Students’ Publishing Projects and their Impact on Teaching and Learning

Students’ Publishing Projects and their Impact on Teaching and Learning

Sandra Hofhues (Hamburg University of Applied Sciences, Germany) and Anna Heudorfer (University of Augsburg, Germany)
Copyright: © 2013 |Pages: 18
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-2970-7.ch009
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In this chapter it is assumed that students have only limited interest in reading and writing academic texts. After a brief introduction to the problem, the impact of academic reading and writing skills is shown. Furthermore, the authors want to emphasize how these literacies can support students’ development, pedagogically speaking, by using action-based projects. The University of Augsburg provides examples for publishing projects in which students can participate. The examples demonstrate the positive effects of students’ participation in such projects on the development of media literacies, especially in the areas of text comprehension and writing. Finally, prospects for student-publishing projects at universities are identified as well as the challenges associated with cross-media development, social software and Web 2.0 (Mayrberger, 2012).
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Academic Writing? Understanding The Student’S Perspective

The understanding of text is essential for scientific work. The ability to compose text is a key skill for academics and “knowledge-workers” as they need to make their scientific results accessible to a wider circle of interested people. The main reason for this is the dissemination of results throughout the scientific community but also the communication of science to a broader audience (e.g. von Hentig, 1999). From a scientific perspective the first reason remains the most important one. How can theoretical and conceptual contributions as well as empirical findings be published and how are they discussed with a professional audience? What skills in (reading and) writing do scientists need in order to publish their (research) results at all? Text encourages research, it is the subject of scientific discourse and an essential channel to introduce new findings to an academic community. From the teacher's perspective, text has a similar function; students, however, rarely perceive text as significant (see Kruse, 2010a). Academic writing is rather considered as “dry” and theoretical, burdened with complex issues and associated with unapproachable discussions. In everyday teaching, this often makes it difficult to encourage students to publish their own results (Hofhues, 2011b). Working with (the medium) text becomes easier for students if they can do this in an action-oriented way, especially in regard of text production. Students' motivation for writing increases even more if the relevance of text becomes evident - or opens up job opportunities. The latter is particularly likely in the humanities and social sciences and, more specifically, in media studies. In this field, writing will be essential in the workplace, which is why students hope to obtain the necessary tools while still studying (Hofhues, 2011a). The big challenge in university education is to approach the improvement of students’ understanding of reading and writing from different angles and to respond to their needs in a more differentiated way than solely taking an academic view on text. This challenge can be met by students' publishing projects. As educational media, they allow students to experiment in analog and digital media while reflecting their work with peers and mentors as well as gaining writing experience. Analyzing media as well as designing media products are vital elements in this process. Developing appropriate knowledge and skills in media design is essential to identify key design principles and codes “behind” media products (e.g. Kruse, 2010a). The latter is fundamental to developing (critical) analytical skills. Critical analysis again is considered as the central dimension of scientific work. But an even more important requirement than being able to arouse interest is to understand that every publication follows a different intention and that the place where something is published is also relevant. Different types of media co-exist and offer varied options of use which has led to students drawing a line at certain types of text media. This is even accelerated by cross-media communication and experiences. With the above in mind the intentions of this chapter are:

  • To analyze the importance of writing in academic contexts.

  • To present three media projects which focus on publishing, always considering the above assumptions.

  • To examine in conclusion the significance of practical media analysis for academic writing and also for media education in formal educational contexts.

  • To discuss cross-media related developments and challenges of Social Software and Web 2.0, which give students more opportunities to participate in media (e.g. Mayrberger, 2012).

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