Our first few readings in my freshman writing course were personal essays, with a clear narrative. We read an academic paper today, and there’s another assigned for Friday. A few students are already reporting feeling a little lost in the detail.
I gather this is because they are used to reading textbooks, where all the important terms are set in bold, the important topics are illustrated in colored boxes that break up the text. Since the scholarship they’ll need to look at for their research papers isn’t pre-digested to that degree, I’m hoping to help them develop strategies for analyzing texts that come to them as paragraph after paragraph of plain text.
Here is a reflection on an assignment that asked students to use MS-Word to annotate a text in the student’s field. I’ll probably adopt something like this for a later assignment.