Expert answer:Successful Research Process Skills and Strategies

  

Solved by verified expert:Required ResourcesRead/review the following resources for this activity:
Minimum of 2 scholarly sources – the PDF ATTACHED
Part 1: Research & ReviewReview the two short articles on the pros and cons of revision and peer review listed in Required Resources. As you read, think about your own experience writing and revising essays in this course (and other courses).Part 2: ApplicationAddress the following:
How did you go about selecting topics for the position papers?
Reflect upon the research skills you have developed throughout this class. What key takeaways have you learned regarding research strategies?
Compare your experiences with revision and feedback to those detailed in the Stewart (2016) and Teller (2016) articles. Which stance do you lean towards and why? Did you incorporate changes into your final essay based on your peers’ feedback? If so, please describe the types of changes you made and why you made them. If you did not incorporate changes, please explain why.Note: Final essay was the pro-con position on legalizing Marijuana. I did not incorporate changes based on peer’s feedback
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No, We’re Not Teaching Composition ‘All Wrong’
Emily Shearer Stewart . The Chronicle of Higher Education ; Washington (Nov 21, 2016): n/a.
ProQuest document link
ABSTRACT
The author discusses how she teaches composition. Their success may stem, in part, from a mantra that she
taken to heart: If students consistently fail at something in the classroom, it’s not their fault. It’s her fault.
FULL TEXT
Most faculty members are teaching writing exactly as we should.
M y students can’t write a clear sentence to save their lives. It’s my job to help them change that.
I have taught writing for 10 years. Much like Joseph R. Teller, whose October essay criticizing how we teach
composition riled many a writing instructor, I have “experimented with different assignments, activities, readings,
[and] approaches to commenting on student work.” But my results have been very different from his. Rather than
seeing my students fail repeatedly, I’m seeing more and more of them succeed.
Their success may stem, in part, from a mantra I’ve taken to heart: If students consistently fail at something in my
classroom, it’s not their fault. It’s mine.
I teach at a community college in Texas, in a city where almost 20 percent of the citizens live below the poverty
line. More than 30 percent of children in the city live in poverty. About 70 percent of my college’s students take
classes only part-time, and 73 percent entered this year taking at least one developmental course. Most of them
have lived and been educated in a system that has overwhelmingly failed them due to a focus on testing rather
than learning. Most have taken time away from education to work, so what writing skills they did possess have
probably atrophied.
Teller argued that the three pillars of composition pedagogy — that courses should “focus on process, not product,”
that students should write on “complex issues rather than imitate rhetorical modes,” and that reading and writing
should be combined in the same course — don’t actually work. But I find they do, and I’m not alone in thinking so.
First, here’s a simple truth about the writing process: Contrary to Teller’s claim that “students do not revise,” I have
found that students will revise their drafts, given the tools and time to do so. As we all well know, revision is timeintensive, and time is the most precious commodity most of my students have. It’s not enough just to teach
revision. It has to be consistently and constantly modeled, which, again, takes time. And students need time to
work on their revisions in class — uninterrupted and with my help and supervision. That approach, in my experience,
results in revisions that are not only substantial but effective.
Teller also criticized peer workshops, a mainstay of composition instruction, saying, “In peer workshops, while
students get more confident in sharing feedback on each other’s work, they generally ignore their classmates’
suggestions.”
But the point of peer workshops isn’t just for students to become confident about reading and weighing on
someone else’s writing. The point is for students learn how to read their own writing. That, too, has to be
consistently and constantly modeled.
Providing specific ideas and goals for students to work on directs their feedback in more productive ways. And
again, my help and supervision makes both the process of giving and receiving feedback more useful as well.
Rather than a way to “lose another hour of class time,” as Teller claims, peer workshops can be a very important
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use of class time that accomplishes a number of different goals: revision, raising confidence in writing skills,
giving feedback, and reading instruction.
At the beginning of each semester, I ask students how many of them think they are bad writers. Without fail, 90
percent of them raise their hands. I tell them they’re wrong. There is no such thing as a bad writer. There is only a
writer who needs more practice. Relieving their fear of writing is as important in my job as teaching them how to
avoid run-on sentences because without relieving that fear, students will be too afraid to even try writing those runons.
I also find it ironic that Teller decries the skill of critical reading while bemoaning his students’ inability to use basic
argumentative structures in their writing. How can we teach argumentative structures without asking students to
critically read argumentative writing? While I agree that we must avoid letting themed content take over in our
writing courses, there’s no reason that the two can’t coexist. I am a firm believer that the more students read and
the more they write, the better their writing will become.
So how can I help my students become better writers?
Here is how I approached teaching 150 first-year composition students this fall.
Students need to be constantly writing. They should write, whether or not they receive feedback from me on each
draft. The more comfortable they feel with the writing process, the more confident they will become in their own
skills and their own ideas. I set up a lot of low-risk writing assignments nearly every day in class to give students
the ability to experiment with techniques without worrying about failure.
Be a mentor, not merely a judge and jury. Of course I give grades. But at the end of the day, my responsibility is to
help students become better writers, better students, and better citizens. I can’t do that by blaming them for their
inability to write. Nor can I do it by taking over part of the writing process for them and essentially giving them a
list of things to “fix.” Instead I encourage students to see me as their writing mentor, which lessens the sense of
fear that many of my students begin the semester with.
Students need to be interacting with ideas. I would much rather read a sophisticated, intricate argument that is not
grammatically or structurally correct than an argument that follows strict rhetorical rules and only skims the
surface of ideas. Simply teaching the technical skills of writing supposes that writing is just that — a skill — rather
than an art. We do not hand students a toolbox with the hammer of Aristotelian logic and the wrench of rhetoric.
We teach them to paint, sometimes with exacting realism, sometimes with abstract thought, and sometimes with
breathtaking impressionism. We can’t do that if we aren’t teaching them about the ideas they’re trying to represent.
The writing process is as important as the product. Of course students can sit down the night before and hammer
out an essay worth an A. I did it several times as an undergraduate. But that essay could also be better had it gone
through the process. And while I will not fail an essay for not having gone through multiple drafts, I will penalize it.
Model what I want students to do. I show students how to do peer review. We workshop thesis statements. And I
ask for honest feedback from students about my assignments and how I can refine them so they are clearer to
understand. I ask students about which of my in-class assignments worked — and which didn’t — so that I can
improve my teaching.
I am not going to save the world in my composition classes. I know that. But through them, I can make the world a
little better. I can make students less afraid of writing. I can let them know that their professor is here to help them
find their voice; that they have something worth saying, even if they aren’t sure how to say it yet; and that the
writing process leads to a product that is worthwhile and something to be proud of.
In Teller’s rather grumpy essay, he suggested that his decision to focus on writing technique — and avoid issues or
difficult reading assignments — would probably mean that “by the end of the semester, my students will hate my
course because it is ‘boring,’ ‘hard,’ and ‘a lot of work.’ … But if they show up, do the work, and turn off their phones,
they just might leave my class able to write a sentence.”
By the end of the semester, I expect, many of my students will be groaning about my composition course, too. It’s
also hard work — and a lot of it. I get frustrated with them at times. They get frustrated with me. We work through it
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together and keep plugging along.
But if they show up, turn off their phones, and do the work, then not only will they leave my class able to write a
sentence, they will leave as stronger writers who believe in their own ideas and abilities, and who find themselves
more prepared for the rest of their academic — and nonacademic — careers.
Emily Shearer Stewart is an assistant professor of English and philosophy at Del Mar College, in Corpus Christi,
Tex.
Credit: By Emily Shearer Stewart
Illustration
Melinda Beck for The Chronicle Review; Tim Cook for The Chronicle Review; Caption: Creative Plagiarism 1; Good
and Risky: the Promise of a Liberal Education 1
DETAILS
Subject:
Writing instruction; College faculty; Student writing
Publication title:
The Chronicle of Higher Education; Washington
Pages:
n/a
Publication year:
2016
Publication date:
Nov 21, 2016
Section:
First Person
Publisher:
Chronicle of Higher Education
Place of publication:
Washington
Country of publication:
United States, Washington
Publication subject:
Education–Higher Education, College And Alumni, Education–Teaching Methods And
Curriculum
ISSN:
00095982
CODEN:
CHHEAI
Source type:
Trade Journals
Language of publication:
English
Document type:
Commentary
ProQuest document ID:
1850856198
Document URL:
https://chamberlainuniversity.idm.oclc.org/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/d
ocview/1850856198?accountid=147674
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Copyright:
(Copyright Nov. 21, 2016 by The Chronicle of Higher Education)
Last updated:
2017-01-13
Database:
ProQuest Central
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Are We Teaching Composition All Wrong?
Teller, Joseph R . The Chronicle of Higher Education ; Washington (Oct 3, 2016): n/a.
ProQuest document link
ABSTRACT
Students understand why Barbie is sexist, but they can’t make their case in a coherent essay.
My students can’t write a clear sentence to save their lives, and I’ve had it.
In 10 years of teaching writing, I have experimented with different assignments, activities, readings, approaches to
commenting on student work — you name it — all to help students write coherent prose that someone would
actually want to read. And as anyone who keeps up with trends in higher education knows, such efforts largely fail.
For a while now, compositionists have been enamored of a pedagogical orthodoxy that assumes the
following:Composition courses must focus on process, not just product. Students should compose essays that
tackle complex issues rather than imitate rhetorical modes (as in the much-maligned “current-traditional”
pedagogy of years past). Writing and reading instruction should be combined in the same course.
After years of experimenting with those three principles, here’s what I’ve learned: They rarely work.
FULL TEXT
Students understand why Barbie is sexist, but they can’t make their case in a coherent essay.
My students can’t write a clear sentence to save their lives, and I’ve had it.
In 10 years of teaching writing, I have experimented with different assignments, activities, readings, approaches to
commenting on student work — you name it — all to help students write coherent prose that someone would
actually want to read. And as anyone who keeps up with trends in higher education knows, such efforts largely fail.
For a while now, compositionists have been enamored of a pedagogical orthodoxy that assumes the
following:Composition courses must focus on process, not just product. Students should compose essays that
tackle complex issues rather than imitate rhetorical modes (as in the much-maligned “current-traditional”
pedagogy of years past). Writing and reading instruction should be combined in the same course.
After years of experimenting with those three principles, here’s what I’ve learned: They rarely work.
First, a simple truth: Students do not revise. This cuts to the very heart of how most of us teach composition. It is
an a priori assumption that a composition course must emphasize revision: Writers learn to make rhetorical
decisions based on their audience, and that means the arduous process of “substantial revision.”
But substantial revision doesn’t happen in our courses. I have tried requiring students to write only three essays
developed over several drafts, each of which I comment on without a grade. I have used peer workshops to help
students respond to each other’s writing. I have used portfolio systems and deferred-grading schemes. I have
cajoled; I have encouraged; I have experimented with more rubrics than I can count.
The invariable result? Weak drafts remain weak; stronger drafts get slightly stronger, but not by much.
In peer workshops, while students get more confident in sharing feedback on each other’s work, they generally
ignore their classmates’ suggestions. And more often than not, when they do revise based on peer feedback, it’s
often unhelpful and inexperienced advice — for example, telling a student that the paper has a clear thesis when it
has no coherent argument at all.
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Yes, some professors assert that workshops allow students to find blind spots in each other’s essays. But, as their
teacher, I can do that more succinctly and quickly, and it wouldn’t require the loss of another hour of class time.
A second observation: Even when students engage complex issues from readings in their papers, they do not use
the basic argumentative structures they need in order to give their ideas voice, cohesion, and support.
In a recent course, I gave students a set of readings on liberal education and its role in a democratic society. Now,
class discussion had been interesting, and students had struggled productively to understand Seneca, John Henry
Newman, Mike Rose, and Rabindranath Tagore; they had even produced essays with some refreshing insights. But
few of their essays contained a clear and unifying argument, and many students seemed unable to focus on one
point for more than a paragraph.
Let me put it another way: How can students make effective rhetorical choices if they do not know what choices
exist?
If a student’s essay on mass shootings could benefit from a broader discussion of the causes of violence, but the
student does not know what it means to argue by causation, then in what sense is an effective rhetorical choice
available to her? Writing well involves making rhetorical decisions, but it’s clear that you can’t choose from what
you don’t know.
Finally, it’s a mistake to insist that “critical reading” should be as integral to a writing course as the teaching of
argumentation, structure, paragraphs, and sentences.
First, study after study shows that reading comprehension is tied to background knowledge and context. So while
we can teach general strategies for “reading actively” in our composition courses, there is no such thing as a
universal approach to reading aside from a few basic principles: Read slowly and deliberately, annotate as you
read, make summary notes, connect to the knowledge you already have. That’s why most composition instructors
thematize their courses. We realize that we cannot talk about “reading” very long before we have to talk about
reading about something.
Second, because “reading strategies” are context-bound, many composition instructors make their courses about
their themes, which leads to two problems: (1) The course becomes more about the content than about writing at
the nuts-and-bolts level, and (2) a number of composition instructors, for reasons stemming from the structures of
higher education, are not academically qualified to be teaching disciplinary content (e.g., sociology, cultural
history, gender criticism) with any semblance of expertise.
That is why students in a composition course can talk about, say, the role of sexism in children’s toys, but can’t
write a clear sentence about it. In short, the more time a course focuses on “critical reading” and content, the less
time it spends on structure, argument, evidence, logical reasoning, and concise, clear prose — the tools a
composition class should give undergraduates.
So how can I help my students write better?
Some of the following injunctions might reek of the “current-traditional.” But they have been my interior manifesto
as I move forward with this fall’s set of 100 students:Students need to write an actual essay and receive feedback
on it from me very early in the course. Whether I use neo-Aristotelian rhetoric or process pedagogy, by Week 2 of
the semester, students need to have written a short argumentative essay and received feedback on their thesis,
use of evidence, and integration of sources. There is no excuse for students to be halfway through the semester
without having received this kind of clear response. Students need to spend less time on difficult texts and more
time writing arguments. The more time one spends on content, the less time one has for structure and form. Even
if I require only three major essays developed through several drafts, more homework assignments should be short
essays that receive clear feedback. Alternatively, I might structure a course around many short argumentative
essays that emphasize rhetorical structure, building up to larger essays. Either way, the point is frequent essays,
frequent feedback. Not every essay requires multiple drafts or peer response. I have foolishly assumed that
students cannot submit an essay before having spent at least one class period hashing over a draft with their
peers. That should change. Yes, students should be encouraged to read each other’s writing and learn to respond
to it. But let’s face it: Unless one believes a writing teacher’s feedback carries no more weight than anyone else’s,
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this is unnecessary for every essay. (Some academics do claim that a writing teacher’s comments are no more
authoritative than any other reader’s, but I doubt such instructors tell their own editors anything like that.) The
writing process is a means to an end. Of course the writing process is important: It can be therapeutic, formative,
an aid to figuring out what we believe, the record of a mental life, an endless imaginative resource. But in a
freshman composition course, process serves product. Let me put it this way: If a bright student sits down the
night before a paper is due and hammers out an excellent essay in one draft, do I fail that paper? If I do, then I am
not ultimately interested in helping students write effective essays, but in something else. Sometimes it’s better to
ditch an essay and move forward. Even professional writers admit that, at some point, you throw out a project and
start over, or you put a project away to work on later (or never). Substantial revision is part of writing, but not for
every project. After all, a number of writing contexts do not require, and might even be hampered by, overwrought
attempts at revision. Sometimes writing has to come out adequate the first time. And “process” does not have to
be restricted to a single piece. Being a writer is a process, too, a process of moving from one project to another, of
learning from what worked the last time and what didn’t, of knowing when to revise and when to hit the delete key.
My job is not to save my students from cultural impoverishment. It is to teach them how to express themselves
effectively in writing. The development of cogent, clear prose is at the heart of fresh …
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