For Karen’s Group: Minerva’s summary of “TEaching adn Learning with the Net Generation”

Article: Teaching and Learning with the Net Generation

Authors: Barnes, Marateo, and Ferris.

Summary: In this article Barnes, Marateo, and Ferris address the different advantages and disadvantages that the Net Geners bring to school.  As a ”generation” Net Geners are those students who were born between 1990’s to 2010.  Also known as Generation Z, Generation C (connected), Generation M (multitasking), students who are part of this generation have always been “connected” to the internet. The fact that these students have always known the world through internet, computers, multitasking, and as part of a globalized world makes them different kinds of learners. 

Barnes et al mention that “Net Geners, on the whole, want to do well in college” (1) because they are a generation that values education highly.  They see the connectivity with which they have grown up as a great opportunity to learn from different perspectives and through different media.  Because of this, Net Geners come to school seeking for a new kind of pedagogical arrangement, one that includes “active, engaged learning experiences,” that will also present them with “self-directed learning opportunities, interactive environments, multiple forms of feedback, and assignment choices that use different resources to create personally meaningful learning experiences” (2).  Different schools have addressed these needs through the creation of on-line learning environments and introducing the use of computers in an outside the classroom.  However, one might want to be cautious when talking about Net Geners.

Although Net Geners are “fluent” in their use of technology, they “typically lack information literacy skills, and their critical thinking skills are often weak” (2).  In other words, Net Geners know that there are different media that they can use, but they may not know exactly how to really take advantage of it.  Therefore, the challenge is to be able to integrate critical thinking tools and the multitasking skills students “naturally” bring to the classroom nowadays.

 

Discussion Prompt: Should we give in to the culture of Net Geners or try to put restrictions on it? What are good “old school” methods that we might want to keep using? How do we seamlessly integrate Net Geners and critical thinking methods?

 

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For Karen’s Group: Minerva’s summary of “TEaching adn Learning with the Net Generation”

Article: Teaching and Learning with the Net Generation

Authors: Barnes, Marateo, and Ferris.

Summary: In this article Barnes, Marateo, and Ferris address the different advantages and disadvantages that the Net Geners bring to school.  As a ”generation” Net Geners are those students who were born between 1990’s to 2010.  Also known as Generation Z, Generation C (connected), Generation M (multitasking), students who are part of this generation have always been “connected” to the internet. The fact that these students have always known the world through internet, computers, multitasking, and as part of a globalized world makes them different kinds of learners. 

Barnes et al mention that “Net Geners, on the whole, want to do well in college” (1) because they are a generation that values education highly.  They see the connectivity with which they have grown up as a great opportunity to learn from different perspectives and through different media.  Because of this, Net Geners come to school seeking for a new kind of pedagogical arrangement, one that includes “active, engaged learning experiences,” that will also present them with “self-directed learning opportunities, interactive environments, multiple forms of feedback, and assignment choices that use different resources to create personally meaningful learning experiences” (2).  Different schools have addressed these needs through the creation of on-line learning environments and introducing the use of computers in an outside the classroom.  However, one might want to be cautious when talking about Net Geners.

Although Net Geners are “fluent” in their use of technology, they “typically lack information literacy skills, and their critical thinking skills are often weak” (2).  In other words, Net Geners know that there are different media that they can use, but they may not know exactly how to really take advantage of it.  Therefore, the challenge is to be able to integrate critical thinking tools and the multitasking skills students “naturally” bring to the classroom nowadays.

 

Discussion Prompt: Should we give in to the culture of Net Geners or try to put restrictions on it? What are good “old school” methods that we might want to keep using? How do we seamlessly integrate Net Geners and critical thinking methods?

 

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For Michelle’s group: Burcin’s article summary and discussion prompt

Article: “Postcards from the Imagination: Using Letters toTeach Sociological Concepts”
(Daughaday, 1997)

Summary: In her article Daughaday (1997) describes the term assignment she designed for her Introduction to Sociology class. Inspired from the letters between two artists of the past herself, she devised an assignment that had students writing a paper in the form of postcards and letters to a real or an imaginary person. For this assignment, in addition to the text she required students to read three books and randomly assigned one of these books as the basis of the letters. She also gave some questions to be addressed in this assignment.

Daughaday says that she encourages creativity and even illustrations in the letters. The students are supposed to write at least five one page letters.  She instructs students that it is important to think of their audience when they write the letters. Since the format is informal, less emphasis is placed on the mechanics of writing. However, she still expects the letters to be coherent and readable.
As an example, one student’s paper consisted of letters between himself and Hitler discussing the   role of the media in his propoganda campaign.

Daughaday assessed the assignment on three basic criteria depending on:
– If the paper was sufficient in addressing the questions
– If the student used personal examples
– If the student was able to present the material creatively

Daughaday claims that most students favored the assignment while only 5-6 percent still completed the assignment in the form of a typical term paper. In terms of success, average score of the assignment was 88 percent. She says that there are basically no disadvantages to this assignment.

Discussion prompt: Daughaday claims that there are no disadvantages to this assignment and it fulfills the expressive function of writing allowing the students to explore and answer the questions. What do you think about such an approach to a writing assignment in your classes? What kind of issues do you foresee? Do you think it is a fair approach to include creativity as one of the major criteria for assessment of a writing assignment in a Intro to Sociology class? How do you think our students some of which are struggling with English as their developing language would respond to  such an assignment? Also, what about the fact that this generation is hardly ever exposed to letters and postcards as a venue for communication; yet this assignment expects students to write their paper in the form of letters and postcards?

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For Karen’s group: Chris’s summary of “ESL Students and WAC Programs”

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Ann M. Johns, “ESL Students and WAC Programs: Varied Populations and Diverse Needs,” In WAC for the New Millennium: Strategies for Continuing Writing Across the Curriculum Programs, edited by Susan H. McLeod et. al., (Urbana, IL Univ. of Illinois Press, 2001): 141-64.

Summary:
In an article published in 2001, Ann M. Johns suggests that the growth of immigrant populations in U.S. urban areas requires careful adaptation of WAC/WID principles to deal with writing problems specific to ESL students. Before suggesting solutions to these problems, Johns first divides ESL students into three different (albeit related) categories and advises WAC administrators and faculty to be aware of different causes for their errors:

1. Immigrant students
2. Emergent English-dominant learners who are children of immigrants
3. International students

Focusing on category two (which likely corresponds to the largest number of ESL students at LaGuardia), Johns notes that these students may have practiced incorrect English for a very long time and thus, their “interlanguage” errors become “fossilized.” (144). The errors of this group seem to be more intractable because they may lack an awareness that they are making errors (perhaps because of large class size or insufficient teacher input in post-secondary instruction [a scapegoat!]) and, like many monolingual English speakers (and unlike their international peers), may not have acquired a metalanguage to discuss such problems.

Alas, Johns does not offer clear recommendations about how to instruct such students in less error-prone writing, but she does put forward some suggestions about how to accommodate their differences in the design of writing assignments. For example, Johns explains that many learning English as a second language may not always show clear progress in the language, but may instead exhibit “backwards and forwards” development, depending on the difficulty of the content and the writing situation (145). Thus, in both high-stakes in-class writings and in more relaxed, ungraded situations, ESL students may show an unusual amount of language errors. Johns recommends the instructor bear this in mind and recognize that the best conditions for ESL student writing are those in which students understand the content well, are well-practiced in the paper format required, and have time to conscientiously correct their errors. Instructors should thus let students know if and when error correction is sufficiently important to make it part of the students’ grade. They should also be explicit about what help students are allowed to seek in error correction (The Writing Center, etc.), and may indeed wish to model such practices by correcting error-prone writing as a class, or by putting students into proofreading pairs or groups.

Johns also points out that contrastive comp-rhet studies reveal the extent to which different cultures may value different rhetorical moves in discursive prose. For example, essay writing in Chinese does not require the same degree of metadiscursivity (“having discussed X, I will now will discuss Y”) and use of conjunctions (“however,” “in conclusion”) required in English. Another example: many African cultures avoid the use of “I” in writing, assuming instead a voice that speaks for a community. These differences—especially when unaccounted for in our pedagogy—partly explain why many of these students avoid Humanities subjects that require argumentative “critical thinking” and the use of a personal voice, and instead gravitate instead to the sciences where a more passive, communal voice is valued. Johns thus recommends that instructors (in all disciplines) make as explicit as possible the assumptions guiding what they value in academic writing. Another way to address ESL students’ needs is to circulate needs-assessment surveys at the beginning of the term to determine which students are ESL, the length of their study in English, and what their perceived challenges are in writing academic English prose.

Discussion question:
In her essay, Johns quotes an academic study which suggests, “When…teachers ask students to read a text and then to respond in writing […] they do so with certain underlying assumptions about […] what constitutes ‘academic discourse.’ The fact that these underlying assumptions are often left implicit can cause problems for students, particularly those second language learners who come to university with very different expectations about discourse in general and academic discourse in particular” (qtd. in Johns 145). What implicit assumptions do you hold about the academic discourse of your discipline—whether it’s grammatical correctness or what constitutes analysis—and in what ways can you better translate those assumptions to your ESL students?

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Summary of “Using Student Opinions Regarding Traditional Vs. Writing Across The Curriculum Teaching Techniques: A Qualitative Pilot Study” by Todd and Hudson

“Using Student Opinions Regarding Traditional Vs. Writing Across The Curriculum Teaching Techniques: A Qualitative Pilot Study” by Vicki Todd, Quinnipiac University and Jerry C. Hudson, Texas Tech University

Summary by Payal

Research question: What are student assessments of WAC (Writing across the curriculum), WTL (write to learn) and WID (writing in the disciplines) teaching techniques and methods compared to traditional lecture-testing techniques and methods?

30 students at a large private university participated in a focus group that examined WAC syllabi and assignments and compare them to traditional lecture/exam syllabi. “A large majority of the students who participated in the study seemed to agree that using WAC, WTL and WID components helped them to learn and absorb course material more thoroughly than listening to lectures, memorizing facts or definitions for an exam, and regurgitating facts on an exam” (Todd & Hudson, p. 21). Students responded that they appreciated the chance to interact with the course material and practice expressing their thoughts, work on making connections between class material and their own lives, and making connections across the disciplines. They also noted that writing is more effective if the answers to questions are discussed in class or if they are given feedback from the instructor. Additionally, they prefer that instructors give them the guidelines for written work ahead of time. Yet, guidelines that are too loose or too strict makes it difficult to determine what the instructor expects of them or constrains their creativity.

Todd and Hudson concluded that while WAC, WTL, and WID exercises do help students learn better, the instructor needs to remain sensitive to the students’ learning needs by providing a balance of teaching techniques to students’ learning styles. In addition to tailoring these techniques to student needs, the WAC techniques must be used properly in order to be effective and these techniques should be adjusted according to discipline specific-criteria.

Discussion: The student responses to WAC, WTL, and WID syllabi don’t seem to offer any new insight between WAC and traditional teaching techniques. The students point how teaching methods can be used effectively, but this is exactly what we’ve been discussing all semester! It seems that our own assessment of teaching methods offers a more in-depth analysis, and is more reflective since we have actually tried these methods with our classes. It seems that an instructor focus group would be more insightful than the student focus group. Does student input from a focus group really enable us to improve as teachers or would a focus group of other instructors provide more help in improving our teaching techniques?

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Monika Ekiert’s WID post: Elizabeth Sargent’s Peer Response to Low Stakes Writing in a WAC Literature Classroom

M. Elizabeth Sargent’s “Peer Response to Low Stakes Writing in a WAC Literature Classroom” explores the idea of using peer groups to respond to low-stakes writing. The initial idea of using peer response groups came out of the author’s inability to handle the large volume of student writing in her multiple sections of literature classes. However, at this point Sargent advocates implementing peer reviews as a process that allows her students to conceptualize an academic field as an ongoing conversation which they enter under her guidance. Peer response activities convey the idea that understanding and interpretations arise gradually from interaction in a community of readers, not magically and in isolation.

Sargent recounts her experience of using peer response activities in large introductory as well as smaller upper level courses. She shares strategies for modeling peer response for students and ideas for handling peer response. She also cautions that peer response groups require “advance planning, time and energy, and even more, a willingness to exercise enormous amounts of authority up front, restructuring a class and making students take a more active role in their own learning” (52). She asserts that peer response groups have made it possible for her to: (1) assign more writing and (2) have students learn more from each other as they wrestle with complex course concepts. She also explains that peer response allows her to get a sense of how students are interacting with the assigned readings; to design her lectures in response to students’ questions and interests; to model for students the developmental nature of understanding and interpretation; and to help students practice writing to learn.

The article makes a convincing argument for how peer response activities engage more productively with course readings and provide a useful framework for helping students “spend more time inside each other’s head” (42). More importantly, peer response can become a productive way to manage the time it takes for an instructor to respond regularly to writing assignments. As Sargent writes, “every piece of their writing gets read and responded to by someone, usually thoughtfully” (50).

Discussion Prompt: Sargent warns that peer response activities may feel so unlike learning to undergraduate students, especially in lower-division courses, that “they will resist them strenuously” (52). Yet, the idea that they save so much grading time sounds tempting. What is your take on peer reviews? Have you implemented peer reviews in your classes? How do you feel about this particular technique of writing-to-learn? Would you implement peer response systematically in your spring writing intensive sections?

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“Beyond the Red Ink: Teachers’ Comments Through Student Eyes” (video)

Do check this out–it should be required viewing for anyone who’s ever graded an essay.

http://pages.mail.bfwpub.com/hackerhandbooks/authors/videos/

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