Academic Writing: Self-Assessment

In this fourth-semester class (English language teacher trainers/Spanish L1), I facilitate a group discussion around common writing errors stemming from their first drafts (of a five-paragraph essay).  Trainers were asked to look through their own work and choose if the error type was something they needed to consider or if it was something they already did well.

Common Academic Writing Errors Discussed in Class 

  1. Level I heading (APA)
  2. Thesis statement: transitional phrase
  3. Times New Roman, font size 12
  4. Spacing: Double space and equal spacing between headings and paragraphs
  5. Avoid
    1. To be
    2. It is important, it is necessary, it is vital, it is essential, etc.
    3. Passive voice with non-referential it
    4. Focus more on concepts than the authors
    5. Using modals
    6. Dictionaries and encyclopedia citations and references
  6. APA
    1. Last name and year for citations
    2. Direct quotes no more than 15%
    3. References: capitalization and italics
  7. Punctuation
    1. Serial comma
    2. At least three references and six citations
    3. Five to eight sentences in each paragraph
    4. Subject-verb agreement: check each (main, subordinating, and relative) clause.

3Ms to Academic Writing #WhyIWrite

Since today is the National Day on Writing (#WhyIWrite), founded by The National Council of Teachers of English, I thought I'd share why I write.

The reason I write is to have the opportunity to think deeply about a subject, then share it with others.  I write to record ideas so that I can draw on them later, although admittedly, I seldom do. As an educator, I write to direct, facilitator, and coach others in finding ways to develop their own writing and learning processes as well.  I write to connect with others.

To this end, I share a recent writing topic my composition students and I discussed this week: the 3Ms to writing.

Matrix of Ideas

When writers begin reviewing the literature, having a matrix of ideas (claims) and sources can help organize one's ideas around a thesis statement.  A matrix provides an easy way to see how claims from various sources compare and contrast with each other, and can show any ideas that lack sufficient support. Students have a tendency to rush to judgment when it comes to deciding whether there are enough sources or not to support a claim, so typically I provide students with a variety of free online databases for finding articles and discuss how a Boolean search using proper search terms can be useful as well. If the learner has thoroughly looked through the numerous free online databases available and has tried differed search terms, the learner and I make a joint decision in shifting the topic (thesis statement) to one that is more feasible.

Mind Map

Once the matrix of ideas has been completed, then the writer is ready to complete a mind map (or outline) that provides a visual representation of how the ideas will be organized.  Claims (premises) that align with the thesis statement are presented in the mind map with corresponding evidence (sources found in the matrix) so that writers are thinking about coherence before creating the first draft. Typical organizational patterns that occur at the essay, section, paragraph, and sentence level include chronological, temporal, spatial, process, general to the specific, abstract to the concrete, theoretical to the practical, least important to the most important, to name a few.

Another way to look at the mind map is to create a visual for choosing the overall reasoning pattern for linking premises to a thesis statement.  Typical reasoning patterns include the following:
  • One-on-one reasoning 
  • Side-by-side reasoning 
  • Chain reasoning 
  • Joint reasoning (Machi & McEvoy, 2009).


Based on the mind map, the writer now is ready to begin developing the body paragraphs by respecting the predetermined organizational and reasoning patterns that are most appropriate for a particular thesis statement.  The MEAL plan assures that each body paragraph is properly developed by including a topic sentence and supporting sentences that provide evidence and explanation of claims (see also PEEL).

When writing an academic essay, consider the 3Ms, in the order presented above.  It can become counterproductive if a writer begins doing a mindmap if a research matrix has not already been considered.  Similarly, writing a first draft (using the MEAL plan for body paragraphs) without having an idea of how the essay is to be organized can result in major draft revisions that can become frustrating for the writer.

Happy National Day of Writing!

APA Basics

This image is a condensed version of a PowerPoint presentation entitled APA Basics, detailing the main elements of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association I spend the most time discussing with academic writers/English language learners.  I created this image to share with colleagues so that the academy remain consistent in how academic writing throughout the curriculum is assessed.  It's important to note that a few points taken from this image do not come directly from the publication manual but instead are suggestions based on local educational contexts: 1) limiting headings to three levels and in most cases to just one, 2) requiring >50% of text as original ideas, 3) limiting the amount of hedging, and 4) using websites sparingly.


Thesis Manuscript Template (Video)

A Mission for Unity and Coherency

Always looking for a teachable moment, Choice Stifles Learning for Educators (Whitby, July 25, 2015) gives me an opportunity to speak to writers taking composition and academic writing about the importance of unity and coherency.

Paragraph 1
What is it about a mandated, contractually obligated, professional development conference that inspires some teachers and completely turns off many others? Why do some teachers glow with excitement at conferences and many others complain as they go through the motions? Is it the conference itself, or the attitude of the educators attending, or a combination of both?
 The first paragraph provides a hook by asking three consecutive questions. The first question provides context by limiting the types of professional development (PD) conferences as not being a choice a teacher makes (i.e., conferences are required); it suggests that conferences are appealing to some educators, and not for others. The second question restates the rheme from the prior sentence, making it sound as if the main idea of the essay (i.e., the thesis) vaguely relates to the differences in opinion when attending a conference.  However,  the third question offers a dichotomy that insinuates the reason for these differences in opinions about conferences has to do with both the conference itself and the attitudes of the attendees.  

A hook should align with the main thesis of the essay.  The rest of the essay speaks mainly about conferences and slightly about educators but not related to ideas found in this paragraph.  Also, mentioning that PD conferences are mandated clouds the overall thesis for this essay.  Just being forced to attend a conference is reason to be turned off and may have nothing to do with the conference or how it is organized.  The hook (the entire first paragraph) lacks unity both in terms of the rest of the essay and within the paragraph itself.

Tip: Begin your essay with a hook but limit it to one question, famous quote, or important statistic or fact.  Develop the rest of the introduction paragraph by providing context or background and conclude with a strong thesis statement.  As a general rule, avoid questions throughout your essay... answer the questions instead! 

Paragraph 2
When it comes to professional development for educators, conferences are believed to offer a great deal of choice with usually a seemingly wide array of sessions and workshops for educators to choose from to fill their blank schedules for a full day of learning. That is at least what is in the minds of the conference planners as they spend a huge amount of time planning these events. They seem to concentrate on the how and what of education, but fall short of the why.
 The second paragraph provides more context and speaks to the problem of conferences focusing more on the how and not the why of education.  Notice how the hook (prior paragraph) does not align with this paragraph.  One of the first two paragraphs are off-topic (lacks unity). Also, notice how the use of passive voice in the topic sentence (...conferences are believed...) fails to disclose who the agent is.  Do teachers or conference organizers believe this?  Then in the next sentence, the writer kind of suggest conference organizers. Incoherent.

Tip: Provide context, background information, or problem in the introduction paragraph.  This sets up or should lead right into your thesis statement, which concludes your introduction paragraph.

Paragraph 3
The why refers to why we do things in the first place? Without at least discussions on that subject of why we should, or should not do certain things in order to examine their relevance, we might find we are doing things just because that’s the way they have always been done. To simplify an example: that is why we teach keyboarding and not typing. There are no longer any typewriters, but keyboards abound. Of course all of that goes out the window with mobile devices where thumbs and pointer fingers rule the keys. The point is that we examined why we were teaching typing, and found that we needed to teach something else to stay relevant, keyboarding.
The third paragraph attempts to expand on the why of education that was introduced in the prior paragraph and concludes with an example.  The topic sentence is vague because it is still not clear who we are: educators, conference organizers, administrators, instructional designers, parents, etc. As a question, it is not clear why the reader should ask why about education.  If this was not just a mistake in punctuation, it is the opposed of what the main point of this paragraph is - that the reader should consider why teachers educate.  The example that concludes this paragraph does not go far enough in contrasting the reasons for teaching typing class vs. keyboarding class.  The example seems to suggest that the we pronoun refers to educators. 

As it relates to the first paragraph, why teachers teach typing or keyboarding has just as much to do with curriculum planning and policy than actual instruction.  For this reason, paragraph three does not align with paragraph one which seems to be about decision-making among educators, forcing educators to attend conferences, and conference organizational choices.  Lacks unity.

Tip: Avoid questions as topic sentences.  Instead, create claims as topic sentences that are 1) not questions, 2) not commands (imperatives), and directly align to the thesis statement or the overall thesis of the essay.  Avoid the we pronoun when its antecedent is not clear.  Unless writing a narrative, it is usually best to stay in the third person.

Your mission: Take a look at the rest of the paragraphs of this essay and choose two to comment on.  Provide an analysis similar to the discussion above.  Your instructor will suggest where to post your response for others to comment on from a discourse perspective.

Academic Writing and ICTs

I'm preparing an in-house talk on using information and communication technologies (ICTs) for academic writing and am planning on using the presentation below (currently a work in progress) and will broadcast my talk live as well.  Feel free to share any ICTs you currently are using to promote better academic writing skills with your (language learning) students!

[office src="https://onedrive.live.com/embed?cid=25BA717264948AF4&resid=25ba717264948af4%21111648&authkey=AI7GTRptdfNwGD4&em=2" width="402" height="327"]

Composition (4th Semester): Group Writing Task

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4dfcakrhZuo]

Group: Composition (3rd semester)

Time: 50 minutes

Task: As a group, listen to the above video as many times as you wish and write a single paragraph describing the essence of the message (idea), but in your own words.  Create the paragraph using Google Drive and project the text onto a large screen so that the entire group can view it. Make edits to the text however you'd like, and include a list of those who contributed to this task (first names only) below the single paragraph.  Once you have completed the text and have included your names, choose one person to sign into Google, and upload your work as a comment to this blog post.

Prior tasks

Composition (3rd Semester): Group Writing Task 

Thesis Seminar Weekly Roundup

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C0cPRxxBI8o]

Thesis Seminar Weekly Roundup

Hashtags: #tesol #tefl #appliedlinguistics #linguistics #research

As we conclude week two of thesis seminar, we want to begin looking at aligning our thesis statement with our research questions.  Some of you have already completed your literature review from last semester's academic writing course; so for you, it's a matter looking at the last sentence of your introduction paragraph, where your thesis statement should reside, and verifying if this one single sentence answers your research questions.  Your research questions will be introduced in the final paragraph of your literature review, just before the Method section. For those of you who are starting your literature review from scratch, begin writing your thesis statement and research questions in the same way...the only difference is that you will not have a completed literature review to separate the two.

For those who have a completed lit. review, note the main idea from each paragraph that makes your completed lit. review.  If you are developing your lit. review, simply write out the main idea that later will become a developed paragraph.  For both, list these topic sentences in the order in which you plan to organize your premises/claims.  Refer to my video tutorial from last week for details regarding premises and claims.

Once you are content with the order of your topics sentences, then begin either moving your completed paragraphs or begin developing each paragraph around the respective topic sentence.  Typically the topic sentence, I have found, is the most difficult sentence of a fully-developed body paragraph.  We'll discuss body paragraph development in a subsequent tutorial.

This exercise does two things: it forces you to develop coherent topic sentences for each body paragraph and it also forces you to take a macro view of your work to take sure that your ideas follow a logical order.  When you organize your topic sentences, also make sure to remove any headings that you might have.  I have found that sometimes headings are not clearly representative of the content (text) it represents.  If this is the case (or you are not sure), removing the headings when organizing your topic sentences can help.

For week three, follow the process as described above and contact me when you would like for me to review your work.  Let's review...

  1. Based on your annotated bibliography and a concise researchable problem, develop and align a clear thesis statement and set of research questions.
  2. Organize topic sentences in a logical fashion that creates an overall argument or position that directly and explicitly supports the thesis statement.
  3. Move or develop body paragraphs for each topic sentence.
  4. Add (back) headings as necessary, making sure that typically you have more than one paragraph for each heading.

Remember that the last paragraph of your literature review should transition from the theoretical framework to the specifics of the actual study.  Your transitional paragraph might include the following...

Restate and reword your thesis statement within the context of the researchable problem.
State the purpose of your research.
Introduce your research questions.
Finish with a closing sentence.

Continue working this week on your literature review while you continue reflecting on the specifics of your own research.  As you complete your literature review make sure the thesis statement aligns with your preliminary ideas that you currently have about your method section: participants, instruments, and procedure.

Make sure you contact me if you become frustrated or are not sure how to proceed and I look forward to seeing your work!

Desk app for Mac: Initial post and reaction

Initial purchase

I just purchased Desk and am now testing the app on my MacBook Air, mid-2012.  I particularly like the option of uploading directly to a blog (most popular blog sites are supported); but in my case, had a slight issue getting started.  I have a blogger account with the address, http://benjaminleestewart.blogspot.com, but since I reside in Mexico, this same URL automatically changes to http://benjaminleestewart.blogspot.mx/.  I tried entering the .mx URL when setting up my blogger account in Desk, but to no avail.  It wasn’t until I entered the .com URL that everything worked just fine.  So, food for thought to those in a similar situation.

Initial reaction

Things that I like about this app for far...
  1. Streamlined interface.
  2. Automatic numbering/bullets just by entering a number or bullet point…no need to push a formatting button.
  3. Automatic resizing of text when adjusting window size.
  4. Streamlined process for uploading to personal blog.
  5. Simple word formatting like underline, bold, and italics just be using hot keys or intuitive popup mini toolbar that appears once text is selected.  Although using hot keys to format text is standard these days, this app does not include fixed icons that takes up space.  One of the attractive features of this app is the minimalistic approach it takes by not including tool bars that take up screen real estate and distract from the overall writing experience.  Again, when you select text, a mini toolbar appears for most common formatting features one would need.
Two things that I miss already (have had the app only for about 30 minutes): 1) automatic spellcheck and 2) a way to insert an image using a URL.  I just tweeted @DeskPM about this and will post there response.

What do you think?  What’s your experience with this app?  Is it something that you find useful?

#Edudemic authors, why hide?

Edudemic (#edudemic) was created in 2010 and has since grown into one of the most popular destinations to cover teaching, learning, and how technology positively shapes our education.  They publish various types of posts:
  • Research and evidence-driven strategies for professional and self-improvement
  • Expert guides and how-tos for the newest education apps
  • News re-caps of the most important updates for each week
  • Compilations of the most useful edtech tools and tips
  • Reviews of valuable and innovative products for educator
  • Special features such as college reports
I have written for Edudemic in the past (image) and have shared many great stories related to education.  But today, as I was perusing the site, I came across a post that I wanted to share. I noticed (for the first time) that the "author" of the post was listed as Edudemic Staff.

In this particular Edudemic post, I happened to take issue with the narrow definition of the term scaffolding; but more importantly, the bigger question is whether an educational website like Edudumic should post ideas anonymously.

The term anonymous can be defined as
  1. without any name acknowledged, as that of author, contributor, or the like.
  2. of unknown name; whose name is withheld.
  3. lacking individuality, unique character, or distinction
By listing the author as Edudemic Staff, ideas then get linked to the entire Edudemic organization and not to any particular author(s).  From an organizational standpoint, what's the benefit for doing this?  From an individual standpoint, what's the benefit?

As in a school, Edudemic's identity, reputation, etc. is directly related to the efforts of it's individuals.  What's better for the organization, to have a reader disagree with an individual (author) or with the entire organization?

As an individual author, what advantage is there posting one's ideas as Edudemic Staff versus listing one's own name?

When I have posted to Edudemic, I would never have considered spending the time to post an idea if my name weren't associated with the idea.  My rationale was (and still is) that posting to Edudemic was a good opportunity to share my ideas to a readership that also might subsequently lead to connecting with other individuals.  Those who read my posts could also make a value judgment on the validity, reliability, and level of bias of my ideas - they could consult my online identity and judge for themselves how credible (or not) my thoughts and opinions were.  I think this is a valuable consideration that readers of Edudemic lose when posts are published under the veil of Edudemic Staff.

A possibility: One possible reason for posting as Edudemic Staff is to give the impression that there are more authors involved in publishing than there actually are.  If this is the case, what's worse? 1) A blog with the same (or limited number of) authors or 2) not knowing who wrote the blog?  I would say the latter.  If the problem is having a limited number of authors, the answer is not posting ideas anonymously. 

  1. Should websites like Edudemic post ideas anonymously?
  2. From an organizational standpoint, what's the benefit of posting ideas as Staff?
  3. From an individual standpoint, what's the benefit of posting ideas as Staff?
  4. From an organizational and individual standpoint, what's the benefit of posting ideas using the author's name? 
  5. What's better for the individual and/or organization, a reader disagreeing with an idea posted as Staff or an idea where the author's real name is revealed?
  6. How can organizations promote open authorship in online spaces?
  7. What are possible reasons for posting ideas as Staff?

Composition (3rd Semester): Group Writing Task

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FAcTIrA2Qhk]

Group: Composition (3rd semester)
Time: 50 minutes
Task: As a group, listen to the above video as many times as you wish and write a single paragraph describing the essence of the message (idea), but in your own words.  Create the paragraph using Google Drive and project the text onto a large screen so that the entire group can view it. Make edits to the text however you'd like, and include a list of those who contributed to this task (first names only) below the single paragraph.  Once you have completed the text and have included your names, choose one person to sign into Google, and upload your work as a comment to this blog post.

My Reflection

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UfTuc5HPOMw&w=420&h=315]

To view 5th semester's outcomes and my reflection...

Composition (5th Semester): Group Writing Task

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FAcTIrA2Qhk]

Group: Composition (5th semester)
Time: 50 minutes
Task: As a group, listen to the above video as many times as you wish and write a single paragraph describing the essence of the message (idea), but in your own words.  Create the paragraph using Google Drive and project the text onto a large screen so that the entire group can view it. Make edits to the text however you'd like, and include a list of those who contributed to this task (first names only) below the single paragraph.  Once you have completed the text and have included your names, choose one person to sign into Google, and upload your work as a comment to this blog post.

My Reflection

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UfTuc5HPOMw&w=420&h=315]

To view 3rd semester's outcomes and my reflection...

Parts of a thesis

Refer to the following when developing your thesis paper:

Parts of a manuscript (APA, 2001, pp. 10-29) SampleSample two

  • Title page

  • Abstract

  • Introduction (Introduction to APA)


  • Method (Express the appropriateness of the method and the reliability and the validity of the results.)


    • Participants or subjects

    • Instruments (Apparatus/Measures)

    • Design and procedure (Data collection)

  • Results


    • Data analysis

    • Tables and figures

    • Statistical presentation

    • Effect size and strength of relationship

  • Discussion (conclusions and recommendations)Multiple Experiments (if applicable)


    • Evaluate and interpret implications

    • Problem choice (limitations)

    • Levels of analysis

    • Application and synthesis


  • References

  • Appendix


Narrowing down a research topic

Narrowing down a research topic

Selecting a topic (handout): Move from an everyday problem that you would like to investigate (stage 1) to defining a specific subject, perspective, and vantage point that defines your research topic (stage 2).  The final stage (stage 3) is to remove yourself from the personal domain of refining the topic of interest to the formal world of academia.  In this final stage, switch from everyday language to technical terminology used in a particular academic discipline (e.g., applied linguistics). See list of possible research topics in applied linguistics below as a guide. Source: The Literature Review

Merge your topic with an area of linguistic focus: a) individual skills (i.e., reading, writing, listening, speaking), b) grammar, c) vocabulary, d) or some combination of the aforementioned (e.g., reading and writing, listening and speaking, speaking and vocabulary, etc.). 

Moving from a topic to questions (Booth, Colomb, & Williams, 2008

Brainstorm a set of questions from a variety of perspectives, beginning with asking who, what, when, where, but focusing on how, and why.  Then continue brainstorming through the following types of questions:
  • Topic history

    • Ask questions about developmental context.  How has this problem, technique, method, material, etc. changed over the years?  Why has it changed over the years? etc. 
  • Structure and composition

    • How does your topic relate to a bigger context?  What is the composition of your topic?  How do the pieces fit together?
  • Categorization

    • How can your topic be grouped together?  How does your topic compare and contrast with topics within the same or similar category.
  • Positive to negative questions

    • Turn positive questions to negative questions.  Why have wikis not become a prevalent web tool in today's language classroom?
  • What if... questions
    • What if all language teachers had to use wikis with their learners?
  • Questions from sources
    • Search primary research articles and find questions for further research.  Or tailor research questions from primary research articles to local research topic interests.  Find questions from outside sources that allow you to fill the literature gap so that what you investigate adds to the body of knowledge that currently makes up the field.

Moving from questions to a problem

To move a question to its significance, try using the following prompts:
  • I wish to learn more about...(a topic).
Here are some examples with key words (nouns deriving from verbs) italicized...
  • I am studying teachers' beliefs about formative assessments and related teaching techniques.
  • I am working on why students are reluctant to speak English in class.
  • I am trying to learn about teaching covert grammar and how students feel about different related teaching techniques.
Add an indirect question (in bold) to your topic to indicate what you don't know or would like to understand better...
  • Example: I wish to learn more about _________ because I want to find out who/what/when/where/whether/why/how _________.

  • I am studying teachers' beliefs about formative assessment because I want to find out how students feel about related teaching techniques

  • I am working on why students are reluctant to speak English in class because I want to find out what authentic materials I might use to promote better interaction among students

  • etc.
Build research questions specifically around the indirect question (bold text) that you have created above.

So what?

Your topic must be interesting to you, the researcher, but must also be interesting to others in the field.  Add to your topic and indirect question the significance of your research.
  • Example: I wish to learn more about __________ because I want to find out who/what/when/where/whether/why/how _________ in order to __________.

  • I am studying teachers' beliefs about formative assessment because I want to find out how students feel about related teaching techniques in order to demonstrate the role of formative assessment in the English language classroom. 

  • I am working on why students are reluctant to speak English in class because I want to find out what authentic materials I might use to promote better interaction among students in order to place less emphasis on the coursebook as a syllabus

  • etc.
Moving from a topic to questions involves a three-part process: 1) stating what you want to learn more about, 2) tagging an indirect question to your topic (beginning with a because clause), and 3) concluding with the significance of your research (an in order to clause).

Moving from questions to a problem

Reflect on your topic-to-question statement:
  • Topic: I wish to learn more about...

  • Question: because I want to find out what/why/how etc....

  • Significance: (Reflect on the reader's point of view.): in order to...
First, distinguish between a practical problem and a research problem...
  • Practical problem: Students are afraid to speak in class.

  • Research problem: How can I provide feedback to students in such a way that they feel more confident to speak English with their peers?

  • Research solution:  Provide individual feedback when requested during the task, and group feedback once the task has been completed.

  • Practical solution:  Avoid overcorrection or providing too much feedback to students.
A problem consists of a condition and a cost or consequence.
  • (topic) I am studying teacher feedback (question #1 & condition) because I want to find out when giving feedback allows students to feel more confident when speaking L2 with their peers (significance, question #2, & cost or consequence in order to answer the bigger question of how teacher intervention can either promote or discourage student's oral production in class.
The first question (the condition) helps answer the second question (the cost or consequence).

Example: Knowing when to give feedback that allows students to feel more confident when speaking with their peers (question #1 or condition) addresses the bigger question of how teacher intervention can either promote or discourage student's oral production in class (question #2 or cost/consequence). 

Here are additional tips when searching for a problem to research:
  • Ask teachers, students, administrators, and other experts in the field about problems they face related to teaching and learning an additional language.

  • Search primary research articles for related problems to find relevant examples.

  • Begin with a problem at the onset of your research, but understand that research problems may morph or emerge in different forms as one conducts a study.

Unit of Analysis

Lesson 1-5 Units of analysis
Possible Research Topics in Applied Linguistics 
  • Grammar
      • Overt/cover
      • Implicit/explicit
      • Chomsky's Universal Grammar

  • Bilingual education

  • Classroom discourse

  • Corpus linguistics

  • Cognitive linguistics

  • Discourse analysis
    • Grice and Implicatures (part 1part 2, & part 3)
    • L1 use in language teaching
    • L2 transfer
    • Learner autonomy
    • Interactive/collaboraitve language learning.
    • Task-based learning
    • Problem-based learning
    • Performance-based learning
    • Language learning strategies
  • Language exchanges

  • English for Academic Purposes
  • English for Specific Purposes
  • Generative grammar
  • Chomsky's Universal Grammar
  • Innatism
  • Krashen's monitor model
  • Language and culture
  • Language and Gender
  • Language and Identity
  • Language Emergence as a complex adaptive system
  • Language learning and technology
  • Language teacher education
  • Professional development or professional learning among (English language), in-service educators
  • Professional development or professional learning among (English language), pre-service educators
  • Language testing
    • Formative assessment in the language classroom
    • Formative vs. summative assessment in the language classroom
    • Dynamic assessment in the language classroom
    • Language exchanges
    • Task-based learning
    • Problem-based learning
    • Performance-based learning

  • Lexis
  • Linguistic Imperialism
  • Multilingualism
  • Phonetics and phonology
  • Systemic functional linguistics
  • Multimodality
  • Psycholinguistics
  • Sociocultural theories
  • Sociolinguistics
    • Motivation
  • Translation

Additional reading

Six steps for conducting a literature review (Machi & McEvoy, 2009)
  1. Select a topic.
    Search the literature.
  2. Develop an argument.
  3. Survey the literature.
  4. Critique the literature.
  5. Write the review.


Booth, W., Colomb, G., & Williams, J. (2008). The craft of research. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press.

Machi, L. & McEvoy, B. (2009). The literature review: Six steps to success. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Narrowing down a research topic

This week, we're spending a lot of time with Thesis Seminar student researchers in narrowing down a top.  I've been putting together some ideas on how to do this, but am curious what others are doing.   A lot of what we are discussing comes from Booth, Colomb, & Williams (2008), and Machi & McEvoy (2009).

What are some good books on organizing a thesis/dissertation paper, forming arguments, logical reasoning, etc.?