Friday, April 24, 2015

Last post!

This semester really opened my eyes to what academic writing and research really is.  Back in the day, I would look at my assigned topic that I really didn’t care much about, look up some articles regarding the issue, then take pieces of each article and put them into a paper.  .  My idea of the process of research has evolved in the past 16 weeks in the fact that I now see that I don’t have to rely on the other research articles I find. This semester I went from basically summarizing old research to analyzing this research and using it as a resource to aid my own thoughts on the subject.  I also learned that the “so what” of a paper is one of the most important parts when trying to get through to your audience.
            One big idea that I took away from this semester is that it’s my job as a student to add to the ever-growing research world.  Yes, it seems like a scary place, but once you’re there, it’s not so bad.  As our class looked at what “counts” as research, I learned that although numbers are great, interviews work just as well in the academic world.  For example, even though I’m not going to a field like chemistry in which it seems easier to conduct quantitative studies, the education field offers many opportunities for qualitative research if that’s what I choose to do.  As I explore what I want to study for my Capstone project, I have realized that I don’t need to have conduct experiments in order to do research.  Also, conducting research isn’t as hard as it sounds; I simple survey or interview can reveal so much about a topic.  This took a big weight off my shoulders!
            At SCREE, I got to talk with many students both in and out of my discipline and listen to them explain their research and what they found.  From them, I learned that some research can be conceptual, almost like common sense, but connecting ideas across different articles is an important aspect of research.  They provided insight on how to approach the project in the fact that they took a big topic, and narrowed it by finding an issue.  Also, I talked with one student in which their research just created more questions, and that’s okay.  The biggest lesson I learned is that usually there is no one answer, and the question I choose to ask will most likely create more questions.
            As I continue my education and work towards my Capstone I have a few goals for myself: 1. Find something I’m passionate about (I think I’m on the right track because of this class) 2. Be creative 3. Don’t get stressed.  Throughout this class, one of the key ideas that has been ingrained into my head is that academic writing is a conversation, and through my research, I am adding to it.  As a writer, I need to keep in mind my audience and anticipate any questions they may have and address them.   This class has been very beneficial to my idea of what is expected of me in regards to academic writing and was actually very enjoyable due to the fact that I got to write about issues that pertained directly to my passion.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015


Regarding Habits of the Mind and multimodal composing, engagement, creativity, and persistence was the three big ideas that come to my mind.  And I’ll tell you why:

Have you ever watched a movie or a Netflix show but the first five minutes are so boring that you just quit?  Yeah, that was me with Gossip Girl (sorry Chuck Bass fans!).  When having a multimedia component in a research project, it has to engage your audience.  If it’s not interesting, no one is going watch your hard work.  On the other end of the spectrum, you don’t want it to be so distracting that it takes away from the rest of your project.  With a video, image, or any other media component, it should assist your audience’s leaning, allowing them to better understand what you are trying to say.

Going hand in hand with engagement, creativity is also very important.  Using media in a unique manner can enhance the overall view of your argument/project.  Also, creating a visual model could make a concept or study easier to understand.  Being a future elementary school teacher, creativity is a skill that is very useful when dealing with 8 year olds who need help understanding the concept of density and floating vs sinking.

Lastly, persistence, which connects with engagement and creativity, applies to multimodal composing.  Using multimedia opens up a whole new door to get across your ideas and it’s important that if you do choose to use multimedia, you make sure it complements your other work and continues to expound on what you are trying to say.  This also relates to my future career as children have pretty short attention spans and I need to keep them interested in learning.  For example, when I volunteered at a school over spring break, every day for a half hour before lunch, the students worked on their Dinosaur Research Reports.  This was a long term project, so each day as we completed the next part of the project, it was like pulling teeth because they just were not interested anymore.

Some challenges of multimodal composing are that it can be very time consuming, it’s not uncommon to have issues with technology, and the media itself can distract the audience.  The benefits are that it can enhance your project/idea by capturing the audience’s attention, and can also make difficult concepts easier to understand.

I actually have no idea what I want to do for my multimedia project.  The popcorn website we used in class seemed like something I would want to look into more.  With my topic, the math gender stereotype in elementary school, I could use multimedia to show visual representations of results from studies or even interviews form women in STEM fields.  To be honest, I’m not too sure what I’m planning on doing at the moment.

So if you watch my video, you will see a few funny videos of cats  and hear some awesome, yet diverse, music.  I hope it makes you laugh!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Understanding Academic Writing

As I start gathering research and formulating questions, I plan on constructing my argument in a manner that caters to my audience: my ENG 201H class.  In regards to the research I'll use, some of the articles I've already come across are difficult to decipher due to the puzzle that is academic writing, so as I break down and process the information I can put it into my own words that are easier to understand.  Also, in this paper, I plan on relying more on paraphrasing than using actual quotes.  I realize that not everyone is going to math or teaching like I am so giving background on my argument rather than just jumping right in is important.  By current strengths are that I am very passionate about this subject, I know a lot of information already, and I also have some personal experiences to add to the argument.  Some of my weaknesses are that I am very fact driven and sometimes when I write, I get to the end of the second pages and I'm like "Oh!  That's what I want to say!" so then I have to go back and make sure my thesis is clear.

Looking at the "Framework for Success" tips, I think my goal for the first half of semester (becoming more creative) was achieved through our second assignment, the evaluation paper.  Still, I think that with this argument I still need to work on that aspect, allowing my voice to shine through and not let it be drowned out by facts and quotes.  This idea goes with the skill of engagement and making sure my readers are as excited with this topic as I am.  I think that working on these habits will allow me to grow as an academic writer as this next part of the semester progresses.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

How to respectively argue with paper

The word argument has a negative connotation tied to it.  You picture red-faced, rage-filled individuals blindly yelling at each other.  This is not the case with arguing in academic writing.

First and foremost, a good argument is a conversation (which I described in an earlier blog post).  The claim of the argument (thesis) should be something debatable (it may be beneficial to start with a question and form an argument from there); the whole idea of the argument is to inform and persuade your audience.  If you’re swimming in information, your topic is too broad; if you’re struggling to find enough evidence your topic could be too narrow.   Next, you need to have logical reasons for your claim and support those reasons with relevant evidence (warrant).  Keep in mind the questions readers might have regarding what you’re saying; anticipation is key to a good argument.  The next stage in the writing process deals with addressing the counterarguments and responding to them.  You have to give readers both sides in order for your argument to seem clear, fair, and credible.  To end the paper/argument, sum up what you’re trying to say, and, hopefully you’ve given your audience enough information and proved/solved your claim.

As we learn more about academic writing, I see that we are trying to move away from the “standard”, the five-paragraph, the “no personality” paper.  Some approaches have more or less stayed the same, for example, the idea of appeals to logos, ethos, and pathos to strengthen arguments.  Although its defiantly been enhanced, the fundamental ideas of these appeals and their importance in your argument has aligned with what I learned in high school.

Although I’ve heard this word before, the word “claim” has come to take a new meaning in regards to academic writing.  Usually, we say that other people “claim” ideas, it provides a sense of doubt, like although the say this, it can be disputed.  Now, I am the one with the claim and I have to prove it.  The one word that confuses me a bit is warrant.  It’s a new one, but I think I’m getting the hang of it.  From what I understand, warrant is the relevancy of your reasons and evidence.

Until next time…its Rachel signing off.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

What is Academic Writing?

"I'll take 'Go Back to College' for 800, Alex."


To enter the conversation as an academic writer means that you are adding your two cents in on a topic or issue that has already been discussed.  You enter the conversation, say what you have found, and then leave (in this case in the form of the paper).  The conversation keeps going after you have finished, but now it includes your research and your contribution.

In order to enter the conversation, writers must effectively synthesize the "They Say" on the subject and then convey the "I Say".  You gather evidence from credible sources, presenting both sides of the argument, and then respond using your personal experience and references to the research you've done.  The art of summary and then response requires practice, and using some of the templates in "They Say I Say" are a great start.

In academic writing, it is important to keep your audience in mind.  First, you need to decide who your audience is going to to be.  Are they experts in the field? Or do they only have basic knowledge on the subject and need more guidance?  Once you've decided that, you can determine what they need from you.  Writing is a conversation, thus, you have to engage readers and them how this said issue/topic affects them.  You need the "So what?" of your argument.  What are you trying to convey to readers, what is the point of your paper?

Picking a topic to write about can be the most difficult part of writing.  Most of the time, the issue is that the topic is just too broad, like you are "trying to change the world with one paper".  Finding a research question is a project in itself.  You can start by choosing a topic and then asking yourself what you want to find out within that topic, and then following that up with what you want your readers to take away or understand from your paper.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

1st blog post!

 As I writer, I am very organized, fact-driven, and to the point.  In English 201, I hope to learn how to write directly, yet more creatively.  Whenever I write research papers, my paragraphs are definitely fact-heavy, thus I hope to learn to write more conversationally and in turn put more of myself into my writing.  My writing may seem "cold" but I am a very logical thinker and that's how my writing comes across.  I'm a very curious person and I'm excited to pursue topics related to my field (education) that I feel passionate about.  I think that this class will open up my mind to different ways of writing and in turn make me a better writer.  Like I said before, I'm going into Education, elementary specificallyIts very interesting to me to look at the home lives of students.  Some students' home lives are not supportive, and thus, changes their mindset towards school.  I also am very interested in sociology and maybe combining that with education will produce a very interesting research question.  Some other topics I'm interested within that umbrella are the differences (pros/cons) of public schooling compared to private schooling, and also how the "common core" initiative is changing schooling.  And although I'm not going into law enforcement, crime and the psychology behind it has always been a topic I have been curious about.