The Appeal of the Archives: Bringing students into the archives opens a new avenue for undergraduate research. By examining a small number of primary sources, my students develop close observation and reading skills that lead to more focused and nuanced arguments. To give students a greater stake in their writing, I purposefully choose documents that my students can connect to on a local and personal level.
In this PIL interview, we talked to Barbara about why the research paper is a flawed pedagogical practice but continues to be assigned, and what rethinking of research as "play" may mean to teaching today's college students.
We caught up with Barbara over the summer and asked her about the shortcomings of research paper assignments and how research, reading, and student learning could and needs to be re-imagined.
What would you say are the best alternatives for teaching students about research-based writing? How could the traditional research paper be re-imagined to be more effective? Oddly enough, the research paper is more entrenched than ever. Rather than make informed choices about what sources they will use in constructing an argument, they are likely to grab articles from which they can easily mine some quotes, often pulling some out-of-context lines from the first page without reading further.
Research papers are seen as a test of how well they can present to the teacher something she or he already knows following strict and seemingly arbitrary rules.
Engagement, experimentation, close reading, following unexpected leads into unfamiliar territory—those are detours that interfere with efficient productivity.
That said, I have read wonderful undergraduate papers, ones that are creative, insightful, and original—and perceptive about what an academic audience expects and values. Those students have made a shift in self-perception that makes a huge difference.
They see knowledge as constructed by people like them; they have a genuine question and a genuine itch to see how they might answer it. What prompts that shift? How should we begin to think about making the research process more like play for students?
What keeps most students from thinking of research as play? Can you give an example of an assignment that encourages a playful approach to research and at the same time produces reliable results? It means mimesis, freedom of movement, the kind of repetitive mastery that happens when playing video games or sports or music, as well as the kind of imaginative interactions children have as they try on various roles.
It feels hollow to them, not fun.
Authentic research is all about playing with ideas. You notice something odd: I think good research prompts are ones that give students some say in what they will choose as their problem or question within the goals of the course.
And there should be some room for them to be themselves, to react on their own terms using their own language, even if the finished project requires that they adopt formal conventions.
One of my colleagues teaching a first term seminar found her students were impatient with the readings she had chosen. They were sold on the subject of the course — the virtues of living simply — but wanted to write about the topic from a college student perspective.
She was game no pun intended and tossed the syllabus, letting them spend the last weeks of the class creating a guide to the issues for their fellow students using Wordpress as a platform. This is all new to me. They were unusually engaged.The same volume includes Richard Larson’s still-cited “The ‘Research Paper’ in the Writing Course: A Non-Form of Writing,” which argued for assignments more closely resembling research-based genres outside the classroom.
Students in the course conceived of journal writing as significantly more informal, private, easy, emotional, random, involved, unstructured, tentative, elaborated, spontaneous, conversational and unorganized than they conceived of a "good paper.".
Research Paper Outline Examples Once you've decided what topic you will be writing about, the next thing you should pay attention to is the scope of your paper . The "Research Paper" in the Writing Course: A Non-Form of Writing Created Date: Z. In , the journal College English published a set of articles on the research paper, one of which is a classic in which Richard Larson called the research paper “a non-form of writing.” He valued research as a mode of learning, but felt the genre “research paper” was at a far remove from what we do when we do research.
Oddly enough, the research paper is more entrenched than ever.
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|January 25, 2009||The Interesting Case of Academic Journals.|
|Teaching the Rhetorical Dimensions of Research||If students perceive that the research process consists of merely locating, synthesizing, and presenting information from library sources, they will not fulfill the demands of college-level inquiry. This article examines the importance of teaching the rhetorical dimensions of research, and suggests several relevant approaches that BI librarians can use when explaining access tools and research strategies.|
|Research areas||College English is the professional journal for the college scholar-teacher.|
In this brief article, Moulton and Holmes explore the history of the research paper, questioning its ubiquitous appearance in writing classes. The article traces the ﬁriseﬂ of the research paper in the late 19th century, outlines debates over teaching the research paper, and offers a variety of alternatives.