Beyond Citation Mechanics and Plagiarism: Engaging (Multilingual) Students in Research

Anna Habib, Esther Namubiru, James Savage

Session Information

Year: 2018 | Time: 1:50pm-2:30pm | Location: MINI WORKSHOP: Johnson Center (Room E)

Abstract

BRIEF SESSION DESCRIPTION:

In-class activities and explanations of citation largely focus on the mechanics of citation and warning students against plagiarism; however, these attempts have yielded little if any improved transfer of citation skills among newer college students from various disciplines and cultural backgrounds (Refaei et al, 2017; Howard, 1993).  This pedagogical challenge is certainly heightened for international students who are often unfamiliar with the culture of citation in the U.S. academy, but is also significant for many domestic students who are native speakers of English and/or multilingual learners. Using Robillard’s (2006) and Harris’ (2006) extensive work on the purpose and benefits of citing for the writer, reader, and cited author, the presenters will share three activities that they use to teach citation expectations and ecologies to novice students across disciplines.  The activities in this session are relevant for all students, but will be particularly useful for new multilingual college students. Participants will be able to use three practical tools to engage their students’ learning of source-integration and incorporate these activities in class conversations regarding citation norms and/or writing assignments where students can reflect on the larger purpose for integrating texts. 

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FULL ABSTRACT:

Refaei et al (2017) find that many first and second year college students struggle with consistently applying appropriate citing from assignment to assignment across various multidisciplinary courses even when they have participated in elaborate class activities discussing the mechanics of citation. For multilingual students, this challenge is especially pronounced because they may be unfamiliar with the academic culture of citation. Robillard (2006) and Vardi (2012) argue that these challenges in applying appropriate citation may be the result of an enduring pedagogical stance whereby citation is presented as a way to “give credit where credit is due.” However, this approach may not sufficiently engage students in learning about the  greater benefits of and reasons for citation. 

 

Using Robillard’s (2006) and Harris’ (2006) work on the purpose and benefits of citing for the writer, reader, and cited author, we have crafted three activities that we use to teach citation ecology to students pursuing different disciplines. Since most of our students are multilingual or international and are relatively new to their fields and to the norms of academic writing, these activities simultaneously introduce and prompt immediate application and reflection on both the how and the why of citation. Through these activities, novice learners are able to notice, actively participate in, and appreciate the ecology of citation. 

 

The first in-class pre-reading activity helps students notice the referencing moves in academic texts within their fields. Students observe the ways discipline-specific writers integrate sources. In the second in-class pre-writing activity, the students work to compile a list of possible reasons for citation as well as its benefits to the reader, writer, and cited author. Students are encouraged to list as many reasons and benefits as they can beyond responses like “supporting my point” and “avoiding plagiarism.” The final is a follow-up activity we conduct during the students’ writing phase. In it, the students revisit their reasons for citing, identify three instances of source integration in their own writing, and articulate a specific reason motivating them to include the source(s) in each instance. With this activity, we also provide a sample student assignment in which the activity was applied to enhance student engagement with the sources. 

 

As students move from the noticing to applying to reflecting on their referencing practice, they begin appreciating the rhetorical purpose of referencing in academia and understand how this practice enables readers and writers to build the research territory while appropriately engaging in scholarly conversation and developing an understanding of stance and reader disposition.

Participants will be able to use three practical tools to engage their students’ learning of source-integration and incorporate these activities in class conversations regarding citation norms and/or writing assignments where students can reflect on the larger purpose for integrating texts. The activities in this session are relevant for all students, but will be particularly useful for new multilingual college students.

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