About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 3872-3878
Publication year: 2014
ISBN: 978-84-617-0557-3
ISSN: 2340-1117

Conference name: 6th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 7-9 July, 2014
Location: Barcelona, Spain

ASSEMBLING A PAPER: HELPING ENGLISH-LANGUAGE LEARNERS TO WRITE FROM SOURCES

R. Lavin

Prefectural University of Kumamoto (JAPAN)
This paper describes a method designed to scaffold English-as-a-foreign-language learners’ writing of research papers. Since the course functions as preparation for learners intending to write their graduation theses in English in the following year, it is designed chiefly to overcome the problems identified by the author as those most damaging to the successful completion of theses:
(a) Learners often do not start writing until it is too late to get enough feedback to substantially improve on their first drafts;
(b) Learners tend to do too little detailed reading of sources, and they often do not use effectively the sources they have read;
(c) What work learners do do in relation to (a) and (b) is often invisible to the thesis supervisor, again making it difficult for the teacher to intervene effectively;
(d) Grammatical errors such as omission of articles, omission of third-person-singular "s", and failure to observe number agreement are persistent.

The method, implemented over a 15-week semester, involves four phases:
(1) a preparatory phase in which students choose a topic. In order to keep this short, and thus maximize writing time, students are steered towards topics that will not involve reading very long pieces of writing. Often, the topics are related to folktales, and may feature a comparison of similar folktales from different parts of the world, or a survey of the folktales of a specific region of the world;
(2) a phase of intensive transcription of quotes from the texts being researched (carried out on each student's own blog), accompanied by rough keyword tagging for the significance of each quote;
(3) a phase (also on each student's own blog) of retagging and combining quotes, adding comments to the quotes, and also writing very short stand-alone notes (also tagged) recording students' own thoughts regarding the topic;
(4) a final phase of writing (carried out in a document, shared with the instructor) in Google Drive. If phases 2 and 3 have been performed satisfactorily, this phase to quite a large extent consists of assembling and rearranging the pieces created earlier, and then rewriting small parts to solve local problems such as unclear transitions, and finally writing a simple introduction and conclusion.

A major inspiration for this approach is Graff and Birkenstein's (2010) They Say, I Say, which provides a taxonomy of moves made by writers when positioning themselves in relation to their sources. Building out the organization of a paper from keywords attached to quotes from sources is an idea derived from Strauss and Corbin's (1998) grounded theory. Basing the approach on these two ideas means that there are always small, concrete steps that students can take to move their writing project forward, whether it be retagging a quotation to highlight its relationship to another, adding a short comment (reminiscent of a research memo in grounded theory) to a quotation, or combining two quotes into one with bridging text.

To address problem (d), the instructor has created a blog consisting of micro-posts, each addressing one discrete common error type. Rather than correcting errors in drafts directly, the instructor posts comments consisting simply of links to the relevant micro-post. Being directed multiple times to the same micro-post encourages students to engage in reflection on their common errors.
@InProceedings{LAVIN2014ASS,
author = {Lavin, R.},
title = {ASSEMBLING A PAPER: HELPING ENGLISH-LANGUAGE LEARNERS TO WRITE FROM SOURCES},
series = {6th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies},
booktitle = {EDULEARN14 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-617-0557-3},
issn = {2340-1117},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Barcelona, Spain},
month = {7-9 July, 2014},
year = {2014},
pages = {3872-3878}}
TY - CONF
AU - R. Lavin
TI - ASSEMBLING A PAPER: HELPING ENGLISH-LANGUAGE LEARNERS TO WRITE FROM SOURCES
SN - 978-84-617-0557-3/2340-1117
PY - 2014
Y1 - 7-9 July, 2014
CI - Barcelona, Spain
JO - 6th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
JA - EDULEARN14 Proceedings
SP - 3872
EP - 3878
ER -
R. Lavin (2014) ASSEMBLING A PAPER: HELPING ENGLISH-LANGUAGE LEARNERS TO WRITE FROM SOURCES, EDULEARN14 Proceedings, pp. 3872-3878.
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