Overcoming Writer’s Block in an MA Seminar
MA students find it difficult to overcome their writer’s block. Some struggle with it for months becoming more and more anxious about their inability to start writing. Deadlines given by the supervisor are not helpful at all. Inability to find time, energy and strength to sit down and start writing results in lowering students’ self-esteem and losing their confidence that this situation could be eventually resolved. The main aim of the paper is to share with the readers four techniques for overcoming writer’s block that may be suggested for any students engaged in academic writing. Visualisation, Affirmation, Cubing and Six Thinking Hats will be presented here and offered as classroom activities. The value of these techniques is that they are new in the context of academic writing though they can be found in psychological literature or literature on cognitive processes and creativity.
Mary Scott und Joan Turner
In academic writing pedagogy, proofreading is usually seen as the last stage, after a piece of writing has been drafted and re-drafted several times. Often the advice is to wait a couple of days before re-reading, so that mistakes or infelicitous expressions can be more easily spotted. The assumption is that this is ultimately a speedy process, easily and efficiently dispatched. However, what seems to be happening, as the academic market offers readily available commercial proofreaders is that much more is being packed into the term, and the procedure. All sorts of ethical, as well as professional, issues arise. The aim of this paper is to try to unpack some of those and open them up to wider discussion. Building on our presentation at the EATAW conference in Bochum (2007) and feedback received there, along with other comments featuring on mailbases such as EATAW and BALEAP, we here identify and problematise some of the issues surrounding proofreading.
Learning from Fiction – Using Metawriting to Overcome Writing Problems
In this article, I recommend using literary texts as a starting point for working with students in higher education on writing problems, because these texts can touch on topics usually taboo in academia. I demonstrate a specific reading of literary texts which include reflections on writ-ing (metafiction). This makes visible processes, which are usually hidden. My focus is on how writers resolve problems – or even writing blocks – connected with beginning a text when they use various types of metawriting. Not only do the analysed literary texts serve as illustra-tions of findings from writing didactics, but they are also used to develop writing techniques and exercises for use in general writing workshops and during consultations with blocked writers. Text examples are taken from Russian (émigré) literature and Academic Writing scholarship.
Paula Gillespie und Harvey Kail
Building Peer Tutoring Programs in Writing Centers
Since the 1980s, theories of collaborative learning have informed the teaching and work with peers in writing across the curriculum as well as the learning that takes place in writing centers. Colleagues of the authors, sometimes doubtful of the value of collaborative learning at the outset, are won over by participation in organized activities geared to helping them solve teaching problems. This article describes such a workshop led by the authors at an EATAW session on peer tutoring, an emerging discipline outside of the US.
Wendy Smeets und Isabel Solé
How Adequate Task Representation Can Help Students Write a Successful Synthesis
This article argues that adequate task representation can help students avoid plagiarism in academic writing tasks and reports results of research conducted at postgraduate level in the UK. It is suggested that viewing a writing task as a knowledge transforming activity can potentially lead to more intra- and intertextual integration and therefore less «copying and pasting». The synthesis task was chosen for this research project as it is a task that is especially likely to promote epistemic writing and thus learning. Preliminary research results show that adequate task representation leads a higher degree of elaboration of the source texts (S=23).
Judith Kearns und Brian Turner
The Historical Roots of Writing Instruction in Anglo-Canadian Universities
The writing culture of Canadian universities is rooted in 19th century British philosophies and educational models, particularly the belles lettres tradition and Matthew Arnold’s view that higher education must aim to develop critical appreciation of «the best that has been thought and written». The strength of this connection has resulted in an approach very different from that of the U. S.A. Whereas the American «first-year comp» tradition suggests a broad, cross-disciplinary emphasis on writing, Canadian universities have since the late 19th century assigned writing a narrow, intra-disciplinary status. Most undergraduate students receive writing instruction only in a first-year literature course, and even then it is often minimal, basic, and discipline-centric, the genres and styles appropriate to writing about literature being treated as transferable to other disciplines. Fortunately, alternative sites of and approaches to writing instruction have begun to emerge in Canadian universities.
José Brandão Carvalho
Acquiring, Elaborating and Expressing Knowledge: A Study with Portuguese University Students
Academic success depends on students’ knowledge and on their capacity to communicate it properly; writing skills are relevant in this process. Writing is also a learning tool, facilitating the way individuals apprehend and elaborate contents.
Many Portuguese university students have difficulties whenever they have to deal with writing tasks. Describing the processes students follow when they acquire, elaborate and express knowledge, and inferring how far writing is involved in such tasks, are the aims of this quantitative study. It is based on a questionnaire administered to a sample of about 1,700 students of different scientific areas.
Results presented in this paper show that Portuguese university students use writing mainly to take notes during classes and to express knowledge for evaluation; using writing to structure and elaborate knowledge is not frequent; some features of immature writing emerge from the students’ answers about their performance in exams.
Emily Purser, Jan Skillen, Mary Deane, James Donohue und Kelly Peake
Developing Academic Literacy in Context
Where, when and how (indeed whether) academic writing should be taught to university students, who are not necessarily aiming to study ‹language› per se, has long been a concern in higher education. While students need to develop high level communication skills, in genres often quite specific to higher education, in order that their learning can be assessed, teaching them academic writing during the course of their disciplinary studies raises a number of pedagogical, organisational and research issues. This paper reports on a collaboration between a group of academics in different geographic and institutional locations, who share a dream of improving student learning through curriculum-integrated teaching of writing. Their project has attempted to apply a model of ‹learning development› practice that works well in one arena to a range of new contexts, in order to test its efficacy and transferability. Results indicate that the pedagogical strategies tried (eg collaborative, inter-disciplinary design of learning tasks, resources and assessment processes based on analysis of contextually-specific literacy demands) prove ‹true› in various situations, enabling positive changes - in student learning, in the design of curricula, in teachers’ professional development and in general perceptions of the role of language in learning.
Introducing Multiple-Draft Assignments in the Writing Classroom
The paper demonstrates the results of a study involving second-year students of English Philology at The State Higher Vocational School in Nysa, Poland. In their writing class, students accustomed to the product-oriented writing instruction were introduced to the process approach by completing a cycle of three multiple-draft assignments. Students’ drafts in all three assignments are analysed to determine how their papers changed in quality over time and if the feedback the students received from one another contributed to possible improvement. The drafts of one student are presented to show the changes typical of the majority of participants. Although the assignments did not contribute to significant improvement in the students’ composing skills, the new approach seems promising if certain modifications are introduced.
Academic Staff Perceptions of the Role and Utility of Written Feedback
This paper considers the results of qualitative research into teachers’ perceptions of the role and efficacy of written feedback in disciplinary teaching, assessment and learning. The research was conducted in a higher education institution in the UK. Data excerpts from the research are presented and discussed. It is argued that the findings have implications for the role and capabilities of academic writing teachers in higher education generally and in the current European context in particular. The discussion also draws attention to the importance of empirical research into the effects of institutional and pedagogical practices to inform the work of academic writing teachers and writing programmes.
Writer’s Block as an Instrument for Remaining in Paradise
At the Leiden University Medical Centre (LUMC), effective writing strategies and how to internalize these have been part of the Communication in Science teaching program for 20 years. Effective writing strategies concern openly acknowledging and discussing the problems one may run into during the writing process. Some students need more help: they suffer from writer’s block motivated by perfectionism.
In this article, writer’s block is unmasked as a myth, a form of self-delusion that allows the writer to maintain a sense of innocence and to avoid taking responsibility. Looking at writer’s block from this perspective generates new possibilities for handling the issue. The author has developed a 7-step coaching program to help writers who experience severe writer’s block take an active, responsible role in handling their own problems, based on techniques borrowed from Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) and Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT).
This article is a written reflection on a workshop held at the EATAW Conference 2007 in Bochum, Germany.
Bella Rubin und Trudy Zuckermann
Academic Writing in Israel
It has been an uphill battle, but in one form or another, academic writing courses in English are operating in most of the universities in Israel today. In 1987, the Wolfson Family Charitable Trust approached UTELI, (the University Teachers of English Language in Israel) and offered to sponsor a pilot project to teach Israeli PhD students to improve their writing. It seemed that Israeli academics were losing ground in the international scientific community. The courses were originally designed for PhD and post-doctoral students, since undergraduate courses in Israel are taught in Hebrew. The original project was extended to all the universities in Israel, following which, most academic institutions agreed to support the teaching of writing and eventually to take over the financial support. Thus, the first generation of organized English academic writing courses in Israel was born. In this paper, we will elaborate on how the original PhD project has developed in the seven major institutions of higher education in Israel and where we hope to go from here.
The International WAC/WID Mapping Project: Objectives and Methods
Begun in 2006, this survey-based project aims to identify and facilitate activity and interest in writing in the disciplines in higher education around the world. Interested both in first-language and in English-language initiatives, the project encourages responses concerning college-university activities, undergraduate and graduate, focused in disciplines, as well as academic writing centersor similar services devoted to working with students and faculty/staff in and across disciplines. Two different surveys, one international and one focused on the U. S. and Canada, comprise the project. This paper describes the origins, aims, and methods of the surveys, accounts for their differences, and begins to report early results.
Developing the Skill of Critically Responding to Texts
International students, with a good command of the language, often join English medium graduate programs believing that their language ability will be sufficient for them to get through their studies. However, many have inadequate knowledge of the academic skills they will need to perform in order to be successful. This is especially so when considering that students come from different countries and cultures with varied educational and academic backgrounds and expectations. One of the early, essential skills that students need to develop is being able to read texts critically and in turn being able to respond critically to those texts. This paper will look at how these problems can be addressed in a practical way by providing students with techniques not only in how to read critically, but also in how to frame their own responses within acceptable parameters through the process of writing a position paper. Techniques to be highlighted include compiling annotated bibliographies, writing comparative critiques, qualifying claims and arguments, and preparing peer feedback reports.
Trudy Zuckermann und Maureen Rajuan
From Journal Writing to Action Research
John Dewey (1933) and Donald Schön (1987) pioneered the concepts of «reflective thought» and «reflective action» in teacher education. Since then, teacher education has combined theoretical knowledge with coaching in reflection, and student teachers have been required to do reflective writing in addition to the more traditional academic writing we usually associate with higher education. Besides reflecting on their personal, social, and ethical concerns in their journals, students need to focus on specific problems in the classroom and systematically document their practical experiences. In recent years, action research has been used as a tool to help achieve these goals. This paper will document our attempts to guide one group of student teachers going from the tentative, sometimes confused and disorganized, reflective writing in their pedagogical journals to the more systematic and focused writing in their action research projects. We believe that although every class situation is unique, the model we have developed can be adapted for different pre-service teaching programs in other contexts.
Elizabeth Turner und John Bitchener
An Approach to Teaching the Writing of Literature Reviews
Students face difficulties in writing literature reviews that relate in particular to limited knowledge of the genre (Bruce, 1992; E. Turner, 2005). While there has been valuable research relating to genre and discourse analysis of the literature review (such as Bunton, 2002; Kwan, 2006; O’Connell and Jin, 2001), there is a lack of research into the effectiveness of published writing support programmes. Furthermore, with exceptions such as Ridley (2000) and Swales and Lindemann (2002), there is little explicit advice on how to approach the teaching of the literature review. This paper reports on one of two studies described at the 4th International EATAW conference 2007. It describes an evaluation of the effectiveness of an approach at a New Zealand university to teaching the writing of literature reviews. It focuses on a 15-hour unit of teaching as part of a six-day EAL graduate writing course. The study found clear evidence of improvement in all areas that were targeted.
Zeigeblockade: Das Zeigen unbeendeter Texte und die Selbststeuerung des Schreibprozesses im Studium
Schreiblehrende und Schreibberatende erleben häufig, dass Studierende einen Widerstand verspüren, ihre unbeendeten Texte anderen zu zeigen. Aus schreibdidaktischer Perspektive macht es Sinn, der Zeigeblockade auf den Grund zu gehen. Für die Analyse der Zeigeblockade dienen einerseits Erklärungsansätze aus diversen Forschungsrichtungen, andrerseits Ergebnisse einer Pilotumfrage als Grundlagen. Das Phänomen der Zeigeblockade veranschaulicht unter anderem die Fremdsteuerung, die in den Augen der Studierenden ihr Schreiben bestimmt.
Wissenschaftliches Schreiben in Sprach- und Kommunikationswissenschaft – Zwei Beispiele für schreibintensive Lehrveranstaltungen in den Geisteswissenschaften
Der Artikel diskutiert am Beispiel zweier Lehrveranstaltungen, wie sich wissenschaftliches Schreiben im Studium vermitteln lässt, und plädiert für eine Integration der wissenschaftlichen Schreibausbildung in das Fachstudium. Die beiden Lehrveranstaltungen, auf die sich der Artikel bezieht, sind zwischen 2004-2006 an der RWTH Aachen als Fachseminare konzipiert und durchgeführt worden. Beide Seminare richteten sich als Hauptstudiumsveranstaltung an Studierende der Sprach- und Kommunikationswissenschaft. Wissenschaftliche Schreibtätigkeiten sind systematisch für die fachliche Auseinandersetzung genutzt und in die Lehrveranstaltung über verschiedene Schreibanlässe und -aufgaben eingebunden worden.
Der Artikel ist eine überarbeitete und ins Deutsche übersetzte Fassung meines Konferenzbeitrags «Writing in the Disciplines – Two Examples for Writing Intensive Courses in the Humanities» an der Tagung der EATAW, Bochum 2007.