Thursday, February 24, 2011

Writing Summaries

Question: How do some teachers view writing summaries?

Answer: “Because preservice teachers at our institution sometimes dismiss summary as ‘boring’ a task requiring no creativity and little effort other than regurgitation, we propose here that summary is more accurately characterized as complex, recursive, and even an act of discovery. Indeed, a summary requires a close and accurate reading, including the ability to discern the author’s main point and then to relay that point…to report precisely the author’s content….” P. 77.

Comment: There are summaries and there are summaries, from a single sentence to several paragraphs. However, the authors of this article define summaries as being detailed elaborations of the author’s main idea. Therein lies its complexity. I think what the authors mean by “discovery” is that in writing the summary, the students are forced to compress the authors’ ideas and, therefore, in doing so, to comprehend fully its meaning.

I always require a summary and then a comment on the summary, relating the idea to the course’s objectives, to personal experiences, to questions, etc. RayS,

Title: “What Do Professors Really Say about College Writing?” E Breckman, et al. English Journal (January 2011), 75-81.

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