Questia: One Thing You Need to Build Confident Writers

by Dr. Jenny Billings, Cengage Faculty Partner and Chair of ACA, DRE, and ENG and English Instructor at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College Having taught Developmental Reading and English students, I’m deeply aware of the effects self-doubt can have on first-year writing students. Many of them come in feeling behind, lacking the confidence they require to be successful. Some students need their academic foundations built, or rebuilt, while others only need refreshers to get them on their way. I’ve found that Questia can help in either circumstance. It can serve as #JustOneThing to alleviate students’ worries and fears, especially Read More…

Part Three: Teach Your Humanities Students to Communicate through Reading and Writing

Among the skills many college graduates are seen to lack when they enter the workforce after graduation, writing proficiency tops the list. As a First-Year writing instructor, teaching critical reading and writing is, of course, my main objective. Yet this instruction shouldn’t end for students after they’ve completed their foundational writing courses. Instructors at all levels, and in all disciplines, should reinforce and build upon this—particularly in the humanities as developing strong writers and thoughtful readers are where we can shine. Here are some quick activities you can incorporate into your courses now to help your students: Build Read More…

How to Help Students Overcome Writer’s Block

Even when students choose to write on a topic that interests them, they may still experience the frustration of writer’s block. They may deal with the frustration by spending too much time researching and then run out of time when it comes to writing and revising their work. As instructors with advanced degrees, we’ve written more papers than we care to count. It’s easy to forget that our students are still neophytes when it comes to academic writing. What can we do to help students complete their writing assignments more effectively?

Reasons for writer’s block

Some people are procrastinators by Read More…

Providing Constructive Feedback to Student Research Papers

As students turn in their first essays and research papers for the spring semester, it can be challenging to provide the type of feedback that will most help your students improve throughout the course. While college students are shown to value individualized comments on student essays, finding the balance of how to provide feedback without overwhelming or exasperating is difficult. Consider these tips for providing constructive feedback that will improve their writing over the course of the semester—making your job of evaluating their writing that much easier when it comes time for finals.

Goals for written feedback comments

In Read More…

Prepare Your Classroom Style Guides: MLA 8th Edition is Here

In April 2016, the MLA released the 8th edition of their style guide. The updates to the MLA format move toward making it much easier for students writing their research papers to cite digital sources, like YouTube videos, which were cumbersome under the earlier rules. While the MLA citations for paper bibliographies have changed quite a bit, MLA in-text citations are roughly the same. Here are the changes you should be aware of as you get your students ready for this year’s research papers.

Digital publication has changed research and documentation.

The biggest reason for the changes to MLA format Read More…

In Defense of Learning Grammar Rules

Guest Contributors: Lawrence Barkley and Christine Sandoval, authors of Grammar and Usage, Naturally, 1st Edition Grammar rules have long been the bane of many students at all levels of education, teachers intoning “Don’t end a sentence with a preposition,” “Don’t begin a sentence with a coordinating conjunction,” “Don’t split infinitives,” “Be sure pronouns and their antecedents agree in number,” “Don’t use passive voice,” and “Don’t begin a sentence with ‘There’.”

Grammar origins

But how many of the numerous grammar rules we learned, use, and teach are actually based on a syntactic logic? Not many. In fact, a number of grammar rules as Read More…

Creating a Research Paper Rubric for College Students

It’s often difficult for college students to understand exactly what the teacher expects from them when it comes to tests or research papers. Creating a research paper rubric for your students will help guide them toward the proper format, themes, concepts, focus and execution they need to perform in a term paper for it to be successful. Try these tips for both creating a rubric template and for using rubrics to give feedback to students.

Sample rubric for research papers

When creating rubrics, use straightforward and concise language to inform students. You can create a rubric with various parameters for different skill Read More…

College Students’ Research Practices

If you’re continually getting papers turned in at the last minute and poorly researched, it may be that students are unsure of the amount of work that must go into writing a polished research paper. To find out where students might be confused or cutting corners, we recently surveyed thousands of college students asking, “On average, how much time do you think it’ll take you to find citable sources when assigned a paper or presentation?”

Research time

Given the options of “Less than 1 hour,” “1–2 hours,” “3–5 hours,” “5+ hours,” we discovered that the majority (47%) of college students think it Read More…

Starting a Research Paper: Thirteen Key Tips for Students

In our Fall 2015 Instructor Engagement Insights survey, we asked: “What advice do you have for students beginning their first extensive research assignment?”

We’ve selected thirteen of those tips and shared them below. If your students are about to embark on the process of writing a research paper, pass these tips along!

Read More…

Using TV in a Writing Course to Channel Students’ Skills

Guest Contributor: Audrey A. Wick, Blinn College (Texas). Writing instructors often struggle with how to best teach various modes of composition. And sometimes we can get pretty inventive. Just last week, I found myself explaining to students that, in order to effectively use the mode of description, they needed to slow down. They needed to focus, I insisted, on scene building. So I told them no dialogue, no characterization, no action. “It’s like Slow TV,” I reasoned. Blank stares. “Slow TV?” I prompted again. No one knew of it. So I showed a quick news clip from YouTube that described Read More…