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Planning for student writing : Considering the Writing and Research Portions of Your Assignments. Laura Aull and Rosalind Tedford. Considering the Writing Portion of Your Assignments. Laura Aull aulll@wfu.edu.

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Planning for student writing : Considering the Writing and Research Portions of Your Assignments


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planning for student writing considering the writing and research portions of your assignments

Planning for student writing:Considering the Writing and Research Portions of Your Assignments

Laura Aull and Rosalind Tedford

why do students write in your course s
Why do students write in your course/s?
  • To use the terminology of a particular field?
    • Identification, Application [Report, Response]
  • To map out the major ideas and figures of a topic, body of literature, or field?
    • Summary, Review [Literature Review]
  • To apply a particular heuristic or methodological approach?
    • Application (+) [Analysis, Lab Report]
  • To design an appropriate research question or project?
    • Invention, Evaluation [Proposal]
why do students write in your course s1
Why do students write in your course/s?
  • To describe original research?
    • Description (Review, Analysis) [Report, Conference Paper]
  • To develop and organize an argument (about a topic)?
    • Argumentation [Editorial]
  • To engage a scholarly and/or public conversation with their own perspective?
    • Analysis, Summary, Argumentation [Argumentative Essay]
  • To gain practice with a variety of stages and/or genres in the field?
consider reading and writing exercises and assignments that will especially achieve these goals e g
Consider reading and writing exercises and assignments that will especially achieve these goals; e.g.,
  • If you want students to write in a variety of stages of a research and/or writing process:
    • Few or one assignment with several steps (steps evaluated, conventions evaluated)
  • If you want students to use terminology and polished prose
    • One to few genres (language evaluated)
  • If you want students to engage with sources and argumentation
    • One to few genres (argumentation and source integration evaluated)
  • If you want students to apply a method or heuristic
    • Imitative exercises, models, and non-models (application evaluated)
planning for individual writing assignments
Planning for individual writing assignments
  • In thewriting portion of an assignment, students should have a sense of the following:
  • Central goals for the assignmentin terms of content and skills.
  • What not to do (what is not the central goal; how students should not approach the assignment).
  • Modelsor examplesthat offer some insight into what theyare being asked to do.
  • Possible steps for howtheymight startthe project meaningfully.
1 consider your primary goal s
1. Consider your primary goal/s
  • Consider your primary goal/s in terms ofcontent (e.g., engagement with a particular concept or text) andskills(e.g., close analysis; synthesis of secondary sources).
  • Ensure this goal fits within the parameters of the single assignment and speaks to the larger goals of the course and the order in which they are being addressed.
  • Consider how to state and elucidate primary goal/sin the assignment description, for example, via verbs and nominalizations.
1 consider your primary goal s1
1. Consider your primary goal/s
  • (c) Consider howto state and elucidate primary goal/sin the assignment description, for example, via verbs and nominalizations.
  • Ex:Examine Ouchi’s view of the Japanesework ethic of collectivism.
  • Application of a concept or theory: Apply Ouchi’s view of the Japanesework ethic of collectivism to a conflict you have experienced in a U.S. context. Is Ouchi’s view a viable framework for this U.S. situation? Why or why not?
  • VS.
  • Analysis of an argument: Analyze Ouchi’s view of the Japanesework ethic of collectivism. Is this a valuable way of thinking about teamwork versus individualism? Why or why not?
  • VS.
  • Review of scholarship: Review scholarly responses to Ouchi’s view of the Japanesework ethic of collectivism, especially focusing on an aspect or application of interest to you.What are the uses and limitations of Ouchi’s view?
2 consider your primary goal s
2. Consider your primary goal/s
  • The Spanish Tragedy and Edward II were written during a time in which there existed two distinct models of marriage: the arranged marriage and the companionate marriage. […]
  • Write an essay in which you compare and contrast the way that Bel-Imperia in The Spanish Tragedy and Isabella in Edward II respectively uphold or undermine a particular moral order relative to love (or marriage) and the interests of the individual against those of the state. You as a reader will need to decide how the play represents morality or immorality, the idea of individual tragedy, revenge, reason of state, obedience, etc.
  • Questions students might have: 1. how many of the final representations to address; 2. whether the comparative analysis of the two characters, or the representation of a larger theme in each of the plays, should figure more prominently; 3. how the two distinct models of marriage should figure into discussion of the larger themes mentioned at the end of the prompt.
slide12
The Spanish Tragedy and Edward II were written during a time in which there existed two distinct models of marriage: the arranged marriage and the companionate marriage. […]
  • Write an essay in which you compare and contrast the way that Bel-Imperia in The Spanish Tragedy and Isabella in Edward II respectively uphold or undermine a particular moral order relative to love (or marriage) and the interests of the individual against those of the state. Use evidence from your comparative analysis to suggest how you think each play represents an idea that is related to arranged versus companionate marriage, such as morality or immorality, the idea of individual tragedy, revenge, reason of state, or obedience.
2 consider your secondary goals
2. Consider your secondary goals
  • Consider 1-2 goals also important or necessary for this assignment. Consider how to articulate these aims in your assignment description in a way that shows they are in service of the foregrounded, central goal.
    • Apply Ouchi’s view of the Japanesework ethic of collectivism to a conflict you have experienced in a U.S. context. Is Ouchi’s view a viable framework for this situation? Why or why not? To apply Ouchi’s framework, you will first need to explain his view in detail for an audience unfamiliar with it.
    • Underscore foregrounding and back grounding in other things you read in class:
      • What is Sandell’s central argument? What is an ancillary claim she uses to make that central argument? This is like your upcoming assignment, in which you will create an argument about Isabella in Edward II to help you make a largerargument about revenge in the play…
3 offer non examples
3. Offer non-examples
  • Offer a non-example of a possible topic or question (e.g., one that is too unwieldy or too narrow in scope; one that emphasizes personal opinion versus textual or scientific evidence).
    • This assignment asks you not only to discuss the representation of religion in the play but to also specifically analyze the principal actors’ desires in light of this representation.
    • In the scope of a 4-page paper, you will not be able to substantiate a claim about whether or not digitally-mediated communication has changed the face of U.S. politics. You could discuss the implications for the use of text and email messages in Barack Obama’s presidential campaign.
    • Whereas the first assignment asked you to offer a reading response or think-piece on a single work, this assignment asks you to offer a more nuanced and evidence-based argument based on a primary but also secondary texts.
4 provide models or guidance
4. Provide models or guidance
  • Consider offering a student model and/or drawing attention to a reading from the course that showcases a similar kind of work.
  • Help students understand the source types and how to refer to and depart from texts in their writing
  • This practice highlights textsstudents can consult during their writing process, but it also underscores meta-awareness and synthesis skills.
    • Close rhetorical analysis of a short passage versus treatment of a theme across a complete work
    • …Think of this assignment as similar in style and organization to Nicholas Carr’s article we read, in that he uses research as a lens to consider personal anecdote.
slide16
Help students understand the source types and how to refer to and depart from texts in their writing
    • In their longitudinal study…x and y show…
    • Vs
    • In her synchronic analysis, z interrogates…
    • Unlike d, who claims that…, I argue
    • X exposes a key gap in contemporary research, but he fails to consider a valuable alternative for how to respond to that gap: …
slide17
-another to a current situation: the potential demise of (serious) literature—and with it the very concept of a canon…
5 offer possible first steps
5. Offer possible first steps
  • Offer possible first steps which foreground the process and goals you most want to emphasize in this assignment.
  • For example, in a research project in which I want students to conduct an original analysis of contemporary language use, the following two “initial steps” cast the assignment differently:
  • A
    • Begin by considering a linguistic argument we have read that interests you (e.g., Tagliamonte and Denis’ argument that DMC is a hybrid register; N. Baron’s argument about contemporary “linguistic whateverism”).  
    • Then consider a genre or two in the Corpus of Contemporary American English in which you can “test” this argument. Begin to explore and hone your focus using COCA.
5 offer possible first steps cont
5. Offer possible first steps (cont)
  • B.
    • Begin by considering a linguistic feature that interests you within contemporary American English (e.g., charged modifiers [how do the modifiers used to describe “war” change before and after 9/11?]; or word collocations [what words most often co-occur with Republican vs. Democrat]?)
    • Then begin to consider more pointedly what we have read in the course vis-à-vis your observations. Begin to hone your focus according to what has or has not been addressed by scholars previously.
5 offer possible first steps final
5. Offer possible first steps (final)
  • If an assignment is more straightforward in terms of its aim (e.g., applying a method), offer possible steps that will help direct students’ writing; E.g., (Conversation transcription and analysis:
    • On a second copy of the transcription, you should mark up the text for cohesive ties and for discourse markers.
    • Using colored pencils (or pens) and a color-coding system (where each kind of tie gets a color), identify all the different kinds of cohesive ties: reference, substitution, ellipsis, conjunction, lexical cohesion (see pp. 279-284 in the textbook). Draw connecting lines and/or arrows as appropriate. Also provide a key.
    • Using a different color, circle or underline all the discourse markers (e.g., you know, I mean, well, now, and, so, like). Remember, these tend to occur on the periphery of the discourse/utterances (but not always).
    • Considering adding other marginal notes pointing to other features in the discourse that you will not write about.
a recap
A Recap

Consider why students write in your courses

Consider how each assignment can achieve part (or all) of this aim

  • Consider and foreground primary goals
  • Consider and articulate secondary goals
  • Offer non-examples
  • Provide models or guidance
  • Offer possible first steps
a quick addendum regarding evaluation
A quick addendumregarding evaluation
  • Consider the message of primarily (or solely) edit-level guidelines and evaluation.
  • Consider what evaluation possibilities best emphasize and reinforce your goals for the assignment.
describing the research portion of an assignment

Describing the Research Portion of An Assignment

Rosalind Tedford

Director of Research and Instruction

ZSR Library

where students struggle
Where Students Struggle
  • Where research fits into course goals or larger assignment
  • Definitions
  • Developing topics that are 'researchable'
  • Number of sources
  • Types of acceptable sources
  • Using sources and citations
  • Focusing on the minor things at the expense of the major ones
research in the larger assignment
Research in the Larger Assignment
  • Is research primary or ancillary to the assignment?
  • In which parts of the paper do you expect to see secondary sources referenced?
  • What is the purpose of the assignment? Is this personal reflection? Analysis? Historical? Literature Review?
  • How will the research be assessed? Quantity? Quality? Incorporation? (Rubrics can help here)
definitions are your friends
Definitions are your friends
  • "Web Sources"
  • "Primary" and "Secondary" sources
  • "Literature Review"
  • "Peer Review"
  • "Scholarly"
  • "Credible"
  • Source types (e.g. longitudinal study, polemic, meta-analysis, critique)
developing topics
Developing Topics
  • Free range is NOT a gift
  • Give them sample topics (or better yet questions)
  • Give them a framework into which a variety of topics might fit
  • Give them sample inappropriate topics or questions
  • Model topics that are appropriate for the course level AND the length of the paper
some examples of prompts
Some examples of prompts
  • In the paper you may:
    • Compare or contrast two speeches OR
    • Take exception to a speaker’s argument
  • For your paper you will select a country and:
    • Analyze at least one major challenge it faces OR
    • Discuss the major institutional features that characterize its democracy OR
    • Discuss the major challenges it has faced in its democratic transition
  • Select an immigrant group in the United States and examine:
    • The ways they form identity OR
    • The role of (family, religion, food) in their culture and assimilation (or lack thereof) OR
    • How their identities have changed over time
  • Select a work of art we have studied in class and
    • Discuss how it is typical or atypical of the artist who created it OR
    • Compare it to a work on the same subject from a different artist OR
    • Discuss what elements it owes to other artists
number of sources
Number of Sources
  • Range (rather than explicit number)
  • Rule of thumb: # of pages = # of sources
  • If you feel compelled to require or to limit the number of a particular type of source give a reason for that and understand the consequences– students tend to focus on the ‘kind’ of source and not the ‘appropriateness’ of the source.
types of acceptable sources
Types of Acceptable Sources
  • "Web Sources" means nothing
  • Possible sources to mention:
    • Background or Context sources
    • Books (are eBooks ok?)
    • Journals (peer reviewed or scholarly)
    • Newspaper
    • Magazines (differentiate between Cosmo and Economist)
    • Non-Profits, NGOs, IGOs, Gov't Documents, Think Tanks, etc.
    • Statistics or other data
  • Date restrictions??
using and citing sources
Using and Citing Sources
  • How do you expect them to use the sources?
  • List specific acceptable citation formats (free range is not helpful) OR just pick one for them
  • There are 2 Chicago Styles
  • How picky will you be?
  • Do you expect URLs in bibliography?
  • Examples are very helpful
final thoughts on research
Final Thoughts on Research
  • Students don’t always procrastinate because they are lazy – they often put off beginning a paper because they are overwhelmed and/or because there is no clear starting point for them.
  • Students often get bogged down in the details of number of pages, types/number of sources at the expense of focusing on the appropriateness of sources for their paper. The more you focus on those details, the more important they think they are to you.
  • Having students work on the paper in stages can help you get better papers in the end.
  • Librarians are your partners in developing the research project description as well as your students’ partners in doing the research.
questions
Questions?

Laura Aull

aulll@wfu.edu

Roz Tedford

tedforrl@wfu.edu