About

Overview

The Favors Glossary grows from a primary concern for college students who struggle with the process of revising academic papers. A secondary concern involves helping professors adopt more practical methods for teaching revision.

Issues Today

Students often find it difficult to manage time effectively when they have to write an English paper. All they know is read the essay prompt, write the paper, add the required number of reference sources, type the paper, “check for grammar,” and print it. In fact, both students and professors alike have adopted these methods for meeting the requirements of classroom writing assignments.

In addition, students also struggle with understanding what a professor wants. The professor’s job is simply to teach students about concepts that underlie the English discipline, which include the principles of literature, writing, and teaching. Sometimes this goal becomes the only focus of the professor. He or she becomes an information resource rather than a mentor capable of demonstrating the practical aspects of writing and revising English essays.

Professors write margin comments on students’ papers, expecting each student to understand what the comment means within the context of the paragraph. The professors attach a grade to the paper. The student takes the paper home, looks only at the grade at the top, and discards the comment mentally. For both the professor and the student, the grade is the goal.

What happens to the comment? The only time the comment really becomes important is when the professor allows the student to revise the paper for a higher grade. The student never thinks about the grade in relation to the comment and the professor doesn’t explain the connection to the student.

With this in mind, papers with “be specific” in the margin don’t have a chance of growing, so to speak, because the professor doesn’t know how to explain to the student what this comment means and how to apply it during the process of revising the paper. All the professor knows is that one particular sentence within a paragraph fails to explore a thought fully. In essence, the professor doesn’t know how to “teach” fully expressing a thought as a method for helping students revise their papers.

Professors need to adopt practical methods for teaching revision that include helping students apply margin comments during the process of revising academic essays. Students need to develop better time-management skills by developing a schedule for implementing the revision process.

History

Current Status

The eBook, The FAVORS Glossary: Guide to Using Margin Comments for Revising Academic Essays, is a product of Revision Today, a working academic textbook currently in development. Revision Today is research-based.

The FAVORS Glossary: A Revision Writing Teaching Blog serves as an eLearning component of the eBook and it derives from the print version, which is currently under review for (print) publication and commercial distribution.

Background

Written by Regina Y. Favors in 2004, The FAVORS Glossary began with a multitude of purposes. From 2007 to present day, the name of the book has undergone different title changes to reflect its ongoing purpose. The original names for the glossary were “The Favors Guide to Professor’s Comments” and “The Favors Glossary of Commonly Annotated Professor’s Comments.”

The glossary initially served as merely a handy reference tool (i.e., checklists) for students who needed clarity about a comment. The purpose was to encourage students to use the glossary as a guide for understanding their professor’s comments. Favors envisioned the process in this way: Students take their paper, refer to the glossary, read the definition of the comment, and use the ideas expressed within the comment as a guide for revising the paper. This was the original purpose for the glossary.

In January of 2011, the mission for the glossary changed from functioning as only a reference source to becoming an academic textbook, aptly titled Revision Today.  The original titles confused higher education textbook publishers. The new title and the content of the book introduce principles concerning the revision process.

In April of 2011, FWM President & Editorial Director Regina Y. Favors reviewed Revision Today and the glossary that formed the basis of the textbook and decided to divide the book into three entities: 1) a research-based academic textbook, 2) a separate print version of the glossary, and 3) an online teaching resource for the glossary.

Therefore, Revision Today will not function as a mere supplement to a current course-adopted text.  Instead, the purpose of the textbook will be to become a primary text within English and writing classes and to transform also the English curriculum.

With this in mind, as of August 2011, The FAVORS Glossary serves today as an academic writing self-help tool for students and graduate instructors of English and writing classes. The FAVORS Glossary: Revision Writing Teaching Blog is the online teaching resource supplement for Revision Today. The glossary is available online and will be available soon through various print mediums.

Vision

The vision of The FAVORS Glossary is to become the premier online resource for English professors and college students tasked with the goal of revising academic papers.

Mission

The mission of The FAVORS Glossary is seven-fold:

  • Provide the definitions of common margin comments English professors use as grading tools
  • Serve as an online resource for both English college professors and for all students who have to submit academic papers within non-English disciplines
  • Teach revision
  • Suggest practical methods for implementing the revision process into the English curriculum
  • Design revision teaching resources, guides, and in-class activity documents
  • Offer self-help resources for college success
  • Start a national dialogue by allowing site visitors to add comments

Additional plans for the glossary include adapting the content to print format and developing a research-based version.

The purpose of the online glossary is to function as a teaching blog.

Pedagogical Considerations

Note to Instructors

The FAVORS Glossary is ideal for designing in-class group activities. As a supplement to Revision Today, the glossary offers samples and steps for each comment.

Peer Tutoring

One example of a classroom activity is peer tutoring. It is an effective exercise for students who struggle with writing academic papers. Professors typically instruct students to exchange papers. Students proceed to mark up a paper and offer a few lines of feedback.

With this in mind, the glossary is a great resource for peer tutoring. For each comment, it provides lecture material, samples, and steps for accomplishing revision. Students will find the content of each comment useful for instructing their peers.

In essence, the glossary teaches professors how to explain revision concepts and students how to teach themselves.

Grading

The final grade shouldn’t be the only thing a professor uses to help students understand their papers. Similarly, students shouldn’t view the grade as the only thing they need to consider when revising a paper.

The FAVORS Glossary provides a great opportunity for professors to use comments as grades or grading tools before applying a final grade to a particular paper.

For example, if a student makes a point within a paragraph and adds another, but fails to connect the points, then the “grade” would be “Points Don’t Connect,” which is a comment within the glossary. Teachers may use the glossary as a guide for applying a particular grade or they may determine, based upon the goals of the class, to what letter grade the comment equates.

Examine the following. The first part (in italics) points to the area of the paper or sentence where the professor places the comment. The second part is an example of a glossary comment.

Example Feedback for Student’s Paper

1. Thesis: Thesis Unclear/Need a Clearer Thesis Sentence (D)

2. Plot Summary: Avoid Plot Summary (C-)

3. Examples: Discuss/Discuss This (B-)

4. Quotes: Clarify (significance) (B-)

Grading Scale

A= 90 -100

B= 80 – 89

C= 70 – 79

D= 60 – 69

F= 69 and below

For this exercise the D stands for 69, C- stands for 70, and B- stands for 80.

In considering these factors, the average grade for the student, before the final grade administered after the student revises the  paper, would be approximately a 75 (74.75). In other words, this is where the student’s grade stands, or would stand, for the first paper.

Grading by using the glossary comments allows the professor to provide justification for a grade. This grading method also provides direction for the student.

Notable Features

Comments

The FAVORS Glossary defines more than 175 margin comments. Example terms include “Audience,” “Awkward,” “Cliche,” “Lacks a Clear Argument,” and “Misquoting the Evidence.”

The comments derive from both undergraduate and graduate papers written by our Editorial Director, Regina Y. Favors. By sifting through past academic papers written for English classes, Favors was able to extract comments from over 100 one-page responses, five-page papers, longer essays, and take-home and in-class final exams.

Tone

The FAVORS Glossary has a conversational, student-friendly tone. At the same time, the tone doesn’t hinder professors from using it as lecture material.

The glossary uses examples and steps to walk students through the process of revising the thesis, topic sentences, paragraphs, use of quotes, and other essay content. It utilizes everyday terminology to help students visualize how to revise.

For example, we know from experience that each sock has a match. We picture this in our minds and say aloud, “All socks must match.” The same is true of a topic sentence matching a thesis. Jane isn’t nice, pretty, and smart in the thesis, but ugly in the fourth paragraph. This quality of Jane is nowhere present within the thesis. Therefore, a topic sentence must match each element, or part, of a thesis.

The glossary functions similarly to a personal drop-in writing tutor, guiding students throughout the revision process.

Checklist

The FAVORS Glossary is also comparable to a post-writing checklist. It recycles common concepts used within the writing process. For example, “brainstorming” is a standard pre-writing concept. The glossary takes the concept and teaches students how to apply it to the revision process. Students learn how to brainstorm techniques for removing unnecessary content, expanding upon quotes, and restructuring topic sentences to ensure the paper is logical and effective.

Uniformity

The FAVORS Glossary serves primarily as a uniform code of comments for the English academic community. It uniquely closes the communication gap between the professor and the student.

Primary Audience

The audience for The FAVORS Glossary includes the following categories and lists by student and program types.

Undergraduate Community

  • Developmental Writing Classes: Students who have failed a university writing entrance exam and who are thus subsequently and involuntarily enrolled into these classes.
  • ESL Student Community: Students who have completed ESL advanced grammar and who may be in developmental writing classes.
  • English Literature Classes: Primarily for freshmen and sophomore classes, but also for students enrolled at all levels.
  • Rhetoric & Writing Studies Classes: Primarily for freshmen and sophomore classes, but also for students enrolled at all levels.

Graduate Programs

  • English Literature TAs: TAs who teach freshmen and sophomore literature classes.
  • Rhetoric & Writing Studies TAs: TAs who teach freshmen and sophomore composition classes.
  • Graduate Teaching of Writing Courses: Programs designed to prepare graduate teaching associates for college-level teaching.

Professor/Writing Program/Learning Center

  • Professors of English & Comparative Literature
  • Professors of Rhetoric & Writing Studies
  • Professors of Teaching of Writing Courses
  • Directors & Coordinators of Tutorial Writing Centers
  • Lecturers/Adjunct Instructors and Training Programs for Adjunct Instructors

These are the categories of students and teachers representing the primary audience for The FAVORS Glossary.

Secondary Audience

The secondary audience includes all-level, all-discipline students required to write and submit academic papers.

In addition, high school students in advanced placement English (A. P. English) classes represent another category.

In Sum

The aim of The FAVORS Glossary: Revision Writing Teaching Blog is to serve as a comprehensive, online tutoring resource for professors and college students struggling with understanding and revising the academic paper.

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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