Monday, November 29, 2010

Rick's KGU Writing 2010: English Games

In a quick post, English Games (2010.11.29), Rick points out three [fun] pre-intermediate grammar games from Oxford University Press. There are [plenty] more games where those come from.
[26 + 2 words]

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Peer-to-peer comments survey

Thank you again for your responses to my questionnaire about peer-to-peer comments on essays. By the time you read this, I will have invited you to view the underlying spreadsheet and data collection, but as of this morning (Tuesday, November 16, 2010), I stopped accepting responses.

Now I would like to encourage everyone to browse all of the responses, especially those to free response items 8-10 (currently in columns I-K). There you should look, in particular, for common qualities and types of comments that you, your classmates, and your peers appreciate, and ways that you all like to respond to each another.

While you are browsing the entire data collection, there are a number of points of interest and concern to which I would like to direct your attention. I have flagged a few of those points with colors that I've explained in the Color key (currently column M). I'll also explain some of them here.

First of all, you need not be concerned about responses in column B or F that look like dates (B2-B10, F2-F10). Those early responses came in before I realized the spreadsheet automatically changed responses like 1-5 and 6-10 into to a date format that displays 1/5/2010 and 6/10/2010, respectively. Anyone who plans to create surveys with Google Forms should remember to reset formatting on columns for responses like that from "Normal" to "Plain text."

Second, URLs are critical for internet research and formal written references. Even for less formal computer-mediated communication, it is essential to provide URLs pointing exactly where readers of your writing expect to go when they follow links that you give them.

However, in columns C and H there are a few URLs that reflect searches within blogs (for labels) rather than pointing directly to essay posts, for example:
There also are a number of URLs that lead directly to comments, bypassing essays proper, for example,
There even are a couple URLs more detailed than that, for example:

Next you may notice a number of text clippings in columns D and G that include Japanese characters. I believe that the owners of blogs they use for an English writing course are doing themselves, their classmates, and their peers a disservice by leaving their blogs set to display Japanese. So I urge you all to set your blogs to display English most if not all of the time (except perhaps when you are tweaking blog settings), in order to provide yourselves and each other with ample opportunities for English reading as well as writing in this course.

As with URLs, research and written references depend upon accurate and complete data collection from various resources. Yet also in columns D and G are a number of clippings that omit the comment authors' names (blog handles), date stamps for those comments, or both.

Although those omissions are not a major problem for a simple survey such as this one about peer-to-peer comments on essays, the data collection and referencing habits that you start or develop in the Writing Studio will make a difference for future writing assignments and business tasks. It is quicker and easier to get the information readers need or want, and to record and share it accurately once and for all, than it is for you or anyone else to retrieve that information over and over again.

Last but not least is the matter of communicating your ideas in free response items not only clearly and completely yet economically, but also accurately. Machine translations, by and large, fail to produce accurate reflections of anything longer than words or phrases, or other than short simple sentences. So by all means, avoid dependence on machine translations; write short simple sentences that you can check yourselves.

Anything else that you are planning to post (that is, other than brainstorms, quick comments, or quickposts), you should check for grammar and spelling faults in a word-processing program – before you post it. Examples without explanations, or before brief explanations, also may fall flat. For a counter-example, please see: "Second, …" (above). If you approach surveys like this one for coursework as you might approach an online job application for a full-time position in a prestigious company or an important organization, I think you'll have the right mindset for online writing.

[722 words]

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...