Welcome to DSE212. I was pleased to learn that I will be your tutor on Exploring Psychology.

I’ve been tutoring this course and its predecessors for 18 years, so you should be in safe hands!

Apart from this course I also tutor on DSE232, the Applied Psychology course, and on Y163, Starting with Psychology. I also teach at Canterbury Christ Church University teaching teachers. I also spent a couple of years in Washington DC recently as orchestral conductor — as you can see, my career is rather chequered! My research interests are in driver behaviour and risk-taking, schizophrenia and concrete — I’ll bore you with the details when we meet if you’re interested.

Please get in touch as soon as you read this to confirm you’ll be doing the course (sometimes one or two people have to withdraw before it even starts) — but don’t tell me too much about yourself because the introductory exercise at the first tutorial will be designed to openly elicit all the gory details of the whole group. The reason for this is not to heighten anxiety levels, but to encourage friendship and the formation of informal study groups, which are definitely good ways to help in successfully negotiating the course. If you really can’t make it to the first tutorial, let me know beforehand if you’d like me to circulate your name, phone number and email address to the rest of the group.

Naturally, I’ll be offering the fullest possible assistance during the year. The best times to get hold of me by phone are early evenings (5–7pm) Monday to Friday, but there’s an answering machine if I’m out — do leave a message and I’ll get back to you. You can email me on adm7@open.ac.uk, and often this is best, as it means I can think about the information you need more fully before I give it to you. If you’ve anything interesting you want to share with the group, email it to me and I’ll put it up on my website (http://thejoyofconcrete.org).

Our tutorial meetings are on 11 Oct, 25 Oct, 22 Nov, 13 Dec, 21 Feb, 11 Apr and 9 May between 10.30 and 12.30 am at OU Regional HQ in Camden.

At the first tutorial we’ll all be getting know each other and looking at some study and essay-writing skills.

With TMAs (newcomers note: assignment = TMA in OU-speak), several things — apart from writing an intelligent answer, of course — are of great importance. Firstly, you should try hard to meet the cut-off dates. If there’s a problem at any time with this, you must contact me in advance: you can usually have up to one week’s extension, but only if you ask.

Each TMA has a word limit. If your first attempt is too long, cut bits out until it’s short enough — the concise expression of ideas is all part of the exercise.

Don’t be distraught if your TMAs come back with lots of comments all over them — a stimulating essay can provoke as many comments as a bad one. If you would like to compliment me on how well I’ve marked it, or indeed argue that I’ve been unreasonable, give me a ring or email me. Dialogue is the key to correspondence learning. If you can’t see any comments at all, turn on Track Changes, and they should appear.

Never send hard copy TMAs by any special posting method or short of stamps — I may not be in to sign for it, and I can’t make it to the Post Office on Saturday morning because I’m sleeping!

So...first tutorial — 11 October; subjects — introductions, course outline, learning skills. See you there...but get in touch first to let me know you exist!

Good luck,