On Teaching Citations

7326788980_12146b3759I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how citations seem to stump just about everyone who’s new to them. They stump US-born teenagers and adult ESL students. They’re fussy, and they take up a lot of mind-space on top of the content the students are working flat-out to produce.

And at the levels I teach, students are really not able to read the academic journals where these formatting conventions are a “natural” part of the landscape.

The next time I’m lead teacher, I want to try comparing citations to hyperlinks.

On the internet, links are generally blue and underlined so they’re easy to see. We know at a glance that they take us to a related source, and we know that that’s why they’re there.

Citations are the same, but were invented way before the internet. Instead of being blue and underlined, they usually have some kind of parentheses or footnote. Since they came from an age of paper, we put them in two places: in the text and then again all lined up on the Works Cited page.

What do you think – would that help them see the purpose? Is that connection to the more modern way of reading and linking valid? Would the purpose help them with the formatting?

How do you handle teaching citations?


Photo Credit: Danny Molyneux on Flickr

You’re reading On Teaching Citations, originally posted at LearningToTeachEnglish.com.

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