Essay-writing tips for students are typical at sea
Staffordshire lecturer’s illustrated activity book introduces students to analyze techniques
By the time students get to university, it’s going to probably have now been a couple of years since they came across an illustrated activity book.
But Writing Essays by Pictures is not any ordinary activity book. With a nautical theme, it casts essays as icebergs and sources as sea creatures in an innovative attempt to introduce first-year students to your practice of academic research and writing.
Author Alke Grцppel-Wegener, senior lecturer in contextual studies at Staffordshire University, based the handsomely presented book on the essay-writing sessions with art and design students.
After raising nearly Ј2,000 from supporters regarding the Kickstarter crowdfunding website to fund a preliminary print run, the book was launched this week and it is hoped that wider distribution will follow.
It opens with the call for students to think of their essays as icebergs, with a focused argument “above the water” backed up by research and thinking below.
After that it introduces students to reading, note-taking and critical thinking strategies, inviting them to undertake practical, creative activities as you go along.
It shows that readers try drawing pictures as they examine sources, in the place of taking notes, and encourages students to walk a familiar route at a quarter of these usual speed while taking notes on which they see around them, so as to demonstrate the degree of engagement that texts require.
The book advises students to categorise sources by thinking of them as different sea creatures, also to judge their rigour that is academic in regarding the depth from which they are now living in the ocean.
Other suggested learning techniques include writing poems that condense source material and creating handmade cards as reminders of texts.
Dr Grцppel-Wegener said that she found in first years that she had developed her use of analogies and activities as a way to address, in an engaging and non-threatening way, the lack of confidence around academic writing.
“Giving students images them to remember what they meant and to understand the explanation better,” said Dr Grцppel-Wegener, a bookmaker and printmaker by training that they might remember better, like the fish and the iceberg, will hopefully help. “I was thinking that, it would not you need to be something which is a reference, it would be their very own as well as would like to ensure that it it is. if it absolutely was something students could add what to,”
Dr Grцppel-Wegener argued that the book could prove useful across a wide selection of subjects.
“People who want to think visually are not only found in arts and design,” she said. “There could be more in art and design, but I make an effort to explain things for everyone and hopefully there are a lot of people who can respond to it.”
Dr Grцppel-Wegener rejected the theory that creating a task book represented “dumbing down” of academic practice, arguing in a different way”, and that better critical thinking ability would flow from stronger research skills that she was simply “framing it.
But she acknowledged that her approach wouldn’t normally suit every learner.
“When I am teaching, i know that this approach does work for everybody n’t; some people don’t make use of metaphors at all,” she said. “I always use this as one option.”
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