Quick Tip – Welsh Translation Service

Hi All!

Not sure if everyone has seen the recent email from the Corporate Communications and Marketing department – but within that email they stated that Canolfan Bedwyr (Bangor University’s Center for Welsh Language Services, Research and Technology) offers a translation service (short piece of text: up to 250 characters about 50 words), courses for tweeting in Welsh and writing in Welsh on the web. I just thought this might be something useful for us to know about!

Hope you’ve all had a great Easter break!

Links:

Canolfan Bedwyr: https://www.bangor.ac.uk/canolfanbedwyr/

Canolfan Bedwyr, Translation Unit: https://www.bangor.ac.uk/canolfanbedwyr/cyfieithu.php.en

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Academic Writing for Non-Native Speakers

Recently, a lot of my sessions have been with ESL (English as a Second Language) students. Many of these students have provided information prior to the session, and indicated that they are struggling with “writing skills” or “academic writing”. I have found in many of these cases, when we really start to discuss the problem, the issue is often that the student is not confident in their ability to effectively communicate their ideas in English.

I have found an interesting book from the University of Helsinki called “Academic Writing in English”. It is, as it says, an academic writing resource for writers where English is not their first language. This book covers lots of subjects in detail, and is great to pick up helpful tips and techniques for mentoring ESL students. This book is available in the “Resources” folder on the U Drive (U:\Service Departments\Student Support Services\Study Skills\Tutorials\Resources\ESL), and also by following this link: academic-writing-in-english-for-non-native-speakers.

Below is a help sheet that I have created which is essentially a summary of (potentially!) useful books, websites and university resources. This document is also available in the “Resources” folder on the U Drive (U:\Service Departments\Student Support Services\Study Skills\Tutorials\Resources\ESL).

Resources for Improving Academic Writing Skills, and Writing in English as a Second Language.

Below are some resources which may be useful to explore to help improve postgraduate academic writing skills, as well as helpful information for studying/writing in English when it is not your first language.

Books

  • Crème, P. and Lea, M.R. 2012. Writing at University: A Guide for Students. 3rd Berkshire, England: Open University Press.
  • Murray, R. and Moore, S. 2006. The Handbook of Academic Writing: A Fresh Approach. Berkshire, England: Open University Press.
  • Osmond, A. 2013. Academic Writing and Grammar for Students. London, England: Sage Publications Ltd.

Online Resources

University Resources

ELCOS – The English Language Centre for Overseas Students (ELCOS) provides English language and study skills courses to overseas students at Bangor University. ELCOS have their own Writing Advice Service.

“ELCOS runs Writing Advice Sessions for international students on degree courses at the University. The purpose of these sessions is to help students improve their written English and become more independent learners. Students can have up to three hours of individual, consultation with an ELCOS tutor per semester. Students should bring to the session the written work they want help with and it would be helpful if they have some general ideas about the kind of help they need with that work (for example, with organisation, coherence, paragraph structure, grammar, referencing, etc.). Tutors will work with the student, make corrections, offer advice on how to make improvements in structure and form and enable the student recognise and be able to correct errors in the rest of the written work themselves.”

Contact – “E-mail the ELCOS office on elcos@bangor.ac.uk to request an appointment for that day and time, giving your name, School, level of study (undergraduate, Masters or PhD student). An appointment will be made for that time and day if available or you will be offered some alternatives; you will also be given the name of the tutor and told where to meet him/her. (Usually Neuadd Rathbone on College Road).”

esl-lessons

 

 

 

What Kind of Learner are You?

Every student has their own individual methods and techniques for learning new information or revising for exams. Honey and Mumford (1992) proposed that there are four definitive “learning styles” that most students can associate with. It is important to be aware of, and understand, your own learning style. This understanding makes it easier to create essay plans or work schedules, and may help you to find the best method of revision and exam preparation for you.

The proposed learning styles are as follows:

The Activist

You like to learn by doing things. You are happier with project work, and all kinds of active learning. You are less happy reading long papers, analysing data and sitting in lectures.

The Reflector

You are more cautious and like to weigh up all the issues before acting. When you make a decision, it is thought through. You are probably happy to work on a project, if you are given time to digest all the facts before making a decision. You dislike having work dumped on you and get worried by tight deadlines.

The Pragmatist

You like taking theories and putting them into practise and you need to see the benefit and relevance of what you are doing. If you are learning something you feel has no practical value, you lose interest. You may want to ask your tutor ‘why are we learning this?’ If you are a student who says ‘I don’t like this course as it is all theory’ then your learning preference is probably ‘pragmatist’ or ‘activist’.

The Theorist

You like to understand what is behind certain actions and enjoy working through issues theoretically in a well-structured way and whether you apply it or not doesn’t interest you as much. You may be the one to ask questions as to why and how something occurs. You dislike unstructured sessions and dislike it when you are asked to reflect on some activity or say what you felt about it.

The style you prefer can help you make choices about the way that you work. For example, when revising, a theorist may  read over pages and pages of notes and journals to make sure they understand all of the information. An activist, on the other hand, may benefit from making bright and creative revision posters, or creating interesting and enjoyable games to learn important information.

You may definitively fall in to one single category. You may fall into two categories, or even find that you overlap between several. Whichever learning style(s) you think describes the way you learn can be very helpful with university education, and even outside academia.

Something to keep in mind when studying!

References

Honey, P. and Mumford, A., 1992. The manual of learning styles.

A Checklist for Tutors

This is just an informal and rough idea of the areas which I think would generally be covered in a standard, successful mentoring session. I personally find this is a useful template to consider when reflecting on your sessions.

There may be points you do not agree with and would not necessarily do yourself, or points which you feel are missing – please feel free to make comments or suggestions!

  • At the beginning of the session, I established rapport and put the student at ease.
  • I asked the student what he or she needed help with, and we decided what to work on.
  • I looked over the assignment sheet (or the student’s notes) to be sure that I understood the assignment.
  • I made my explanations simple and clear (without being patronising) so that the student could understand them.
  • I made sure that the work was the student’s rather than my own, and that the student understood that the work was his or her responsibility.
  • I offered encouragement by pointing out what the student already knew and helped the student to organise in a manageable way what he or she needed to work on.
  • When I was unable to confidently answer the student’s questions, I consulted other reference material or referred him or her to their lecturer.
  • I was careful not to criticise the course, lecturer, assignment, lecturer’s comments or grade.
  • I was careful not to offer too much praise and didn’t suggest a grade for the work, even if I was asked to.
  • I filled out the appropriate forms documenting the session.

 

Plagiarism and International Students

The fourth installment of the “Plagiarism” series. This section aims to look at the issues facing international students regarding plagiarism, and how different cultural and social views can play a role.

All of this information is sourced directly from the Open UP Study Skills Book entitled “The Complete Guide to Referencing and Avoiding Plagiarism”, and I am simply adapting this information to produce this series of blog posts. Information on Bangor University’s Code of Practice on Plagiarism, Unfair Practice Procedure and full references can be found at the end of this post.

The interpretation of the term plagiarism varies depending on the marker, the institution and even the country. For students who are familiar with one academic system, studying abroad at a new institute can cause problems. Although plagiarism is unacceptable in the UK and will incur major consequences, there may be some parts of the world where plagiarism is condoned, or is less strictly regimented.

It can often be difficult for students to follow a new referencing system or plagiarism protocol if they have not been previously taught about it. Lake (2004) found in a study of Chinese students, more than 50% had no previous experience of referencing within academic writing. He found that only 1/3rd of these students had some experience of referencing, and that was only in their own language. This shows that simply expecting international students to be able to reference at university may not be appropriate, and further teaching or demonstration may be necessary.

In Vietnam, copying work is not acceptable. However, providing a full bibliography at the end of the writing and including individual author citations within the text is not common. This could cause confusion for students who are then expected to comply with the standards of the institute at which they are studying. It is also common not to cite lecture notes or information provided by a lecturer, something which may result in penalisation in the UK (Ha, 2006).

The language barrier may also cause some international students problems regarding plagiarism. Many students may find themselves trying to interpret or even paraphrase something that they only half-understand, so jargon and academic language which is blatantly different from the rest of their writing is easily spotted. For many international students, English is not their first language, so they may lack confidence in themselves to write academically without extracting information from other sources. In this process, it is very easy to accidentally (or intentionally) leave in sections of work which are not original.

Another common theme relating to the issue of plagiarism with international students, is the high costs of studying at an overseas institution and incredible pressure to succeed. Many students do not wish to face the economic or social shame which may be associated with failure, and feel they are forced to plagiarise to ensure success.

References

Neville, C. (2010). The Complete Guide to Referencing and Avoiding Plagiarism. Second Edition. Berkshire, England: Open University Press.

Lake, J. (2004). EAP writing: the Chinese challenge; new ideas on plagiarism. Humanising Language Teaching, year 6, issue 1, January. Available at http://hltmag.co.uk/jan04/mart4.htm.

Ha, P.L. (2006). Plagiarism and overseas students: stereotypes again? ELT Journal. 60(1): 76-78.

Bangor University Code of Practice on Plagiarism can be accessed here: http://www.bangor.ac.uk/regulations/BUCode13-v201101b.pdf.

Bangor University, Code of Practice on Plagiarism, Code 13, 2011 Version 01, Latest version 2011, Effective 01/02/11.

Bangor University Unfair Practice Procedure can be accessed here: http://www.bangor.ac.uk/regulations/BUProc05-v201502.pdf.

Bangor University, Unfair Practice Procedure, Procedure 05, 2015 Version 02, Latest version 2015, Effective 01/03/2015. Applies to all students.

Why do Students Plagiarise?

Why do Students Plagiarise?

Number three in the “Plagiarism” series. Here we will look at the reasons students give for plagiarising, and their justification of these actions.

All of this information is sourced directly from the Open UP Study Skills Book entitled “The Complete Guide to Referencing and Avoiding Plagiarism”, and I am simply adapting this information to produce this series of blog posts. Information on Bangor University’s Code of Practice on Plagiarism, Unfair Practice Procedure and full references can be found at the end of this post.

What are the reasons for plagiarising work? Surely many (hopefully all) students are conscious of plagiarism and aware of the associated consequences should they cheat. Dordoy (2002) found the reasons students gave for their own plagiarism were most commonly related to grades, poor time management and ease of opportunity:

  • 59% of survey students said they plagiarised work to get a better grade
  • 54% stated it was due to laziness or poor time management
  • 40% found that the internet gave them ease of access to material
  • 29% said plagiarism was accidental as they did not understand the rules
  • 29% also said that plagiarism ‘happens unconsciously’

This survey also found that 16% of students surveyed admitted they plagiarised their work because they did not think they would be caught. Due to the large amount of marking and heavy workloads of lecturers, and the vast amount of information available online, many thought they could simply “get away with it”. Dordoy also found students who gained a sense of superiority by cheating on work and not being caught, and they attributed this as a retaliation to unengaging and uninterested lecturers.

Dennis (2005) surveyed a group of 80 students and asked them why others may cheat. He received a similar range of responses. The responses are as follows, with the most frequently cited at the top:

  1. They started too late and ran out of time
  2. They simply could not do the coursework otherwise
  3. They did not think it was wrong
  4. They have to succeed – they got higher marks this way
  5. They did not need to learn that material – just pass the module
  6. They could not keep up with the work
  7. They wanted to see if they could get away with it
  8. They felt the tutor did not care, so why should they
  9. They thought paraphrasing would be disrespectful

Essentially plagiarism has become easier and more tempting than ever before, particularly with the accessibility of the internet. Students are under a lot more pressure as grades become more important for graduate schemes and work opportunities and huge amounts of money are invested into university education. Students are also under pressure to write within strict word limits, and may be penalised if they are unable to do so.

As can be seen, there are a large number of different reasons given when students are asked why they, or their peers, might plagiarise work. Although their intentions may be different, more often than not the university’s plagiarism policy is not, and students will be punished regardless of whether or not their actions were accidental. It is important to educate students about plagiarism and the correct way to reference material, so they are able to consciously distinguish plagiarism in their work. If students are fully aware of the act of plagiarism and the associated consequences, yet still purposely choose to plagiarise material in their work – then this is a different issue altogether.

References:

Neville, C. (2010). The Complete Guide to Referencing and Avoiding Plagiarism. Second Edition. Berkshire, England: Open University Press.

Dennis, L.A. (2005). Student attitudes to plagiarism and collusion within computer science. University of Nottingham. Available at: http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/archive/00000319/. [Accessed 15 Mar. 2006].

Dordoy, A. (2002). Cheating and plagiarism: staff and student perceptions at Northumbria. Working Paper presented Northumbrian Conference: ‘Educating for the Future’, Newcastle 22 Oct. 2003.

Bangor University Code of Practice on Plagiarism can be accessed here: http://www.bangor.ac.uk/regulations/BUCode13-v201101b.pdf.

Bangor University, Code of Practice on Plagiarism, Code 13, 2011 Version 01, Latest version 2011, Effective 01/02/11.

Bangor University Unfair Practice Procedure can be accessed here: http://www.bangor.ac.uk/regulations/BUProc05-v201502.pdf.

Bangor University, Unfair Practice Procedure, Procedure 05, 2015 Version 02, Latest version 2015, Effective 01/03/2015. Applies to all students.

Levels of Plagiarism

The second post in the “Plagiarism” series. This post aims to look at the differing severity levels of plagiarism and the possible consequences for these actions.

All of this information is sourced directly from the Open UP Study Skills Book entitled “The Complete Guide to Referencing and Avoiding Plagiarism”, and I am simply adapting this information to produce this series of blog posts. Information from Bangor University’s Code of Practice on Plagiarism is also incorporated into this post. Full references can be found at the end of this post.

There are three main forms of plagiarism, although somewhat simplified, they can generally be described as:

  1. Cheating – copying another person’s work, including the work of another student (with or without their consent), and claiming it to be your own.
  2. Non-attribution – presenting arguments that use a blend of your own and a significant percentage of copied words of the original author without acknowledging the source.
  3. Patchwork writing – paraphrasing another person’s work, but not giving due acknowledgement to the original writer. (An exception to this is the use of common knowledge).

Plagiarism can be described as inadvertent or conversely, advertent. Inadvertent plagiarism is usually a consequence of poor understanding of referencing procedures and “sloppy” writing techniques, whereas advertent plagiarism involves the intentional and inappropriate use of source material with purposeful emittance of acknowledgement.

Detection of plagiarism within work, inadvertent or otherwise, can result in actions being taken by the academic institution. Consequences may include, but are not limited to: achieving 0% for the assignment of which plagiarism was alleged, refusal of work resubmission/examination re-sits and can also result in the overall module mark being capped. Bangor University refers to the Unfair Practice Procedure to outline procedures which will be applied when plagiarism is alleged or detected. The Unfair Practice Procedure can be accessed here: http://www.bangor.ac.uk/regulations/BUProc05-v201502.pdf.

References:

Neville, C. (2010). The Complete Guide to Referencing and Avoiding Plagiarism. Second Edition. Berkshire, England: Open University Press.

Bangor University Code of Practice on Plagiarism can be accessed here: http://www.bangor.ac.uk/regulations/BUCode13-v201101b.pdf.

Bangor University, Code of Practice on Plagiarism, Code 13, 2011 Version 01, Latest version 2011, Effective 01/02/11.

Bangor University Unfair Practice Procedure can be accessed here: http://www.bangor.ac.uk/regulations/BUProc05-v201502.pdf.

Bangor University, Unfair Practice Procedure, Procedure 05, 2015 Version 02, Latest version 2015, Effective 01/03/2015. Applies to all students.

What is Plagiarism?

“What is Plagiarism?” is the first post in a Plagiarism Series. I aim to produce a series of posts about plagiarism; what it is, why it occurs, and how to avoid it etc.

All of this information is sourced directly from the Open UP Study Skills Book entitled “The Complete Guide to Referencing and Avoiding Plagiarism”, and I am simply adapting this information to produce this series of blog posts. A full reference can be found at the end of this post.

The first thing to consider is “What is plagiarism?” This can actually be a difficult question, as there is no single definition. Every academic institution develops their own definition and associated code of conduct. There are a range of interpretations, however, “Intentional decision not to acknowledge the work of others (within an assignment)” is a rather reliable definition. Plagiarism can also be considered as a practice which is described as cheating. Examples include:

  • Collusion without official approval between two or more students, resulting in the production of identical, or almost identical, work being presented by said students.
  • Falsification: where content of assignments, e.g. statistics, has been manufactured or falsely presented by a student as their own work.
  • Replication: where a student submits the same, or a very similar, piece of work on more than one occasion.
  • Taking unauthorised notes into an examination.
  • Obtaining an unauthorised copy of an examination paper.
  • Communication with another student in an examination in order to help, or be helped, with answers.
  • Impersonation of another person in an examination.

Bangor University has its own Code of Practice on Plagiarism which also covers issues such as computer fraud, commissioning work and bribery. The full Bangor University Code of Practice on Plagiarism can be accessed here: http://www.bangor.ac.uk/regulations/BUCode13-v201101b.pdf.

You can also find more information on plagiarism from the Bangor University Study Skills Department. Students can book a consultation with a Study Adviser or Peer Writing Mentor, where they have the opportunity to meet individually for up to 50 minutes to discuss academic writing, including referencing and plagiarism. You can book an appointment here: http://studyskills.bangor.ac.uk/writing-appointment-form.php.en.

References:

Neville, C. (2010). The Complete Guide to Referencing and Avoiding Plagiarism. Second Edition. Berkshire, England: Open University Press.

Bangor University Code of Practice on Plagiarism can be accessed here: http://www.bangor.ac.uk/regulations/BUCode13-v201101b.pdf.

Bangor University, Code of Practice on Plagiarism, Code 13, 2011 Version 01, Latest version 2011, Effective 01/02/11.

Getting Started

Writers can often be apprehensive when meeting with a writing mentor, especially if this is their first visit to the Study Skills Centre. It is important to make your writer feel comfortable and in control of their session. Below are some key points adapted from “The Bedford Guide for Writing Tutors” about starting your writing session.

Introduce yourself. If the writer is apprehensive about their session then the last thing they need is an intimidating mentor! It is important to be friendly, welcoming and polite. Address your writer by their name, offer them a seat and then once you are both comfortable you can engage in conservation. Begin simply by asking about the assignment, how the writer feels about it and how much progress they feel they are making. If you have worked with the writer before, ask how the last assignment went and how they have improved since. This shows an interest in personal development and builds rapport. An exchange of pleasantries at the beginning of a session helps put the writer at ease and gets the session off to a good start.

Give the student control. Keep the paper or piece of work in front of the student as much as possible. If you are working at a computer, a good idea is to let the writer control the keyboard and monitor. This serves as a reminder to the writer that this is their writing and they are in control of it – and is sometimes a useful reminder to the tutor too! This also allows you to act as the audience whilst the writer leads the session as much as they are comfortable with.

Keep resources and tools nearby. It is useful to have paper and pens to hand, and this should not be overlooked. As much as you want the mentee to do most of the writing, sometimes it may be necessary to demonstrate a point or provide an example. It is also useful if you are familiar with the help sheets or resources that you have, so you are able to share these with the writer when this is necessary.

Reference: Ryan, L. and Zimmerelli, L. (2010). The Bedford Guide for Writing Tutors. Fifth Edition. Boston, New York: Bedford/ St. Martins.