Technology, one of our College STILL Achievable students thought, no problem as she sat in her first college class designed for working adults. She knows Microsoft Word and Google, how to order on amazon, is addicted to Facebook and communicates to the school via email and following social email.
As she sits in her first day of an eight-week, accelerated college class, she was informed her first paper was due in five days. It is to be an academic research paper, completed in APA format and with peer-reviewed sources, six to eight pages. And this is her first paper she has written since her high school graduation in 1995.
“You can’t use Google or Wikipedia for your research,” she emphasized.
That is how I do all my research, she thought.
And to make matters worse, she received a twenty-page syllabus, most of which is written in a foreign language and has two other papers due by the end of the week in APA format. She also not only has to post comments for her class, but she needs to learn how to use Moodle. She also has family and work responsibilities.
Most of our students have told us they have dropped out of, on the average of three college degree programs. Because it is hard to keep up and to grasp the rigor of college.
Five things our students panic about:
APA – When our students hear an assignment needs to be APA style, they immediately freeze. It can be a one-page reflection on their career goals, and he or she will freeze. Students become overwhelmed, do not do the paper and works pile s up
PowerPoint – It does not have to be PowerPoint exactly, but any technology program they do not know. If the assignment is to do a five-slide PowerPoint and one of our students never used it before, that is just the hurdle that causes panic.
Peer Reviewed Sources – Finding research through the American Cancer Society website is not acceptable as one of their five sources on a research paper, an instructor will say. It needs to be peer-reviewed. These words are often put on a syllabus many times, and our students have no clue what it means. They don’t know how to locate a peer-reviewed source, but they can be found in the online university library that our students do not know how to use.
Plagiarism – It is serious, and a student can be kicked out of school for it. And then, there is self-plagiarizing. That is if you write an article for another class or anywhere else, you need to cite appropriately or get kicked out of school. Plagiarizing is much more than copying one’s work, but our students for not understand what it all means.
The Syllabus – Because instructors what to make everything very clear, our students are inundated with much information, which most of it, they don’t understand: A rubric, PowerPoint, Moodle, OLS (Online Learning System), discussion forums and peer-reviewed sources. The list goes on and on. If our students struggle in comprehending the syllabus, are they confident they can understand statistics?
Ways we can help:
- Explain key journals students can use to find their research that only accept peer-reviewed articles
- Show students what a peer-reviewed resource looks like so students can identify them right away
- Use the smart board we are going to get to show how to do a PowerPoint presentation in three easy steps
- Show students the three easy ways to post on a discussion forum (Rephrase question as a sentence, show in a few sentences you read and know the material and use a personal example)
- Give students a cheat sheet with a definition of syllabus terms
- Prioritizing their work