Dr. Steve's

Teaching Writing and APA Formatting
for Teachers

By Dr. Steve Broskoske


Many teachers face the challenge of helping students to write better. In the Teacher Education program at Misericordia University, the faculty are working together to try to improve student writing throughout the program. My part in the writing project is to have students write a five-page, APA-formatted research paper on a topic related to educational technology, a freshman-level course that I instruct. The challenges I have found in this process are three-fold:

  1. When asked to prepare a research paper, many college freshman tend to submit a position paper filled with opinion and unsubstantiated claims rather than a research paper.

  2. Our department requires that all research papers should be formatted according to the publication standards of the American Psychological Association (APA).

  3. Students desire to complete all of their research online, but many have difficulty determining which material is professionally-respected, scholarly material that is appropriate to use.

Recently, I have tried a new approach that seems to be helping students understand the task of writing a research paper more thoroughly before they begin. Through a series of three PowerPoint presentations that I prepared, I present to my students the analogy that writing a research paper is like being a lawyer defending a court case. Students can relate to this analogy because there seems to never be a shortage of high-level court cases in the news to which I can refer. I draw out the analogy in terms of how lawyers frame their case (define their topic), search out evidence (search for sources), present the evidence (write the paper), and make the closing argument (draw a conclusion). I am finding that if I frame their thinking in this way, the students write better papers.

Feel free to look at my materials for teachers below.

Dr. Steve's Teaching Materials

3 PowerPoint Presentations: These three PowerPoint presentations I created for presentation to my classes. In these presentations, I cover two points:
  1. Introduce students to preparing a research paper according to APA publication standards.
  2. Draw the analogy that writing a research paper is like being a lawyer defending a court case.
APA Word Template: I created this template in Word to take the "guess work" out of formatting a paper according to APA guidelines. The companion document describes how to use the APA template. To use: Right-click the template link and select save from the pop-up menu. Then, open it in Microsoft Word. Be sure to download the companion document listed below.
Web Pages to Assist with Understanding APA: I created these Web pages to assist students in understanding what APA publications are about, and how to format a paper, cite references in text, and create a reference section according to APA standards.
Web Page to Assist with Writing a Research Paper: I found that many students are troubled about writing a paper. They have no clue as to where to start. This Web page presents my basic method for organizing and approaching the task.
Web Page to Assist with Evaluating Online Resources: I created this Web page as a teaching aid for use in my Educational Technology course. It introduces students to the need for evaluating online resources, alerts them to some of the aspects of the problem, and helps them apply evaluation to their research paper.

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