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Beyond Note Cards

Rethinking the Freshman Research Paper

By Bruce Ballenger

Any teacher driven to despair by a stack of student research papers will find welcome inspiration in Beyond Note Cards. Since the research paper first became a fixture in the composition classroom, no other assignment has caused as much dread in students. By putting it in historical context, Ballenger offers new insight into the problems and promise of the research paper—and practical advice on how to revive it.

Beyond Note Cards examines the best of the existing scholarship to offer a fresh, theoretically sound approach to teaching the research paper. Drawing on the recent movement to encourage...

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Any teacher driven to despair by a stack of student research papers will find welcome inspiration in Beyond Note Cards. Since the research paper first became a fixture in the composition classroom, no other assignment has caused as much dread in students. By putting it in historical context, Ballenger offers new insight into the problems and promise of the research paper—and practical advice on how to revive it.

Beyond Note Cards examines the best of the existing scholarship to offer a fresh, theoretically sound approach to teaching the research paper. Drawing on the recent movement to encourage inquiry-based learning, Ballenger argues that the spirit of inquiry should be at the heart of research paper instruction—not the usual preoccupation with teaching the paper's formal qualities. While Ballenger deals with theory, his book is never dry. Through case studies of his students and often revealing autobiographical anecdotes, the author weaves a fascinating story about the evolution of the research paper historically and in his own classroom. The book also contains many practical features, including:

  • classroom-tested exercises and assignments to help students become better researchers and research writers
  • original survey information that instructors can use to discuss the assignment with their own students
  • a special section on how to teach the double-entry journal as part of a research assignment
  • a helpful appendix that explores Internet research and new approaches to note taking.
Beyond Note Cards is an essential resource for instructors who are anxious to build connections between personal writing assignments and academic writing by highlighting the "habits of mind" that are present in both. In addition, teachers who already use Ballenger's popular student handbook, The Curious Researcher (Allyn & Bacon), will discover new ways to supplement it.

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