Methods of Differentiation

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Posted on 19 Apr 2013 02:01

In this paper, "The Novice as Expert: Writing the Freshman Year", Nancy Sommers and Laura Saltz explores the changes that occur in college freshmen writing beginning with their first college experience all the way throughout their college careers. This study was applied to freshmen students at the Harvard University. The research is composed of actual class assignments made by the students who volunteered to be part of this study, Harvard Study of Undergraduate Writing. This study was applied to 422 students which is only 25% of the Harvard Class of 2011. The authors’ approach of study or methodology is a combination of quantitative and qualitative studies. Surveys as part of the quantitative study were completed by each student every academic year. In addition, primary sources of written assignments, feedbacks, and papers were collected from each student as part of the qualitative study. The Harvard Study of Undergraduate Writing also interviewed each student every academic year. However, out of the 422 students who volunteered 65 were selected to be studied in depth.

The purpose of this research beginning with college freshmen writing is to view the changes in writing of a student who develops throughout their college career. These incoming freshmen are introduced to a new environment. As the authors would describe, the students are in the “threshold of college”, a place structured with different routines and not familiar. Indeed, this new “realms of uncertainty and ambiguity” impacts each student differently. This affects their personality and essentially their writing. This methodology focuses on the students’ writings and how they change over time. Since the author establishes “that writing teaches students to think” then this is a way to investigate the minds of students and “how language shifts” throughout their college experience. The studies “captures changes and continuities” (progress) and measures ability in writing to some extent.

This method of study, quantitative, for my proposed object of study which is Mechatronics Engineering, would be helpful in the way I will measure the skills based on their acquired expertise in their field of two different individuals as oppose to focus on a single one over time.

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