IWCA conference Proposal (Rough Draft)

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I am interested in the theme of responsibilities and civic engagement as a writing tutor. I believe that the responsibility of a tutor is much more than just helping the tutees improve on a specific piece of writing which they are having problem with. Other abilities, such as guiding tutees to discover their potentials in critical thinking and writing, inspiring them to speak up for their ideas and beliefs, and helping them express these ideas effectively are all crucial components of a competent writing tutor.

In addition, I believe one of the most important responsibilities as writing tutors is to help promote civic engagement. For example, by teaching tutees how to clearly and effectively communicate with others about the social issues they are concerned with, tutors are actually helping the tutees to become more active citizens. Besides, tutoring is never a one-way process. As a tutor, when we are tutoring a person, we could learn about different cultures and values through active interactions between the tutor and tutees, and the conversation itself is a form of civic engagement. Therefore, tutors need to have an open mind and be willing to accept others’ opinions so that they could see the world through various perspectives. In fact, one of the major tasks of a writing tutor is to liberate the minds of the tutees and motivate them to express their genuine thoughts without the shackle of social norms and conventions.

 

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Recap: Reading and Writing in the Natural Sciences

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This class we started by recapitulating the essential elements of reading and writing in the field of natural sciences. Scientific research always begins with critical systematic observation, which helps scientists to generate research questions about certain natural phenomena and design experiments in an attempt to explain or answer the these questions.

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Studies in natural sciences often involve interdisciplinary research methods which utilize a combination of techniques in multiple fields, such as chemistry, physics, and biology, to address a certain research question in the scientist’s own field of interest. The most commonly used steps for research in the field of natural sciences include observing natural phenomena, proposing research questions, establishing a hypothesis, designing an experiment, and analyzing and explaining the results. These steps correspond to the process of scientific writing which consist of observation, description, speculation, experimentation, and report.

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The two major methods used for scientific research are systematic observation and experimentation. Systematic observation does not involve interactions with the subject of interest so it is relatively easy to apply. However, if scientists decide to conduct an experiment on human subjects, they will need to first submit a research proposal to the Institutional Review Board (IRB) to explain the objectives and methods of research. The responsibility of the review committee is to ensure that the rights of the participants are properly protected. The IRB  process is complex and long and could take up to a few months. However, the experiment could only be legally conducted after the approval of the review board.

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As we have mentioned in former blogs (Reading and Writing in the Natural Sciences part 2 and 3 ), researchers in the field of natural sciences share some common values or conventional rhetorical features that are essential for writing a well-rounded scientific paper. These conventions includes objectivity, replicability, recency, and cooperation and communication. In addition, various genres are incorporated into scientific writing, including observations logbooks, research proposals, and lab reports.

Creating a discharge instruction

Emory Hospital

Patient’s Name:

Healthcare Provider’s Name:

Department:

Phone:

Date:

Additional Notes:

Discharge Instructions for Mothers with Prematurely Born Infants

Mothers who have prematurely born infants often have many personal concerns, including financial issues and stress and depression management. These concerns could adversely affect the health of both the mother and baby. Therefore, special resources and treatments are necessary to promote the wellbeing of the both subjects.

Steps to take

1.Coping with financial problems

  • Seek local, state, or federal assistance
  • Ask for help from your friends or family members
  • Make a bank or personal loan
  • Make budget plans routinely
  • Pay monthly bills on time
  • Prioritize needs, make the most out of your income
  1. Managing depressive symptoms
  • Achieve a balance between time spent on job and childcare
  • Find ways to relax and replenish yourself

           – Yoga

           – Music

           – moderate exercise

           – Meditation

  • Go out to the nature for some fresh air
  • Get enough sleep (a minimum of 6 hours per night)
  • Eat a healthy diet

–  increase the consumption of vitamins, proteins, and carbohydrates, such as fruits,  vegetables, etc.

– decrease the consumption of saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium, such as fast food, cookies and meat.

– drink enough water (at least 2 liters per day).

– reduce alcohol consumption

  • Seek for professional assistance and medical attention if necessary
  • Find a friend or family member who you can share your troubles with

Follow Up

The physical and mental health of the patient should be monitored at all time and any uncomfortable feelings or adverse effect should be reported to the doctor or physician assistant as soon as possible. Regular hospital visit and health exams should be followed to check the effectiveness of the patient’s rehabilitation process. Contact your physician at least once per week to update any progression or problems and keep all appointments according to the doctor’s instruction.

Emergency Response

If an emergency situation happens, please call for medical help immediately.

Indications of emergency include but are not limited to:

  • Major depression or anxiety
  • Difficulty with breathing
  • Irregular or rapid heartbeat
  • Mental breakdown
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Vertigo or blackout

Reading and Writing in the Natural Sciences (Part 3)

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Last class, we learned that writing in the natural sciences share some common values or conventions which includes objectivity, replicability, recency, and cooperation and collaboration. Then, we explained in detail on how to convey objectivity. This class, we went further on discussing how the other three elements can be achieved through various techniques.

Replicability is important in writing a scientific paper because it helps to confirm the veracity of a research and its result. Some conventional expectations employed by scientists to improve the replicability of their research include adding meticulous details and high level of specificity to their method section of the research paper in order to ensure that others can retest their experiment. In addition, leaving an “open space” for the possibility of other outcomes in the hypothesis or prediction is also an important aspect for a replicable research, because it shows that the researchers acknowledge the potential of a different result and realize the value of repeated testing. A language feature that is often utilized by natural science researchers to improve replicability is precision. Choosing accurate and exact words and numbers for the procedure of the experiment and explanation of the result is essential for effective communication both among scientists and between scientists and the public.

Recency refers to the time limitation involved with a certain research, especially the ones scientists use as their literature references. Scientists often draw on the knowledge of other recent work to ensure that they are updated with the newest information and remain on top of current state of progress in their field of interest. Failing to select sources that are published recently can affect the effectiveness of the reference work and thus undermine the credibility and usefulness of a scientist’s own research. Recency is also the reason why scientific writing often requires writers to follow the APA (American Psychological Association) or the CSE(Council of Science) format as opposed to the MLA(Modern Language Association) format that is typically used in writing in humanities for documentation. In particular, APA requires scientists to provide the date of publication for a reference work in every in-text citation. In this way, the readers could be informed with the recency of the work and deliver their own judgements based on that.

The last convention that writing in the natural science typically follows is cooperation and collaboration. The field of science is actually composed of an extremely large network which is further divided into numerous small networks. Members in each small network often share and discuss their work and findings frequently with each other. Then, the small networks combine and weave their knowledge and discoveries together to make contributions to the overall development of natural science. Cooperation can take many forms, such as publication of reports, team researching, and scholarly conference. Presentation of the researchers’ names, including the names of all the members in their research team and any organization or institutions involved is a great demonstration of how scientists appreciate the value of teamwork. Furthermore, scientists in the field of natural science do not often attack or refute other’s work directly like authors in the humanities do. Instead, they express their disagreements in a more indirect and moderate manner, like pointing out the errors that may be involved in other’s experimental designs or procedures.

Reading and Writing in the Natural Sciences (Part 2)

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In this class, we learned how to design a research study in the field of natural sciences. Natural sciences often involves collecting quantitative data and using statistical analysis to test hypotheses and draw conclusions about the results.
Hypothesis can be tested generally through two ways: systematic observation and experiments. There are various kinds of experiment, including comparative experiments and controlled experiments. However, when conducting an experiment involving human subjects, researchers need to first submit a proposal to an institutional review board in order to make sure that there is no ethical or confidential problems involved. The IRB process is usually very time-consuming and labor-intensive. In addition, proper communication among scientists is also essential for the development of scientific research.
For example, I recently did an experiment in my biology class about the antibiotic resistance of bacteria from Arabia Mountain in Georgia and its relationship to light intensity. First, I did some research and found out that some bacteria can adapt to extreme environment in the long term by developing specific mechanisms to increase their chance of survival. The change can be caused by either gene mutation or epigenetic modification. Therefore, based on my research, I hypothesized that when other conditions are the same, bacteria exposed to higher level of light intensity will have higher level of antibiotic resistance due to the fact that they have already developed some kind of mechanisms that are essential for survival under unusual environments.
I decided to begin my experiment by writing a comprehensive proposal, including my overall goal, hypothesis, prediction, general experimental procedure, and references consulted. Then, I would go to Arabia Mountain to collect the bacterial samples myself and culture them on standard agar plates for growth. Then, I would look at the samples under digital microscope to identify and isolate any bacteria colonies with unique phenotypes and then subculture them on a set of new agar plates. After about another two days of growth, I would treat each colony with the same antibiotic (doxycycline in the case) and let them grow for an additional week. Finally, I would measure the zone of inhibition of each bacterial colony sample to determine which bacteria have the highest degree of antibiotic resistance and compare the result to my hypothesis.
After conducting an experiment, scientists need to begin writing their research paper. Writing in natural science follows some conventions or shared values. The four most important conventions in the field of natural sciences are objectivity, replicability, recency, and cooperation and collaboration. Objectivity enables scientists to reduce the influence of experimental bias to a minimum level and thus increase the reliability of their results. Some rhetorical features that could enhance objectivity includes: a non-rhetorical, descriptive, and clear title; the IMRAD format which conveys logical procedure and specific methods; complex jargons which increase the precision of the language used; and quantitative communication including charts and tables.

Reading and Writing in the Natural Sciences

Giant Panda resting

The first step of writing in the natural sciences is observation and description. Unlike simple observation conducted in other fields of study, researchers in the field of natural sciences often conduct systematic observations in which they follow a regular and logical schedule of neutral observation. Natural observation is characterized by zero or minimum intervention to the subject in order to minimize bias. It is also important to take notes(e.g. Observation logbook) along the course so later researchers can write an accurate description about their observation.

After writing down the observable fact about a particular subject of interest(descriptive writing), the next step for a researcher is to make speculations about his or her observation(speculative writing). Speculative writing make inferences about how and why the subject behaves in a certain observed way. It is closely associated with research question and hypothesis formulation.

During this class, we observed pandas at Zoo Atlanta through PandaCam. At first, there was only two small pandas sleeping together on a giant log, which is supported by two other shorter logs about 1.5 meters high in the air. One of them lied on his side and the other curled himself into a ball. After a few minutes, the sideward-sleeping panda woke up and adjusted his sleeping position. While doing this, he accidentally kicked the other panda on his head and woke him up as well. Then, the panda who got kicked in the head sat up and rested his head on his chest and both of them fell asleep again. After another few minutes, a giant panda suddenly entered the picture and walked straight towards the bamboo bundle. He sat on the ground, grabbed the bamboo branches besides him with his two hands, and began to eat. He ate continuously for about ten minutes, took a nap for about five minutes, and then went straight into “binge-eating” again. While he was doing that, one of the two sleeping pandas turned on his back and put his right foot on the hip of the other panda while the later remained motionless.

Based on the behaviors of these three pandas, I could speculate that sleeping and eating are a large portion of a panda’s daily life. Pandas probably also have sharp teeth and good metabolism in order to chew and digest the hard bamboo branches. Furthermore, because they are raised in and protected by the zoo, pandas do not have a keen sense of danger like some wild animals to. They are not very responsive to the changes in their environment and look very relaxed and comfortable in their artificial habitat.

Reading and writing in the natural sciences

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In this class, we first reviewed the conventions for writing in social sciences and then introduced the general procedure for writing in natural sciences.
Writing in social sciences always begins with critical observation about human behavior and interactions alongside social structures and systems. New research in social sciences always depends on existing theories or propositions which offer background information about the topic of interest and at the same time provide a foundation for researchers to build on. After choosing the appropriate theory, researchers will establish a hypothesis and a plausible prediction about the research results. Then, they have to decide which type of experimental method (quantitative, qualitative, or mixed-method) to use based on their research questions and the nature of their lines of inquiry. When conducting experiments, researchers have to always keep in mind that rigorous and logical procedures and checks are essential to limit the impact of potential bias on the results. Talking about the writing process itself, writing in social sciences usually adopts the IMRAD (Introduction, Methods, Results, Analysis, and Discussion) format and the APA documentation style for references. Passive voices and hedging are also widely used in social sciences. Finally, in addition to writing a primary research paper, literature review, the analysis of scholarly articles published by others, and theory response paper, the application of an existing theory to one’s own experience, are also two popular genres in the field of social sciences.
Compared to writing in social sciences, writing in natural sciences tend to be more concise and harder to understand by the public. Although there are numerous sub-disciplines involved in the field of natural sciences, natural scientists usually share similar values and desires in order to make their research as successful and meaningful as possible. A successful research is always quantifiable and replicable, and these qualities can be best achieved by logical procedure and accurate report. Logical procedure requires scientists to incorporate scientific methods into their scientific writing process. First, like writing in any disciplines, writing in natural sciences also begins with careful observation about natural phenomena. However, in addition to that, researchers also need to have the ability to describe the phenomena clearly for others to understand. Second, researchers make speculation about the phenomena by asking questions and formulate possible hypothesis. Then, an experiment is conducted and data are collected and analyzed to test the hypothesis. Finally, the results are reported and explained with the researcher’s own interpretation. Oftentimes, research in natural sciences is conducted interdisciplinarily, which means it combines the methods for data collection and sample analysis from different disciplines to help the researchers with their investigations in their own fields of study.

A Rhetorical Analysis on the Public Service Advertisement “Liking isn’t Helping”

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When talking about advertising, most people, such as Jack Solomon, tend to think of it as a medium used by advertisers to “manipulate” people. In his work “Masters of Desire: The Culture of American Advertising,” Solomon bashes advertising campaigns as “exercises in behavior modification” rather than “sources of product information” (402). Although a large number of advertisements do indeed exploit human desire to cajole people into trusting them or buying their goods or services, there is at least one exception in this sugarcoated industry—the Public Service Advertisement (PSA). The “Liking isn’t Helping” ad series is a powerful example of such exception created by Publicis Singapore for a “Christian disaster relief organization” (Justina 2-3) called Crisis Relief Singapore. It is a nonprofit organization consists of volunteers that aims to help those suffering from terrible situations. The advertisement series captures three real black-and-white pictures depicting heartbreaking scenes of afflicted children which appeals to the audience’s emotion. Then, it ironically surrounds these scenes with hands giving thumbs-ups, blatantly pointing out the brutal reality that “liking” on Facebook does not help these desperate children at all. By highlighting the absurdity of such behavior and relating it to some people’s behaviors in daily life, the advertisement achieves its ultimate purpose to encourage people to stop being internet philanthropists and enter the real world and actively participate in volunteer work that could truly help those in need.

Nowadays, people become increasingly overwhelmed by the flood of technology and social media that they sometimes alienate themselves from reality. As a result, when hearing about disasters happening in the real world on the internet such as Facebook, these people often wrinkle their brows, give it a “thumbs-up”, and then just scroll down to the next post. Most of the time, such indifferent behaviors are judged by others as immoral. However, I think these people are actually being deceived by their own “virtual reality” that they believe simply by clicking the “like” button, they can somehow help to improve the life of those in distress. In fact, the same mental process has been perceived by economic researchers when analyzing the behaviors of bankers in New York City. Behavioral economist Dan Ariely claims that New York City bankers are more likely to cheat than other people around the world, not because they are “worse people”, but simply because “the nature of their work” (Lehrer 00:04:55-00:05:20). In other words, New York bankers live in a society where most transactions are done through symbolic money online. These virtual transactions make it easier for people to be “dishonest and still think of themselves as being honest. [Therefore, we cannot] appeal to moral compass to guide them.” (Lehrer 00:05:20-00:05:40) Similarly, the same statement can be applied to those netizens mentioned earlier. By clicking the “like” button, they feel like their guilt has been alleviated and they are not as cruel as they appear to be. The purpose of this advertisement is to target these people, bring them out of their self-deception, and help them to realize the importance of physical volunteering and real dedication. With the clever use of kairos, Publicis Singapore seizes the opportune moment to address these social issues and misperceptions that are prevalent in our daily lives.

The first image of this advertisement depicts a boy dying in the arm of his mother. The boy’s body is covered with blood and his limbs are relaxed. His mouth is half open as if he is trying to say something but cannot, so he just stares hopelessly at his mother with his glassy and dilated eyes. We cannot see the facial expression of his mother but can imagine her despair from her lonely and desolate silhouette and her left hand which is holding her sons face like the most precious thing in the world. This image strongly appeals to the emotion of every person since family has always been the softest and most sensitive subject of most people. We are either the children of our parents or a parent ourselves. Therefore, we could easily sympathize with the mother and feel her despair caused by the loss of her beloved son. The advertiser effectively utilizes pathos to strike the conscience of the audience and make them feel morally-obligated to take actions to help.

The second image shows a village attacked by a big flood. A girl is desperately grabbing a branch with water already rising up to her thigh. The third image is an infant who has just lost his left leg in the earthquake and is lying alone on the hospital bed. Both the girl and the infant from the two images look helplessly into the crowd, seeking assistance. But ironically, the people just stand there and give them thumbs-ups. Even though this exaggerates human cruelty in real life situations, it does reveal the indifference of many people to some extent, especially when encountering these situations online. Here, the advertiser used children as his subject for all three images. This is because children are the most vulnerable group of people and can easily evoke the audience’s desire to protect. By showing people authentic pictures directly taken from the real world, Publicis Singapore also wields ethos to make its advertisement more credible and persuasive to the audience.

When analyzing the captions, we can see a clear phrase near the middle of the image, which reads: “Liking isn’t Helping.” This is the main topic of the advertisement which directly points out the uselessness of liking on social media. Furthermore, if you observe carefully, you can see a line of tiny characters in the lower left corner, which writes: “Be a Volunteer. Change a Life.” This is the connotative meaning of the advertisement. By extending beyond its perceivable images, the caption employs logos to imply the purpose of this advertisement, which is to persuade netizens to leave their laptops and smartphones, go out to the real world, and truly participate in physical volunteering or community service to help those disadvantaged people and try to bring them out of their current difficult situations.

Overall, “Liking isn’t Helping” provides convincing evidence in the form of real press images, incorporates various rhetorical devices such as kairos, pathos, ethos, and logos into its topic and purpose, and weaves them smoothly together through the use of captions. By incorporating these rhetorical elements together, Publicis Singapore has crafted a well-rounded advertisement for the Crisis Relief Singapore organization, which targets the general public, especially the netizens, to encourage them to support the reconstruction and improvement of disaster-affected areas with not only pious intentions, but also practical actions.

 

Work Cited

Justina. “Powerful Ad Campaign Shows That Facebook Likes Don’t Help.” Bored Panda, 2013, http://www.boredpanda.com/liking-isnt-helping-crisis-relief-singapore/.
Lehrer, Jim. “Behavioral Economist Examines Interplay of Money, Morality and Rationality.” PBS, NewsHour Productions LLC., 20 May 2009, http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/business-jan-june09-rationalecon_05-20/.
Publicis, Singapore. Advertisement. Crisis Relief Singapore. 2013. Print.
Solomon, Jack. “Masters of Desire: The Culture of American Advertising.” The Sighs of Our Time. The Putnam Publishing Group, 1988. 401-413. Print.

Reading and writing in the social sciences (continued part 4)

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In this class, we talked more about other structural conventions in writing in the social sciences.

Titles for articles in social sciences are more informative than rhetorical. The authors usually include their topic, subject, purpose, and the location where the research is done in their titles and subtitles. Their goal is to be as concise and straight-forward as possible to give the readers a clear idea of what their research is about.

An abstract is often included in social science articles to give its audience a highly condensed overview of the research, including the research topic, purpose, methods, results, and possible implications. Abstracts are always compressed into a short paragraph consisting 100 to 300 words. It offers a brief and compacted summarization of the research article to the audience, including fellow researchers, and gives them a general idea of what the research is about, whether it will be useful to the fellow researcher’s own research, and what it can contribute to the ongoing conversation of a particular topic of interest. Mostly, although an abstract typically appears in the very beginning of the research article right below the title, authors tend to write it in the end of their research report so that all the most important elements from each section of the report can be combined and presented in the abstract.

Some social science articles might also include an acknowledgement section which identifies the institutions or people that helped the author throughout his or her research process. Helps can be either in the form of material supports such as funding or in the form of immaterial support such as inspiring ideas.

American Psychological Association (APA) documentation format is often used in social science writing. In contrast to MLA, citations in APA requires authors to include the year of publication of the sources cited due to the importance of recency in social science research. Research can become outdated very fast and if you cite some sources from half a century ago, it is unlikely that the results are still reliable and useful right now. In addition, cited sources are often paraphrased or summarized in social sciences whereas direct quoting is often used in humanities. This is because social science researchers care more about the method and result recorded in the article rather than the language itself.

Finally, some social science researchers include one or more appendices at the end of their research paper. This section is intended to offer some more details, evidence, or explanations about the content in the body of the report that might be confusing or misleading.