Posts tagged keywords

My Kazakhstani Students’ Difficulties in Writing Academic Essays

Question:  What are the most difficult parts of writing an academic paper for this class?  Why?

 

The hardest part, as always, is the start, the first step.  It is very important to come up with a good thesis statement that is why it is so hard.  But after you’ve done this, the writing of the article itself is not that difficult.  Because by thesis statement, you’ve already structured your essay.  You just need to explain your arguments.

The next difficult step is to find articles which would support your opinion and choose quotes from them in order to make in-text citations.  That’s because you need to look through so many articles, decide what words to use and how to put everything together.

Also, the conclusion part is very important, so you need to spend time on it.  In order to make the final sentences sound convincing.

 

I like writing and compositions, but here we need to write academic writing.  So we must look up for academic articles from research databases; sometimes it tends to be problem with keywords.  Then if you find them, you need to read all of them.  You face new words or terms that you’ve never seen or heard before and need to work on them.

And other details like “in-text citations” and APA style, etc.

Anyway, I learn, practice and do my best.

 

APA style, because for small mistakes you lose points ;-(  APA style is very difficult!

To find article, because we sometimes use wrong keywords.  To begin writing essay, I always have this problem because sometimes it is difficult to write thesis statement without Thesis Statement Builder.

 

It was somehow difficult to understand how to write essay (where to put in-text citations, how to put them)  Also, I was confused when dealing with discursive essay before you sent an e-mail with an example.  All in all, the difficulties were with organizing the paper.  But now I think I get it!

 

First, finding articles.  It takes a lot of time to find a proper article with information you need, you are looking for.

Second, reading and combining the information.  You have to work a lot to understand those articles, make an outline and combining the information.  You have to change the author’s words by using synonyms.  Sometimes difficult to find articles that support your ideas.

But in general, if you have time, and you know how to organize the essay, it is not so difficult to write it.

 

The thesis statement is the most difficult part.  But using the “Thesis Statement Builder” it is much better and easier.  Sometimes there are topics like “smoking” or “using computers” which have more cons than pros.

Sometimes it’s very difficult to find the appropriate article…sometimes the articles are too long and there are other graphs and tables which confuse the reader.  But on the whole, it’s not so difficult.  The most important is to know what you are writing about and to clarify all pros and cons to make your essay clear and easy to understand.

 

From the research sites like Ebscohost, we can find a lot of different types of information with different size and volume.  So, sometimes when we want exact information for our topic, I feel confused because most of the articles go in the wrong way. (i.e. you start looking at articles for early human development but the research site gives you so many articles that at the end you choice one of them.  But this article will be about today’s techno world affect on a person’s life!  Where is the word for “early human development?”

 

The most difficult part for me is that we have too much assignments for such a short time.  Doing this type of assignments really takes a lot of time, I mean: searching for an article, finding which you really like, writing review.  It would be much easier if we had more time to do this.

Also, I think that it would be much better if we had an opportunity to choose topics ourselves, I know that is almost impossible, but still it will involve students, because they will choose what they are interested in.  Or maybe it is possible to give us a list of topics, so we can choose one of them.

 

 

 

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Computer “illiteracy” is NOT about grammar!!!

Lately the vocabulary list to my teacher’s reportoire has been “Keywords” and “research databases.”  For years I’ve been instructing first year composition students on the virtues of “thesis statements” and “working bibliographies.”  One of the students whose thesis statements I checked yesterday, while conducting classes in the library’s Computer Lab, was writing on the topic of “computer illiteracy.”  She had inserted in her thesis statement, without having done any exploratory searches on EBSCOhost, ProQuest or J-Stor about how grammar is not being used correctly while using the computer.  Oh, does she have a LOT to learn when it comes to what real “illiteracy” is about.  Essentially, it is not about grammar but about properly using the computer tools to GET to the original journal sources.  “InfoLiteracy” is all about knowing how to access the exact information that you need from scholarly, peer-reviewed journals.  (Caveat:  I don’t agree with all journals and their thrust but at least there is an author’s name next to the article titles, whereas you won’t often find that on the Internet by doing a simple Google search.)

I’m having an American friend of mine give a talk next week titled “Desparate for Relevant Articles in Kazakhstan!” He did beta testing for J-Stor years ago since he knew he needed to access information for his doctoral program while living in Central Asia.  He has lived in Kazakhstan for 12 years and knows the Kazakh language.  He is deeply invested in the life here and knows painfully well that it is too difficult to bring books or journals to the “ends of the earth.”  The next best thing is to read information that others have authored on any given topic on your computer.  This means that it has nothing to do with grammar and everything to do with spelling the keywords correctly while reading material so you can get better ideas for even better, informed searches. 

Obviously the teaching methodology of post-Soviet teachers still embraces grammar and translation based instruction when teaching English. However, when teaching computer skills, it is all about taking risks while making mistakes on the computer.  You learn by doing.  So too with being literate in English, it should mean being able to read and write.  That is only accomplished by DOING!  Learning to talk means taking risks and sorting out the grammar but TALK!!!

Therefore, I’m excited to see the eyes of many Kazakhstani students opened up to the world beyond their borders of Kazakhstan and to witness that they are eager to learn.  Once they see that they can be “literate” with accessing information from the research databases, I’m hoping they will be literate enough in English to write about their wonderful country so that others from the outside will know what a great land this really is!!!

So, to the Kazakh teachers who remain “computer illiterate,” they do so to the detriment of their students who are like sponges and want to learn.  These same teachers are usually the same ones who turn a blind eye to plagiarism.  This disease will dissipate if they get their young charges turned on to the power of using strong “keywords” and finding topics they are passionate to read about and then write on as it relates to Kazakhstan.  A dearth of information about Kazakhstan prevails because noone is writing about it.  Those best to write in English about this country are Kazakhstanis who know Kazakh AND English!!!

Some of the dissenters who are against the forces of “InfoLiteracy” would have held the “Industrial Revolution” at arms length if they lived back in those times.  Computer literacy is NOT about grammar but about knowing how to access key information!!!  InfoLiteracy will not be going away unless someone pulls the plug on all our computers world wide. 8)

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