Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Undergraduate Research

Is anyone surprised by a study showing first year college students can't research?

They don't select good sources, don't engage with their sources, and largely copy and paste without showing real understanding of the content. Of course they don't. This really isn't a surprise, right? First year students are still unlearning high school habits. Any research they might be doing their freshman year is not going to be realistic, since they don't have deep content knowledge. Instruction in introductory writing courses is of the assembly line variety with large classes trying to meet general education requirements.

Is it a problem? I don't think so. If seniors and grad students are still writing papers like this, that's a problem. The real solution is to teach research and in-depth writing in the context of major courses. Introductory writing courses would be better off focusing on mechanics and grammar as a foundation for in-depth writing later. One step at a time.

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