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Paraphrasing in Context
Innovations in Research and
Pedagogy
Casey Keck
Zuzana Tomaš
San Francisco State University University of Utah
[email protected]
[email protected]
Why are new approaches needed?

Paraphrasing instruction is typically done
in a decontextualized fashion.

Example paraphrases are invented (i.e., they
were not actually part of a larger academic
text).

Example paraphrases are labeled as “good” or
“unacceptable,” though there is no empirical
basis for making such judgments.
Why are new approaches needed?

Students are rarely shown paraphrases in
the context of actual writing assignments.

Teachers have a difficult time finding
resources that discuss how and why
writers paraphrase within specific genres
or disciplines (Tomaš, to appear).
New Approaches to Research

Text-based descriptions of the
strategies students use when
completing academic tasks
(Campbell, 1990; Keck, 2006;
Pecorari, 2003; Shi, 2004).
New Approaches to Research

Investigation of factors that help to
explain student strategy use (Keck,
2007; Shi, 2006, 2010):




Cultural and educational background
Language proficiency
Nature of the writing task
Disciplinary practices
New Approaches to Research

Investigation of the cognitive and
linguistic challenges students face
when attempting to integrate source
texts into their own writing (Tomaš,
in preparation).
Important Research Findings

Paraphrasing is a major academic
writing strategy for university
students (Campbell, 1990; Johns &
Mayes, 1990; Keck, 2006; Pecorari,
2003; Shi, 2004).


L1 and L2 writers
Undergraduates and Graduates
Important Research Findings


Paraphrasing is a far more frequent
strategy than exact copying (Keck, 2006).
Students often use 3 or more strategy
types within a one-paragraph summary.




Near Copy
Minimal Revision
Moderate Revision
Substantial Revision
Important research findings


Cultural background is only one of several
factors that help to explain student
strategy use (Keck, 2007; Shi, in press).
Other important factors include:



Nature of the writing task
Educational experience
Disciplinary practices
Important research findings

In sum, much of this work has
helped us to rethink how we describe
(or define) paraphrasing, as well as
how we address this skill in writing
courses.
New approaches to pedagogy

Addressing paraphrasing in the
context of academic writing tasks


Why might we paraphrase when writing a
summary? An article response? A
research paper?
How can we draw upon our knowledge of
the text, the assignment, and our discipline
when making strategy choices?
New approaches to pedagogy

Complicating, rather than simplifying,
the issue of plagiarism


What role does textual borrowing play in
academic writing development? Can we
identify “good” types of borrowing?
How do we distinguish effective borrowing
from plagiarism? What criteria do we use to
decide if a paraphrase is “acceptable” or
not?
Examples of new approaches

Tardy, C. M. (2010). Writing for the world:
Wikipedia as an introduction to academic writing.
English Teaching FORUM.

Tomas, Z. (to appear). Paraphrase integration
task: Increasing authenticity of practice in using
academic sources. College Writer’s Toolkit.

Keck, C. (to appear). How do university students
attempt to avoid plagiarism? Writing &
Pedagogy, themed issue on Plagiarism and the
Academy.
An example unit
Focus
 Paraphrasing in the context of summary
writing
Context
 Composition for Multilingual Students
 Second Year Composition (ENG 310)
 San Francisco State University
Summary Unit Components







Diagnostic summary task
Reading strategy instruction
Writing strategy instruction
Group composing
Paraphrasing
Revision of original summary
Application to a new summary task
Diagnostic summary task



45-minute summary task
Read 1,000 word text
Write a one-paragraph summary
Source texts
 Newsweek editorial
 “Where Have the Children Gone?”
 Identifies problem, causes, and
effects
Reading strategies


Re-reading(s) of the text
Group discussions of text structure
and main ideas
Strategies
 Dividing text into sections
 Annotation
 Graphic organizers
Writing strategies


Guided drafting
Examples of useful summary
expressions
Strategies
 Drafting main idea statements
 Distinguishing main ideas from
supporting details
 Reporting verbs & transitions
Group composing

Putting all of the pieces together
(main ideas, examples, reporting
verbs, transitions)
Strategies
 Thinking aloud
 Making selection and integration
decisions
Paraphrasing


Paraphrase judgment task
Group composing, revisited
Strategies
 Developing criteria for judging
paraphrase acceptability and
quality
 Reflecting on the function of
paraphrases in a summary
Summary Assignment

Revise original summary from
diagnostic task

Apply strategies to a new summary
task (new source text)
Subsequent Assignments

Summary & Response


Paraphrasing focus: restating a claim made
by the author, with appropriate
agreement/disagreement language
Synthesis of Multiple Sources

Paraphrasing focus: note-taking, reporting
research findings, in-text citation and
reference lists
Culminating Assignments

Library research paper


Similar in format to Synthesis Paper,
but students choose topic and sources.
In-class argumentative synthesis

Similar to Summary and Response, but
students respond to and evaluate
multiple texts written on the same topic.
Interested in reading more?
Themed Issue of Writing & Pedagogy
Plagiarism in the Academy
Volume 2(2), 2010
To appear this summer
Thank You!!
Casey Keck
Zuzana Tomaš
San Francisco State University University of Utah
[email protected]
[email protected]
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