Resources on Sourcework & Research Writing in a FWS

The KNIGHTLYnews is an online forum where FWS instructors and other teachers of writing can swap and share ideas for best classroom practice. Weekly posts are designed to help teachers develop lesson plans and writing assignments, and respond to classroom challenges by introducing new teaching tools and sharing emerging pedagogical ideas. Posts also direct readers to program and campus resources that support teaching and learning, and provide opportunities for peer collaboration and mentorship. #teachlikeabear

Teaching FWS students how to meaningfully engage with and effectively write about source material can be one of the most important things we do as FWS instructors. From documentation to voice, from selecting passages to deciding when and how to paraphrase or quote them, from summary to analysis, etc. It can be difficult to know where to start and when to end the lesson, and how to best frame sourcework as the kind of conversation that assuredly extends beyond a single writing course that is situated within a specific discipline as yours and mine are. 

I have linked below two of my favorite online resources, resources that I hope you'll share with students so that they can return to them semester after semester as they contemplate the ways that their work with sources changes when they write in different disciplinary, professional, and public contexts and as they become different thinkers and writers.

I also hope that you will consider if and how you might use these resources to design classroom activities that give students opportunities to work with you and each other to explore and reinforce strategies and best practices. 

The most challenging aspect of teaching sourcework at the college level, I have found, is not providing adequate training in mechanics (although that is what is most often taught and often exclusively taught), but rather helping students make the transition to a different mindset, the scholarly habit of mind that requires them to not (just) "write about" their sources, but to "write with" them.

I’ll note that is not too late to connect with a librarian. Cornell Libraries offer superb instructional support for FWS teachers and students. In my FWS, librarians have

  • Run synchronous, online or in-person class sessions;
  • Customized materials to assist students asynchronously, such as videos, library research guides, or self-guided tutorials; and
  • Held one-on-one research consultations with students in my FWS.
  • Follow this link to Request Class Instruction

I require FWS students to conduct independent research in my FWS for many reasons – the most compelling being that I am inspired by their curiosity and enjoy seeing how they use writing to deeply explore a question or idea seeded in course material and class discussion.

Preventing Plagiarism

Educational researchers Thomas S. Dee and  Brian A. Jacob found in their study, “Rational Ignorance in Education: A Field Experiment in Student Plagiarism,” that students who completed an anti-plagiarism tutorial before submitting scholarly papers were substantially less likely to plagiarize. If nothing else, please consider assigning one or both of the superb options below. I work with students in class to complete the CAS Plagiarism Tutorial and then assign Indiana University’s Certification Test for homework.

Additional Resources

Here are some of the resources I share with students. Consider sharing them with your FWS students and/or using them to develop lesson plans and classroom activities.

Handouts (From Cornell Writing Centers Director Kate Navickas)

Videos (From Cornell Writing Centers Director Kate Navickas)

Podcasts (From the College Writing, Actually Series hosted by Brown University Writing Center Tutor Britt Threatt)

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