miércoles, 27 de octubre de 2010

Ways teachers can help students learn how to structure a piece of academic writing

The information and ideas included in a piece of academic writing should be carefully planned and organized in order to prepare a paper - a written composition involving the writer in searching for facts about a specific topic, thinking about it, venturing an opinion and being able to communicate his/her findings to another reader. As most of English as a second language students are not familiar with this type of process, this new experience may cause them anxiety. To help them overcome this feeling, there are different ways in which we, as teachers, can help in order to make this activity challenging, amusing and meaningful. Writing is an effective means to learn not only about a language but also about communication, culture and ourselves.

Firstly, choosing an appealing subject is very important. Enjoying what we do is imperative when carrying out any project; even more, this is reflected in our writing. Secondly, storing data is the next step once the theme has been selected. Thirdly, writing a draft with all the relevant material that has been found is necessary in order to narrow the focus of our research. Fourthly, presenting information in an organized way is essential to make it clear for the reader: an introductory paragraph stating what is to be discussed and how the subject is to be dealt with, by summarizing the work of others or arguing about facts and theories or combining both approaches. The final stage includes linking the body to the introduction and last but not least, working the conclusion, which sums up the main points and perhaps, gives recommendation for further action.

This piece of writing that has been prepared following the steps mentioned above should undergo now further modifications in this crafting phase, until it is ready to be presented. To begin with, encouraging our students to learn to edit their work is vital– as we learn from errors, it is important not to be afraid of making them. Furthermore, peer correction with clear guidelines is another way of training. It is easier to spot mistakes in others’ than in our own essays; thus, in this way, they do lend a hand and improve their own skills as well. In addition to this, students should bear in mind that the process of producing a good academic paper is not really very difficult if it is practised in small steps, building up confidence in their ability to write. What about taking into account each of the elements which combine together to form their work? Not only is the layout essential but also the correct use of discourse linkers and grammatical structures, rich vocabulary and appropriate register. Being knowledgeable about conventions and rules will contribute to excellence.

To conclude, as any type of learning, this is a process that takes time and patience. Our students may experience frustrations rather than challenges. However, they should be willing to wait until all the pieces of their work come together in a good academic paper. The fruits of working arise from soil that has been prepared, fertilized and tended.

Gabriela Buscemi

BIENVENIDOS/AS!!

Mientras meditaba sobre cómo darles la bienvenida a este nuevo espacio que nos ofrece la tecnología, recordé las palabras de Jerome Bruner(1990), quien dice que hay algo peculiar en el hombre: su desarrollo como individuo depende de la historia de su especie. Lo que una cultura hace para estimular el desarrollo de las capacidades de la mente es proporcionar sistemas de amplificación a los que los humanos podemos acoplarnos.

En primer lugar, los amplificadores de la acción, como martillos, ruedas, cucharas, etc. En segundo lugar, amplificadores de los sentidos o formar de observar y detectar, como por ejemplo llamadas de aviso, diagramas, microscopios, etc. Por último encontramos los amplificadores de los procesos de pensamiento, especialmente el lenguaje y la lógica. Dentro de ellos se encuentra la inteligencia mecánica, que no llegará jamás a reemplazar a la humana, pero podrá llegar a extenderla y ampliarla a base de complementarla. No se puede estimar el alcance de la inteligencia humana sin tener en cuenta los instrumentos que la cultura pone al alcance de la mente. La inteligencia no es patrimonio de una persona, es un bien comunal, en tanto que la cultura le ofrece los elementos para acrecentarla desde afuera.

Con el tiempo aprenderemos a desarrollar por medios mecánicos aquellas funciones de las que la evolución natural no nos ha dotado. Por ejemplo, es un rasgo característico de la inteligencia humana su capacidad limitada, en un momento dado, para manejar información. La complejidad y la confusión nos desbordan fácilmente. Allí se pone en juego la llamada “conexionalidad” del conocimiento: la idea de una sociedad de seres humanos conectados a una base de datos mediante instrumentos y programas de computación capaces de recuperar información con gran rapidez, una forma de hacer que el conocimiento sea menos inerte, abandone su encierro, y logre hacerse eco de los aportes y avances que surgen de la toda la comunidad.

Es mi deseo que sepamos hacer uso de este blog, como parte de la creatividad humana, no con el objeto único de impartir información, sino de desarrollar nuestras habilidades, refinar nuestra sensibilidad y ahondar en nuestra concepción del mundo.
Rectora
Diana Resa