Effective Learning: Lecture 2

Report
Effective Learning:
Lecture 2
Academic Writing
With thanks to David Smith
Approaching academic
writing
 Who
are you writing for?
 What
 How
are you trying to say?
are you going to say it
effectively?
“When writing your essays, I encourage you
to think for yourselves while you express what
I’d most agree with.”
Differences between academic
and personal writing
Personal Writing
Academic Writing
Tells a story
Comments, evaluates, analyses
Non-technical vocabulary
Subject-specific vocabulary
‘I’ at the centre
‘I’ as observer and commentator
Information comes from the
writer’s experience
Information comes from sources
and refers to what others say
Personal views and feelings
Evidence and arguments
Conventions for citation
Crème P & Lea M, Writing at University, Buckingham, Oxford University Press, 1997, p. 105
Approaches to writing: 1
 The
Architect Strategy:
‘I think and plan before I even begin
to think about starting to write.’
Adapted from Chandler D, The Act of Writing: A Media Theory Approach, (Aberystwyth; University of Wales Press,
1997), pp. 229-36, by Julian Brasington, LLC, UWA
Approaches to writing: 2
 The
Bricklaying
Strategy:
‘ I write so slowly that I am
rewriting as I go along… I
try never to leave a
sentence until it’s as
perfect as I can make it…’
Adapted from Chandler D, The Act of Writing: A Media Theory Approach,
(Aberystwyth; University of Wales Press, 1997), pp. 229-36, by Julian
Brasington, LLC, UWA
Approaches to writing: 3
 The
Oil Painting Strategy
Kurt Vonnegut: ‘I play with these
ideas until they start to feel right.
It’s something like oil painting. You
lay on paint and lay on paint.
Suddenly you have something and
you frame it…’
Adapted from Chandler D, The Act of Writing: A Media Theory Approach, (Aberystwyth; University of Wales
Press, 1997), pp. 229-36, by Julian Brasington, LLC, UWA
Approaches to writing: 4
 The
Water-colour Strategy
‘Before I write, I write in my mind.
The more difficult and complex the
writing, the more time I need to think
before I write. Ideas incubate in my
mind… The writing process takes
place in my mind. Once that process
is complete the product emerges.’
Adapted from Chandler D, The Act of Writing: A Media Theory Approach, (Aberystwyth; University of Wales
Press, 1997), pp. 229-36, by Julian Brasington, LLC, UWA
Approaches to writing
 The
Architect Strategy
 The Bricklaying Strategy
 The Oil Painting Strategy
 The Water-colour Strategy
The process of writing

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Analyse question
Check current knowledge e.g.
lecture notes
Brainstorm
Collect material
Organise
Plan
Write
Re-write/ edit
Analysing the essay
question






Read the question carefully, checking any
unknown vocabulary
Suggestion: use coloured pens or highlighters
Draw a box around phrases which instruct you
how to tackle the questions
Outline / evaluate / analyse / justify / describe
Identify and underline the words or phrases
which establish what the subject/s of the
question is / are
Underline with dashes, the refining words/
phrases which further limit the subject area
Analysing the essay
question: example

Outline and critically discuss modern
methods of flood protection with
particular reference to non-structural
and environmentally-friendly solutions.
Instruction words
Subject/topic words
Refining/focus words
Examples from exam papers

‘The American Civil War began rather
than ended the struggle for black
equality in the US.’ Discuss.
Dept. of History, 2010

Critically examine the implications for
the UK of hosting the 2012 Olympic
Games
Dept. of Management and Business, 2011
http://www.aber.ac.uk/en/past-papers/
The role of the introduction
 Give
the background to the main
topic of the essay; the history or the
context.
 Present
the central idea of the
assignment.
 Justify
why the question will be
answered in a particular way.
The role of the conclusion




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Refer back to the question posed in the
title and show that it has been answered
Point out what the assignment has and
has not answered.
Put forward the your view in light of the
evidence that has been presented.
Do not introduce new information in the
conclusion
Give a sense of an ‘ending’.
Adapted from Crème & Lea, p. 121
Why reference?

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To avoid plagiarism and bad
practicehttp://www.aber.ac.uk/en/media/departmental/aqro
/rulesandregs/academic-regulation-on-unfair-practice.pdf
To show there is evidence for your ideas
To show you have read within your subject area
To inform your reader of the nature and range of your
source material
To show you are able to select and use appropriate
material
To provide accepted conventional acknowledgement that
parts of your work have been derived from other people
Follow departmental referencing guidelines and be
consistent
Adapted from: Trzeciak J & Mackay S, Study skills for Academic Writing (London: Prentice
Hall, 1994), p. 56
Questions to ask when
checking your work: 1
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Does the introduction act as a signpost for the
whole text?
Does the assignment address the question?
Does the text have a central idea? Is the idea
apparent to the reader or does the reader have
to search for it?
Do any points need more explicit ‘framing’ to
provide a necessary context?
Does the text raise questions that it does not
answer?
Is there a sense of an argument developing?
Questions to ask when
checking your work: 2
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Is the evidence provided substantial? Are the
illustrations/examples relevant?
Do points follow logically? Does the whole
piece hang together coherently?
Why is this piece of information in the text?
What purpose does it fulfil?
Is the use of subject specific terminology clear?
Is the ending satisfactory?
Worthington, P. Language & Learning Centre, UWA 2003
Presentation
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Follow departmental guidelines, e.g.
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Text spacing
Font size
Page numbers
Cover page requirements
Referencing and bibliography
Always save a copy on your own computer
and store on your university M drive
Feedback from tutors

Don’t just ignore it

Take on board both positive and
negative comments

If you need more, then ask your tutor
The End

Any questions?

Study Practices Programme (Student Support):
• Classes for writing, seminar/lecture skills,
information skills
• Individual consultations with RLF Writing fellows.
Contact [email protected] for appointments
• [email protected] – for any learning
difficulties e.g. dyslexia
http://www.aber.ac.uk/en/student-learning-support/

Feedback

Please provide some comments for further
development of this seminar:

http://www.survey.bris.ac.uk/aber/writing

A link is also provided at the main Student Support
Study Practices page:

http://www.aber.ac.uk/en/student-learningsupport/effective-study/

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