The Curtin University Foundation Studies program is a full-time course of study designed for International students to gain entry to undergraduate courses. The program has the advantage of being taught on Curtin's main campus by university staff, and prepares students to operate effectively in a university setting and gives them a working understanding of the requirements for successful undergraduate study.
Foundation Studies students in one their core units for Academic Writing, are required to write a 2,000 word argumentative essay. The task is process based and occurs at the end of their second semester. It consists of didactic, drafting and conferencing input. It is a major preparatory exercise for academic discourse. In an action research investigation of 15 research essays there is evidence of difficulties encountered by students when locating and selecting resources.
There is evidence of different types of plagiarism. With online referencing there was extensive copying, and with in-text referencing only a few students summarised paraphrased and cited references effectively.
To reflect changes in information literacy and the implications of evidencing research, this impacts on issues such as assessments and today's pedagogy.
Do new guidelines need to be formulated for unit outlines and course requirements to address these problems?
The end-text references located totaled 72 out of 123 used. The difficulties in locating these references were due to:
14 students used in-text referencing. One student used more than 40 references and another more than 20. 7 students used between 10-20 references while 5 used less than 10. One student used none. Their uses were categorised according to degrees of integration the categories ranged from most to least integrated, in the following order.
|Online sources-World Wide Web||5 students used online sources||20 URL addresses cited||6 URL addresses located|
|CD-ROMs and databases||4 students used scholarly journals||5 uses of scholarly journals||Green Left Weekly, New Scientist, Australian Family Physician|
|Journals-popular||5 students used newspapers||6 uses of popular journals||She, Seventeen Woman's Day, New Woman|
|Newspapers||5 students used newspapers||7 uses of newspapers||The Age, The Australian, The West Australian|
|Books||15 students used books||79 uses of books|
|Community resources||3 students used community resources||4 uses of community resources||2 booklets on Euthanasia|
1 leaflet on Abortion
|Videos||1 student used a video||ABC Compass program on Cloning|
|Speeches||1 student used a speech||Pauline Hanson's maiden speech|
|Dictionaries||3 students used dictionaries||There were 4 uses of encyclopedias|
|Encyclopedias||2 students used encyclopedias||There were 3 uses of encyclopedias|
|Dissertations||2 students each used a dissertation||1 dissertation on 'The Beauty Myth' located at Curtin Library||1 dissertation was not located|
Knowing information problem-solving skills prepares students for an information-based society and a technological workplace. For a student's future that is characterised by change the student needs to be able to retrieve and manage information, think critically, creatively solve problems and communicate effectively. The research- based essay promotes resource-based learning because the students are required to access a variety of information formats. The traditional library location skills taught in isolation no longer equips the student to become information literate.
For resource-based learning both librarian and educators need to become partners in a shared goal. This goal means enabling students to become lifelong learners by helping them to become information literate because they can always find information needed for any task at hand. The issue of information literacy is one of power. If students are disenfranchised through not knowing how to locate and select information the answer is to empower not just them but all educators dealing with them. Curtin educators and students can gain this knowledge through bibliographic instruction programs, workshops and training sessions. Without the support of either faculty or school involvement it is impossible to achieve the goal of information literate students. It is only by lecturers linking more closely with librarians that a meaningful information literacy program can happen. Moreover, library based information literacy activities are excellent opportunities for active learning that involve experiencing and observing. By integrating these activities into the tasks we set the students learn the language of the discipline and their different learning styles can be catered for as well as course content. The more information seeking and evaluating competencies the students develop in our university environment the better prepared they will be for success in their future education, social and work environments.
All kinds of resources are worthy of discussion but I include the Internet here because from this medium students copied extensively.
That two thirds of the students choose not to use the World Wide Web has implications for teaching the research essay in the future. Students had no tuition regarding the problems of articles having frequently no author, date, publisher or pagination. Another issue was the difficulty encountered when trying to cite material. The information in the Harvard handout was not sufficient to enable ESL students to easily understand the referencing protocol. These students may have known little about the success rates of different search engines. Neither may they have known about Boolean or other searching concepts.
The 5 students who used online sources used 20 references but only 6 of these could be located. One reason for this could be that students typed their URL addresses wrongly. Another reason might be that the information was no longer on the servers. That the online information was extremely plagiarised may be due to the students believing that Online material would not be located and analysed. Students by being forewarned of this are more likely not to copy or at least are more wary about it. A good idea is to ask students to submit with their essay photocopies of information from
|Quotations||Near Copies||Exact Copies|
|No students did Original Explanations.||5/15 students used Summaries.||7/15 students used Paraphrasing.||10 students used Quotations.||7/15 students used Near Copies.||11/15 used Exact Copies.|
|There were no occasions of Original Explanations.||There were 22 occasions of Summarising.||There were 53 occasions of Paraphrasing.||There were 26 occasions of Quotations.||There were 17 occasions of Near Copying.||There were 35 occasions of Exact Copying.|
|1 student used 11 occasions. Of the other 11 occasions the average number per student was 0.7 Summaries.||2 students used 24 and 12 occasions respectively. The remaining 13 students averaged 1.25 Paraphrases each.||The Quotations used ranged from 1 Quotation by a student to 5 Quotations by a student. The average use was 1.7 per student.||One student used a Near Copy of above 10 lines. 4 used Near Copies of between 5-10 lines. 5 used Near Copies of less than 5 lines.||8 students used Exact Copies in excess of 10 lines. 6 used Exact Copies of between 5-10 lines. 8 used Exact Copies of less than 5 lines.|
There are different types of summaries, some may consist of only one sentence, whereas others can be a third, a fourth or fifth of the original version.
Students frequently use synonyms to replace words and they also change the order of the sentence around. This is still plagiarism. To prevent this students must be made aware that keeping phrases and changing nouns is not sufficient. The range and use of reporting verbs need to be understood and practiced by students.
In order to provide for the learning of future academic university discourse at CIE's Foundation Studies writing course we must:
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|Please cite as: Blackford, T. (1999). Uses of references in CIE Foundation Studies students' argumentative research essays. In K. Martin, N. Stanley and N. Davison (Eds), Teaching in the Disciplines/ Learning in Context, 42-48. Proceedings of the 8th Annual Teaching Learning Forum, The University of Western Australia, February 1999. Perth: UWA. http://lsn.curtin.edu.au/tlf/tlf1999/blackford.html|