Blogs vs. Term Papers
The format — supposed to force students to produce a point, explain it, defend it, repeat it (whether in 20 pages or 5 paragraphs) — feels to a lot of like an exercise in rigidity and boredom, like practicing piano scales in a key that is minor.
Her provocative positions have lent kindling to an intensifying debate about how precisely best to teach writing in the era that is digital.
“This mechanistic writing is a genuine disincentive to creative but untrained writers,” says Professor Davidson, who rails contrary to the form inside her new book, “Now you notice 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 utilization of the blog while the ethos it represents of public, interactive discourse. Instead of writing a term that is quarterly, students now regularly publish 500- to 1,500-word entries on an inside class blog in regards to the issues and readings they’ve been studying in class, along with essays for public consumption.
She’s in good company. In the united states, blog writing has grown to become a requirement that is basic anything from M.B.A. to literature courses. On its face, who could disagree with all the transformation? Why not replace a staid writing exercise 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 link with 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 show key areas of thinking and writing. They argue that the format that is old less about how Sherman surely got to the ocean and much more exactly how the writer organized the points, fashioned an argument, showed grasp of substance and evidence of its origin. Its rigidity wasn’t punishment but pedagogy.
Their reductio ad absurdum: why not just bypass the blog, too, and move directly on to 140 characters about Shermn’s Mrch?
“Writing term papers is a dying art, but those who do write them have a dramatic leg up with regards to critical thinking, argumentation therefore the type of expression required not merely in college, however in the work market,” says Douglas B. Reeves, a columnist when it comes to American School Board Journal and founder associated with the Leadership and Learning Center, the school-consulting division of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. “It doesn’t mean there blogs that are aren’t interesting. But nobody would conflate writing that is interesting premise, evidence, argument and conclusion.”
The National Survey of Student Engagement found https://evolutionwriters.biz that last year, 82 percent of first-year college students and much more than 50 % of seniors weren’t asked to complete a paper that is single of pages or even more, while the bulk of writing assignments were for papers of one to five pages.
The word paper has been falling from favor for quite a while. A report in 2002 estimated that about 80 percent of twelfth grade students were not asked to write a past history term paper of more than 15 pages. William H. Fitzhugh, the study’s author and founder associated with the Concord Review, a journal that publishes twelfth grade students’ research papers, says that, more broadly, educators shy far from rigorous academic writing, giving students the relative ease of writing short essays. He argues that the main problem is that teachers are asking students to read less, which means less substance — whether historical, political or literary — to focus a phrase paper on.
He proposes what he calls the “page a year” solution: in first grade, a one-page paper using 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 types of discourse and training; “new literacy” stretches from your blog and tweet to multimedia presentation with PowerPoint and essay that is audio.
“We’re at a crux right now of where we need to find out as teachers what an element of the literacy that is old worth preserving,” says Andrea A. Lunsford, a professor of English at Stanford. “We’re trying to puzzle out just how 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 as well as other multimedia tools crept to their lives and classrooms. She’s also solicited student feedback about their experiences.
Her conclusion is the fact that students feel so much more impassioned by the literacy that is new. They love writing for a gathering, engaging with it. They feel just as if they do so only to produce a grade if they’re actually producing something personally rewarding and valuable, whereas when they write a term paper, they feel as.
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 term that is entire. Now, the students begin by writing a paper that is 15-page a particular subject in the 1st couple weeks. Once that’s done, they normally use the ideas inside it to create blogs, the web sites, and PowerPoint and audio and oral presentations. The students often find their ideas a whole lot more crystallized after expressing them with new media, she says, and then, most startling, they plead to revise their essays.
“What I’m asking myself is, ‘Will we must keep consitently the 15-page paper forever or move right to the latest way?’ ” she says. “Stanford’s writing program won’t be making that change right away, since our students still appear to reap the benefits of learning just how to present their research findings in both traditional print and new media.”
As Professor Lunsford illustrates, choosing to educate using either blogs or term papers is something of a opposition that is false. Teachers can use both. And blogs, a platform that seems to encourage rambling exercises in personal expression, can certainly be well crafted and meticulously researched. At exactly the same time, the debate is certainly not a false one: although some educators fear that informal communication styles are increasing duress on traditional training, others discover the actual paper fundamentally anachronistic.
“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 writing that is good with formulas, and changes formulas.”
Today, she attempts to keep herself grounded when you look at the experiences of a variety of students by tutoring at a residential area college. Recently, one student she tutors was given an assignment with prescribed sentence length and structure that is rigid. “I urged him to follow all of the rules,” she says. “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 into 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 Times, writes often about I . t into the classroom.
a version of this short article appears in print on January 22, 2012, on Page ED28 of Education Life utilizing the headline: Term Paper Blogging. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe
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