Help with writing essays at university

Not all involved supporters are as skillful as Darryl. The excerpt in Example A, (next page) from their second collaborative planning session, has been edited to delete some of their detailed elaborations and off-topic comments about lunch. They doit for themselves, but they are doing it for everybody. I mean why do you think he chose to starve himself rather than do other things? S42 Lisa Yeah, you could fit that into your research, too, somehow. S48 Lisa They can do it for themselves, too, though? You could include that, and maybe you could include toward the end that maybe anybody could be like Gandhi if they wanted to.

S58 Lisa Why do you think Gandhi chose that method of change.

I mean why do you think he chose to starve himself rather than do other things? And he just wanted to show people that you know, everybody could be independent. Engaged supporters provide a second (or even third) voice, an external perspective that helps the writer gain control 0 ver the wri ting help with writing essays at university task and make decisions abou t rcl e van t rhetorical elements.

In this section of the essay, I review selected studies that deal with collaboration in writing to order to discuss the repertoire of verbal moves and scaffolding sequences that supporters use. In the first subscctio n that follows, 1 define kinds of verbal move and then cite scudies th at help with writing essays at university include supporters who use this move in some col- laborative writing task. Verbal moves in collaboration Identifying the verbal moves supporters use, re- gardless of the kind of collaborative writing activity they are engaged in, gives us a way to examine help with writing essays at university any collaborative interaction. In an effort to become more effective supporters, students can leam to identify these moves in their own collaborative sessions, both to track the nature or their own verbal behavior and to help hem make decisions about possible changes in their plans and text. Several ways exist to categorize the content and linguistic functic n of these verbal moves. Typically, the linguistic functions of engaged supporters include prompting and sometimes challenging writers, while the moves of involved supporters generally include contributing information, directing, and challenging writers. Prompts are impoi - at, but often overlooked, supporter moves that consist prima- rily of neutral comments, encouraging comments, and clarifying questions that urge wn. Not only do prompts help, but specific kinds of prompts help more, as Matsuhashi and Gordon (1985) reported in a study with college students. They are a good beginning for inexperienced collaborators, but mey arc also integral for very skillful engaged and involved supporters Contributing information. Students contribute information for social as well as cognitive reasons. Some of the excerpts from the collaborative planning sessions presented earlier in this essay provide examples of contributing informa- tion. Without an exchange of infor- mation, whether summaries or provocative opinions, a collaborative effort is seriously hampered. A highly productive supporter move involves asking critical questions, sug- gestingaltematives, and arguing opposing views. Although the eliciting comments they identified help with writing essays at university generally dealt with content, the comments also considered process, form, context, and reference to previous comments. Forexample, Putnam (1986) argues that substan- tive conflict about the issues and ideas under consid- eration can be highly productive.

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Sbaran (1980) suggests that one aitical dis- tinction of group investigation is the problem-solving nature of the collaboration, which includes "critical interpretation of information" (p. A pair of exploratory studies (Burnett, 1988a, 1988b) investigated differences between working with supporters who offered neutral prompts versus sup- porters who challenged writers and contributed to their plans.

Clarifying supporters were ir structed to ask only neutral questions that encourage. Although writers responded to both supporters, they talked more with problem-solving supporters, espe- cially about purpose and design and asked more ques- licns about all rhetorical elements of their plan. Another supporter behav- ior involves directing the writer to modify plans and or text by adding, changing, or deleting. Gere and Abbott (1985) report that directive comments, focused par- ticularly on process, are the second largest category of supporter behavior.

In a related study, Gere and Stevens (1985) report dear instances of students who are directive, sometimes politely and productively, but sometimes aggressively, even to the point of insult. However, other research indicates that directing the writer is not a wide-spread student behavior in collaborative groups. In collaborative planning, supporters occasion- ally are directive. Scaffolding is something that teachers often think of in terms ofbehavior they use with their students, but effectivestudentcollaboratorsalsousescaffoldingwith each other. Scaffolding sequences are constructed by consolidating the basic verbal moves of prompting, contributing, challenging, and directing. Scaffolding was described by Bruner (1978) as a strategy in which capable peers helped their classmatesextend their zone of proximal development. A supporter — a classmate, teacher, parent — may be more knowledgeable or ex- perienced with the specific task and, thus, provides scaffolding so that the student can understand the process and successfvilly complete the ta x.

Or, a supporter may be a peer who is trained to remind the writer to consider and nx:onsider rhetorical elements that are not typically considered by writers at that particular level of development or experience. Although scaffolding is present in can i buy a research paper naturally occurring conversation, in classrooms it is typically planned and usually the result of specific training.

Naturally occurring scaffolding might take the form of a mother helping her young child move from saying, "Cookie! Working with a skillful supporter during collaborative planning can provide a writer with the scaffolding necessary to plan and draft more skillfully than she could have done independently. The three collaborative pedagogical approaches discussed below — reciprocal teaching, apprenticeship learning, and collaborative planning— are intentionally, explicitly, and systematically built on scaffolding.

One form of scaffolding is reciprocal teaching (so called because the teacher and student take turns playing roles of the supporter who provides the scaffolding). It is a cooperative learning technique whose goal is to help students understand and recall text content through scaffvolding. Even very young students are able to be successful supporters when the scaffolding role has been suff. The apprenticeship method is "aimed prima- rily at teaching the processes that experts use to handle complex tasks" (p, 457).

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