Helping Students Balance Quotes with Original Material in Their Essays
Introduction and conclusion aside, the middle paragraphs of a paper can be a challenge for most students. Even with concerns about plagiarism on the rise, students may be tempted to put more quotes or paraphrased information into their essays rather than writing their thoughts and ideas. While there is nothing wrong with bouncing ideas off of someone else, students need to develop the critical thinking skills necessary to make their own conclusions about their topic and to learn to support those conclusions with the evidence that they have found.
Variety and Balance
Teaching your students about variety and balance can help them construct an essay that uses the ideas of others to come up with new ideas. How many quotes should a student include in their essay? There is nothing wrong with a properly cited quote or idea from another writer, but teachers want to see what the students are thinking as well. Ask students what their quoted or paraphrased examples mean, and why they chose to include these in their essay. Make sure they can articulate why it is that a specific piece of information supports their argument or the goal of their essay.
No Set Limitation on Quoted or Paraphrased Ideas
There is no set limit to how many quoted or paraphrased ideas a student can use in their essay, as long as these are written for a reason with sufficient original thoughts provided alongside these quotes. Encourage students to add something new to their essay rather than compiling statements that have already been made. It is all about finding a proper balance between original thoughts and ideas and paraphrasing. Not only does this help students develop critical thinking skills and the ability to develop new conclusions, but it also gives you a chance to remind your students that you are interested in the things that they have to say, rather than asking them to recycle old information again and again.
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