Writing an academic essay can seem a complicated task at first sight, yet, devoting some…
English for Academic Purposes Online
Text B Beeline I love the ability to store and search online documents. The use of ‘Find’ is great when I need to skim a document to find information. However, I still love print texts for many reasons – less eye strain, beautiful color In photos, portability, and often the quality of the Information Is better for some subjects. I think both types of texts are useful depending on the situation and the information needed. Text C Jamie Call me old fashioned but I still prefer reading printed text. Don’t get me wrong, I do love all the things my computer can do.
I can read almost any newspaper I want to without going out and buying one and ending up with Ink on all my fingers. I can save things to read again if I wish. I may even buy myself one of those electronic book readers so I can download books onto it but I don’t think it will replace the way a book feels In your hands. Since I do a lot of class work online and spend a lot of time reading on my computer I admit It Is more a way of life for me now and It Is very convenient. (Adapted from http://deconstructionists. Inning. Momforum opics) Online learning In his review of online communication at the Open University, based on internal and external publications by O authors, Goodwill (2001) concludes that key benefits of inline communication for teaching and learning are the opportunity for students to work together, and the possibility for courses to reduce their print content. Working together has a significant impact on students’ levels of interest and satisfaction with distance learning. He points out that the experience for the individual learner depends on the behavior of the group.
Online activities can replace conventional study texts provided that a majority of the students are committed to being active online. These findings point to a range of positive impacts on students’ experience of earning, through a sense of community, mutual support, interest and satisfaction. There is also the element of being able to work with and learn from the views, mistakes and insights of others. (Kulaks-Helm, A. (2003) ‘Online and web-based learning: linking key issues to experience and research’, Research for the National College of School Leadership by the Open University Institute of Educational Technology) Text 1. Why it’s important to be a learner We hope that you will go along with the suggestion that learning permeates most, if not all, aspects of our lives. The quote that follows is from Peter Jarvis, an academic ho has spent many years trying to set out why learning is so important. In the opening to a recent book he suggests: Learning is like food, ingest it and it will enrich the whole human being: unlike food, it is difficult to have too much. It is possible to eat the wrong things and it is likewise possible to learn the wrong things. He processes of learning are a basic stimulus to life itself and without it the human body could never transcend its biological state, nor could the individual function effectively in the wider society. It is essential to our humanity Oarfish, 2006, p. 3) Jarvis is eking a very strong claim about the importance of learning here. It is worth unpicking this statement in order to see what it really means and to see whether you agree with it. Jarvis compares learning with food. Do you think that this is a fair comparison? Do you think that if people do not learn, they will die? At first this seems quite a startling thing to say.
However, consider that if someone fails to learn about things that are dangerous (like hot objects or speeding cars) they may put themselves at considerable risk. Jarvis also suggests that while it is difficult to have too much earning it is possible to learn Wrong things’. These wrong things can include negative beliefs about ourselves as well as facts that are inaccurate. This densely packed quote then finishes with three more very big claims about learning. The first is that learning is a basic stimulus to life. The second is that without learning human beings can never transcend their biology.
The third is that learning enables people to Milton Keynes, The Open University, p. 78) Extract for Activity 18 Interviewer: Is there anyone you’d hate to write like? Yes: academics! Academic writing is cold, it seems like hiding things, not Angela: thinking. I read an essay by [a sociology tutor] which didn’t seem to mean anything. They seem meaningless, as if you could condense what they say into a few paragraphs [They want to keep you out, that] is what annoys me about academic text that is very mystifying uses a lot of Jargon, doesn’t connect to reality.
The person doesn’t want you to see them. That comes across straight away. Using theory and knowledge as a barrier (Vivian, R. (1998) Writing and Identity, Amsterdam, John Benjamin) 4 Text 1. 6 Communities of practice Figure 18 Level Viscosity 1 Although, it is possible to view learning as something that appends on a purely individual basis, there are other sorts of theories that question this individual focus. There are psychological theories that suggest learning is an activity that occurs in a particular social context. A good example of this is the theory put forward by Level Viscosity (1896-1934). According to Widgets (1978), learning occurs when human beings are part of activities that are provided by the society in which they live. Although Widgets focused on what children need to learn as they grow up, here we are applying this thinking to the needs of adult learners. 3 Viscosity argued that it is impossible to understand learning without taking into account the effect of living in a particular society at a particular time. One example of this would be the learning that used to occur on the Scottish island of SST Gilda.
The people who used to live on this island needed to collect eggs and catch some of the birds that nested on the island. These were an important source of food for a population that could be cut off from the mainland by bad weather for many weeks. However, the cliffs where the birds nest often reach 350 meters above sea level. Figure 19 Catching birds and eggs for food was a dangerous but important occupation 4 In order to collect the eggs, SST Island had to learn how to climb these cliffs. This learning would not have been encouraged in other societies with other needs.
As a young SST 5 Killed grew up, there would come a point where they might be taken out onto the cliffs by a more experienced climber. Perhaps they would start with parts of the cliffs that were not quite as dangerous as others and gradually progress to the trickiest people to develop important skills and knowledge. This knowledge was held by the society and made available to people as they became ready for it. (Slightly adapted room The Open University (2008) Y 165 Learning to change, Milton Keynes, The Open University, p. 8) 6 Session 2 resources Text 2. 1 Becoming an effective reader: how to meet the challenge of academic reading 1 Reading at university is particularly challenging because texts can be long and complex and students may also struggle with unknown vocabulary. Students need to read these texts and extract relevant information for specific purposes. For example, students read and make notes because they have to write an assignment or prepare a seminar paper. University reading needs to be an active process which involves both reading and writing.
All too often, students become side-tracked by irrelevant detail or bogged down by complicated vocabulary. 2 Academic texts may be more conceptual than students are used to: that is, they introduce abstract ideas and how they relate to each other. Reading these texts, students need to think academically and develop a critical understanding of what they read. This is not always a familiar process given that non-academic reading is often restricted to reading for information or for recreation. 3 Developing reading strategies leads to improved competence as well as confidence.
This takes practice but ultimately saves time. It helps to develop active engagement with reading. For example, predicting the content of a text from its title, layout or visual clues is a good way of actively engaging with the text and improving understanding. Likewise, searching a text for particular information is an economical way of extracting the information needed without spending time understanding the whole text. Predicting and search reading are Just two of a range of strategies which can be used by efficient readers. Written by the course team) Text 2. 2 Are you a reluctant reader? How to motivate yourself to read One feature of studying a course is that although the course is interesting, you sometimes find yourself reading texts you don’t get on with. So how can you make yourself learn as a reluctant reader? The basic answer is to look for ways of overcoming your reluctance. Any subject can be interesting if you look at it in the right way. Whether you are interested depends on what is on your mind and whether you can relate the subject to your own experience.
However, not all subjects have a direct link to everyday life – for example, quantum physics or multidimensional geometry. With subjects like these the interest lies in exploring intellectual puzzles, in learning how to place complicated problems into conceptual frameworks that enable you to work on them. The key to getting involved is to grasp the problems the text is trying solve – to see why the subject was interesting to those who developed it. Following how scientists tracked down the cause of an unexpected finding can have all the excitement of a detective story.
Once you are into a subject, the sheer elegance of an explanation can the page; you have to try to engage with what the text is trying to tell you. If none of this works, Just work out a strategy for ‘getting through’ the reading- for example, you could search for information on a specific aspect of the topic, or pick out techniques you need to solve a problem in your next assignment. In other words, if you can’t find any ‘intrinsic’ purpose for yourself in the text, then create a purpose by actively seeking out something. If all else fails, Just cut through the task quickly and move on to something else. Watson, T. (2008) SSL 10 Health sciences in practice: Module 1 Study Skills, Milton Keynes, The Open University, p. 19) Text 2. 3 Differences in reading in a second language which influence the reading process 1 When they read, speakers of English as a second language are in a different position to speakers of English as a first language. These second language readers do not have the same language knowledge that first language readers have at the beginning (Alderman, 2000; Grab and Stroller, 2002; Request and Weir, 1998). Second language readers have much less knowledge of vocabulary and grammar.
They also have less awareness of the organization and stylistic features of texts when they begin to read. In addition, second language readers have much less exposure to native language print (Day and Bombard, 1998). In contrast, first language readers are consistently exposed to native language print from an early age. 2 Apart from linguistic differences, cultural differences also have an influence on reading in a second language. This is because second language readers may well have completely different social and cultural backgrounds to native readers.
This will then impact on the knowledge or assumptions learners bring to the reading process. 3 Other factors can influence second language readers in unique ways. Students often learn second languages for different reasons than first language readers. These might include to understand a new culture or to go overseas. As a consequence, second language readers may have differing motivations for reading in the second language than in the first (Adorned, 2001). Moreover, second language readers work with thinking skills that involve two different languages.
Working with two languages means they use and control two sets of words and meanings and two sets of text structures. 4 Although reading will be broadly similar across languages, reading in a second or additional language presents distinct challenges. (Grab, W. (2002) ‘LA factors in reading, The Language Teacher Foundations for LA Instruction [online], www. Salt- publications. Org) Text 2. 4 The developing academic reader 1 Students need to be able to adopt different approaches to reading as they progress through the stages of academic study and read for a range of purposes. Here are abilities. A) They need to read fast in a critical way. (b) Even my final year students are still library shy – some of them don’t even know where the library is! (c) They need to look for authoritative validated sources. 8 d) They need creativity to take their own notes (e) If I give them lemons, I expect them to give me back the Juice not the lemons! 2 At the beginning of an undergraduate course, students read mainly to follow up what they are studying and prepare for assessment, consolidating and expanding their understanding of the concepts and facts which constitute the core of the subject.
At this stage, their reading is likely to be quite directed, and involve course material, recommended textbooks, handouts supplied in lectures, case studies, and company or government reports related to professional aspects of the subject. However, as the lecturer points out in comment (a), they still have to read fast and in a critical way. The ability to read critically develops throughout the period of academic study. At first, the critical focus is likely to involve making connections with previous knowledge or thinking of examples or applications. However, as they progress through their courses, rather than using texts simply as sources of information, students will increasingly be expected to evaluate the basis of the knowledge they are reading about and the conclusions of other authors. Using texts in more complex ways to support their own search and conclusions requires more sophisticated nominating and recording strategies. In comment (d), the lecturer points out that the ability to make notes that reflect the reader’s purpose needs to be developed from an early stage of academic study. During their studies at university, what students read and what they need to do with the material become gradually more complex. The outcome of academic reading is usually a task which requires applying or transforming knowledge to solve problems characteristic of the academic field or their future profession. The lecturer sees the analogy of the lemons to help her students see the importance of this process of knowledge transformation. For example, memorizing and representing the content of a case study in a paraphrased form would not be satisfactory in an examination answer. That would be ‘giving back the lemons’.