Various Disciplines Requiring Different Research Skills Education Essay

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Undergraduate students often have not had extensive experience using effective research skills. They have not had enough practice utilizing the library catalogue, searching online databases, or using other research resources.

Students with little research experience may have difficulties writing research papers across the curriculum, with the various disciplines requiring different research skills and resources.

Because of the lack of research skills, Students may become frustrated with the process of writing a research paper and intentionally plagiarize, or students may unintentionally plagiarize because do not know how to organize the research.

Faculty members can help students by:

discussing and practicing research skills in class.

introducing the students to the research resources of their particular discipline.

referring students to the UAH library, which offers services to help them learn to use the UAH library catalogue and resources.

Lack of writing skills

Often students have not had much writing instruction and practice. It is difficult for them to focus and organize a paper, as well as integrate research into their paper. As a result, students often lump several sources together with no clear thesis, explanation, or transitions between those sources.

Students produce unsuccessful research papers, lacking clarity and support, and because of their inability to integrate sources effectively, plagiarism might occur.

Faculty members can help students by:

Helping them develop critical writing skills, such as forming a strong thesis with adequate support and explanation and including credible and meaningful sources that smoothly flow with the rest of their paper.

Problems evaluating Internet sources

Students often do not know how to effectively evaluate Internet sources. Considering that most students look to the Internet for research nowadays, they could easily end up with weak sources for their papers.

Students do not know how to filter through all the information available on the Internet.

Faculty members can help students by:

providing them a handout on evaluating sources.

referring them to the library staff.

Confusion about how to cite sources

Undergraduate students at UAH are required to take classes from a variety of disciplines, which often use different styles of documentation. Students often confuse the different documentation styles ("Why Students Plagiarize").

Many of the style guides are not clear on how to cite Internet sources, which may result in the student simply not citing the material or citing it incorrectly.

Faculty members can help students by:

instructing students on how to cite sources in their particular discipline.

instructing students on the most up to date ways to cite Internet sources for that particular discipline.

Misconceptions about terminology

Students often are confused about writing and research terminology, such as citations, paraphrases, and quotations, in addition to the concept of plagiarism. Students often do not understand which sources must be cited, whether paraphrased or quoted, and in what manner they must be cited.

Students often do not understand what constitutes common knowledge and sometimes will fail to cite information because they misread that source as common knowledge. Often, students believe information on the Internet is common knowledge because it is in a public domain ("Why Students Plagiarize").

Confusion over terminology can cause students to feel anxiety towards writing assignments, which can lead to plagiarism.

Faculty members can help students by:

clearly defining these terms for students.

giving students the opportunity to practice paraphrasing and quoting sources, as well as properly citing those sources.

showing students examples of common knowledge and examples of sources that must be cited.

referring students to the Terminology (need a link here) section of this web site.

Pressure

Students often experience outside pressure from their friends, family, along with the pressure that they put on themselves, to do well academically.

Some students have academic or athletic scholarships that require them to maintain a certain grade point average, or they are trying to get into graduate schools that require high grade point averages.

There is pressure from faculty and other members of the UAH community for students to do well.

Students often translate this pressure into an emphasis on getting good grades, rather than an emphasis on learning.

Students sometimes feel that they must do anything in their power to make good grades. This focus on grades instead of learning can lead students to engage in dishonest behaviors, such as plagiarism.

Faculty members can help students by:

taking the initiative to downplay the importance of grades and highlight the value of an education and becoming a life-long learner.

explaining that good grades will result from active, focused and honest learning.

Poor time management and organizational skills

Students are often lacking in effective time management and organizational skills, which are crucial for completing a research paper assignment.

Students may become overwhelmed by a large research paper assignment, which could cause them to procrastinate or panic, which could lead to plagiarism.

Faculty members can help students by:

Breaking down the research paper assignment into parts, so that the students have to turn in an outline, a working bibliography, a rough draft, and a final draft. This might minimize procrastination, making the research paper more feasible in the students' minds.

Product-oriented writing assignments

Research papers are often overwhelming for students because they are usually the main assessment for a course.

Faculty members often mention the assignment once, give the students a handout about the assignment, and finally, the students turn in the research paper.

The research paper becomes about the final product, rather than the process of writing.

With little or no steps in between, students may procrastinate on working on the research paper, and when the deadline approaches, they may panic and do anything to get that paper done.

Students may feel that they will not be able to change the paper once they turn it in and are not confident enough in there first drafts.

Faculty members can help students by:

breaking the writing assignment into steps.

Allowing students to go through the process of writing, which enables the students and faculty to meet with one another to discuss their progress, and these conferences could give faculty the opportunity to address any concerns.

Cultural factors

UAH fortunately has a diverse population of students, with students coming here from a variety of cultures and backgrounds.

Some students may come from cultures that do not consider language or knowledge to be one's property. For instance, in many Asian cultures, it is common and expected for individuals to copy someone else's words, for it is considered flattery ("Why Students Plagiarize").

Because of cultural differences, students may unintentionally plagiarize.

Faculty members can help students by:

taking the time to understand differing views on plagiarism.

clarifying the importance of academic honesty and avoiding plagiarism at UAH and in the United States.

Preventing Plagiarism

Clarifying the concept and consequences of plagiarism

Discuss the concept of plagiarism with students. Studies have shown that only about half of faculty members ever discuss their policy or the university's policy having to do with academic dishonesty (Jendrek 402).

If students are not clear on what constitutes plagiarism or the consequences associated with plagiarism, they might not feel as obliged to maintain academic honesty.

At UAH, faculty are required to warn against plagiarism on their syllabi, but discussing plagiarism with their students makes brings academic honesty to the forefront of the class.

Clarifying other terminology

Students often are confused by the terminology associated with writing and research.

Clarify concepts of citations, quotations, paraphrases, and common knowledge.

Students are often confused about assignments, because they contain vague terms such as analyze and discuss.

Clarify assignments and key terms for students so that they will know exactly what is expected of them and feel more confident in their research paper writing abilities.

Clarifying the purpose of research papers

Help students understand that their thoughts, ideas, and explanations should be the framework of the research paper.

Explain that there should be a thesis, theme, or main point that weaves the sources together, as well as explanation and transitions between the sources.

These guidelines differ between the disciplines, but the point is for faculty members to prepare students to go through the process of writing a research paper.

Clarifying citation expectations

Teach students how to appropriately paraphrase, quote, and cite sources for the particular course or discipline that they are teaching.

Help students to learn how to paraphrase source material into their own words, not simply change a few words. Using examples of plagiarized and correctly paraphrased material will help.

Give students handouts on proper citations that they can use as a reference tool throughout the writing process.

Advise students to go to the UAH Writing Center in Morton Hall 228 or to visit the Writing Center website at www.uah.edu/writing (put a link here) to find more helpful information on citing sources.

Discussing academic integrity

Discuss academic integrity with students.

Some of the core principles of academic integrity are honesty, trust, fairness, respect, and responsibility, which create an atmosphere of respect and responsibility in the academic community.

Model academic integrity for students.

Discussing the Code of Student Conduct

Academic dishonesty, including cases of plagiarism, is highly discouraged in the UAH Student Code of Conduct.

Refer students to the UAH Student Handbook, which includes the Code of Student Conduct, and explain which parts apply to that particular course and faculty member's expectations. Clearly point out what constitutes plagiarism and the consequences associated with plagiarism.

Creating assignments that require steps

Create research paper assignments that require students to go through steps, such as providing an outline, a working bibliography, and multiple drafts.

Breaking research papers down helps students feel more confident and less overwhelmed.

Students and faculty can monitor their progress, giving one another feedback throughout the process.

Students might feel less inclined to procrastinate, and as a result, may not resort to plagiarism.

If students have to write along the way, faculty members can get a sense of the student's voice and research and writing capabilities, which can help them to detect plagiarism.

Choosing paper topics

Do not give students broad and general topic choices for research papers. Unfortunately, the Internet paper mills provide papers on these general, very common topics, so it is fairly easy for a student to find a paper that fits a research paper topic requirement (Guiliano 25).

Make the topic choices more specific to the course material.

Let the students choose their topics, so that they will be interested in what they are writing about, and maybe be willing to put more effort towards the project (Malehorn 107).

Develop research paper topics that require students to apply the concepts that they are writing about, so that they have to integrate the research into their own knowledge and experiences (Hinchliffe 1). In addition, it would be more difficult for a student to find a paper from a paper mill that has the application component.

Changing paper topics from semester to semester

Do not assign the same research paper topics every semester.

Students can simply borrow a paper from a friend who took that particular course the previous semester or find a paper on that topic from a paper mill.

Requiring specific components

If students have to turn in other components associated with the research paper, rather than just the final product, it is more likely that the student will actually do the work.

Lay out specific guidelines for the research paper that are catered to the course material and students, which is not only sound teaching, but also minimizes the chance that a student will be able to find a paper that meets all of the particular requirements.

Possibilities for specific components:

requiring a specific amount of Web sources and a specific amount of journal articles, which minimizes the chance that students will be able to find papers that have those specific requirements.

requiring sources only from UAH's library, restricting the chance of Internet plagiarism (Galles 3).

requiring an annotated bibliography that describes each source and how the student is going to utilize the source in the research paper.

requiring students to photocopy their sources and turn them in with the final paper, which shows that they actually went and got the sources, whereas a bibliography just lists the sources.

Course syllabi

At the beginning of the semester, take the time to go over the syllabus and discuss the faculty and university expectations, including their expectation for academic honesty.

Include a statement on academic dishonesty in the syllabi or a link to the UAH Student Handbook.

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