An analysis of research papers written in first-year composition courses at 15 colleges reveals that many students simply copy chunks of text from the sources they cite without truly grasping the underlying argument, quality or context.
“The findings are not happy news for how writing is taught,” Rebecca Moore Howard, an associate professor of writing and rhetoric at Syracuse University, said here Thursday at the annual meeting of the Conference on College Composition and Communication. “[Students] are not selecting authoritative, meaningful sources and not reading them carefully. They are not, in a word, engaging.”
Howard’s presentation — with her co-principal researcher, Sandra Jamieson, professor of English, director of composition and department chair at Drew University — of the initial findings of the Citation Project could carry broad implications for how writing is taught at the college level, not just in composition courses, but across disciplines.
But really who does this surprise? They’ve been told, many of them have, that Wikipedia is a legitimate research tool and if Wikipedia is anything at all it’s skimmed dreck. They’ve also, many of them, been taught to be lazy and taught to regurgitate ‘for the test’. Small wonder that thinking isn’t really a skill they’re developing. Or thoroughness.
Finally the root of the problem lies in the fact that too many academics are more concerned with their own careers than they are with teaching. Thereby setting the example for students that higher ed really isn’t about learning, it’s about getting by just so one can get ahead.
And – ironically- it’s all legitimized by ‘accreditation’. Now how’s that for a scream?