, please note that many matters and theories related to ADHD are, just theories. There is still much research to be done.

Do you have any ADHD information, experiences or tutoring tips you would like to share with us? Feel free to leave a comment.
At BrightSparkz Tutors we provide excellent one-on-one tutoring for Maths, Science, English, Afrikaans and more… Get a tutor today! Visit www.brightsparkz.co.za for more information.

Understanding ADHD

What is ADHD?

ADHD is short for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. ADHD is one of the most prevalent learning disorders (or barriers to learning) amongst learners today. According to studies, about 5.3% of people worldwide are living with ADHD, of which almost three quarters are boys. The amount of learners with ADHD is increasing each year, making ADHD one of the most common barriers to learning. Because of the prevalence, it is important for educators, tutors, parents, and learners to be familiar with ADHD. The next few blogs will detail what ADHD actually is, the various symptoms, the different types of ADHD, tips for parents, tutors, and learners to deal with ADHD, and a discussion on whether doctors might be over diagnosing or misdiagnosing learners with ADHD.

 

What are the symptoms of ADHD?

Children mature at different rates and have different personalities, temperaments, and energy levels. Most children get distracted, act spontaneously, and struggle to concentrate at one point or another. Sometimes, these normal factors may be mistaken for ADHD. ADHD symptoms usually appear early in life, often between the ages of 3 and 6, and because symptoms vary from learner to learner, ADHD can be difficult to diagnose.

ADHD has many symptoms that each fall under specific types of ADHD. On a basic level, symptoms of ADHD commonly include a difficulty staying focused and paying attention, difficulty controlling certain behaviour, and hyperactivity or over-activity. The problem is that many behaviours associated with ADHD are common for young learners. Because of this, there is the question as to whether doctors, teachers, and parents might be misdiagnosing or over diagnosing the amount of learning who supposedly suffer from ADHD. As such, it is important to be able to distinguish between symptoms of ADHD and “symptoms” of normal learner behaviour.

A concise explanation of symptoms is as follows:

Learners who have symptoms of inattention may:

  • Be easily distracted, miss details, forget things, and frequently switch from one activity to another
  • Have difficulty focusing on one thing
  • Become bored with a task after only a few minutes, unless they are doing something enjoyable
  • Have difficulty focusing attention on organizing and completing a task or learning something new
  • Have trouble completing or turning in homework assignments, often losing things (e.g., pencils, toys, assignments) needed to complete tasks or activities
  • Not seem to listen when spoken to
  • Daydream, become easily confused, and move slowly
  • Have difficulty processing information as quickly and accurately as others
  • Struggle to follow instructions.

Learners who have symptoms of hyperactivity may:

  • Fidget and squirm in their seats
  • Talk nonstop
  • Dash around, touching or playing with anything and everything in sight
  • Have trouble sitting still during dinner, school, and story time
  • Be constantly in motion
  • Have difficulty doing quiet tasks or activities.
  • Children who have symptoms of impulsivitymay:
  • Be very impatient
  • Blurt out inappropriate comments, show their emotions without restraint, and act without regard for consequences
  • Have difficulty waiting for things they want or waiting their turns in games
  • Often interrupt conversations or others’ activities.

 

Types of ADHD:

As mentioned above, there are certain symptoms that fall under the different types of ADHD. The types of ADHD are as follows:

Predominantly hyperactive-impulsive

Most symptoms (six or more) are in the hyperactivity-impulsivity categories.

Fewer than six symptoms of inattention are present, although inattention may still be present to some degree.

  • Predominantly inattentive

The majority of symptoms (six or more) are in the inattention category and fewer than six symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity are present, although hyperactivity-impulsivity may still be present to some degree.

Children with this subtype are less likely to act out or have difficulties getting along with other children. They may sit quietly, but they are not paying attention to what they are doing. Therefore, the child may be overlooked, and parents and teachers may not notice that he or she has ADHD.

  • Combined hyperactive-impulsive and inattentive

Six or more symptoms of inattention and six or more symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity are present.

Most children have the combined type of ADHD.

 

ADHD Can Be Mistaken for Other Problems

Parents and teachers may fail to realise that learners with symptoms of inattention often suffer from ADHD because they are often quieter than fellow learners and are less likely to act out. Learners suffering from inattention may sit quietly as if they are working but are often not paying to attention to what they are doing or to what is happening around them. These learners may seem to get along better with their peers compared with those suffering from other subtypes of ADHD who tend to exhibit some social issues. It is important to note that children with the inattentive type of ADHD are not the only learners who have ADHD and may be missed. Many adults may mistake the hyperactive and more impulsive type of ADHD merely as emotional or disciplinary problems. Remember, young learners are typically more (hyper) active than their older peers. Parents and tutors need to pay attention to their young one’s behavioural patterns and should anything arise, know that there is always help.

 

Diagnosing ADHD:

There is no single test used to diagnose a learner with ADHD. Instead, a licensed health and/or child professional will acquire information about your learner and his or her behaviour and environment. While some paediatricians may diagnose a learner themselves, others might first refer the family to a mental health specialist who has sufficient experience with childhood mental disorders and learning barriers. The paediatrician or mental health specialist will first try to rule out other options for the symptoms. For example, certain situations, events, or health conditions may cause temporary behaviours in a child that seem like ADHD but that will pass.

The referring paediatrician and specialist will determine if a child:

  • Is experiencing undetected seizures that could be associated with other medical conditions
  • Has a middle ear infection that is causing hearing problems
  • Has any undetected hearing or vision problems
  • Has any medical problems that affect thinking and behaviour
  • Has any learning disabilities
  • Has anxiety or depression, or other psychiatric problems that might cause ADHD-like symptoms
  • Has been affected by a significant and sudden change, such as the death of a family member, a divorce, or parent’s job loss.

A specialist will also check school and medical records for clues, to see if the child’s home or school settings appear unusually taxing or unsettled, and acquire information from the learner’s parents and teachers.

The specialist will ask:

  • Are the behaviours extreme and long-term, and do they affect all aspects of the child’s life?
  • Do they happen more often in this child compared with the child’s peers?
  • Are the behaviours a continuous issue or a response to a passing situation?
  • Do the behaviours occur in several settings or only in one place, such as the playground, classroom, or home?

The specialist pays close attention to the learner’s behaviour at different times and during different situations. Some situations are highly structured while others have less structure. Certain situations would require the child to keep paying attention. Most children with ADHD are better able to control their behaviours in situations where they are getting individual attention and when they are free to focus on more enjoyable activities. These types of situations are less important in the assessment. A learner may also be monitored to see how he or she acts in social circumstances, and may be given tests of intellectual capability and academic accomplishment to see if he or she has a learning disability. Finally, if after gathering all this information the child meets the criteria for ADHD, he or she will be diagnosed with the disorder.

The following blogs will continue to focus on the different matters related to ADHD. I hope you found this helpful!

At BrightSparkz Tutors we provide excellent one-on-one tutoring for Maths, Science, English, Afrikaans and more… Get a tutor today! Visit www.brightsparkz.co.za for more information.

Does Self-Discipline Outdo IQ in Performance?

Valid IQ tests have been available since the early 1900s and a high IQ has always been considered to mean a higher academic performance. How then can we account for such stark variations among learners with the same IQ? The answer lies in laziness and a lack of motivation versus self-discipline and perseverance.

In a longitudinal study, by Duckworth and Seligman, of 140 eighth-grade students, self-discipline, measured by self-report, parent report, teacher report, and monetary choice questionnaires in the fall predicted final school results, school attendance, regular achievement-test scores, and selection into a competitive high school program the following spring. In duplication with 164 eighth graders; a behavioural delay-of-gratification task, a questionnaire on study habits, as well as a group-administered IQ test were added to the study. Self-discipline measured in the fall accounted for more than twice as much change as IQ in results, high-school selection, school presence, hours spent doing homework, hours spent watching television, and the time of day students began their homework. The effect of self-discipline on final grades held even when controlling for first-marking-period grades, achievement-test scores, and measured IQ. These findings suggest a major reason for students falling short of their intellectual potential: their failure to exercise self-discipline.

In the study, it was found that adolescents with a higher IQ outperformed their more impatient and volatile peers on every academic performance variable. Variables included report card results, standardized achievement test scores, admission into more competitive high schools, as well as attendance. Learners with a higher level of self-discipline also earned higher GPAs and achievement test scores. These learners had a better chance of attaining admission to tertiary education, were absent less from school, spent a greater deal of time on homework and less time watching television and instead started their homework earlier. Unlike IQ studies, research based on consistent self-discipline was able to predict gains in academic performance throughout the school year. Advocating for the validity of Duckworth’s and Seligman’s findings; a study by Wolfe and Johnson in 1995 found self-discipline to be the only one among 32 measured personality variables (such as self-esteem, extraversion, energy level, etc.) that was able to predict a learner’s college grade point average.

Sadly, many teachers and parents have witnessed first-hand how some learners have wasted their academic potential. Tutors and teachers will inevitably meet learners who have the intellectual potential to excel academically and yet do not because they refuse to put in the time and effort; they lack self-discipline. So what are some of the reasons for a lack in self-discipline? According to studies, one reason is the need for instant gratification. For example, Learner A has maintained consistently low or average academic results which are a direct result of his not studying enough or putting sufficient time into his work. Learner A then suddenly decides to study hard for an upcoming test but fails to see much improvement. Learner A then assumes studying does not help, failing to realise that good grades and a substantial improvement in academic results require time, determination and self-discipline. Such examples coincide with McClure, who in 1986 speculated that, “Our society’s emphasis on instant gratification may mean that young students are unable to delay gratification long enough to achieve academic competence”.

Good results are not always a quick fix. Sometimes, improvement takes time and extra work over a long-term period. Brightsparkz Tutors realise the importance of determination and self-discipline. Our tutors will help your learner to improve their academic performance on a long-term basis rather than short term. This is done by motivating learners to do their best and by making learning more enjoyable thereby encouraging self-discipline. Let us help your learner to achieve their best with our adept and knowledgeable tutors through motivation and learning that is both informative and fun!

 

We’ve Got Talent! The 2014 BrightSparkz Tutor Awards

Every year BrightSparkz awards the Top 5 Tutors in each branch with a Sparkz Award. This recognises their commitment to our company, their willingness to go the extra mile with their learners, and their tutoring potential.

One of award-winners, Jeanri Coetzee shares her top tutoring tip: Find out about your learner’s interests, whether it is sport or music, and use this in your examples and explanations. This way a learner relates better to the work and understand how it applies beyond textbook theory.”

The categories and winners of each award for 2014 are as follows:

  1. The Back-up Plan Award

Awarded to the tutor who constantly makes themselves available at short notice and who is ALWAYS willing to assist where needed, whenever or wherever!

Winners: Andrew McCabe (JHB) and Jeanri Coetzee (CT)

  1. The Admin King & Admin Queen Award

Awarded to the tutor who demonstrates exceptional administrative abilities and organisational skills on a consistent basis.

Winners: Ben Slabbert (JHB) & Nicola Durandt (CT)

  1. The Longest Yard Award

Awarded to the tutor who has been with us for more than 2 years and has consistently displayed diligence & excellence.

Winner: Alex Arndt (JHB) and Zhuo Fang (CT)

  1. The X-Factor Award

For receiving consistently excellent feedback from clients and for contributing to a dramatic improvement in learners’ results.

Winner: Gail Ingle (JHB) & Alexander Gordon (CT)

  1. The New Recruit Award

Awarded to the tutor who has been with us for less than a year and has shown great enthusiasm & potential along the way.

Winner: Tselane Steeneveldt (JHB) and Ruth Miti (CT)

 

There was some tough competition, and we are very proud of all of our tutors for all the effort put in during 2014!

How To Become A Great Tutor

Problems Facing First-Time Tutees:

  • Many learners may be nervous when learning in a one-on-one environment for the first time. Learners may find it hard to communicate how they feel or what exactly they may be struggling to understand. Your job is to create a positive environment that your learner feels comfortable in.
  • Not all learners have received much encouragement with their studies and so might feel doubtful of their potential. It is important that you, as a tutor, take the time to sit down with your learner and set realistic goals.
  • Some learners may struggle to see their tutor as more than an assessor. This is a difficult view to overcome, especially if you are helping your learner study towards an exam. The key is to be open, friendly, and to encourage the learner’s self-assurance so make your style of tutoring non-confrontational.
  • Sometimes you may forget or overlook when a learner may feel obliged to defer to you. This could be because learners are not used to feeling on the spot in a one-on-one environment. A good tutor will notice any such feelings and adjust their tutoring habits accordingly. Tutors should NOT be the only ones speaking during a session. Instead, tutors need to encourage learners to express their own opinions and establish an open dialogue. This will build your learner’s confidence, to encourage them to think independently and will help you (as a tutor) to understand what your learner may have difficulty communicating.

 

No matter the problem that you or your learner may face, it is vital to be patient with them, and to build their confidence through reassurance and praise. Your ultimate goal is to help your learner become comfortable and assured in the subject, even if they occasionally make mistakes.

 

Encouraging tutees to contribute

Learners are more likely to engage when:

  • They feel comfortable around you
  • You show them respect and encouragement, ESPECIALLY when they make mistakes
  • Learning is seen as a co-operative exercise, not a militant one
  • You both agree upon realistic and attainable tasks
  • They are encouraged to contribute their own feelings and are not just lectured to
  • Feedback is common so miscommunication does not occur
  • Avoid giving answers to unresponsive or shy. Rather frame your questions in a different way
  • They are presented with open-ended questions that encourages independent thought

When directing discussions it is important to think about and remember to:

  • Give regular feedback that is supportive and constructive
  • To provide corrections in a non-confrontational or hostile way
  • Praise good work and emphasise work done well rather than work done badly
  • Be friendly!
  • Balance tutor and learner contributions
  • Encourage quiet learners, but take care not to overpower them

Closing lessons – To determine how your learner feels about lesson progression, ask open-ended questions such as:

  • What has been the most significant thing you have learned today?
  • Do you have any questions after today’s lesson?
  • Discuss homework that you have given and make sure your learner is able to tackle it with understanding
  • Make a self-evaluation checklist. This can help you be the best tutor you can be and to stay on point!

 

Top 6 Tips for Being the Best Tutor You Can Be:

Have a sense of humour – A sense of humour can help to relieve any tension in a session. It is especially helpful when tutoring learners who are shy and reluctant to learn or to participate. A sense of humour will also ‘lighten’ the mood, making your lesson more fun, give the feelings of going by quicker, and most importantly, memorable. The more memorable the lesson, the more memorable the content learnt!

A positive attitude – Sometimes nerves may rear their ugly head and stress out learners. Stress can result in feelings of inadequacy and a lack of motivation. Times like this require you to be the motivation, encouragement and sense of positivity!

Realistic expectations – An effective tutor will have realistic expectations. Your expectations need to be based on each learner’s individual situation and needs. It is important to set goals that are not too high or too low. Too low expectations can make your learner feel like you don’t believe them or to be lazy while too high expectation can place too much pressure on your learner.

Consistence – In order to create a positive learning environment your students should know what to expect from you each session. You need to be reliable. This will create a safe learning environment for the students and they will be more likely to succeed.

Fairness – A fair tutor is consistent, encouraging and sets realistic goals. A fair tutor will not teach in a hostile or confrontational environment. Instead, he or she will be encouraging when tutoring as well as when providing adequate and helpful feedback.

Flexibility – While consistency is important, it is important to remember that anything can happen and problems may arise at any moment. Interruptions do happen and so a flexible attitude is important when assigning homework tasks and goals.

 

If you would like a tutor of your own please visit BrightSparkz Tutors today!

What’s New with BrightSparkz Tutors

“With over 10 years of experience tutoring South African learners, we have found that a blended approach to learning, incorporating both online and one-on-one methodologies, has proven to be the most effective approach for learners engaging in online or distance learning.”

Brightsparkz has recently partnered with RETHINK Education. RETHINK Education is an award winning e-learning program designed to give learners’ (Grades 8 – 12) 24//7 access to their Maths, Natural Science and Physical Science needs. The learning content is available from any computer and provides on-going monitoring, support and one-on-one lessons with an online tutor to ensure that the learner understands each section of work.

 Rethink Education logo

RETHINK Education is a modern learning platform providing “educational aid designed to help both teachers and learners using modern technology. The platform delivers multimedia-rich, interactive content in a chat-style format. It is based on the current school curriculum in South Africa for Maths, Natural Sciences, Physics and Chemistry.” RETHINK also supplies content to learners for Cambridge and IEB as well.

 

Your RETHINK package includes the following:

  • Initial assessment and meet-and-greet with your very own Brightsparkz online tutor
  • Easy-to-use Maths and Science tutoring platform aligned with the National Curriculum
  • 24/7 Access to all Grade 8 – 12 learning content
  • Interactive learning content and material such as videos, pictures and text to teach each section of work
  • Monitoring and detailed tracking of each learner’s progress
  • Regular feedback from your tutor and on-going tuition, support, and assistance

Additional one-on-one Skype lessons with your tutor are available on request to reinforce key learning areas and/or to prepare for tests and exams.

For more information visit www.brightsparkz.co.za/online-learning

 

If Grades 1 – 7 English and Math are what you need, then Brightsparkz’ My Own Tutor is for you!

 

My Own Tutor uses a fun and interactive platform to make learning more enjoyable!  As with RETHINK Education, My Own Tutor combines the use of this fantastic platform with your very own online tutor to ensure that each learner receives the maximum benefit of the program.

For home-schooled learners or those following the Cambridge curriculum, the My Own Tutor Maths and English tutoring solution is ideal and covers the Cambridge syllabus for Year 1 – IGCSE.

 

My Own Tutor has been specifically designed to:

  • Identify gaps and weaknesses within a learner’s knowledge of  Maths and English
  • Increase motivation through fun and interactive games and activities
  • Provide the learner with visual lessons teaching them vital basics missed in earlier years
  • Provide the learner with access to practice exercises for revision and exam preparation purposes
  • Keep parents up-to-date with the learners progress with intelligent reporting functions

 

Your My Own Tutor includes the following:

  • Initial assessment and meet-and-greet with your very own tutor
  • Personalised term plan designed for your child
  • Support and monitoring of learner activity and progress by your tutor
  • Email support for homework, extra exercises and exam papers

Additional one-on-one Skype lessons with your tutor is available on request to reinforce key learning areas and/or to prepare for tests and exams.

 

If RETHINK Education or My Own Tutor can help you, then visit www.brightsparkz.co.za/online-learning for more information. For an immediate quote or a free tour, please contact Nic: education@brightsparkz.co.za / 021 823 8704

 

Happy Learning 🙂

Is There a Secret to Raising Smart Kids?

A recent article by Carol S. Dweck suggests there may be! Her article, “The Secret to Raising Smart Kids” outlines the difference between two mind-sets, namely, a fixed mind-set and a growth mind-set. On the basis of extensive research and studies, she argues that a growth mind-set is the secret to being smart!

What is the growth mind-set? – The growth mind-set focuses on “process” and hard work rather than on talent or intelligence. The growth mind-set places greater importance on learning through effort, hard work and overcoming challenges, and not running from them.

Many people assume that superior intelligence, capability or talent is the key to success. While this definitely helps, it is not necessarily the key, or the only key, to success. Research conducted over more than three decades shows that an overemphasis on intelligence or talent alone may cause feelings of vulnerability and a fear of challenges. Such feelings may stem from the notion that intelligence and talent are innate qualities and therefore pre-determine one’s capabilities and standards for learning and achieving. This is not true.

Tutors, parents and teachers can engender a growth mind-set in learners through praise for persistence, dedication, and hard work rather than for being clever. Simply telling a learner they are smart can instil a sense of laziness (or a fixed mind-set) because learners feel they are clever enough not to have to work or put in any effort. Such learners may thrive in earlier grades under the impression that not working while still maintaining good grades, means they are smart or gifted. Unfortunately, this ease seldom extends to higher grades and these learner’s results may later plummet. Rather than telling your learner how smart they are, praise them for their effort and what they did right. Tell learners success stories that emphasise and inspire hard work and an appreciation for learning.

Further research indicates that a growth mind-set better equips learners to deal with failure or bad grades. Learners who do not maintain a growth mind-set and have coasted by thinking they are too smart to make an effort, may attribute failure or a decline in grades to a lack of ability or intelligence rather than a simple lack of effort. Learners with a growth mind-set are more inclined to see a challenge or an issue as a problem to be solved instead of an obstacle they don’t have the capability or intelligence to overcome.

Tutors, teachers and parents should encourage learners to see the brain as a learning machine. If we see the brain as a machine that is constantly learning (which it is), then we are more likely to believe that we can expand our knowledge and skill-set through hard work and effort.

We at BrightSparkz Tutors agree that the brain is a learning machine and our tutors pride themselves on helping your learners to overcome any difficulty they may be experiencing through fun, dedication and enjoyment in learning!

If you want to learn more about the growth mind-set, visit http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-secret-to-raising-smart-kids1/ to view the entire article.

How to Write an Essay

We all know the basics of essay writing and most of us are pretty confident in our abilities to write a decent essay. However, there are certain points that are easily forgotten and let’s not forget those annoying little mistakes that sneak their way in and take away marks. Our tutors have offered us a recap of effective essay writing and clarification on a few errors that are easily fixed:

 

 

Firstly, you need to know the difference between a discursive and an argumentative essay.

Discursive Essays: Discuss different views of one particular topic. Every point FOR should have a point AGAINST. It is important not to communicate your own opinion in discursive essays so stay away from using the words “I” and “me”. Be as objective as possible.

Argumentative Essays: Are an argument either for or against something.

 

 

The Writing Structure:

Introduction – The introduction is specifically for introducing the topic that your essay will discuss. At varsity level, your introduction should briefly state the aspects of the topic that you will be writing but it won’t hurt to start doing this in high school. For example, if you are writing an essay discussing the pros and cons of the death penalty, then you will introduce what the death penalty is. You will then state, very briefly, the aspects of the death penalty that you will be discussing.

In an argumentative essay – State what you are arguing in the introduction and give a brief explanation of how you will validate your argument.

In a discursive essay – State what you are discussing and the different views that relate to the topic.

Body – The body of the essay should be the bulk of your writing.

Argumentative Essay – The body of your essay should have one paragraph per point that you make. Then each point must be emphasised and tie back to the introduction.

Discursive Essay – For every point that you make FOR something, you need to make a point AGAINST. Try not to convey any feelings of bias. Use words and phrases such as: However, this said, contrary to, and so on.  You should have one point for and one point against for every paragraph. These two points need to relate to one another in some way and every paragraph needs to relate back to the main topic.

Conclusion – Your conclusion sums up everything that you have discussed in the body of your essay; you MUST NOT make any new points or arguments in your conclusion. Some essays may require you to voice your own opinion in the conclusion but only do this when required.

 

 

Other NB Things to Remember: 

  • Always write short and concise sentences rather than long and pretty ones! While high English may seem like a good idea, essays are most convincing when sentences are short and to the point. Rather make one long sentence into two shorter ones! If you can, then use a period instead of a comma. The same goes for wording; if you can use one word instead of three, then do so.
  • Do not use the word “however” too often. Rather mix it up with; “this said”, “in relation to the above”, “as aforementioned”, “while so and so said this, X and Y said this” and any other similar examples that you can come up with. Varsities are especially strict on this!
  • Do not use word contractions; rather write out the two words. Write, “Do not” instead of “don’t” and “is not” instead of “isn’t”.
  • Never start a sentence with the words, “but” or “and”.
  • Don’t use the same word twice in a paragraph to explain or refer to the same thing
  • Write in the active voice rather than the passive wherever possible.
  • Validate every “fact” that you make (where did you get it from, why is this true?)
  • Book titles are italicised and poem names are in inverted comma
  • Do not use two words together that mean the same thing – this is redundant. How many times have you heard someone say, “I need to enter my PIN number.” PIN is an acronym for personal identification number; so, in the statement quoted above, the word “number” is redundant. Some other examples include ATM machine, HPV virus and ACT test.
  • State what “it” is. Don’t assume the reader knows
  • Eliminate comma splices: When a sentence includes a comma separating two distinct thoughts, it is referred to as a comma splice. If the two parts of the sentence will each stand independently, use a period instead of a comma. If the parts are loosely associated and together from a complete thought, use a semicolon.
  • Do not confuse “who” and “whom”: “Who” and “whoever” are subjective pronouns; “whom” and “whomever” are in the objective case. This means that “who” (and the same for “whoever”) is always subject to a verb, and that “whom” (and the same for “whomever”) is always the object in a sentence. The two sentences below illustrate the easy usage in which “who” is clearly the subject and “whom” is clearly the object. In such simple cases, virtually everyone can determine the proper choice:

Who is that masked man? (“Who” / subject [subjective case])

The men, four of whom are ill, were indicted for fraud. (“whom” / object [objective case])

 

If you are still not 100% sure, our tutors are available to help you.

Happy writing 🙂

Top 10 Universities in South Africa

Many learners may feel unsure about where to enrol for their tertiary education. I have compiled a list of South Africa’s top 10 best Universities. I have assembled this list according to much research, Africa.com, student opinions, reviews and the reputable Times Higher Education World University Rankings.

According to www.timeshighereducation.co.uk, “The Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2014-2015 list the best global universities and are the only international university performance tables to judge world class universities across all of their core missions – teaching, research, knowledge transfer and international outlook. The top universities rankings employ 13 carefully calibrated performance indicators to provide the most comprehensive and balanced comparisons available, which are trusted by students, academics, university leaders, industry and governments.”

Additionally, Africa.com collected both quantitative and qualitative data to determine which of the many universities in South Africa make the top 10 list. A variety of criteria were considered including the following: a) undergraduate and graduate school reputation among higher education peers; b) student selectivity for entering undergraduate class; c) quality and quantity of faculty research, including depth of research facilities and engagement beyond immediate community, and d) international student ratio—the degree to which institution draws students from outside of its national boundaries.

While no one university is a perfect fit for everyone, I do hope that this list provides some helpful and important information when deciding where to study.

1.) University of Cape Town (UCT) University Of Cape Town

Established in 1829, UCT is South Africa’s oldest university and makes a frequent appearance on yearly varsity ‘best’ lists such as the Times Higher Education World University Rankings list. The university is considered the top research institution on the continent, with more “A” rated researchers than any other South African university. It is the highest ranked African university in both the QS World and the Times Higher Education world university rankings. According to the latest Most Recent World University Rankings at www.timeshighereducation,co.uk, UCT places at number 124.

Other than offering the best sports management diploma in the world (as recently bestowed by the Edunivarsal International Scientific Committee), UCT is also considered one of the country’s most environmentally friendly universities. Over the past five years a number of sustainability projects were launched, including Green Campus Initiative, an effort focused on making UCT more environmentally-friendly.
Notable alumni include heart surgeon Christiaan Barnard and at least three Nobel Laureates, including biophysicist Sir Aaron Klug (also a WITS alum), the late Professor Alan MacLeod Cormack, and author JM Coetzee.

2.) University of the Witwaterstrand (WITS) Johannesburg

Wits is considered to be one of the top research universities on the continent and boasts 20 South African Research Chairs, seven research institutes and 20 research units. Just less than 900 academic staff members accommodate over 30,000 students, ten percent of whom are international students.

According to the latest Most Recent World University Rankings at www.timeshighereducation,co.uk, WITS places between numbers 251 – 275.

WITS University has one of the largest fossil collections in the Southern Hemisphere, 14 museums, 2 art galleries, and 12 libraries.
Noteworthy alumni include former South African President Nelson Mandela (he studied law in the 1940s), political activist Helen Suzman, former judge Richard Goldstone, and businessman Patrice Motsepe. The university is also the alma mater of three other Nobel Prize Laureates; biophysicist Aaron Klug, biologist Sydney Brenner, and author Nadine Gordimer.

3.) Stellenbosch University, Western Cape Stellenbosch University

Located near beautiful wine regions; Stellenbosch University has been deemed one of the top research universities in the country. 28,000 students are taught by 915 lecturers and close to 10 percent of those admitted are international students. Providing accomplished tutors. According to the most recent World University Rankings at www.timeshighereducation.co.uk, the University of Stellenbosch places between numbers 276 – 300

The University’s own iShack system was developed to improve the living situations of those living in informal settlements through the use of a basic solar energy system. The initiative was recently awarded a grant by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that will help upscale the project. With a strong emphasis of research throughout all departments, its Desmond Tutu TB Centre recently won an international prize for its research on childhood tuberculosis (TB) and its community-based approach to TB and HIV care.

4.) Rhodes University, Eastern Cape

Whist one of the smaller universities, comprising of only 7,000 students, Rhodes University is one of the most diverse, since roughly one quarter of its students are international. Due to its small student base, the student to teacher / tutor ratio is more favourable at one lecturer to about 15 students.

According to the official Rhodes University website, all of its degrees are internationally recognised and the university’s International Library of African Music (ILAM) is said to the “greatest repository of African music in the world”. Additionally, the university’s school of Journalism and Media Studies is thought to be one of the best in the country.
Notable Rhode students include virologist Max Theiler (who was awarded a Nobel Prize for developing a yellow fever vaccine), author Wilbur Smith, and internationally recognised journalist Anand Naidoo.

5.) University of Pretoria, Pretoria University of Pretoria

Also considered one of the leading research universities in South Africa, UP offers more than 1,800 programmes at its main campus and hosts more than 50,000 students.

It has the highest research output in South Africa, a position it has held proudly since 1997 and in September last year, the university launched a new research initiative focused on the country’s future energy security, IRT on Energy. It’s also set to become the first university on the continent to offer simulated underground mining training at a Virtual Reality Centre. UP is also home to the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS), one of the country’s foremost Business Schools, which offers internationally credited MBA programmes. The university was recently named the top business school in Africa on the UK Financial Times Executive Education rankings list.

6.) University of the Free State, Bloemfontein University of Free State

The University is comprised of three campuses spread across the city, and hosts more than 33,000 students, including more than 2,000 from abroad.
The University prides itself on its 7 accredited Academic clusters, 107 NRF-accredited professors and 18 international research partnerships. The University has also paved the way in forward-thinking, from being the first university in the country to have a Department of Sign Language, and the only institution on the continent that offers a postgraduate programme in Disaster Management.
Noteworthy alum include, Former South African president P.W. Botha, as well as cricketer Hansie Cronje and author Antjie Krog.

7.) University of Kwazulu-Natal, Durban University of Kwa-Zulu Natal

Hosting over 42,000 students and 1,600 staff, this university is the largest in Sub-Saharan Africa. Over 2,500 of its students are foreign, having come from the Southern African Development Community (SADC), China and India.
Its medical school campus is home to CAPRISA, one of the largest and most effective HIV and AIDS research centres in South Africa. It also produced one of the highest university research outputs during 2010, ranking third overall, and thereby contributing close to 12 percent of the country’s research publications by major universities.
Notable alumni include Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, Chief Justice Honourable Mogoeng Mogoeng, and businessman Sol Kerzner.

8.) University of Western Cape, Cape Town University of Western Cape

During the years of Apartheid, the University of the Western Cape was where many non-white political activists from across the country were able to get an education. Now, 50 years since its establishment, the university hosts 15,000 students of all nationalities and cultures.
Earlier this year, the university achieved the inaugural Green Campus of the Year award for its many environmentally-friendly enterprises, including its recycling projects and the use of solar powered golf carts for campus workers to get around. UWC is also dedicated to the research and development of free and open-source software. It is the only African member of the Open Courseware Consortium.
Political activist Allan Boesak, and Danny Jordaan, CEO of the 2010 Fifa World Cup, have both graduated from UWC.

9.) University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg

The University of Johannesburg has four campuses located across the city and caters to just more than 48,000 students, of which 2,000 are international. The university places great importance on research and has over 20 research centres and around 90 rated researchers. Research has improved greatly, most especially in areas of life sciences, physical sciences, literature, language and linguistics, as well as management science and business commerce.

10.) Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Cape Town

CPUT has just over 32,000 students enrolled on its two campuses, one in Cape Town CBD and the other in Bellville. CPUT is known for its take in creative, more specialist areas of study and for its practical, hands-on approach to education. This is a beneficial and worth-while consideration for those who are not strictly academically inclined.

 

Brightsparkz is proud to have tutors from UCT, WITS, Stellenbosch, and the university of Pretoria, we also have some tutors from UWC as well.

Your Study Playlists:

Can music help you to study? This is one of the most cited questions both online as well as by those desperate for any help to aid their concentration levels. The answer can fall anywhere between “Listening to Mozart makes you a genius” and “Just be quiet and work.”

Many people will advocate for The Mozart Effect. The Mozart Effect suggest that listening to music, most especially Mozart, and that of a similar calibre, is able to boost one’s spatial-temporal reasoning, or simply put, aids one’s ability to remember things on a more long term basis as well as in finding solutions to various logical problems. However, certain studies refute this Mozart Theorem, calling it exaggerated and overblown. Other doctors’ mention points that validate both sides to the question.

In one study, researches of the University of Illinois found that listening to music in all types of work increased work output by 6.3% over a control group. In another study, dissected at MetaFilter, 56 employees working on basic computer tasks were found to be more productive when there was no music playing over the same period tested with music. Supposedly any one study could either negate or validate the question either proving or disproving the Mozart Theory. Realistically speaking, findings derived across various studies are also not necessarily applicable to each and every person. Ultimately, the answer depends on each individual’s workspace, state of mind, personal attention span, ability to focus on one or more tasks at a time, and more.

But if you are one of those people who enjoy listening to music while working, studying, being tutored or completing a task; then these playlists could be just the thing for you!

 

Super Chilled:

The XX – Missing

Ben Howard – Promise

Daughter – Youth

Any Other Name – Thomas Newman

Mr Probz – Waves (The original and not the radio mix)

James Vincent – Wicked Game

Of Monsters and Men – Slow and Steady

London Grammar – Hey Now

Blue Foundation – Eyes on Fire

Iron and Wine – Such Great Heights

Brenden Canning – Bullied Days

Enya – Watermark

 

Trance and Electro:

Bar 9 – Dancin With the Devil

Phobia – Phobia (DJ Hell mix) [1991/2007]

Stefan Goldmann – Sleepy Hollow [2006]

Berlin Inc – Berlin (Peace Mix)

Feathers of Sound – Water

Above & Beyond – Above & Beyond Live @ ASOT

Airstream – Electra

DJ Shah – Mellomaniac (The chill out mix)

Marcconi Union – Weightless

 

Classical:

SinfiniMusic – Sergei Rachmaninov – Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini Op. 43

pietrogold – Chopin Nocturne

SeamlessR – [Old] SeamlessR – Sunset

Saimonse – Saimonse – Without You I’m Nothing

Chronos Archipel – Brain Harmonies, Vol.2

The Girl with the Flaxen Hair – Sleep Music, Vol.1

Nimrod from the “Enigma Variations” arranged for piano

Mozart – Canzonette Sull’aria