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Study Shows Students Don’t  "Get" the Materials They Cite

by Alexis Mattera

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Thanks a lot, They: A new study shows that college students are taking those words to heart when it comes to citations rather than actually deciphering the meaning of the subject they’ve been tasked to write about.

The Citation Project, presented by Rebecca Moore Howard (associate professor of writing and rhetoric at Syracuse University) and Sandra Jamieson (professor of English, director of composition and department chair at Drew University) at the annual Conference on College Composition and Communication, analyzed research 164 papers written in first-year composition courses at 15 colleges in 12 states and divided the 1,832 citations into four categories: exact copying, patchwriting, paraphrasing and summary. Unfortunately, the type of sourcing that reflects the most comprehension – summary – represented only 9 percent of the citations in the study. “That's the stunning part, I think: 91 percent are citations to material that isn't composing,” said Jamieson. “They don't digest the ideas in the material cited and put it in their own words.”

The explanations for these practices are vast – writing for efficiency as opposed to understanding, finding increasing difficulty of separating legitimate from illegitimate information on the Internet and not knowing what exactly goes into forming a proper citation – and there’s much more to Howard and Jamieson’s research here but the sad truth is that students are just not "getting" the material. Have any of your papers contained the offenses they detail? Given the statistics, it’s likely they have...but why?


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How to Make the Grade and Keep Your Sanity During Finals

by Anna Meskishvili

Preparing for finals is all about organization. Not sure how to best manage your time before each exam? Check out my tried-and-true tips below.

Before attacking each subject, lay out exactly what days you will study for which class. To-do lists are essential for this time of year – it’s very easy to miss a chapter or a concept if you’re zipping through the PowerPoint slides! What I like to do after I finish a chapter is think of possible tough questions, write them down and see if I could answer them without looking back. I also have to say the number one best-kept secret of all studying is SelfControl, an app for Macs that “blacklists” certain websites and makes it impossible for you to access them during a designated time you choose. My best work has been done during my SelfControl hours (it’s on right now!).

As fabulous as to-do lists and website-blocking apps are, though, they also cause anxiety so make sure you take breaks. This is so important mentally and physically. If it’s nice out, ask that gent sitting across from you at the library to watch your laptop for 20 minutes while you take a stroll and shake out your legs. If it’s rainy, go get a hot chocolate from the student union as a treat for the work you’ve done so far.

Just remember, finals may seem like the end of the world, but keep in mind they are just tests. This isn’t your last or first test, so try to walk into that room calm and confident and in control. Also, remember this helpful tip about scheduling: Make sure to schedule easier classes for the spring semester, classes that are likely not to require a sit-down exam. Just trust me, when its 77 degrees outsides and all your friends are texting you: “Come over here bittie and lay on my porch — making lemonade!” it’s a tough game for Econ’s Opportunity Cost. But as the studious student you are, you will chose to study. Of course.

Anna Meskishvili is a rising senior at Boston University pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Relations at the College of Communication. She is part of Kappa Delta at BU and has loved every second of it. She is also involved in Public Relations Student Society of America and Ed on Campus. Anna was born in the Republic of Georgia and considers herself a citizen of the world because she’s lived in Russia, England, France, Brooklyn and Connecticut. She hopes to someday work in Healthcare Administration Communication. She loves to travel, run and learn.


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Spring Semester Woes...and Wows

by Mariah Proctor

This is my third year at BYU and I’ve never stayed on campus for a spring semester before now. I have, however, been at a wedding reception after the couple has gone away and the festivities are dying down and I can now tell you the experience is comparable.

The campus runs as before, only at half-mast as far as sheer volume of people...but I kind of like it. Taking class once the hustle of the fall and winter semesters has ended is sort of like an academically-inclined summer camp. When the weather cooperates, I forget I’m taking classes altogether.

Now, here comes the but: trying to cram in nine college credits in six weeks makes for very, very long classes. Sitting for long periods of time has never been a particular trial for me, but when you’re sitting in a lecture, no matter how interesting it is, for longer than you sat through the third “Lord of the Rings” movie, it starts to get tough. You pick up habits you never indulged before; suddenly you’re a knuckle-cracking, leg-shaking doodler with a twitch and you don’t know how you got this way. This condition is aggravated by the sunshine you know is shining outside, the swimming pools you know are getting ready to open and the smell of flowers on the brink of full bloom.

That said, now that attending college has taught me my own capability for a whole new level of productivity, those lazy summer days I used to welcome in high school are a bit torturous. Long, idle hours when I could be getting some of those generals out of the way faster and cheaper than I could during the traditional school year is just time wasting away. Ultimately, despite its struggles, I recommend this post-party wedding reception we call spring semester. It’s a collegiate freebie...try it!

Mariah Proctor is a senior at Brigham Young University studying theatre arts and German studies. She is a habitual globe-trotter and enjoys acoustic guitar, sunshine and elephant whispering. Once the undergraduate era of her life comes to an end, she plans to perhaps seek a graduate degree in film and television production or go straight to pounding the pavement as an actor and getting used to the sound of slammed doors. Writing has and always will be the constant in her whirlwind life story.


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Full Internet Access During Exams? Ja, in Denmark

Danish University Hopes Strategy Will Quell Cheating

May 12, 2011

Full Internet Access During Exams? Ja, in Denmark

by Alexis Mattera

Here in the U.S., surfing the Internet during class is usually frowned upon and accessing the web during an exam could warrant an automatic failing grade. Overseas, however, Internet usage in these situations will not only be allowed but encouraged to – among other things – inhibit cheating.

The University of Southern Denmark has announced that by January 2012, all exams will be transferred to a digital platform and administered via Internet software. In addition to making it possible for faculty to create tests aligned with course content that would better assess students’ problem solving prowess, analytical skills and ability to discuss particular topics, e-learning project coordinator Lise Petersen said this program presented an innovative solution to academic dishonesty. "One way of preventing cheating is by saying nothing is allowed and giving students a piece of paper and a pen," she said. "The other way is to say everything is allowed except plagiarism. So if you allow communication, discussions, searches and so on, you eliminate cheating because it’s not cheating anymore. That is the way we should think."

Do you think Southern Denmark’s plan is an effective one or an approach that will breed more academic dishonesty? What’s your school’s stance on Internet usage in class?


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What to Consider When Selecting a Roommate

by Anna Meskishvili

Personally, I think that choosing a roommate is one of the most challenging things about college. They are the ultimate lottery. But in order to pick the right roommate for you, you must first properly understand yourself.

I’m sure you have all completed (or will soon complete) some variation of the “roommate survey,” which might reveal to you a prototype of the perfect roommate but here’s a reality check: Roommates are not perfect. In order to be the best roommate you can be, evaluate yourself. Speaking from experience, I thought I wanted to be best friends with my roommate, wanted my room to be the social hot spot of the floor and didn’t care about order or rules. Turns out, when you’re busy as a bee like me and are exhausted when you come home, the last thing you want to see is a dog pile of frat boys on your bed trying to see how many grapes they can shove in their mouths. Don’t get me wrong, I work hard and play hard but I always idealized my room as a place I could go to do neither those two things.

The bottom line about choosing roommates, make sure you both are on the same page and don’t just assume you are – talk about it. This is someone you will be living four feet away from for a year and avoidance is not an option. Top issues to cover are:

  • What time do you usually go to bed? Do you need the TV on to fall asleep?
  • Do you plan on studying or partying in the room?
  • If I vacuum the room on Mondays, can you do it on Fridays?
  • Are you going to have a lot of overnight guests? Let’s make a code.
  • Do you expect me to be in the room all the time?

And before you ask your prospective roommate any of these questions, ask them to yourself. Good luck, roomie!

Anna Meskishvili is a rising senior at Boston University pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Relations at the College of Communication. She is part of Kappa Delta at BU and has loved every second of it. She is also involved in Public Relations Student Society of America and Ed on Campus. Anna was born in the Republic of Georgia and considers herself a citizen of the world because she’s lived in Russia, England, France, Brooklyn and Connecticut. She hopes to someday work in Healthcare Administration Communication. She loves to travel, run and learn.


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Long-Distance Relationships in College

How to Make Them Work Over Summer Break

May 18, 2011

Long-Distance Relationships in College

by Kayla Herrera

So you met during orientation the first week of college and you two really hit it off. Fall semester flies by and the snow comes in heavy waves. Spring semester comes in like a lion and, as the leaves show themselves on the trees after a long winter's nap, you realize you are happier than ever. Now summer is here, you are staying at school to take classes and he/she is going home. What now?

This summer is the first real summer my boyfriend and I would've spent apart in different places so I've developed some tips for others in the same situation on how to deal:

  • Texting is okay – an “I love you!” on your phone when you are least expecting it is always nice – but don't overdo it with long conversations via texting. If it's important, make a phone call.
  • Give those thumbs a rest and call each other...but not every night. It will get boring and if a call is missed, someone will get mad, a fight will ensue and no one will be very happy at all.
  • Mix it up a little and use Skype – it’s nice to see a face every once in a while! My boyfriend and I set up Skype dates and we watch TV together like we used to.
  • For gaming couples, add each other as friends on Steam (an online game platform), set up times to play games together and chat while doing so.

You may miss your significant other but stay busy! Intern, volunteer, hang out with friends, spend time with your parents, study hard, whatever...it’ll make for a more productive summer and you won't be constantly checking your phone. Plus, fall semester will be here before you know it!

In addition to being a Scholarships.com virtual intern, Michigan Tech student Kayla Herrera is a media coordinator for the Michigan Tech Youth Programs, a writer for The Daily News in Iron Mountain, Mich., and a writer for Examiner.com. She love a tantalizing, action-packed video game and can't get enough of horror movies (Stephen King's books always have her in their grip, though she prefers the old over the new). Writing is what she has always done, and that is what she is here to do.


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Why You Should Love Your Library

by Allison Rowe

My name is Allison and I am addicted to public libraries. Call me a nerd, call me a geek, but my beloved King County Library System is ranked among the best in the nation and I plan to take full advantage of that.

According to the Seattle Times, the average citizen in King County pays about $84 in taxes each year to support library resources. That tax money is only spent in vain if you fail to cash in! Public libraries offer so many incredible resources for college students, making it possible to double or even triple your tax dollar investment.

There is the diverse array of items available for checkout. At my library (and most others), that includes books, music, movies, magazine and newspapers – and not just old dusty ones! Not everything will be physically at your library all at once, so you’ll need to place some holds but some libraries allow you to do this online. It’s like a public Netflix! Another bonus: According to an expert at KCLS, the government permits reproduction of library materials for PERSONAL USE ONLY. Nice.

Here are some more public library benefits:

  • Log on to computers with high-speed Internet, in case your apartment has shoddy wireless or your parents won’t upgrade from dial-up.
  • Classes provided to community members to develop valuable skills (speed typing, financial planning, tech basics, academic tutoring, etc.) are usually free or inexpensive. You can also offer to teach/assist and put it on your resume!
  • Use it as a quiet, comfortable place to study, read or get work done away from the distractions of your home (or Facebook).

So next time you need to feel like you’ve accomplished something productive this summer, check in to your local library and check out what services they offer!

Allison Rowe is a senior at Washington State University majoring in English and psychology. For the last two years, she has worked for her student newspaper, achieved the status of President’s honor roll every semester and academically excelled to acquire a handful of scholarships and writing awards. She dreams of moving to New York after her May 2012 graduation to dive head first into the publishing industry. In her free time, Allison enjoys cooking, game nights and psychologically thrilling movies. As a Scholarship.com virtual intern, Allison hopes to assist students in maximizing the gains of the college experience.


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The Unique Challenges Facing Online Students

by Alexis Mattera

For the past two years, I have attended college entirely online. For some people, the idea of going to school online is like wading into a swamp – terrifying even to contemplate – but for me, online learning has been a dream.

This doesn't mean, however, that online classes are for everyone. Quite frankly, those of us who are not self-starters are not suited for online schooling. E-learning has deadlines, exams and papers just like traditional learning but teachers don't always remind students when assignments are due as they would in a traditional classroom, since they assume students who choose to take classes online are responsible enough to keep up with the coursework. In addition, e-learning is difficult for students who learn by listening to lectures; for online classes, lectures are provided in a visual format and some people find the fairly lengthy notes difficult to read through. Finally, although most teachers are willing and able to address any concerns online students have, students are largely expected to overcome obstacles themselves. Consequently, online students are encouraged to be much more independent than traditional students.

For me, this sense of independence is both liberating and empowering. I have been forced to adapt to an environment where I have minimal supervision and am required to make my own decisions. My achievements as a self-motivated individual have transcended to other areas of my life, such as my interpersonal relationships. I have grown as a person and as a thinker as a result of being an online student and I am proud to say I have completed my entire associate degree online. Although online learning may not be for everyone, the rewards of being a self-motivated individual have far exceeded the costs of online learning for me.

Lisa Lowdermilk is a soon-to-be published author, an avid video gamer and an artist. Her first novel is a murder mystery for young adults set in the future. She enjoys watching thrillers, trying different restaurants and attempting to breakdance. Lisa completed her Associate of Arts degree entirely online and is now majoring in professional writing at the University of Colorado Denver.


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MythBusters: The College Edition

by Darci Miller

Have you ever watched “MythBusters,” the show that scientifically tests myths and urban legends, like are elephants really afraid of mice or is it possible to walk on water? Now, I may not have a crash test dummy named Buster, but I do have two years of dorm life, on- and off-campus adventures and brutal assignments under my belt. Therefore, I bring to you "MythBusters: The College Edition."

Myth 1 – College is a constant party. Thirsty Thursday is a very real phenomenon. There are people that go out partying on Mondays. Some students come to class still drunk from the night before. But if you venture into the library on Friday evening, there are people there. College is hard work, it’s not all “Animal House.”

Myth 2 – Dorm life is disgusting. Yes, the toilets and sinks may clog occasionally and your roommate could be a vile person who steals your food and leaves garbage on your bed. But if everyone’s respectful, bathrooms are honestly fine and you may end up loving your freshman roommate and living together for multiple years...like me and mine!

Myth 3 – Professors don’t care. High school teachers beat this one into your brain, right? College professors may not remind you about daily readings but they will let you know when a test or big assignment is coming up and are happy to answer questions about them.

Myth 4 – You’ll gain weight. Eat normal-sized portions, throw in a vegetable here and there and hit the gym. This very simple recipe will ensure the Freshman 15 doesn’t even cross your mind...or waistline.

Myth 5 – You’re going to change your major numerous times. It’s fine if you do but if you know what you want to study and still love it after taking a few classes, you probably won’t. Don’t feel weird about not changing your major: Some people are just focused...you’re lucky if you’re one of them!

Darci Miller is a New Yorker studying journalism and sport administration at the University of Miami. When she’s not writing for the school newspaper, you can find her at the gym, either working or working out. She loves all ‘80s pop culture (the cheesier the better!), and glues herself to her TV when the Olympics are on. She dreams big, and believes the sky’s the limit!


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Which Learning Style is Right for You?

by Kara Coleman

As a tutor, the question that I hear most from my students is “How do I study?” The answer depends on which learning style suits you best because there is no such thing as one-size-fits-all learning.

The majority of people are visual learners. They benefit from recopying or making their own notes, tend to be good at spelling and can remember where certain text is located on a page. It’s a good idea for visual learners to sit in the front of the classroom, within sight of the board or projector.

Auditory learners remember things well when they are sung or spoken to out loud. If you benefitted more from Schoolhouse Rock! (Conjunction Junction, anyone?) than you did from textbooks, try reading your notes out loud, or set them to a tune. Ask your professors if they permit voice recorders in their classes; if they do, record their lectures and replay them when you get home.

My orientation teacher at Gadsden State once said, “Some people are content to sit in the driver’s ed classroom and watch a DVD on traffic accidents. Others want to get in cars and go have accidents.” That’s not a pleasant analogy but it describes the difference between visual learners and auditory learners and kinesthetic/tactile learners. Kinesthetic learners learn by doing. They like field trips and science experiments and can easily pick up dance choreography and martial arts. These learners will probably benefit from writing notes by hand so that they can form the words rather than just read them or – better yet – engaging in an active discussion about the topic they are studying.

What learning style works best for you and why?

Kara Coleman lives in Gadsden, Alabama, where she attends Gadsden State Community College. She received the school’s Outstanding English Student Award two years in a row and is a member of Phi Theta Kappa. She plans to transfer to Jacksonville State University in August 2011 to study communications with concentration in print journalism. Kara’s writing has been featured in Teen Ink magazine and she is a children’s book author through Big Dif Books. In her spare time, Kara enjoys reading, painting, participating in community theater and pretty much any other form of art.


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