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Blogs vs. Term Papers
The format — meant to force students to produce a point, explain it, defend it, repeat it (whether in 20 pages or 5 paragraphs) — feels to numerous like a workout 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 better 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 against the form in her own 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 utilization of the blog therefore the ethos it represents of public, interactive discourse. In the place of writing a quarterly term paper, students now regularly publish 500- to 1,500-word entries on an internal class blog in regards to the issues and readings these are generally studying in class, along with essays for public consumption.
She’s in good company. Across the country, blog writing is becoming a requirement that is basic sets from M.B.A. to literature courses. On its face, who could disagree using the transformation? You will want to replace a staid writing exercise with a medium that provides the writer the immediacy of an audience, a sense 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 show key aspects of thinking and writing. They argue that the format that is old less about how exactly Sherman got to the sea and much more regarding how 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 right on to 140 characters about Shermn’s Mrch?
“Writing term papers is a art that is dying but those that do write them have a dramatic leg up when it comes to critical thinking, argumentation together with sort 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 of the Leadership and Learning Center, the school-consulting division of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. “It does not 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 last year, 82 percent of first-year college students and more than 1 / 2 of seniors weren’t asked to do a single paper of 20 pages or more, whilst the bulk of writing assignments were for papers of one 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 high school students were not asked to write a past history term paper in excess of 15 pages. William H. Fitzhugh, the research’s author and founder of The Concord Review, a journal that publishes school that is high’ 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 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 conventional types of discourse and training; “new literacy” stretches from the blog papers writing help and tweet to multimedia presentation with PowerPoint and audio essay.
“We’re at a crux right now of where we must find out as teachers what area of the literacy that is old worth preserving,” says Andrea A. Lunsford, a professor of English at Stanford. “We’re racking your brains on 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 and other multimedia tools crept to their lives and classrooms. She’s also solicited student feedback about their experiences.
Her conclusion is that students feel alot more impassioned by the literacy that is new. They love writing for a gathering, engaging with it. They feel as though they’re actually producing something personally rewarding and valuable, whereas when they write a term paper, they feel as if they are doing so only to produce a grade.
So Professor Lunsford is playing to student passions. Her writing class for second-year students, a requirement at Stanford, used to revolve around a paper constructed on the entire term. Now, the students begin by writing a paper that is 15-page a particular subject in the 1st few weeks. Once that is done, they normally use the ideas on it to create blogs, 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 have to maintain the paper that is 15-page or move straight to the newest way?’ ” she says. “Stanford’s writing program won’t be making that change right away, since our students still seem to benefit from learning just 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 something of a opposition that is false. Teachers may use both. And blogs, a platform that seems to encourage exercises that are rambling personal expression, can be well crafted and meticulously researched. On top of that, 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.
“I was basically kicked out of the program that is writing thinking that was more important than writing a five-paragraph essay,” she says. “I’m not against discipline. I’m not certain that writing a five-paragraph essay is 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 community college. Recently, one student she tutors was presented with an assignment with prescribed sentence length and rigid structure. 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 was brilliance when you look at the art world, brilliance within the multimedia world, brilliance within the music world and that writing is boring,” Professor Davidson says. “I hated teaching him bad writing.”
Matt Richtel, a reporter at the right times, writes often about I . t in the classroom.
a version of this informative article appears on the net on January 22, 2012, on Page ED28 of Education Life with the headline: Term Paper Blogging. Order Reprints | Today's Paper | Subscribe
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