Blogs vs. Term Papers
The format — supposed to force students which will make a writing paper service point, explain it, defend it, repeat it (whether in 20 pages or 5 paragraphs) — feels to a lot of like a fitness in rigidity and boredom, like practicing piano scales in a key that is minor.
Her provocative positions have lent kindling to an intensifying debate on how best to teach writing when you look at the era that is digital.
“This mechanistic writing is a proper disincentive to creative but untrained writers,” says Professor Davidson, who rails resistant to the form inside her new book, “Now The thing is that It: How the Brain Science of Attention Will Transform the Way We Live, Work, and Learn.”
“As a writer, it offends me deeply.”
Professor Davidson makes heavy use of the blog and also the ethos it represents of public, interactive discourse. Instead of writing a quarterly term paper, students now regularly publish 500- to 1,500-word entries on an interior class blog in regards to the issues and readings they truly are studying in class, along with essays for public consumption.
She’s in good company. Across the country, blog writing happens to be a basic requirement in everything from M.B.A. to literature courses. On its face, who could disagree because of the transformation? Have you thought to replace a writing that is staid with a medium that gives the writer the immediacy of an audience, a feeling of relevancy, instant feedback from classmates or readers, and a practical connection to contemporary communications? Pointedly, why punish with a paper when a blog is, relatively, fun?
Because, say defenders of rigorous writing, the brief, sometimes personally expressive blog post fails sorely to teach key components of thinking and writing. They argue that the format that is old less about how precisely Sherman surely got to the sea and more about how exactly the writer organized the points, fashioned a quarrel, showed grasp of substance and evidence of its origin. Its rigidity wasn’t punishment but pedagogy.
Their reductio ad absurdum: why not merely bypass the blog, too, and move directly on to 140 characters about Shermn’s Mrch?
“Writing term papers is a art that is dying but those who do write them have a dramatic leg up in terms of critical thinking, argumentation while the sort of expression required not only in college, but in the work market,” says Douglas B. Reeves, a columnist for the American School Board Journal and founder of this Leadership and Learning Center, the school-consulting division of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. “It doesn’t mean there aren’t interesting blogs. But nobody would conflate writing that is interesting premise, evidence, argument and conclusion.”
The National Survey of Student Engagement unearthed that in 2011, 82 percent of first-year college students and much more than half of seniors weren’t asked to complete a paper that is single of pages or maybe more, whilst the bulk of writing assignments were for papers of 1 to five pages.
The definition of paper happens to be falling from favor for a while. A report in 2002 estimated that about 80 percent of twelfth grade students were not asked to create a history term paper greater than 15 pages. William H. Fitzhugh, the research’s author and founder associated with the Concord Review, a journal that publishes school that is high’ research papers, says that, more broadly, educators shy away from rigorous academic writing, giving students the relative ease of writing short essays. He argues that an element of the problem is that teachers are asking students to read less, which means less substance — whether historical, political or that is literary focus a term paper on.
He proposes what he calls the “page a year” solution: in first grade, a paper that is one-page one source; by fifth grade, five pages and five sources.
The debate about academic writing has given rise to new terminology: “old literacy” refers to more traditional forms of discourse and training; “new literacy” stretches from your blog and tweet to multimedia presentation with PowerPoint and audio essay.
“We’re at a crux right now of where we need to figure out as teachers what area of the old literacy is worth preserving,” says Andrea A. Lunsford, a professor of English at Stanford. “We’re racking your brains on how exactly to preserve sustained, logical, carefully articulated arguments while engaging most abundant in exciting and promising new literacies.”
Professor Lunsford has collected 16,000 writing samples from 189 Stanford students from 2001 to 2007, and it is studying how their writing abilities and passions evolved as blogs along with other multimedia tools crept into their lives and classrooms. She’s also solicited student feedback about their experiences.
Her conclusion is the fact that students feel way more impassioned by the new literacy. They love writing for an audience, engaging along with it. They feel as if they’re actually producing something personally rewarding and valuable, whereas when they write a phrase paper, they feel as if they do so only to produce a grade.
So Professor Lunsford is playing to student passions. Her writing class for second-year students, a necessity at Stanford, used to revolve around a paper constructed on the entire term. Now, the students start by writing a paper that is 15-page a particular subject in the 1st couple weeks. Once that is done, they use the ideas with it to build blogs, those sites, and PowerPoint and audio and oral presentations. The students often find their ideas way more crystallized after expressing all of them with new media, she says, and then, most startling, they plead to revise their essays.
“What I’m asking myself is, ‘Will we need to maintain the paper that is 15-page or move right to the brand new way?’ ” she says. “Stanford’s writing program won’t be making that change right away, since our students still seem to reap the benefits of learning how to present their research findings in both traditional print and new media.”
As Professor Lunsford illustrates, deciding to educate using either blogs or term papers is one thing of a false opposition. Teachers may use both. And blogs, a platform that appears to encourage rambling exercises in personal expression, can also be well crafted and meticulously researched. The debate is not a false one: while some educators fear that informal communication styles are increasing duress on traditional training, others find the actual paper fundamentally anachronistic at the same time.
“I became basically kicked out of the writing program for convinced that was more important than writing a five-paragraph essay,” she says. “I’m not against discipline. I’m not certain that writing a essay that is five-paragraph discipline so much as standardization. It’s a formula, but good writing plays with formulas, and changes formulas.”
Today, she tries to keep herself grounded within the experiences of a selection of students by tutoring at a residential district college. Recently, one student she tutors was handed an assignment with prescribed sentence length and structure that is rigid. Him to follow all the rules,” she says“ I urged. “If he’d done it my way, I don’t know he’d have passed the class.
“The sad thing is, he’s now convinced there is brilliance when you look at the art world, brilliance in the multimedia world, brilliance when you look at the music world and that writing is boring,” Professor Davidson says. “I hated teaching him bad writing.”
Matt Richtel, a reporter at the occasions, writes often about information technology within the classroom.
a type of this short article appears in publications on January 22, 2012, on Page ED28 of Education Life using the headline: Term Paper Blogging. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe
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