Numerous studies describe the inadequate preparation, in terms of certain cognitive skills, of students entering higher education in Latin America. This deficiency is especially noteworthy in the area of academic writing (of reports, summaries, papers, presentations, research outcomes, etc.)
Students are required to respond to writing requirements despite lack of skills and competencies in this area, and unprepared students are at a disadvantage that impedes their personal and academic development. One explanation for this lack of preparedness resides in the limitations of the methodologies that teach writing.
This course was designed to improve the academic writing skills of students of criminal law at CIDE’s Department of Legal Studies. The course has been given three times since 2004, in both distance and face-to-face modalities.
To develop the skills required to research and write academic papers and articles, as a contribution to the formation of citizens who are active, critical, responsible and aware of the role they play in society.
At least three papers are written during the course, all following the same guidelines. The use of repetition fosters incorporation by students of the skills imparted and facilitates the development of effective writing habits.
The course consists of three sequenced modules and accompanying materials.
The process is constructed to build upon each cycle in such a way that writing skills are reinforced until they become natural and habitual. Students are encouraged to observe and reflect upon their own progress, thus generating long-term that is not only cognitive, but also social and corporal.
The methodology uses a cumulative method of evaluation that focuses on the complete process — not just the final product — by keeping track of every student’s initial work and subsequent drafts.
- Self-paced and systematic
The methodology is explicit about what, why and how instructions should be carried out, generating an atmosphere of coherence and confidence. Specific guidelines and tools are provided concerning the criteria for evaluation
Editing takes place via peer review. Peer editors provide suggestions based on editing guidelines. Responsibility for editing the work of fellow students encourages proactive attitudes that foster initiative, creativity and improvement. Students learn to constructively criticize with respect and rigor as part of their commitment to help their peers.
- Tutor feedback
ESE:O tutors are always present to give feedback and guide each process.
- Horizontal, cooperative structure
The ESE:O methodology seeks to generate processes of teamwork that encourage cooperative relationships between students and direct communication between students and professors. This method of learning develops self-esteem and confidence and promotes skills in dialogue, flexibility, teamwork, critical listening and revision.
- Cognitive and social skills
This methodology helps students build their capacity for observation, analysis, synthesis, reasoning, interpretation, problem solving and classifying according to criteria. It builds social skills such as self-esteem, teamwork, development and use of networks, leadership, rigor, decision-making, confidence and other communication skills.
- Use of technologies
The social use of technologies to diminish social disparities between those with access to technology and academic formation and those without is a fundamental part of the ESE:O methodology.
- Synergy between methodology and technology
Not all internet platforms are the same. ESE:O uses the LMS e-ducativa “virtual campus” platform, developed by an Argentine firm experienced in creative, flexible and user-friendly solutions to the educational requirements of communities facing social and economic limitations.