Tag Archives: how to write

Five Tips on How to Write a Conclusion

The conclusion is an integral part of a research paper or thesis. Writing a proper conclusion, therefore, should not be taken for granted. It wraps up the major findings of a scientific investigation and serves as a springboard for future studies.

How should this essential part of a research paper be written? What good practices can you adopt for effectively writing it up?

This article provides five tips on how to write a conclusion with examples for greater clarity.

5 Tips on How to Write a Conclusion

1. Go back to the objectives of your research

To be systematic about it, re-read the objectives of your study or the statement of the problem. Write something about objective number 1, number 2, and so on.

After going through all those methods to answer the objectives or the statement of your problem, write your synthesis of findings in a sentence or two. The idea is to write the conclusion concisely without leaving out the important elements.

Consider this simplified example:

Objective #1. Determine the relationship between time spent by teenagers on social networking sites and time spent with friends offline.

Conclusion: There is a reason to believe that time spent on social networking sites reduces teenagers opportunities to spend time with friends offline.

That is the meat of your conclusion. You can build on that statement and offer ideas so that other researchers can investigate further on the issues you have raised.

You may ask yourself the question: “So what if the time spent by teenagers on social networking sites reduce their time spent with friends online?” You might go on to say that this is an important finding that parents and educators must look into to prevent teenagers from becoming socially handicapped adults. This weakness could lead to inability to work harmoniously with other people.

2. Review your introduction

Make sure that your conclusion addresses the issue or gap that you have identified while exploring the research subject in the introduction of your research paper.

Have you resolved the issues that you have raised or did your investigation lead to more questions?

Your conclusion should wrap up the whole paper. It is here where you integrate all your findings. Integrate means putting all of the ideas together to come up with a general idea. That general idea becomes a theory in the long run; that is if future studies converge towards or support what you are proposing as an explanation for a phenomenon. In other words, this is where you once again present your thesis.

For example, using the study on time spent by teenagers online, your introduction may have pointed out that many of the recent graduates are socially-handicapped employees. So this could be traced to their habits as “screenagers” or teenagers who spent most of their time in front of the computer in the past.

3. Raise questions for further study

Not all research results are conclusive. It is possible that the data you have gathered is not enough to draw out a sound conclusion that can help explain the issue you are looking into. There may be things that need to be added, considered, or factored in to shed better light to an unexplained phenomenon.

You can point this out in the conclusion and offer a course of action that future researchers can take. This will help researchers investigating a similar issue to use your paper as one of the foundations for another study. Your research will help unravel the mysteries of a phenomenon that baffle contemporary scientists.

For example, a medical researcher may have found evidence that immunotherapy works better than all other conventional treatments to cancer. But the samples are quite small such that the efficacy of such treatment could not be established for the general population. It is possible that immunotherapy works for only a certain group of people, but not for everyone.

4. Write from specific to general

Writing the conclusion follows an inductive approach. This means that you write it from specific to general. You have broken down the problem into manageable bits during the analysis. Now, in writing the conclusion, you build from the pieces once again to come up with a broad picture.

5. Leave out the extras

The conclusion should be without unnecessary statements that destroy the objectivity of the conclusion. Avoid statements that are

  • sentimental
  • afterthoughts
  • phrases that state the obvious such as “In conclusion,” “Summing it all up,” etc.
  • unnecessary statistics, and
  • quotations.

Give yourself ample time to practice these tips. Writing a good conclusion is a thesis writing skill that needs to be honed.

References

Literacy Education Online (n.d.) Strategies for writing a conclusion. Retrieved on May 30, 2015 from http://leo.stcloudstate.edu/acadwrite/conclude.html 2004

The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (n.d.). Conclusions. Retrieved on May 30, 2015 from http://writingcenter.unc.edu/handouts/conclusions/

©2015 June 12 P. A. Regoniel

Thesis Writing: 9 Tips on How to Write the Results and Discussion

Writing the results and discussion section could be one of the difficulties that you encounter when writing your first research manuscript. There is no simple hard and fast rule in doing it but the following guide can help you start off with confidence.

The results and discussion section is also referred to as the data presentation, analysis, and interpretation section. You present the results, show the analysis, and interpret the outcome of the analysis.

As a take off point, it would help if we separate these two terms, i.e., results and discussion, into simply the results and the discussion as separate parts of the paper. In some universities and usually in scientific journals, however, these are taken as one.

Writing the Results

As the term connotes, you should write only the results of your study. What comprises the results? I describe it in detail in the following paragraphs.

1. Graphs, tables, or photographs

Observations are derived from the application of your methodology or method. These can be best presented using tables and graphs as objective representation of the measurements that you made. Numbers are more definite approximations of reality compared to just mere words. Words are more subjective and replete with misunderstanding.

Be consistent with your units of measurement. If you start off with kg, then use the same unit all throughout your paper.

Never should you manipulate the outcome of your measurements. Be honest in presenting information even if the result is unexpected. Whether the result is positive or negative, present it. This is an objective move.

You may also add photographs whenever needed but make sure these are relevant, not just whimsical addition to your paper or a means to flaunt your good photography skills; although it would be advantageous to show such skill coupled with relevance. Pictures can speak a thousand words.

In general, give as much detail as possible in your presentation of the results. Read and reread your statements for clarity. Engage a competent friend or a colleague’s discerning eye for details.

2. Topic sentences or subheadings

It is easy to follow your presentation if you break this into meaningful subtopics based on your stated objectives. A one-to-one correspondence would be great. Say, the first subheading will be about objective one, the second subheading about objective two, and so on.

Notice that in writing this article, it is an easy read to have a subheading for every major thought. This makes for easy reading thus understanding. And the writing becomes logical.

3. Key results

Your key results should be stated clearly at the beginning of each paragraph. It should serve as the topic sentence (see the TSPU Principle). Support that statement with more detail such as presenting the results of statistical analysis.

For example:

There is a significant positive relationship between the number of hours spent by students in answering Mathematics questions and their examination score. This result is consistent across all grade levels in the three schools examined. Table 1 shows the correlation coefficients and their corresponding significance level.

Writing the Discussion

After examining several theses of previous years, I noticed that many undergraduate and even graduate students miss this part. The results were presented as well as the analysis but no discussion is in sight.

So what comprises the discussion? Here’s what should be present in the discussion part:

1. Trends and spatial differences

Trends refer to changes over time. Are your results showing an increasing, decreasing or just plain, constant direction? This should be evident in the graph that you presented.

Spatial differences refer to differences in space or location within the same time frame. Is there a significant difference between the two groups examined? Is there a difference in the morphological measurements of one group of animals obtained from one location compared to another group? These are questions that explore spatial differences.

2. Insightful interpretation of results

Insightful interpretation means well thought explanations. That means you will have to ponder deeply the results of your study and make a knowledgeable statement of your interpretation using the body of evidence at hand. This is where you cite evidences obtained by other authors. You either confirm or affirm other people’s work or refute using your own findings.

3. Generalizations

Be on guard in writing your generalizations. Make sure that the data you analyzed can be extrapolated or will allow you to predict somehow the behavior of one variable. If you have enough samples then you may make a generalization.

How enough is enough, you may ask. If your data has little variability as indicated by low variances, then it is possible that additional measurements will not change whatever trend you have.

Always match your generalization with whatever results you have. Conversely, do not generalize when you have very few samples. Don’t say 50% when you actually have only two, three, or even four samples described in your study. That’s plain absurd.

4. Exceptions to the rule

In scientific inquiry, not all things or factors are discovered. There are always unknown or unaccounted areas. This is the reason why everything is founded on probability. No one’s 100 percent sure. So you should never say “prove” as a matter of contention. Prove means 100% sure which never happens. There are always expected deviants from the norm.

5. Reasons why things happen

Things happen due to something else. Reaction arises from action. These are called determining factors.

Are there reasons why your results follow a trend? Is it evident in your study? If there is, then say it and explain why so, again based on your observations or evidence.

You may guess but make it educated, meaning, you have done your homework. You have reviewed the literature and use it as a leverage for advancing your hypothesis or inference.

Does your finding support or refute what has been done so far? Does it support previously advanced hypotheses?

Remember that there is no such thing as a simple explanation of a complex phenomenon. Find one that is most aligned to your findings.

It would be interesting to be in the controversial side as long as you have done your study systematically and bias is reduced to a minimum.

6. The contribution of your work

What the are the important things that your study has contributed so far in view of what has been laid out in the body of literature? Why is your work important and what things need to be investigated further?

From your set of questions, if many other questions arise, then your work has helped unravel other areas worthy of investigation. This is just how science works. The mysteries of the universe are uncovered yet there are still many unknowns.

No human has absolute understanding of everything. But if your work has potential to make life better, then it’s a great accomplishment.

Reference:

Kim Kastens, Stephanie Pfirman, Martin Stute, Bill Hahn, Dallas Abbott, and Chris Scholz (n.d.). How to write your thesis. Retrieved May 24, 2015 from http://www.ldeo.columbia.edu/~martins/sen_sem/thesis_org.html

The Role and Importance of Writing Prompts

This article explains the role of writing prompts, and in what ways this can be applied. If you are a writing teacher, the article below will prove helpful in honing the writing skills of your students.

Should writing prompts be used or not? With the advent of technology and globalization, the idea of writing across the curriculum becomes popular. However, it becomes difficult for teachers to design writing prompts for students in the content-based language instruction.

Writing prompts are guides that stimulate learners to write. It may be an open-ended sentence, a question, a topic, or a scenario that generates writing. It can also be used for children and adult learners.

Writing prompts are used as a tool in order to groom the writing style of students. Prompts are actually the foundation for writing that most students do in their academic career, such as essays and research papers.

The prompt must be authentic. An example of an authentic prompt is RAFTS prompt which aims to make writing more authentic. In this prompt, students are asked to think and write from a real world person’s perspective. It also makes students think at a much deeper level of Bloom’s Taxonomy.

Now, in which respect can writing prompts be used? It can be used for written assignments. According to Nunan (2009), written assignments must be carefully constructed to assure their success and their contribution to promoting the goals of the course.

There are six guidelines for the preparation of successful writing assignments (adapted from Reid and Kroll 1995) that prove helpful in reviewing the efficacy of any given assignment.

6 Guidelines for Successful Writing Assignments

First, a writing assignment should be presented with its context clearly delineated such that the student understands the reasons for the assignment.

Second, the context of the task/topic should be accessible to the writers and allow for multiple approaches.

Third, the language of the prompt or task and the instructions it is embedded in should be un–ambiguous, comprehensible, and transparent.

Fourth, the task should be focused enough to allow for completion in the time or length constraints given and should further students’ knowledge of classroom content and skills.

Next, the rhetorical specifications (cues) should provide a clear direction of likely shape and format of the finished assignment, including appropriate references to an anticipated audience.

And lastly, the evaluation criteria should be identified so that students will know in advance how their output will be judged.

Following the guidelines above can make students more engaged in the completion of their writing tasks. Thus, a great deal of thoughts must go into crafting an authentic writing prompts for the students.

References

Kroll, B. (2006). Teaching english as a second language of foreign language. (3rd ed.) (M.C. Murcia, ed.). Philippines: Cengage Learning Asia Pte Ltd.

Nunan, D. (2009). Second language teaching and learning. Philippines: Cengage Learning Asia Pte Ltd.

McCallister, C. (2004). Writing education practices within the reconceptualized curriculum.

An encyclopedia for parents and teachers, ed. J.L. kincheloe and D. Weil, CT: Greenwood Press.

© 2015 February 13 M. G. Alvior

Two Tips on How to Write the Significance of the Study

In writing the introduction of a thesis, a section is devoted to the significance of the study. This article discusses how to write this section and provides an example to illustrate the technique.

Essentially, the section on significance of the study provides information to the reader on how the study will contribute. It must be specifically stated, however, what the study will contribute and who will benefit from it.

You can figure out several important contributions of your research paper if you let your mind flow. But I find the following tips helpful in writing the significance of the study.

2 Tips in Writing the Significance of the Study

1. Refer to the statement of the problem

Your problem statement can guide you in identifying the specific contribution of your study. You can do this by observing a one-to-one correspondence between the statement of the problem and the significance of the study.

For example, if you ask the question “Is there a significant relationship between the teacher’s teaching style and the students’ long quiz scores in Mathematics?” then the contribution of your research would probably be a teaching style or styles (among say, three teaching styles you evaluated) that can help students perform better in Mathematics. Your research will demonstrate that that teaching style really works. That could be a groundbreaking approach that will change the way teachers teach Mathematics which many students abhor.

interdisciplinary

2. Write from general to specific contribution

I learned this technique from a former professor while in pursuing my masters degree. It works this way:

Write the significance of the study by looking into the general contribution of your study, such as its importance to society as a whole, then proceed downwards—towards its contribution to individuals and that may include yourself as a researcher. You start off broadly then taper off gradually to a specific group or person.

Coupled with reference to the problem statement, this effectively stimulates the mind to think in a deductive mode, i.e., from general to specific. This writing approach is similar to the Inverted Pyramid Approach discussed in How to Write a Good Thesis Introduction.

For example, in the study on teaching style given in #1, you may write:

significance of the study
Example significance of the study.

These two techniques will prevent your mind from wandering wildly or aimlessly as you explore the significance of your study. Applying them will save time thus allow you to focus on the next section of your thesis. Who knows, this section may also help justify why your study deserves a grant.

©2015 February 9 P. A. Regoniel

Cite this article as: Regoniel, Patrick A. (February 9, 2015). Two Tips on How to Write the Significance of the Study. In SimplyEducate.Me. Retrieved from http://simplyeducate.me/2015/02/09/two-tips-on-how-to-write-the-significance-of-the-study/

Reflective Journal: A Sample of Professional Development Plan

This article illustrates how you can plan for your professional development as a teacher. A reflective journal being featured is a result of a research finding. Read the steps and a sample on how you can use this professional activity to advance yourself professionally.

Steps in Using the Reflective Journal

If you are a teacher, and would want to use a reflective journal as your professional activity for self-direction, here are steps you can follow:

  1. Have a notebook and a ball pen for the journal;
  2. Think of a particular problem that you have, for example, a pronunciation problem;
  3. Identify the reasons why that problem exists;
  4. Look for strategies or activities that can improve your pronunciation skill such as listening to native speaker or to someone who is good at pronouncing words, using a speech laboratory or imitating and producing the sounds correctly, using audio and video tape analysis, among others;
  5. Use or apply the pronunciation activity/ies chosen; and
  6. Evaluate or assess your progress or improvement in pronunciation.

Sample Plan of Professional Development using Reflective Journal

Now, take a look at this sample.

Date: January 19, 2011

Topic: Improving My Pronunciation Skill

Questions to Ponder:

  1. What are the words I cannot pronounce well?
  2. How did I know that I mispronounced them?
  3. How would I correct my pronunciation?
  4. What do I need in order to improve my pronunciation? Should I listen to a friend who is good at pronunciation or would I go to a speech laboratory in order to hear how I produced the sounds and check them there?
  5. Are the strategies effective in improving my pronunciation? What are the indicators that my pronunciation skill has improved? What assessment tools should I utilize?

Reflections:

In this part, you may now reflect as to how you progress in your activities. You may also indicate the effectiveness of reflective journal as a self-directed professional development activity.

With the example given, the teacher may start writing a journal using the suggested format below:

Date:

Topic:

Questions to ponder on:

Reflections:

Since you already have an idea on how to write a reflective journal, you may start planning for it. For example, you may talk to your principal or department head that you would like to engage in this activity by writing a weekly journal for a period of 3 months. Or, you can have it daily for a longer period of time, say 6 months or one year. But your plan should be realistic. Just do only what you can do without giving yourself much pressure.

This activity can give you more benefits. Aside from helping yourself, you can also make this as your action research. So, try this professional development activity soonest and see the results!

© 2015 January 12 M. G. Alvior

How to Write the Literature Review: 4 Steps

For many students, writing the literature review is one of the most time consuming and mind-boggling part of thesis writing. However, this should not cause anybody to lose confidence or enthusiasm as there are ways by which the literature review could be written without much pain. If you know what you are doing, then the task becomes easier.

This article deciphers existing tips on how to write the literature review in order to be more systematic about it. Here’s a step by step guide on how to get started.

4 Steps on How to Write the Literature Review

Step 1. Rewrite the article to summarize the salient points.

After you have gathered the necessary literature related to the topic you have chosen to do research on, the next step is to write the literature review. This is quite a challenge, as you will have to rewrite, in your own words, the scientific articles that you have read. The important findings of an article can be described in a paragraph of a few sentences.

What information will you include in the description of other researchers’ work? Essentially, the paragraph should contain the following:

  • The author(s) and date when the article was published;
  • What the authors did (the method);
  • The variables they examined or manipulated;
  • A short description of the major findings; and
  • A brief explanation of relationships, trends, or differences between variables.
  • Here’s an example:

    Regoniel et al. (2013) examined the adaptation options of stakeholders to typhoons in two coastal communities, one directly exposed to the open sea while the other is buffered from strong winds by islets near the coast. The coastal residents in the community directly exposed to strong typhoons built concrete breakwater to mitigate the effects of storm surges and strong waves. On the other hand, the other community opted to reforest the mangroves along the coastline.

    Apparently, the intensity of typhoons caused the difference in response to typhoons, one group opted a quick fix by putting up a breakwater while the other chose mangrove reforestation as a long-term strategy because there is no immediate need to reduce the impact of typhoons.

    Step 2. Decide on how the paragraphs should be arranged.

    Which article description should go first? Some researchers arrange by topic or theme while others prefer to arrange using the set of questions posed in the introduction, specifically, according to how the problem statements are arranged. The latter appears to be more effective as the reader is oriented on the issue or concern.

    The literature review serves as an attempt to answer the questions posed in the early part of the research paper, but of course, it is unable to do so because the review should 1) point out the “gap” in knowledge, 2) show the insufficiency of current literature to resolve or convincingly explain the phenomenon in question, or 3) merely describe what attempts have been done so far to explain the phenomenon.

    Step 3. Link the paragraphs.

    The next step is to link together the different paragraphs using introductory statements before the paragraph and end with concluding statements. You may add transition paragraphs in between the descriptions of studies to facilitate the flow of ideas.

    Step 4. Write your opening and closing paragraphs.

    At the beginning of the Literature Review section, add a paragraph that explains the content of the whole write-up. This will serve as the reader’s guide on what he expects to read in the review. End with another paragraph that briefly summarizes the evidences that support the thesis of the research paper.

    Writing the literature may be difficult at first, but with careful planning, practice and diligence, you can come up with a good one. Once you’re done with your literature review, more than half of your thesis writing task is already done.

    Reference

    Ashton, W. (2015). Writing a Short Literature Review. Retrieved on January 6, 2015 from http://www.ithacalibrary.com/sp/assets/users/_lchabot/lit_rev_eg.pdf

    ©2015 January 6 P. A. Regoniel

    What is the Topic Sentence, Paragraph Unity (TSPU) Writing Technique?

    Have you heard or read about the so-called TSPU writing technique? This acronym stands for Topic Sentence, Paragraph Unity. Read on to know details about this simple but effective way of writing.

    Whenever I read and write articles or research papers for that matter, I always remind myself of the TSPU writing technique. TSPU is acronym for Topic Sentence, Paragraph Unity. I couldn’t exactly remember where I got this idea. It must have been a technical writing book I read several years back. And I was glad I read that book.

    There is nothing new about this technique. It’s just easy to recall and apply in your writing making you more effective in putting your ideas across. Thus, I always recommend this way of writing to my students who usually have a hard time making themselves clear. Once they apply the TSPU writing technique, I can read and comprehend their composition better.

    So how does the TSPU writing technique work? To make things clear, examples with explanations is the norm.

    Example of the TSPU Writing Technique

    Well, I just have given you an example of the TSPU writing technique in the way I write this article. If you examine closely the structure of the paragraphs I wrote, you will notice that I start off with the main idea in the first sentence of each paragraph I write. I then expound or explain the first sentences in the succeeding sentences that I write.

    The first sentence of the paragraph refers to the topic sentence. Some writers call it the lead sentence. This sentence is the very first sentence of a written composition. This is the most crucial part of the paragraph as it can make or break your research paper, essay, or article. Thus, the topic sentence should be well thought out and interesting.

    How do you make sure that the topic sentence is interesting? The expected result is that your readers will want to read the paragraph, the next one, and then the rest of the write-up.

    How will you know that your audience read the paper or composition that you wrote? Google Analytics makes assessment or evaluation of your writing possible. Reader behavior translates into a low bounce rate, meaning, readers stick to your article and read it right to the bottom. If they are uninterested, they will just skim through your article in a few seconds then click away to find other articles.

    How about the paragraph unity in the TSPU writing technique? What does it mean? Paragraph unity simply means that whatever you write after the topic sentence should be related to it. All sentences after the topic sentence should support, clarify, describe, or give details on the idea expressed in that first sentence. Thus, paragraph unity is achieved.

    Now, the rest is up to you. Develop your writing style. Your writing style will show to your audience your personality and your view of the world.

    ©2014 November 9 Patrick Regoniel

    Effective Strategies for Engineers Writing Technical Reports in English

    The research or report produced by an engineer is extremely important in getting himself established in his field. The hard work he put into his research could not be well presented if not well written. However, novice technical writers face numerous obstacles that prevent them from presenting their information clearly thus create wide readership.

    This article shares some tips to engineers who are non-native speakers of English who would like to become successful technical writers in that language. It highlights some strategies to be adopted during writing. Further, the article outlines how various aspects like word choice, paragraph building, tone and grammar of a text could affect the way readers comprehend the text. It also shares some do’s and don’ts to become a good technical writer.

    Introduction

    Engineers investigate and try to answer questions on the working of things. While writing research reports, not only a sound knowledge of the subject is a pre-requisite but effective communication through correct language use is also important. Technical writers need to adopt a clear and effective way of expression in order to be well-understood by the readers.

    This article outlines a few aspects that need attention when writing research reports in English in order to be well accepted by readers and field experts. Particular attention is given to word choice, sentence and paragraph structure, tone and grammar.

    Word choice

    Choices made at the lexical level make huge difference in how texts are received by the readers. While this is equally true for both verbal and written communication, verbal message especially face-to-face can be accompanied by acts such as gestures, eye contact and body language. This facilitates overall comprehension.

    Unfortunately, this facility is not available in written communication. The only way left to convince the reader is through the correct word choice.

    There are many factors which are decisive in determining the choices at the lexical level. To begin with, a technical writer needs to have information on the prospective readers of the text. A text written without an imagined reader is like music without soul. They need to identify who is going to read the text – whether they are students with limited knowledge or field experts with vast level of knowledge and experience. The language should have appeal to both sectors and should possess technical depth to satisfy the experts while simple enough to gain attention of novice learners of the field.

    There is a possibility that as researchers, engineers writing a report might possess greater domain knowledge than their readers. This situation often results in failing to provide a proper background to their study as they tend to fall prey to the assumption that since they are aware of it, the readers ought to know it as well.

    Contrary to their assumption, writing involves putting the reader in the situation. The text should be written by identifying exactly what the reader wants to know and orienting the text to arouse his interest.

    Technical jargon

    A technical write up usually contains a lot of technical vocabulary which do not pose a problem to field experts. However, a list of acronyms should be provided for students or newcomers in the field as they might eventually be reading the report after it has been accepted by the field experts.

    Sentences

    Long, complex sentences do not indicate the expertise of a technical writer. These sentences act as a hindrance in readers’ comprehension of a composition. While conveying highly technical information, small connected sentences should be preferred over very long and run-on sentences.

    Paragraph building

    The essential component of a written piece is the way paragraphs are built. The writers often cram information in a paragraph without any thought on organization. This leads to information dumping rather than information building.

    The paragraphs should follow a structure. Each paragraph must revolve around a single idea. The first sentence of a paragraph should be the topic sentence and the rest of the sentences should be written to support that main idea presented in the first sentence (see the TSPU writing technique). The last sentence could either refer back to the first sentence or lead to the idea in the following paragraph.

    (Next page please)

    A Critique on the Cooperative Writing Response Groups

    Are you interested in writing a critique and would like to see how it is done? This article is for you. I write about the work of an English teacher, Melina Porto, on how to teach students to write. How did Melina approach students’ difficulty in writing good papers? I explain below how she made innovations in her pedagogical approach and presented my own perspective about what she did.

    Writing the Paper

    The author of this article is Melina Porto. She is an English teacher from the National University of La Plata, Argentina. She believes that timed writing itself contradicts recent research on writing pedagogy, and is therefore inappropriate.

    This pedagogic proposal is based on cooperative writing response groups and self-evaluation. However, the university has already established testing procedures and she can only take limited instructional decisions.

    The university requires students to devote two hours in writing approximately 350 words on a teacher-selected topic. The teacher then gives feedback in the form of error correction. In this process, grammar is given more emphasis than content. This means that a student would receive a failing mark if his sentences are grammatically wrong.

    This situation contradicts Melina’s belief that writing is an interactive activity wherein learners need to know who they have to interact with and why (Widdowson, 1984). In addition, writing is a provoked activity; it is located in on-going social life.

    Raimes (1985) intensifies this argument by giving a real audience for the students —their own teacher. In doing this, students become more social and communicative in their written works because they know whom they are writing to.

    Another problem in teaching writing is the time pressure involved. Students are deprived of the concept of writing as recursive, interactive, communicative, and social activity (Silva, et al., 1994) due to the length of time allotted in finishing a composition. They do not have enough time to give suggestions or comments about their classmates’ paper nor to revise the final copy of their work.

    Finally, little or no teacher feedback only leads to limited improvement in student’s writing because of unawareness of the linguistic problems and thus, they cannot generate alternatives and assess them.

    Porto’s Research

    The problems mentioned above encouraged Porto to conduct a research guided by the following criteria for good writing pedagogy:

    • to respond to student writing as work in progress (Zamel, 1985),
    • to encourage revision for meaning, and
    • to offer specific guidelines and directions on how to proceed (Raimes, 1991; Zamel, 1985).

    With these in mind, she used the cooperative writing response groups (Bryan, 1996) in which three or four students as a group take turns in reading out their written pieces to members who then give feedback to the writer based on instruction given. This was implemented by selecting a topic that was developed at home through teacher-student negotiation. The point of discussion was merely on the content.

    As a result, the students were able to ask questions, give clarification and opinion, make suggestions for improvement, give examples and pinpoint ambiguities before grammar related aspects were considered. Likewise, the writer was able to evaluate himself based from his teacher’s and classmates’ suggestions and feedback. In this process, the learners need to write the first draft, two revisions and the final copy.

    The steps involved in cooperative writing response groups and self-evaluation are complicated and time consuming; but at the end, this is rewarding. Students’ performance can be easily monitored by including their cooperative writing response groups and self-evaluation in their portfolios; however, it entails more time for a teacher and the students as well, to read and give feedback for the initial draft, the two revisions (one on content, one in grammar) and the final copy.

    On the other hand, students achieved better when 80 percent of the learners passed the required writing task in 1997 compared to the 70 percent passing rate before the innovation was introduced.

    Further, empirical support was clearly lacking. Thus, further research should be made whether the approach actually succeeded in helping the students meet the writing requirement set by their institution. Cooperative writing response groups synthesizes product and process; thus, capturing the complexity of writing.

    The Critique

    I strongly agree with Porto’s idea of implementing the cooperative writing response groups and self-evaluation because it is student-centered and content-based rather than grammar. As a teacher, I also experienced before the dilemma of giving grades. I tended to give higher grades to students whose papers were grammatically correct; and in effect, students got a lower score if their papers had grammatically incorrect sentences, no matter how comprehensive and substantial they were.

    I also agree that students should address a particular audience in writing and have a definite purpose. In doing this, they will know what kind of words they will use and how they will organize and present their ideas. The use of a more familiar audience or a particular person whom they know more – like their teacher or a classmate can motivate them to express their ideas well. They might feel that it is a cool and non-threatening activity.

    Likewise, the concept of writing as recursive, interactive, communicative, and social activity entails a lot of time. Therefore, students must be given ample time to write and to interact with their classmates for suggestion and feedback. The giving of feedback by their classmates and most especially, by their teachers can help them improve their work and correct their mistakes. This also helps them become critical thinkers, writers and readers.

    However, the implementation of this concept is impossible if the school administrators still insist on carrying out their traditional belief or policy concerning writing. A total re-engineering of the curriculum is necessary in order to avoid mismatch of the theories and principles (worthwhile activities that should be done in a classroom to make students communicatively competent) and of our practice in the educational system.

    © 2014 October 9 M. G. Alvior

    Four Tips on How to Write a School Newsletter

    This article is for students who would like to know some tips in writing a school newspaper. 

    Before I give you the tips, I would like to define first the word, newsletter. According to Jacci Howard Bear, a newsletter simply contains articles about one main subject or topic written by one or more authors and that is periodically published. It is also purposely written for a specific group of audience and it may contain jargons or technical words which may not be understood by the general audience/readers.

    The writer goes on to say that as to the layout and format, it could be 1-2 pages or in some cases, up to 24 pages in letter size format. More often than not, it is in black and white and printed in plain paper.

    So, with the definition in mind, if the newsletter is for school purposes, then it is called – the school newsletter. Here are four tips on how to write it.

    Four Tips on How to Write the School Newsletter

    1. Decide how many pages your newsletter should be and how many times you will publish it. I t could be monthly or quarterly with one or two pages only.
    1. Have a list of only relevant and related topics to the theme of your particular issue. If you do it monthly, every school has monthly celebration, so you may focus your articles on that issue or you may focus on the events that took place during a particular month or period.
    1. Make the headline attention-getting. This means that since you have intended readers in mind, you already know what is interesting for them. The headline maybe a complete or incomplete sentence. It may be a thought-provoking question.
    1. Make it colorful. Though there is no hard and fast rule about this, and most of the newsletters are in black and white, I suggest that you place pictures and add colors into it. Well, this could easily be done with e-copies since you don’t need to pay for the printing which is too costly on your part. But if the school has enough funds for the layout and printing, then you may have it that way. So, it depends on your preference.

    I wish that I have given you basic tips on how to write a school newsletter. You may see a sample here.

    References

    Bear, J. H. What is the Difference Between a Newsletter and a Magazine? Retrieved on September 28, 2014 from http://desktoppub.about.com/od/newsletters/f/magnews.htm

    Wikihow. How to Write a Good Newsletter. Retrieved on September 28, 2014 from http://www.wikihow.com/Write-a-Good-Newsletter

    © 2014 September 28 M. G. Alvior