Research papers: how I think teachers should help students learn to write them

The reason behind my decision to write this entry up is to share a few tips on paper writing with fellow students reading my blog. I know most of you are mothers, but I know teen mothers too, moms who go to college and try to make the best out of their lives. :) This entry is dedicated to them too.

When you are young and carefree, you don’t care a lot about consequences. Young people are often keen to take things with superficiality, and to show this superficiality in their writings as well.

Common mistakes include:

  • ~ incoherent/bad grammar and/or spelling
  • ~ superficial argumentation
  • ~ lack of reference notes and bibliography.

It’s easy for a teacher to find most students’ research papers more similar to a newspaper article – or worse, like a diary page! – than a scientific essay. Here’s the approach I find more correct in order to teach students to do their researching and proofreading work:

  • ~ Practice: before assigning a paper to students, teachers should have them practice in class, a lot, by assigning short pieces and giving them materials (photocopies, books, etc.). Correcting students’ mistakes is easier when done in class first, and it ensures that students won’t repeat the same mistakes at home when working on their papers.
  • ~ Tutoring: teachers should stay available for tutoring students as they write their papers; students may need help with a certain reference, finding a source, structuring paragraphs to best present their work, etc. Teachers should never abandon their students in their forests of doubt!
  • ~ Examples: give your students a lot of examples and role models to follow to write a paper. That doesn’t mean they should be encouraged to plagiarize others’ works: it would be simply an aid to show them the correct way of writing a research paper, plus having them follow a correct researching procedure. Never underestimate the power of imitation! :)

Personally, when I write my paper, I spend most of my time researching and drafting as content and ideas come along. That way I make sure to have most of my work done before I step into final revision and editing.

Writing a good paper is the first step to becoming a good writer too! ;)

Also, I believe that if students buy research papers at least once, that won’t hurt their academic grades. I’m not saying this because I approve on cheating, but because once they read their ordered paper, they can actually LEARN how a good paper worth this name is written and they will try to use it as a ‘role model’ next time.

3 thoughts on “Research papers: how I think teachers should help students learn to write them

    • Thanks. :)
      Too often teachers don’t guide their students enough. Students simply can’t figure out how things work all alone; they need a guide.

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