Staffordshire lecturer’s illustrated activity book introduces students to research techniques
Because of the time students get to university, it will probably have already been many years given that they came across an activity book that is illustrated essay writing.
But Writing Essays by Pictures is no activity book that is ordinary. With a theme that is nautical 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 her essay-writing sessions with art and design students.
After raising nearly Ј2,000 from supporters regarding the Kickstarter crowdfunding web site to fund an initial print run, the book was launched this week and it is hoped that wider distribution will follow.
It opens utilizing the call for students to consider their essays as icebergs, with a focused argument “above the water” backed up by thinking and research below.
It then introduces students to reading, note-taking and thinking that is critical, inviting them to carry out practical, creative activities as you go along.
It implies that readers try drawing pictures in an attempt to demonstrate the level of engagement that texts require while they examine sources, rather than taking notes, and encourages students to walk a familiar route at a quarter of their usual speed while taking notes on what they see around them.
The book advises students to categorise sources by thinking of them as different sea creatures, and also to judge their rigour that is academic in associated with the depth from which they live in the ocean.
Other suggested techniques that are learning 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, if it absolutely was something students could add items to, it might not just be a thing that is a reference, it would be their very own and they may wish to ensure that is stays.”
Dr Grцppel-Wegener argued that the book could prove useful across a wide variety of subjects.
“People who like to think visually are not merely found in arts and design,” she said. “There might be more in art and design, but I attempt to explain things for everyone and hopefully there are a lot of people who can react to it.”
Dr Grцppel-Wegener rejected the idea that creating an activity 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 would not suit every learner.
“When I am teaching, i realize that this approach does work for everybody n’t; many people don’t work with metaphors after all,” she said. “I always utilize this as you option.”
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