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  1. Professor Expectations Evaluating Your Own Work Exploring Assumptions The Writing Centre, StFX 2006-2007

  2. #1 Strategy for Success: KNOW YOUR PROFESSOR • The first four weeks of classes: make sure your professor knows you and your goals • Before the first major assignment is due • Before the first quiz or exam • After midterm results • Near the end of the term before midterms WHY Personalizes your learning; gives you a clear idea of their expectations; possible reference letter… The Writing Centre, StFX 2006-2007

  3. What Students Should/Can Expect of Professors • FAIRNESS in assignments, tests, and grading • Professors are not teachers. They are not simply passing on knowledge or skills, but professing something – a set of ideas and understandings, a world view they advocate. You do not have to agree with them, but you must understand their point of view • Intellectual rigor in the material they present. They will not accept a simplistic understanding of the material by you • A sincere desire for you to learn about and understand the content of their courses • Many professors want to challenge your beliefs and values, not necessarily to change them, but to get you to think about them explicitly and make well reasoned decisions The Writing Centre, StFX 2006-2007

  4. Student Actions: Professors Expect you to: • Demonstrate in class that you are genuinely interested in course material. Participate actively • Prioritize: education first and non-academic activities second • Take his/her course as seriously as any other course • Demand excellence of yourself • Seek help if you are confused, fall behind, or are uncertain • Come to class prepared. • Edit your assignments carefully before you turn them in • Recognize that all course material is cumulative The Writing Centre, StFX 2006-2007

  5. Student Attributes: Professors Expect From You: • The ability to apply critical reasoning to issues through independent thought and informed judgment • The ability to evaluate opinions, make decisions and to reflect critically on the justifications for decisions • The ability to: • identify and pose research problems and questions • make a critical analysis of the literature • conduct an appropriate analysis of data collected; and • draw logical conclusions from findings. The Writing Centre, StFX 2006-2007

  6. Professor Assumptions • All students have the same understanding of these expectations • This understanding is shared within the academic community • Once students understand the expectations, they will be able to do it Our experience shows that these cannot always be assumed. The Writing Centre, StFX 2006-2007

  7. Therefore: The aim of this session is: • to identify possible problems by clarifying what professors really mean • to remove what may be a mystery for some students or even a fear for others • to start you thinking about how you can meet professor expectations • to provide information about the help available The Writing Centre, StFX 2006-2007

  8. Resources • Check with the professor • Check with people in your class • Check with people who took the class before (notes?, midterms?) • Pay a tutor • • Free service • Math Learning Centre • Writing Centre • Society members • Study with a group • Internet (textbook sites, general knowledge sites, teacher sites, the PROFESSORS’ sites • On Reserve at the Library (old tests) The Writing Centre, StFX 2006-2007

  9. Basic Requirements of Academic Writing • Strictly observe layout conventions • Check spelling and grammar • Observe a formal style of writing • Avoid repetition and stereotype phrases • Arrange your paragraphs according to logical criteria and link them by observing cohesion and coherence • Discuss the facts you are dealing with from a critical standpoint • Quote conflicting arguments in an orderly manner • Present your own opinions concerning an argument in a well structured and meaningful way The Writing Centre, StFX 2006-2007

  10. POOR ACADEMIC WRITING Descriptive Summarizes or paraphrases sources one by one Sweeping statements and over-generalizations Poor Academic Writing VS Good Academic Writing GOOD ACADEMIC WRITING • Central argument • Analytical • Evaluates, selects, interprets sources • Integrates sources seamlessly • Structures the evidence to support the argument The Writing Centre, StFX 2006-2007

  11. Example of Poor Academic Writing • Asia has been the world’s most rapidly expanding “market for food … Australian consumers are only predicted to spend an additional US$6 billion per year on food by the year 2000” (DPIE, 1994). Japan is the dominant importer, accounting for 49.2% of Asia’s total imports … a slight increase from 4.4% in 1990 to 7.1% in 1994 (DPIE, 1994). The Asian population is also starting to eat different types of foods … increasing interest in fresh fruits and vegetables (DPIE, 1994). The Writing Centre, StFX 2006-2007

  12. Marketing of Asian Food Example • No context given (why is the writer telling us this?) • Single source – not justified (Is it the only source? The best source?) • Raw data – no interpretation (So what does it all mean?) • Referencing deficiencies (A reference at the end of a paragraph does not “cover” the whole paragraph) The Writing Centre, StFX 2006-2007

  13. Problem: No Academic Voice • When a student over-uses secondary sources in a paragraph it may simply read as a string of quotations, devoid of the student's academic voice that “ties” the ideas together into a coherent argument. The Writing Centre, StFX 2006-2007

  14. Expressing Your Academic Voice • It is important that your “academic voice” is present in your writing. • The writer's academic voice or argument is evident in the way the student introduces and interprets the evidence that supports his/her point. • The paraphrased material does not dominate the paragraph, but rather is secondary to and supports the student's argument. The Writing Centre, StFX 2006-2007

  15. Example of Strong Use of Academic Voice: Say It; Support It; Explain It The inequity in the distribution of wealth in Australia is yet another indicator of Australia’s lack of egalitarianism. In 1995, 20% of the Australian population owned 72.2% of Australia's wealth with the top 50% owning 92.1% (Raskall, 1998: 287). Such a significant skew in the distribution of wealth indicates that, at least in terms of economics, there is an established class system in Australia. McGregor (1988) argues that Australian society can be categorized into three levels: the Upper, Middle and Working classes. In addition, it has been shown that “most Australians continue to remain in the class into which they were born” (McGregor, 1988, p. 156), despite arguments about the ease of social mobility in Australian society (Fitzpatrick, 1994).The issue of class and its inherent inequity, however, is further compounded by factors such as race and gender within and across these class divisions. The Writing Centre, StFX 2006-2007

  16. Example of Good Academic Writing • Family studies have confirmed that the majority of canine red cell antigens are inherited as simple Mendelian dominants (Colling & Saison 1980; Ikemoto, et al. 1978;. Kamel & Ezzat, 1968; Vriesendorp, et al. 1973). Exceptions to this mode of inheritance include the closed system of NF6 and 7 (Suzuki, et al., 1975) and the Japanese D1 and D2 system (Ejima, et al., 1976), both of which appear to be controlled by codominant alleles. The Writing Centre, StFX 2006-2007

  17. Canine Red Cells Example In this example: • the author has consulted a number of sources and compared them with respect to the inheritance of canine red cell antigens. • The author then presents the agreement first (simple Mendelian dominant inheritance) followed by the exceptions (rather than going through each source separately, summarizing the results and leaving it to the reader to do the comparison and interpret the findings). The Writing Centre, StFX 2006-2007

  18. Meeting the Expectations • Understand what you read in relation to the set task, i.e. read with task in mind. • Be active in your approach. This means you need to engage and interact with sources, eg., ask “What does this mean in relation to my argument/ my task/ what I want to say?” • Tell your reader why the evidence is relevant and what conclusions you want them to draw. The Writing Centre, StFX 2006-2007

  19. How Do You Know If You Are Meeting the Expectations? • You can assume if your mark is high then you have met the expectations! • Written feedback should allow you to find out how you could better meet the expectations for each task. • It is worth spending time reflecting on the feedback. The goal is for you to be able to judge for yourself the standard of your essay, lab or assignment. The Writing Centre, StFX 2006-2007

  20. Getting Help • Talk to your lecturers and professors (by email, or during office hours, etc.) • Visit academic instructors (by appointment) • Attend workshops and use self-help material • Develop your own criteria and system for assessing your final drafts before you hand them in. This requires that you do not even attempt to do an assignment at the last minute. The Writing Centre, StFX 2006-2007

  21. Strategies: It’s 4:00 am and the Paper is Due at 9:00 am. • Outline your paper: Can you find the introduction? The thesis? Does each paragraph have a topic and ONLY ONE topic? Can you mark the topics down the side of the paper beside each paragraph? Grammar and Spell Check Read it out loud – Someone reads it to you…2 copies, so you can edit as you hear it. The Writing Centre, StFX 2006-2007

  22. Review of Professor Expectations for Academic Assignments • Critical analysis • Appropriate paraphrasing and referencing • Incorporation of sources • Organization • Proper grammar and sentence structure • Strong Use of Academic Voice, Tone, Style: • Controlling thesis • Concrete and specific evidence to support your thesis • Clear logic and structure to your paper such that it is a pleasure to read • Useful and relevant exploration of a topic The Writing Centre, StFX 2006-2007

  23. In the Words of One Professor… The Writing Centre, StFX 2006-2007

  24. Assessment Criteria • A (80-100%) Thorough analysis, well organized, clearly presented, accurate, concise, creative and thoughtful. • B (65-79.9%) Accurate analysis of material but it could be improved by including better reasoning of arguments – critical thinking. • C (60-64.9%) Poor. Inadequate analysis of material with little or no evidence of reflection. • D (50-59.9%) Unacceptable. Poor or careless description of material with no evidence of reasoning. The Writing Centre, StFX 2006-2007