They also reported writing a variety of other assignments ranging from poems to research papers. The sheer variety of writing assignments reported by students does seem to customized essay indicate that the types of writing assignments are different than those observed by Applebee (1981, 1984, 1993) and Hillocks (2006). The data from this study demonstrate that, while students are required to write in a greater variety of styles than Applebee (1981) had reported, they are still writing relatively short assignments in high school English Language Arts classes. The kinds of assignments required in high school English Language Arts classes tended to be stand-alone assignments that are completed independently of other writing assignments (i. This may make it difficult for the students to apply what they have acquired in one assignment to another similar assignment.
The implications of this finding concern high school curriculum. Perhaps students would be better served if teachers were to identify connections between the different writing strategies used in individual assignments. This might facilitate student awareness of the ways in UNIVERSITY AND HIGH SCHOOL ARE JUST VERY DIFFERENT 229 which the skills they acquire in one assignment could be transferred to other assignments both in the course and in other courses in which students were expected to write papers of a similar kind. The next section will look at the differences that students perceived between the high school writing environment and the first- year university writing environment.
Differences in the Writing Environment between High School and First- Year University Instructor Expectations Students (18 of 20) in this study found that they had to adjust their writing strategies in order to conform to the new expectations of university instructors. The students reported that teacher expectations in high school did not seem to be as high as those of instructors in university.
As noted above, Applebee (1993) came to the same conclusion. They struggled to understand how writing expectations could have changed so much from high school to university.
They felt inadequately prepared for conducting research, for analyzing the assignments, for drafting an outline, and for writing an academic essay.
The students (6 of 20) expressed disappointment that their high school English Language Arts teachers had not held them to a higher standard for written work, especially once they had reached Grades 1 1 and 12. The results from this study indicated that the students (19 of 20) perceived that some of their teachers UNIVERSITY AND HIGH SCHOOL ARE JUST VERY DIFFERENT 230 in high school did not have high expectations for them and that they could write a paper the night before and still receive a high grade.
They reported that they did not understand instructor expectations for writing assignments and were often left wondering what they needed to do to get a good mark. They reported that they understood how to get good marks in high school but that these strategies were not working in university.
This caused the students considerable anxiety as they struggled to understand the kind of writing they would need to produce in each course. The results from this study indicate that first-year students are more comfortable with writing situations in which instructor expectations have been clearly articulated.
First-year instructors could help ease the transition from high school to university by clearly stating their expectations for each assignment and by providing rubrics that illustrate the way in which assignments will be marked as well as models such as scholarly articles. Students also reported difficulties in adjusting to the need to conduct research for university-level writing assignments. In high school, customized essay the students were not usually expected to conduct research for their essays. Students who did undertake research were generally permitted to use general purpose search engines (e. Some students reported that they were expected to cite their sources and to include a bibliography or reference page but that teachers were not particular about the degree to which students followed the format.
Given the fact that most of the students (12 of 14) in the study reported that they had not done research for their high school writing assignments, it is not surprising to find that they also reported difficulties in learning to conduct research in university.
Freedman and Pringle (1980) reported that university assignments required some element of research that was not expected in high school assignments which did lead to some difficulties for first-year students. Students described the problems they had with finding suitable evidence for their essays, with analyzing the sources they found, and with understanding the way in which they were expected to incorporate the sources into their essays.
These difficulties were compounded by their confusion regarding the use of opinion in an academic essay. In many cases, high school teachers had allowed them to include statements of opinion in their essays. They were surprised to discover that the practice was not common in university writing assignments and confessed that their reliance on opinion when writing an essay was a difficult habit to overcome. The students (12 of 14) also found that the challenge of learning to format their essays properly was something of an ordeal for them. The fourteen students in this study were all required to learn to format their first-year essays using APA formatting. They reported that they found the use of APA confusing and that they were frustrated that they lost marks for failing to punctuate citations and reference customized essay entries properly. The use of formatting was a foreign concept for most of the students (12 of 14) because they had not learned to format essays in high school.