Of all of the challenges faced by college and senior high school students, few inspire as much angst.
Blogs vs. Term Papers
The format — meant to force students to make a point, explain it, defend it, repeat it (whether in 20 pages or 5 paragraphs) — feels to many like a fitness in rigidity and boredom, like practicing piano scales in a minor key.
Her provocative positions have lent kindling to an intensifying debate regarding how best to teach writing when you look at the digital era.
“This mechanistic writing is a proper disincentive to creative but untrained writers,” says Professor Davidson, who rails against the form in her own new book, “Now you notice It: How the Brain Science of hire essay writer online Attention Will Transform the Way We Live, Work, and Learn.”
“As a writer, it offends me deeply.”
Professor Davidson makes heavy use of the blog therefore the ethos it represents of public, interactive discourse. As opposed to writing a term that is quarterly, students now regularly publish 500- to 1,500-word entries on an internal class blog about the issues and readings they have been studying in class, along with essays for public consumption.
She’s in good company. Across the country, blog writing happens to be a requirement that is basic anything from M.B.A. to literature courses. On its face, who could disagree aided by the transformation? Have you thought to replace a writing that is staid 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 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 teach key areas of thinking and writing. They argue that the format that is old less about how exactly Sherman surely got to the sea and more regarding 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 merely bypass the blog, too, and move directly 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 with regards to critical thinking, argumentation as well as the sort of expression required not only in college, but in the task market,” says Douglas B. Reeves, a columnist when it comes to American School Board Journal and founder regarding the Leadership and Learning Center, the school-consulting division of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. “It doesn’t 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 university students and more than 50 % of seniors weren’t asked to complete a paper that is single of pages or maybe more, although the majority of writing assignments were for papers of just one to five pages.
The definition of paper happens to be falling from favor for some time. A research in 2002 estimated that about 80 percent of senior high school students are not asked to write a past history term paper greater than 15 pages. William H. Fitzhugh, the study’s author and founder for 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 that is literary focus a term paper on.
He proposes what he calls the “page per 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 conventional kinds of discourse and training; “new literacy” stretches from the blog and tweet to multimedia presentation with PowerPoint and audio essay.
“We’re at a crux right now of where we have to find out as teachers what part of the old literacy is worth preserving,” says Andrea A. Lunsford, a professor of English at Stanford. “We’re trying to puzzle out simple tips 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 along with other multimedia tools crept in their lives and classrooms. She’s also solicited student feedback about their experiences.
Her conclusion is the fact that students feel a whole lot 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 requirement at Stanford, used to revolve around a paper constructed on the entire term. Now, the students start with writing a 15-page paper on a particular subject in the 1st few weeks. Once that’s done, they use the ideas with it to construct blogs, the internet sites, and PowerPoint and audio and presentations that are oral. The students often find their ideas so much more crystallized after expressing all of 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 maintain the paper that is 15-page or move right to this new way?’ ” she says. “Stanford’s writing program won’t be making that change right away, since our students still seem to take advantage 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 false opposition. Teachers may use both. And blogs, a platform that appears to encourage exercises that are rambling personal expression, could be well crafted and meticulously researched. 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 at the same time.
“I became basically kicked out of the program that is writing convinced that was more important than writing a five-paragraph essay,” she says. “I’m not against discipline. I’m not sure that writing a five-paragraph essay is discipline a great deal as standardization. It’s a formula, but good writing plays with formulas, and changes formulas.”
Today, she tries 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 handed an assignment with prescribed sentence length and structure that is rigid. “I urged him to follow all 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 was brilliance when you look at the art world, brilliance within the multimedia world, brilliance in the music world and that writing is boring,” Professor Davidson says. “I hated teaching him bad writing.”
Matt Richtel, a reporter at the days, writes often about I . t in the classroom.
a version of this informative article appears in publications on January 22, 2012, on Page ED28 of Education Life using the headline: Term Paper Blogging. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe
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