Quoted directly from TDU Talk
In Student Learning we are well aware that any teacher facing a lecture theatre filled with new students may make assumptions about student knowledge and ability. Teachers have very little option but to expect the students’ language proficiency to be such that it will allow participation in written and spoken interactions;that they can read an academic text as guided by the teaching; that they recognise the basic purpose of a library; that they have experimented with digital technology in some capacity at least; and that they are conscious of the principles underpinning a Western concept of intellectual property. On the whole such assumptions are justified, but when dealing with students as individuals we find that they fit somewhere along a spectrum of academic readiness. Quite frequently, a student discovers some rather distressing gaps (however minor) which may impact on his or her learning experience in a potentially far-reaching way. The problem for you, as a university teacher, is how to respond when individual students present with underdeveloped understanding of academic conventions and limited awareness of the intellectual rigour required for tertiary study.
Student Learning is a university-wide service provided to enhance the success, retention and completion of University of Waikato students. We see students from many faculties and schools who range from pre-degree to PhD levels. As a team we have, over the years, become familiar with certain patterns of student enquiry. A significant proportion of the work of Student Learning involves offering learning development opportunities to individuals that are targeted to their unique experience. This is highly effective teaching at the micro level, which of course is limited in its volume capacity. As effective as this intervention is, we find ourselves constantly repeating the same information for the same type of enquiry.
In response to years of anecdotally-collected insights the team has developed a series of internet resources. A learning developer working with an individual can identify a gap and introduce the student directly to the resources dealing with that particular diagnosis, allowing him or her to explore a solution independently - which students find strategically desirable. Students can then return to the resource to revise their learning and ultimately to develop academically beneficial problem-solving strategies. This approach is good for our NET / BLK service to students too. When commenting on a draft in written form, an explanation can be crushing for a student in the amount of detail needed to make sure that the learning point is made. With these resources we can identify the feature with a brief explanation and direct him or her to the relevant page or pages.
There is a little more here about inviting feedback, before the text explains the grammar pages, which you know about already. The next excerpt I will use is from the pages I've entitled Annotated Academic excerpts:
Students frequently ask us if we can show them a well-written piece of student writing. We have gratefully made frequent use of the “Working Papers in Applied Linguistics”, a journal that collects and publishes the best applied linguistics assignments each year. With these we can analyse how successful students structure
their assignments, their paragraphs, and their sentences; we can look at the sorts of words they are using and verb forms they have chosen; we can highlight the frequency with which successful students are referencing (in APA), and how those citations are integrated. Students find a guided tour of successful student work a
useful exercise, and although the topic should not matter in terms of the writing strategies, they wonder if there might be texts in their disciplines that they can analyse. As a response we have a new (and still being developed) innovation called Annotated Academic Excerpts. This innovation takes successful assignments donated by high-performing students and annotates the features that contribute towards the quality of the text in question. At present the tool has focussed on the introduction and conclusion structure of the academic rhetorical essay, but we are hoping to include excerpts of text-types for specific disciplines as these become available. As with the grammar, many of the excerpts have an activity at the bottom of the page inviting active participation.
We would like to continue to develop this resource in collaboration with students, and value the insights of teaching staff on what they consider important when grading specific assignment types. We welcome both positive and constructive suggestions for improvement on this innovation.
To see our annotated academic excerpts:
I've included here a screenshot of the master left-hand navigation. Towards the bottom of the list you can see the links to Grammar, Academic Text Analysis, Help with technology, and Basic referencing APA (still under construction). Information about these two latter to follow.
The TDU talk article continues:
The basic referencing suite uses the same interface as the annotated academic excerpts. The excerpts demonstrate how successful students have integrated their citations (whether as direct quotes or as paraphrases) into their writing. These citations are annotated to show how the citations fit seamlessly into the paragraph and sentences to support a writer’s point. The original text (that the student has cited) is included (as a pop-up window) with the actual words the student employed picked out in blue text. The student can compare the original with the cited extract, and take note of the comments that we have included. The comments direct the reader explicitly to the citation strategies used within the excerpt and some of the technical features. The overall aim is to demonstrate what writers are doing when they include citations, and how their voice is supported by the authority of the authors who have influenced their thinking on the subject.
As well as providing examples of good writing, the section alerts students to pitfalls that they may not be aware that they need to avoid. In order to demonstrate examples of ‘what-not-to-do’ the Student Learning team have provided examples of things such as misquoting and patch writing (to name just two), that we can use to explain to students what is meant by these criticisms and why they are a problem.
To see basic referencing (APA): www.waikato.ac.nz/students/student-learning/referencing/
... followed by the excerpt on technology:
The technology that is available to help students with their studies is remarkable, but sometimes students consult Student Learning because they are distracted from the subject content by new (to them) technology. For some, ‘new’ may be a process as simple as attaching a file in an email or simple formatting in a document of text. The ‘help with technology’ series is arranged according to technology themes and contains web pages with simple to follow embedded YouTube videos providing short instructional demonstrations. The pages cross-link to the ICT self-service provided by the University’s ITS, to the Library’s ICT tutorials, and to a Moodle forum where University students can invite interaction with a Student Learning tutor on more specific enquiries.
To see Help with technology: www.waikato.ac.nz/students/student-learning/ict/
The article ends (with minor editing from the original):
We have found that the opportunity to offer targeted resources as part of an explanation for common learning enquiries has eased the burden of lengthy explanations, and enables students to revise the concepts under discussion more thoroughly, or to have access to the advice at a distance. We are interested in maintaining the collection by adding new grammar lessons as the need for them becomes apparent, by adding new texts to the annotated excerpts and referencing suites, by having a greater variety of disciplines represented, and by deconstructing a wider range of text-types. As well as the successful collaboration with teachers from the Faculty of Education, and Te Piringa - Faculty of Law respectively, there is discussion currently in progress also to include excerpts of successful reo Māori (indigenous language of Aotearoa, New Zealand) assignment types as well.
This text was written by Katherine Gilliver-Brown (me) explaining the resources available now for University of Waikato students. Most of the resources described here are available on the web and can be accessed by anyone (anywhere).
Gilliver-Brown, K. (2014). Students as individuals: Enhancing learning capacity with digital resources. TDU talk, (1), 11-13