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Teaching Academic Writing: On the advantages and disadvantages of developing a writing course for st

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Title: Teaching Academic Writing: On the advantages and disadvantages of developing a writing course for st


1
Teaching Academic Writing On the advantages and
disadvantages of developing a writing course for
students in a blended learning environment.
  • Birgit Huemer, Markus Rheindorf, Helmut Gruber

2
Introduction
  • Previous Research
  • Academic Writing at the University (1999/2000,
    University of Economics Vienna, Department of
    Slavic Languages and Literatures, and Department
    of Linguistics both University of Vienna,
    funded by the Austrian National Bank)
  • Genre, Habitus and academic Writing (2001-2004,
    University of Vienna, Department of Linguistics,
    funded by the Austrian National Bank and the
    Austrian Science Foundation)
  • Theoretical background Academic literacies and
    Writing in the Disciplines approach
  • Current Research Project
  • Developing a Writing Course for Austrian
    Students (2006-2008, University of Vienna,
    Department of Linguistics, funded by the Austrian
    Science Foundation as project L179-G03,
    http//www.univie.ac.at/linguistics/Schreibprojekt

3
Introduction
  • Overview
  • Background Information
  • Overall course design
  • Entrance Modul
  • Modul 1
  • Modul 2
  • Didactic concept blended learning
  • Advantages and disadvantages of blended learning

4
Data
  • 34 student term papers written in four academic
    disciplines
  • Business studies
  • Business Psychology
  • Linguistics
  • Social and Economic History
  • Interviews questionnaires with staff (3) and
    students (34)
  • Participant observation of 3 seminars - notes and
    audio-recordings
  • Peer feedback given by student groups (1)
  • Written staff comments and feedback during or
    after their grading

5
Research method
  • Previous project
  • Qualitative analysis of selected linguistic
    features (generic macro-structure,
  • rhetorical structure, metacommunication,
    argumentation, intertextuality,
  • modality, lexis/terminology)
  • Quantitative analysis for all categories and
    subcategories, cross tabulating
  • each category with discipline and grade received
  • Current project
  • Qualitative analysis (detailled), selection of
    prototypes
  • Didactic concept
  • Developing course material, designing website
  • Teaching two courses at the department of
    Lingustics and the department of
  • Social and Economic History
  • Evaluating courses and material used
  • Redesign

6
Theoretical basis
  • Textanalysis
  • SFL approach of genres in academic discourse
    (Martin 1992, 1997, 1999, Eggins
  • Martin 1997, Veel 1997, Levin, Fine Young
    2001) generic macro-structure
  • Rhetorical Structure Theory (Mann Thompson
    1986, 1987, 1988, Mann, Matthiessen
  • Thompson 1992)
  • Argumentation (Kelly Bazermann 2003, Graefen
    2002)
  • Intertextuality (Jacobs 1999)
  • Metacommunication (Hyland 1997, 1998ab, 1999,
    Fandrych Graefen 1999, Graefen,
  • 2000)
  • Modality (Hyland 1998a, Butler 1990, Halliday
    1993, 1994)
  • Lexis/terminology (Ehlich 1995, 2000 Ehlich
    Steets, 2003b)
  • Academic literacies approach (Jones et al., 1999
    Lea Street, 1998 Lillis, 2000) social theory
    of literacy (social practices, domains of lifes,
    power relationships, cultural practices)
  • Writing across the curriculum (WAC) Writing in
    the disciplines (WID) (Russel, 2002)

7
Didactics Newly formulated didactic domains
  • General criteria of academic writing
  • Differences between everyday language and the
    language of science/academia
  • Structure/make-up of a seminar paper
  • Connecting text segments
  • Perspective (quoting, paraphrasing, summarizing,
    referencing, evaluating)
  • Explication and argumentation

8
Didactics Reconceptualising analytical categories
9
Didactics Building a modular course design
Evaluation
Entrance module
Writing Basics, Differences between everyday
language and the language of science, general
criteria of writing process / web-based
Module 1
Focus on writing discipline-specific aspects of
text structure, quotation and reference,
argumentation / face-to-face and web-based
exercises, online forum, i.e. blended learning
Module 2
10
Entrance Modul
  • Content
  • Basic knowledge of academic writing and the
    writing process
  • Design
  • Implementation e-learning platform of Vienna
    university (Bb-Vista)
  • Test module
  • Open questions
  • Multiple choice questions
  • Short assignments
  • Text sample (introduction)
  • Duration about 1 hour
  • Purpose
  • Evaluation of students previous writing
    experiences and competence
  • Recommendation of specific parts of Module 1 in
    case of shortcomings

11
Entrance Modul
12
Modul 1 Website
  • Content
  • Basic knowledge of academic writing (General
    criteria of academic writing, difference between
    the language of everyday life and scientific
    language, the structure of a seminar paper,
    connecting text-segments, quotation and
    reference, explication and argumentation)
  • Aimed at students from the faculty of Arts and
    Humanities
  • Design
  • Hypertext (Html, no flash)
  • Independent of e-learning platform (Bb Vista) but
    integrated
  • Structured by topics
  • Three page-levels (each with a prototypical page
    concept)
  • Focus on written language, framed short
    paragraphs
  • Pictures are just illustrative (main page and
    first level)
  • Functional Icons
  • Functional grapics, tables
  • Text examples from authentic students texts, no
    exercises

13
Website Modul 1 main pagehttp//www.univie.ac.at
/linguistics/personal/helmut/Schreibprojekt/Kurs/M
odul1/index.htm
14
Website Modul 1 first sub-level
15
Website Modul 1 second sub-level
16
Website Modul 1 third sub-level
17
Website Modul 1 third sub-level
18
Website Modul 1 third sub-level
19
Website Modul 1 third sub-level
20
Modul 2 blended learning
  • Content
  • Discipline specific writing course Difference
    between the language of everyday life and
    scientific language, the structure of a seminar
    paper, connecting text-segments, quotation and
    reference, explication and argumentation
  • Concept
  • Face to face online exercises 5 sessions of
    face-to-face teaching (every two weeks),
    web-based tasks in the intervals between sessions
  • Design
  • e-learning platform of the University of Vienna
    (Bb Vista)

21
The e-learning platform Bb Vista
22
Online exercises
  • Type of activities
  • Describing, detecting, modifying, classifying,
    grading and sequencing, writing, rewriting,
    discussing, giving feedback
  • Available tools
  • Assignment tool
  • Wiki
  • Discussion Forum

23
Assignment tool
24
Wiki
25
Online Forum
26
Advantages
  • Collaborative work on texts (tracking text
    versions)
  • Peer groups
  • One forum for each topic
  • Learning to give feedback
  • Learning to write drafts rewriting
  • Anonymous feedback possible
  • Available 24 hours
  • Integration of external links (Website Modul 1)

27
Disadvantages
  • Assignment tool for all exercises writing, copy
    and paste, no drag and drop, no other tools for
    exercises available
  • Few text formating possibilities
  • WIKI tool unclear structure
  • No video upload
  • Unclear navigation structure
  • Scholars can only use the tools the lecturer has
    selected
  • Back-button does not work
  • Additional workload for lecturer Email,
    moderation of online forum

28
  • Thank you
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