2015 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 170,000 times in 2015. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 7 days for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Theories of Literacy and Theories of Literacy Development

Reference as: Mkandawire, S. B. (2015). LTC 1000 Theories of Literacy and Theories of Literacy Development. The University of Zambia Lecture notes for week 9. Retrieved from https://sitwe.wordpress.com/2015/12/14/306/

What is a Theory?
A theory is an idealized representation of reality that help us explain some natural phenomena. It is an idea or thought pattern about a particular subject matter and how it should be perceived. Campbell & Zazkis (2002) contended that theories are like toothbrushes where everyone has their own and no one wants to use anyone else’s theory. Read the following theories or views or ideas from http://www.public.asu.edu/~petergo/courses/eng556/556.html

There are other theories or views on what literacy is or should be and all these depend on how individuals in different field view the concept of literacy.
6.3 Theories of Literacy Development
There are a number of theories associated with literacy development. These theories are based on people’s ideas about early literacy development and how children learn. In trying to discuss the subject matter, we explore by asking ourselves a number of questions such how our ideas about early literacy have developed. What researchers and educators have influenced the way reading and writing are approached today? It is important for teachers who work with young children and their families to be familiar with the history of early literacy as a foundation for current practices (http://www.education.com/reference/article/early-literacy/).
Theories of literacy development include the following: Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development, Maturation Theory, Theory of Literacy Development, Stage Models of Reading, Emergent Literacy Theory, and Family Literacy Theory. These theories help us explain how literacy development in children is done in the early years of education.
6.3.1 Piaget’s theory of Cognitive Development
The cognitive development theory by Jean Piaget contends that there are different phases of intellectual development and each stage is associated with certain behavioural activities. It is these activities that guide educators and theorists in literacy on what is and what is not tenable. Educationalists using this theory believe that the nature of content that is given to pupils for learning must relate their level of intellectual development. In other ways, the emphasis is sequencing learner’s activities based on their stages of intellectual development. This position is based on Piaget’s theory that children’s cognitive growth occurs in a sequential pattern through four related stages. In this way, what and how a child learns is determined largely by the child’s present stage of development. The Theory of Cognitive Development was conceptualized by Jean Piaget in 1969 who is classified as both a constructivist an a developmental theorist. It is one of the most famous theories used to explain children’s overall cognitive development. It can be used by literacy educators to understand the learning stages though which students’ progress as they mature and their relationship to literacy achievement.

Jean Piaget’s theory of Cognitive Development describes the ways in which the quality of children’s thinking changes over time based on their intellectual development. According to Piaget, there are four factors that affect the quality of an individual’s thinking: biological maturation, activity, social experiences and equilibration. All these factors are linked to Piaget’s Stages of Cognitive Development as discussed by Godwin, Herb, Ricketts & Wymer (2013) namely:
1. Sensorimotor stage (birth to 2 years of age) – Children use sensory exploration of the world: They do not use or have language skills and are dependent on their senses. Class activities for literacy development in this stage include: (i) Board books with brightly colored pictures and (ii) Books with sound, things to touch, or smell
2. Preoperational stage (2 to 7 years of age) – There is rapid language development skills in this stage as children begin to categorize things with words. Literacy activities include story book reading and discussing the story
3. Concrete Operational (7 to 11 years of age) – In this stage of development, children use concrete objects to begin to think about abstract concepts. Activities for Literacy development include Graphic Organizers {Venn Diagrams, Flow Maps}and others.
4. Formal Operational (11 years of age to adult) – In this stage, children use language in an abstract way. Activities for Literacy include the use of metacognitive reading strategies helps students to “think about their thinking” before and after they read. Examples: Making Inferences and Summarizing information.
A literacy study that was conducted using theory of Cognitive Development concluded that the mental age of six and half year old child performed better on reading achievement than younger children (https://prezi.com/a4yxj-rcptjs/theories-of-literacy-development/). Using this research and other related studies resolved that in applying Piaget’s Stages of Cognitive Development, the following should be observed for literacy education:
(i) reading instruction should not be implemented until students reached the age of 6 1/2 years of age
(ii) Initial literacy activities that are given to children at home must be linked or related to the level of child’s intellectual development. Other studies recommendations suggested that parents should not attempt to teach reading to their children at home as educators would cause damage to children’s reading ability if they attempted to teach reading to children who were too young.
(iii) Reading abilities are linked to Maturation Theory which believe learning to read is viewed as a natural developmental occurrence. Furthermore, theorists believed that learning to read begins in the home when children first see their parents read and have stories read to them. In other ways, parents here are the models for children and children strive to emulate what their parents do by all means necessary. Emulation results in children’s first attempts at reading, which are usually quite inaccurate and parents should reinforce children’s first attempts at reading. As children’s attempts at reading are reinforced, their skills develop, and children begin to read for real and this is linked to the theory of Literacy Development which purport that the ways in which children approach the task of reading qualitatively change as they mature (https://prezi.com/a4yxj-rcptjs/theories-of-literacy-development/).
The site further reported that theorists believe that as children’s reading skills develop, they increase both the number and type of strategies they can use during reading experiences
Four stages of word development stages are discussed:
1. Pre-alphabetic Stage, 2. Partial Alphabetic Stage, 3. Full Alphabetic Stage and 4. The Consolidated Alphabetic Stage. This is what is known as the Stage Models of Reading which explains literacy development and provides instructional guidance to promote early literacy growth. The emphasis on these stages is the period in a child’s life between birth and when the child can read and write at a desirable level or in a conventional manner.

6.3.2 Maturation Theory
The maturation theory states that Children would be ready to read when they have developed certain prerequisite skills and there is little that teachers and parents can do to hurry the process of cognitive development. In other ways, the theory advocate for not teaching reading until children were mature enough for instruction. Scholars for this theory hypothesized that this could happen when children were at mental age of 6 1/2. Aldridge & Goldman (2007) noted that the Maturational Theory of child development was developed by Arnold Gesell with his colleagues including Morphette and Washburne who constructed a set of behavioral norms that illustrate sequential and predictable patterns of growth and development. Gesell contended that all children go through similar stages, although each child may move through these stages at their own rate (Godwin, Herb, Ricketts & Wymer, 2013).
6.3.3 Theory of Literacy Development
The theory was developed by Holdaway in 1979 and it states that learning to read was a natural development that is closely linked to a child’s natural development of oral language skills. Holdaway’s theory of literacy further contends that literacy development begins in children’s homes and is based on meaningful learning experiences. There are four key components in this theory as itemized by (Godwin etal, 2013):
(a) observation -which demand that children need to have the opportunity to observe literacy behaviours from others. For example, parents and siblings to read for them.
(b) Collaboration – this require that children need to interact with others who provide encouragement and help with the reading process.
(c) Practice – children need the opportunity to practice alone in order to self-evaluate, make corrections and increase their skills independently.
(d) Performance – children need the opportunity to share their new reading skills with those who support them.

It is important to note that these components are linked to the child’s natural development occurrence which begins at home which leads to a gradual formation of literacy development practices. The classroom application or characteristics of natural literacy development include;
i. Rich home literacy environment
ii. Parent – Child interactions of modeling literacy behaviors
iii. Rich literacy classroom environment by
 Labeling key items around the room
 Wide variety of high quality reading materials
 Meaningful language experiences
 Use of big books and shared reading
Holdaway highly recommends the use of big books and shared reading to foster natural literacy development. He believes big books can create the same positive feelings about story time that children have when they read at home. He believes that these natural storytelling times build student’s oral language, print tracking, concept of letters, and words (Godwin etal, 2013).

6.3.4 Stages Model of Reading
Stage Model theorists such as Frith (1985), Ehri (1991), and Gough, Joel & Griffith (1992), believe that children’s reading is in stages of word identification and that students increase the number of strategies used during reading as their reading skills develop. Lower staged reading strategies remain available to a reader as they incorporate more difficult reading skills in later strategies. Chall (1983) as quoted by Godwin etal, (2013) noted that there are four Stages of Word Identification: 1. Pre – Alphabetic Stage 2. Partial Alphabetic Stage 3. Full Alphabetic Stage 4. Consolidated Alphabetic Stage, also available on the following site (http://www.tiki-toki.com/timeline/entry/92488/Theories-of-Literacy-Development/).
The four stages of word identification as discussed by (Godwin etal, 2013) have been expanded in detail:
(i) Pre – Alphabetic Stage {Logographic Stage}. This stage is associated with a number of feature which include the following: (a) Visual cues are primary method of word identification (b) One might memorize words by their shape or “look” (c) Use of environmental print and logos (d) Word Identification is not yet related to letter – sound knowledge. Class activities for Literacy in this stage include collecting samples of Environmental Print to display in the classroom.

(ii) Partial Alphabetic Stage. This stage according to Godwin etal (2013) uses “Phonetic Cue Reading” which further demand the use of some letter – sound cues. First letter of the word and then use just a letter or two as children develop.

(iii) Full Alphabetic Stage. In this stage students relies more on letter – sound knowledge. Student tries to process all the letters in a word and a child may become tied to letter-by-letter reading which slows down the reading process. Class activities for Literacy here includes: Puzzles, Word Card Games, Magnetic Letters, Alphabet Books. Magazine Search, Letter Bingo and Word Sort: Beginning, Middle, and End Sounds

(iv) Consolidated Alphabetic Stage. Here there is automatic knowledge of sound – letter relationships. Students read letter patterns within words and they use word family knowledge to aid the reading process. Activities for Literacy include word Wheels, Word Family Sorts, Poetry, Flip Books (Godwin etal, 2013

6.3.5 Family Literacy Theory
Godwin etal, (2013) contended that family literacy refers to a series of ideas that researchers share, including the design, implementation, and evaluation of programs to help facilitate literacy development of family members; the relationship between family literacy and student achievement; and the ways in which literacy is naturally used in the home. This theory stresses the importance of family involvement on student achievement. The actions to encourage Family Literacy include;
i. Create a two – way street between parents and teachers in order to gain information about literacy in the home.
ii. Teach parents about the school culture and necessary skills for a student to be successful.
iii. Help parents understand what they can do at home to help support and encourage their children’s academic success. Many studies have been done on parent and child reading interactions to support the importance of the connection between home and school.
iv. Parent Volunteers Reading in the Classroom

6.3.6 Emergent Literacy Theory
The Emergent Literacy Theory states that there are levels of literacy behaviours which children acquire before they formally get into classroom which facilitates the acquisition of reading and writing skills at a conventional level. Emergent literacy theorists believe that literacy development starts in the maternity ward and is continuous and ongoing. This early literacy development provides educators with instructional guidance to promote early literacy growth among their students. Theorists believe that children’s development in the areas of listening, speaking, reading, and writing are all interrelated (http://www.tiki-toki.com/timeline/entry/92488/Theories-of-Literacy-Development/). In other ways, Emergent Literacy Theorists believe that children’s listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills begin at birth, it also emphasizes the importance of a literacy rich home environment. Components of a literacy rich home environment include; having large number of books available in the home, Newspapers and Magazines, Parents read a variety of materials and Reading is associated with pleasure, Parents frequently read to children.

Marie Clay’s studies on emergent literacy indicated that children know a great deal about reading and writing before they come to school, and they are able to experiment with and apply their knowledge in various ways (Clay, 1975). Reading readiness seemed to be an inaccurate term, since Clay’s research showed that there was not a specific sequence of skills children needed to master prior to reading and writing. The children she studied seemed instead to “emerge” into literacy—with writing, reading, and oral language abilities developing together.
Emergent literacy was recently defined as “the view that literacy learning begins at birth and is encouraged through participation with adults in meaningful activities; these literacy behaviors change and eventually become conventional over time” (Neuman, Copple, & Bredekamp, 2000, p. 123). From a very young age, children who are exposed to oral and written language gradually gain control over the forms of literacy. Print-related knowledge develops similarly to the way children learn oral language (Morrow, 1997). When children are actively engaged with interesting and meaningful reading and writing experiences, they develop literacy knowledge early in their lives.
6.3.7 Everyday Theories
These are ideas which individual people have about certain things in the society and how they impinge on people’s lives. Everybody makes theories almost every day about certain practices, values and norm in the society. These theories are not known to many people and they are not conventional in nature as they may be known to one person only (Barton, 2007).
6.3.8 Professional Theories
These are conventionally recognized theories worldwide such as those discussed above. In other ways, examples of professional theories include Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development, Maturation Theory, Theory of Literacy Development, Stage Models of Reading, Emergent Literacy Theory, and Family Literacy Theory.

Aldridge, j. & R. L. Goldman (2007). Current Issues and Trends in Education. Boston: Pearson/Allyn and Bacon.

Barton, D. (2007). Literacy: An introduction to the ecology of the written Language. 2nd Ed.
USA. Blackwell Publishing.

Campbell, S. R., & Zazkis, R. (2002). Toward number theory as a conceptual field. In S. R. Campbell & R. Zazkis (Eds.) Learning and teaching number theory: Research in cognition and instruction (pp. 1-14). Westport, CT: Ablex Publishing.

Godwin, E., Herb, B., Ricketts, A. & Wymer, S. (2013). Theories of Literacy Development 1930s – Present Day. Available at http//:hillerspires.wikispaces.com/file/view/Theories%

Lilly, E. & Green, C. (2004). Developing Partnerships with Families through Children’s Literature. Boston: Pearson Allyn Bacon Prentice Hall


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Types of Literacy or Literacies

Reference as: Mkandawire, S. B. (2015). LTC 1000 Types of Literacy or Literacies. The University of Zambia Lecture notes for week 2. Retrieved from https://sitwe.wordpress.com/2015/12/14/types-of-literacy-or-literacies/

Types of Literacy
In today’s world, there are different forms and types of literacies that people in different fields talk of in the society. By now, you must have heard or used some type of these types of literacy in the society. Lets consider some of the most common discussed types of literacies.
(a) Conventional Literacy is a type of literacy that deals with reading and writing skills of letters in a particular language. It involves issues such as knowing the alphabet, phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics and pragmatics that govern the reading and writing skills in a conventional manner. McGee and Richgels (1996:30) describe the use of conventional literacy in terms of the behavior manifested by readers, “Conventional readers and writers read and write in ways that most people in our literate society recognize as ‘really’ reading and writing. For example, they use a variety of reading strategies, know hundreds of sight words, read texts written in a variety of structures, are aware of audience, monitor their own performances as writers and readers, and spell conventionally.”

(b) Emergent Literacy is a type of literacy that deals with the earliest behaviors that relate to a kind of literacy in form of the skills, knowledge, and attitudes that are manifested before the actual conventional level of literacy is attained. The term was first used in 1966 by a New Zealand researcher Marie Clay to describe the behaviors seen in young children when they use books and writing materials to imitate reading and writing activities, even though the children cannot actually read and write in the conventional sense (Ramsburg, 1998). Today the term has expanded in usage. Sulzby and Teale (1996: 728) “Emergent literacy is concerned with the earliest phases of literacy development, the period between birth and the time when children read and write conventionally. The term emergent literacy signals a belief that, in a literate society, young children even one and two year olds, are in the process of becoming literate”.

(c) Initial Literacy – A type of literacy that looks at the time or stage an individual learns or is expected to learn the basics or the process of acquiring basic skills in a particular field such as reading and writing in a particular language. It is a critical foundation of conventional literacy as it has to do with knowing expected skills in a conventional manner.

(d) Basic Literacy – refer to a type of knowledge that is expected to be known by everyone in a particular field. In the world today, people expects everyone to know basics of conventional literacy that is to know how to read and write. For example, everyone is expected to know how to read and write as a basic literacy skill.

(e) Functional Literacy – A type of literacy that deals with application of conventional form of literacy such as reading and writing well enough to understand signs, read newspaper headings, read labels on medicine bottles, make shopping lists, read Bible, write letters, fill in forms, apply for jobs, practice the language skills verbally & in written form, reading for pleasure and purposive writing. Functional Literacy – A type or type of literacy that prepares an individual to engage in all those activities available in his or her group and community and also for enabling him or her to continue to use reading, writing and calculation for his or her own and the community’s development. Functional literacy as noted by different scholars is used for different activities in the society. Gray (1956:21) notes: Functional literacy is used for the training of adults to ‘meet independently the reading and writing demands placed on them’. Currently, the phrase describes those approaches to literacy which stresses the acquisition of appropriate verbal, cognitive, and computational skills to accomplish practical ends in culturally specific settings.

(f) Critical literacy – A type of literacy that involves interpreting a piece more than mere piece of work such as determining what effect a writer is attempting to bring about in readers, why he or she is making that effort and just who those readers are. According to (Freire, 1970) Critical Literacy looks at the teaching of critical consciousness skills relating to an individual’s ability to perceive social, political, and economic oppression and to take action against the oppressive elements of society. The concept of critical consciousness (conscientization) was developed by Paulo Freire primarily in his books: Pedagogy of the Oppressed and Education for Critical Consciousness, Kirkendall (2004). The emphasis here is in an individual’s ability to use reading, writing, and thinking, listening, speaking, and evaluating skills in order to effectively interact, construct meaning, and communicate for real-life situations. An active literate person is constantly thinking, learning, reflecting, and is assuming the responsibility for continued growth in their own literacy development. Critical literacy involves the analysis and critique of the relationships among texts, language, power, social groups and social practices. It shows us ways of looking at written, visual, spoken, multimedia and performance texts to question and challenge the attitudes, values and beliefs that lie beneath the surface.

(g) Aliteracy – refer to a level of conventional literacy analysis that deals with literate individuals who are lazy to apply reading and writing skills regularly. In other ways, an alliterate person is he or she who knows how to read and write but cannot apply this skill to read a book, an article, a newspaper and other written materials.

(h) Profession Literacy – A type of knowledge specialized in a particular field or profession. It looks at individuals specialized in particular professions such as; Medical profession, teaching profession, legal profession and others.

(I) Legal Literacy – A type of literacy that looks at law related knowledge, skills and proficiency an individual may possess in executing legal related matters. The difference between a lawyer and a client is the knowledge gap between them that the lawyer possess which the client doesn’t have.

(J) Medical Literacy – A type of literacy that fall under profession literacy. Medical literacy look at the knowledge, skills and proficiency in the medical field and health care in particular.

(K) Financial literacy – A type of literacy that looks at accounting, auditing, and any other profession relating to money or financial management issues.

(L) Statistical literacy – A type of literacy that looks at the ability to understand statistics as presented in different forms of publications such as newspapers, television, and the Internet. Numeracy is a prerequisite to being statistically literate. Being statistically literate is sometimes taken to include having both the ability to critically evaluate statistical material and to appreciate the relevance of statistically-based approaches to all aspects of life in general.

(M) Film Literacy – skills and abilities possessed by an individual to practice the art and craft of film making and its processes. Processing the messages packaged in films is also a form of film literacy.

(N) Teaching literacy – A form of literacy that focuses on an individual’s abilities to teach effectively in a particular subject matter. He or she understand the craft of teaching and the necessities that can be applied for an effective teacher.

(O) Workforce literacy – A type of literacy that prepares an individual to know what transpires at a workplace before they start work. It deals with a pre-service employment preparation for an individual intending to be in a particular profession.

(P) Workplace literacy – A type of literacy that supports current workers already in employment with regard to their rights, conditions of service and their plight.

(Q) Survival Literacy – A type of functional literacy that involves teaching survival skills like income generating skills that empowers societies economically to be independent and self-sustaining. Applying other forms of literacy such as reading to survive.

(R) Business Literacy – A type of literacy that looks at business oriented knowledge, skills and proficiency. Failure to sale products an individual has harvested, made or accumulated is an instance of business illiteracy. Business literacy refers to an individual’s ability to posses business oriented skills by means of adapting to trade oriented environments in meeting the market standards.

(S) Street Literacy – A type of literacy that looks at an individual’s ability to survive and adapt to the life of the streets and maintain its standards as their immediate environment for purposes of survival.

(T) Scientific Literacy – A type of literacy that categorically addresses the scientific know how of popular science disciplines.

(U) Agricultural literacy – An individual’s ability to farm, establish and ascertain agricultural related environments and practice the actual competencies in the field. Knowledge of the soil that support good farming and what types of crops to grow, when and where is all part of agriculture literacy.

(V) Computer Literacy – A type of literacy that look at an individual’s knowledge and ability to use computers and technology efficiently. It includes the comfort level someone has in using computer programs and other applications that are associated with computers. Recently, the concept include an individual’s ability to play and manipulate computer components, software, designing computer programs and use computers in a variety of ways in meeting the age of technology efficiently. Computer Literacy – A type of literacy that look at an individual’s knowledge and ability to use computers and technology efficiently. It includes the comfort level someone has in using computer programs and other applications that are associated with computers. Recently, the concept include an individual’s ability to play and manipulate computer components, software, designing computer programs and use computers in a variety of ways in meeting the age of technology efficiently.

(W) Technological literacy – This form of literacy refer to an individual’s ability to use technology tools to access, manage, integrate, evaluate, create and communicate information. It also extends to the knowledge possessed to create or develop technology related products in a broad sense. This includes to that look at technological issues.

(X) Ecological literacy – refer to an individual’s ability to understand the natural systems that makes life on earth possible. This include such things as nature (water, trees, glass, animals and others) that suport human life.

(Y) Translitertacy – Refer to the ability to read, write and interact across a range of platforms, tools and media from signing and orality through handwriting, print, TV, radio and film, to digital social networks (http://firstmonday.org/article/view/2060/1908).

(Z) Magical Literacy – A type of literacy that looks at magic, witchcraft, and an understanding of the operations of the dark forces, how they threaten people’s lives , how they work, how to use and control them.

(AA) Cultural and Cross Cultural Literacy – A type of literacy that look at an individual’s ability to understand and appreciate the similarities and differences in the customs, values, and beliefs of one’s own culture and the cultures of others. There is no culture that can live, if it attempts to be exclusive in its own. This emphasizes on the importance of cultural literacy in its varying degrees in the global world. Therefore, as citizens of the global world, it is particularly important that all nations be sensitive to the role that culture plays in the behaviors, beliefs, and values of themselves and others. Understanding other cultures has two notable benefits: It multiplies our access to practices, ideas, and people that can make positive contributions to our own society; and secondly, it helps us understand ourselves more deeply. By understanding a range of alternatives, we become aware of our own implicit beliefs – beliefs so deeply imbedded that we routinely take them for granted (Stigler, Gallimore and Hiebert, 2000). “Cultural literacy is applied in a variety of ways. For instance, with regard to text analysis, what a text means depends on what readers bring to the text and what they bring will depend on the background, training, values, traditions, beliefs and norms they have experienced. It also extends beyond text to mean understanding the cultural context and practices an individual is Cultural and Cross Cultural Literacy – A type of literacy that look at an individual’s ability to understand and appreciate the similarities and differences in the customs, values, and beliefs of one’s own culture and the cultures of others. There is no culture that can live, if it attempts to be exclusive in its own. This emphasizes on the importance of cultural literacy in its varying degrees in the global world. Therefore, as citizens of the global world, it is particularly important that all nations be sensitive to the role that culture plays in the behaviors, beliefs, and values of themselves and others. Understanding other cultures has two notable benefits: It multiplies our access to practices, ideas, and people that can make positive contributions to our own society; and secondly, it helps us understand ourselves more deeply. By understanding a range of alternatives, we become aware of our own implicit beliefs – beliefs so deeply imbedded that we routinely take them for granted (Stigler, Gallimore and Hiebert, 2000).
“Cultural literacy is applied in a variety of ways. For instance, with regard to text analysis, what a text means depends on what readers bring to the text and what they bring will depend on the background, training, values, traditions, beliefs and norms they have experienced. It also extends beyond text to mean understanding the cultural context and practices an individual is found in”.
(BB) Family literacy – A type of literacy that looks at family related matters with regard to how to keep a wife, a husband, children and other relatives happily and morally right. It deals with knowledge on how to be in a family, relationships, resolve family conflicts internally, keeping secretes under the roof and home economics.
(CC) Art(s) Literacy – A type of literacy that looks at an individual’s ability to manifest art skills in exceptionally and relatively varying degrees by selecting or shaping materials to convey an idea, emotion, or visually interesting form. Art literacy also refer to the film and visual arts, including painting, sculpture, architecture, photography, decorative arts, crafts, and other visual works that combine materials or forms. In contemporary world, art literacy include forms of creative activity, such as dance, drama (Drama literacy), and music (Musical literacy), or even having the ability to use art to describe art other artistic skills. Art(s) Literacy – A type of literacy that looks at an individual’s ability to manifest art skills in exceptionally and relatively varying degrees by selecting or shaping materials to convey an idea, emotion, or visually interesting form. Art literacy also refer to the film and visual arts, including painting, sculpture, architecture, photography, decorative arts, crafts, and other visual works that combine materials or forms. In contemporary world, art literacy include forms of creative activity, such as dance, drama (Drama literacy), and music (Musical literacy), or even having the ability to use art to describe art other artistic skills.
(DD) Civic Literacy – A type of literacy that looks at the plight of citizens, patriotism, rights, the city, powers of leaders and how the nation is run and being governed. This type of education is offered to the citizens on different issues concerning the affairs of the country and the world. Civic Literacy – A type of literacy that looks at the plight of citizens, patriotism, rights, the city, powers of leaders and how the nation is run and being governed. This type of education is offered to the citizens on different issues concerning the affairs of the country and the world.
(EE) Electoral Literacy – A type of literacy that looks at the knowledge, skills and abilities associated with electoral matters; election strategies, conducting free and fair elections, involving different stake holders in the elections and so on. Electoral Literacy – A type of literacy that looks at the knowledge, skills and abilities associated with electoral matters; election strategies, conducting free and fair elections, involving different stake holders in the elections and so on.
(FF) Adult Literacy – A type of literacy that look at the type of education offered to the adults in order for them to adapt to their respective environments with survivalistic skills. It involves the teaching of income generating skills, civic education and other critical issues within their own environment by making use of the available resources. It involves understanding the way adults behave, how they learn and how to interact with them more effectively. Adult Literacy – A type of literacy that look at the type of education offered to the adults in order for them to adapt to their respective environments with survivalistic skills. It involves the teaching of income generating skills, civic education and other critical issues within their own environment by making use of the available resources. It involves understanding the way adults behave, how they learn and how to interact with them more effectively.
(GG) Information Literacy – A type or type of literacy that look at the ability to recognize the extent and nature of the information needed, to locate, evaluate, and effectively use the needed information in the manner that would befit it. It constitutes the abilities to recognize when information is needed and to locate, evaluate, effectively use, and communicate information in its various formats. A person is said to be information literate if they are able to recognize when the information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information. Producing such a citizenry will require that schools and colleges appreciate and integrate the concept of information literacy into their learning programs and that they play a leadership role in equipping individuals and institutions to take advantage of the opportunities inherent within the information society. Information literacy has to do with knowing when and why you need information, where to find it, and how to evaluate, use and communicate it in an ethical manner, implies knowing several skills. We believe that the skills (or competencies) that are required to be information literate require an understanding of a need for information; the resources available; how to find information; the need to evaluate results; how to work with or exploit results; ethics and responsibility of use; how to communicate or share your findings and how to manage your findings, Information and Computer Literacy Task Force (2001).
(HH) Media Literacy – A type of literacy similar to information literacy that look at an individual’s ability to understand information or read information from the different media by filtering or sifting through and analyzing the messages that inform, edutain and sell to us everyday. He further indicate that media literacy is having the ability to bring critical thinking skills to bear on all media; from music videos and web environments to product placement in films and virtual displays on billboards. “Media literacy is about asking pertinent questions about what is there, and noticing what is not there. And the instinct to questions about what lies behind media productions; the motives, the money, the values and the ownership and to be aware of how these factors influence content. Media literacy encourages a probing approach to the world of media: Who is this message intended for? Who wants to reach the audience, and why? From whose perspective is this story told? Whose voices are heard, and whose are absent? What strategies does this message use to get my attention and make me feel included? In our world of multi-tasking, commercialism, globalization and interactivity, media education is not about having the right answers – it is about asking the right questions”, Bowen (1996). The result is lifelong empowerment of the learner and the citizen. Worsnop (1994) says Media literacy has three stages; The first stage is simply becoming aware of the importance of managing one’s media diet that is, making choices and reducing the time spent with television, videos, electronic games, films and various print media forms. The second stage is learning specific skills of critical viewing— learning to analyze and question what is in the frame, how it is constructed and what may have been left out. Skills of critical viewing are best learned through inquiry-based classes or interactive group activities, as well as from creating and producing one’s own media messages. The third stage goes behind the frame to explore deeper issues. Who produces the media we experience—and for what purpose? Who profits? Who loses? And who decides? This stage of social, political and economic analysis looks at how everyone in society makes meaning from our media experiences, and how the mass media drive our global consumer economy. This inquiry can sometimes set the stage for various media advocacy efforts to challenge or redress public policies or corporate practices. Media range from television to T-shirts, from billboards to the Internet. To be media literate today require that people must be able to decode, understand, evaluate and write through, and with, all forms of media. People must be able to read, evaluate and create text, images and sounds, or any combination of these elements. Media literacy seeks to empower citizens and to transform their passive relationship to media into an active, critical engagement, capable of challenging the traditions and structures of a privatized, commercial media culture, and finding new avenues of citizen speech and discourse.
(II) Political Literacy – A type of literacy that refers to the knowledge, skills and information associated with the politics of the location, Mkandaŵile (2011). It is a set of abilities possessed by citizens considered necessary to participate in a particular government. It is a civic education skill that includes the different forces that shape the economy and politics of the country with an understanding of how government works and of the important issues facing society, as well as the critical thinking skills to evaluate different points of view. Many organizations interested in participatory democracy are concerned about political literacy, http://sitwe,wordpress.com.
(JJ) Popular Literacy – A type of literacy that looks at popular knowledge, speculations, values that come from advertising, the entertainment industry, the media, and icons of style and are targeted to the ordinary people in society. Popular literacy values are distinguished from those espoused by more traditional political, educational, or religious institutions as they are typically to do with popular knowledge.
(KK) Diaspora literacy
This is the ability to understand the traditions, beliefs, culture and communication patterns from a scattered population with a common origin in a geographical area. Diaspora folk stories, words, and other folk sayings within any given community of a particular diaspora constitute diaspora literacy. All the knowledge and experience of political, social, historical, and cultural climates of the various cultures of the people in a particular diaspora constitutes diaspora literacy.
(LL) Electoral Literacy (Electracy) – Electracy is a form of literacy that looks at the knowledge, skills and abilities associated with electoral matters; election strategies, conducting free and fair elections, involving different stake holders in the election process.
(MM) Emotional literacy – Emotional literacy refer to one’s ability to manage and understand their emotions as well as that of others. Emotionally literate people listen to others and empathise with their emotions. They express their emotions productively.
(NN) oral literacy – Oral literacy (Oracy) refer to the ability to transfer norms, traditions, customs, culture and language from one generation or person to another through the word of mouth. It is the oldest communication and teaching method in the history of humanity.
(OO) Multiliteracies – The notion and acknowledgement that there are so much literacy that exists in different fields associated with different domains of the society. “Multiliteracies – a word we chose because it describes two important arguments we might have with the emerging cultural, institutional and global order. The first argument engages with the multiplicity of communications channels and media; the second is with the increasing salience of cultural and linguistic diversity”. This quotation suggests that the concept of Multiliteracies acknowledges the existence of many literacies as it supplements traditional perception of literacy, Cope and Kalantzis (2000).
(PP) Visual literacy – A type of literacy that deal with an individual’s ability to interpret, negotiate, and make meaning from information presented in the form of an images, graphic designs and other visuals aspects. Visual literacy is based on the idea that pictures can be “read” and that meaning can be communicated through a process of reading. It is an instance of Visual Memory: retaining a “picture” of what a word or object looks like and how to make sense out of it.

Barton, D. (2007). Literacy: An introduction to the ecology of the written Language. 2nd Ed. USA. Blackwell Publishing.
Bowman, K. and G. Woolf, (1994). Literacy and Power in the Ancient World. Cambridge.
Cope, B. and Kalantzis, M. (2000). Multiliteracies: Literacy Learning and the Designs of Social futures. London: Routledge.
Graff, H. J. (1991). The literacy myth: cultural integration and social structure in the nineteenth century. Transaction Publishers. p. xxvi. ISBN 978-0-88738-884-2
Olson D. R. and Torrance, N. (2009). The Cambridge handbook of literacy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Corridors of Hope II (2008). Reflect Methodology and Participatory Rural Apraisal (PRA) Tools Guide. Lusaka: Corridors of Hope.
Duffy, M, Fransman, J, and Pearce, E. (2009). Review of 16 Reflect Evaluations.
Dvv International, (2009).Adult Education and Development. International conference on financing adult education for development held on 23-24 June 2009 in Bonn, Germany.
Barton, D. (2007). Literacy; An introduction to the ecology of the written Language.2ndEd.USA.Blackwell publishing.
Steiner, C. & Perry, P. (1997) Achieving Emotional Literacy. London: Bloomsbury.

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Introduction to Literacy

Reference as: Mkandawire, Sitwe Benson (2015) LTC1100 Introduction to Literacy. The University of Zambia Lecture notes for week 1. Retrieved from https://sitwe.wordpress.com/2015/12/14/introduction-to-literacy/

1.2 What is Literacy?
In today’s world, Literacy as an emerging academic field of study is one of the complex terms to define as it has been defined differently by different scholars from various fields. The following is a list of definitions with their reflections.
Definition 1: literacy is being able to identify letters in Latin (Etymology Dictionary, 2000).
This definition is void and redundant. It is null and invalid because literacy is more than mere identification of scant letters in Latin. One would wonder, does it mean that a person is still illiterate when they can identify letters in Tumbuka or English language but they cannot identify a letter in Latin?
Although the first definition is null and invalid, it is important because it provides a foundation for literacy discussions. The fact that it is making reference to the origins of the term literacy (Litera in Latin), it is enough for ground breaking.
The online etymology dictionary notes that the word literacy has its origins from Latin word litterātus (literate) which also came from littera or lītera which means letter to refer to the ‘one who knows the letters’ (literate).
Early writings in the 12th century indicate that the oldest kings of England including King Henry I and those that followed were instructed in Latin through a series of letters from the church superiors particularly pope of the catholic church. These letters stressed the need for the king of England to be literate with his clan’s men. It is believed that the word must have existed long before the 12th century.
The 12th century was a significant time in the expansion of literacy and literate usage. There is evidence that the kings of England from Henry I onward were instructed in Latin. The desire to be litteratus extended to the aristocracy of the court in the reign of Henry II, as learned discussion on matters intellectual in the manner of the clerical school men was evidently quite the done thing at court. http://medievalwriting.50megs.com/literacy/laity3.htm

Definition 2: “Literacy is the ability to read and write” The National Literacy Framework (2013:6)

Critique 2: This definition is very vague and misleading. One would ask, reading and writing what? Arrows for road signage or traffic control? Is it reading and writing pictorial images? Or is it reading and writing Chinese Characters such as 你叫什么名字?In this case, if someone is not able to read and write Chinese for example, does it mean they are illiterate? Therefore, the second definition raises a lot of questions than answers.

It is important to note that the second definition is very significant as it is introducing a discussion on a type of literacy called Conventional Literacy. A detailed discussion on the subject matter is provided in the next unit.

Definition 3: “Literacy is the ability to read and write in a particular Language” Mkandawire (2010:1)
Critique 3: This definition is interesting as it is a practical orientation to Conventional Literacy and a direct response to the second critique, but it is not a true representation of the phenomenon. Literacy is a broad discipline and it cannot be reduced to merely reading and writing or encoding and decoding of skills in a named language. Where do you put for example computer literacy, Profession literacy, media literacy, legal literacy, family literacy and health literacy? We cannot use this definition to describe literacy in general. The definition is only correct for one type of literacy called Conventional Literacy.
It is important to note that this definition has a fundamental difference as it is relating reading to interpretation of written symbols into spoken skills. It is the basis for the origins of worldwide known form of literacy. It is focusing upon specific skills which are considered vital and should be attained by all learners worldwide as the ultimate beneficiaries of conventional literacy.

Definition 4: “Literacy is a set of Technical Skills of Reading, Writing and Numeracy” (Unesco, 2000).
Critique 4: Defining literacy as Technical Skills of Reading, Writing and Numeracy is fascinating and special in that it has added the aspect of applied skills and mathematical competence. It entails that a literate person must have mathematical skills needed to cope with everyday life and at least a basic understanding of information presented mathematically such as tables and charts. It suggests a range of skills discussed in definition 3 with the exceptive emphasis on numeracy and technical skills which were not adequately addressed in the previous definitions.
It is also vital to note that, this is the traditional notion about literacy. It postulates that literacy is the ability to read, write and do numeracy or and do arithmetic. Today, however, it is questionable that the three skills constitute literacy due to the existence of other literacies.
It is important to note that although definition 4 has excluded other forms of literacy, it has included quiet a number of skills such as applied literacy skills and mathematical competence. By extension, the definition clearly suggests that all kinds of activities that occur in a literacy classroom have some practical application and mathematical skills embedded in them.
Definition 5: “literacy is the ability to identify, understand, interpret, create, communicate and compute, using printed and written materials associated with varying contexts. Literacy involves a continuum of learning in enabling individuals to achieve their goals, to develop their knowledge and potential, and to participate fully in their community and wider society”, (The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization – UNESCO).
Critique 5: This definition is abstract, tedious and intangible. It has just listed terms without explaining them in a valid way that people can easily follow and understand.

Definition 6: Literacy refers to the awareness skills, competence, abilities, access to information and the knowledge possessed in a particular field.
Critique 6: This definition is too slippery, elusive, ethereal and intangible. It is just mentioning terms without putting them into context for discussion by the general populace. It is not focused and generally delusional and not easy to understand.

This definition is psychologically trying to divert the contextual thinking of critiques by highlighting things in general. It is important as it is opening doors to literacy perception in the modern world.

Definition 7: Literacy is the ability to use printed and written information to function in society, to achieve one’s goals and to develop one’s knowledge and potential.

Critique 7: The definition is close to functional literacy as it focuses on applied literacy as opposed to aliteracy. It is vital as it is context specific but does not adequately address the scope and depth of literacy as perceived in today’s world.

Definition 8: Literacy is the scientific study of skill acquisition and its processes, appliance and assessment of the state of competent knowledge and information possessed as approved by the community in a specified area.
Critique 8 : This definition is invincible, enticing, hilarious, luxurious and omnipotent for literacy discussions. It is broad enough to probably exhaust different forms of literacies. Studying skill acquisition and its processes on one hand is really something hard to imagine. On the other, assessing the state of competent knowledge and information possessed as approved by the community in a specific area is generally charming. Can these issues really be proven in real situations? If so how?

What is more peculiar in definition eight is the presence of scientific study of skill acquisition and its processes. The definition is suggesting that the art of skill acquisition and its processes can be proven scientifically by a community specialized in it. It is done by assessing the state of competent knowledge and information possessed that defines, let us say that profession. It is also worth to note that this definition is a clear attempt to widen the focus of literacy as perceived in the world today.
It is crucial to observe that definitions mostly provide a guide to word usage and not necessary what the word(s) mean. This is common knowledge especially amongst linguists that words mean nothing on their own but in context. Definitions therefore, help in establishing the contexts to use them, though, not always. Some people do not like definitions because they are not in most cases a true representation of what they define. The same can be said about literacy definitions. They may be meaningful in one context and wrong in another.

This by extension entails that defining terms can be very problematic at times because words may change meanings depending on the context, century and the generation as the case of literacy today. In the 12th to 17th century, literacy had to do with reading and writing only with its related terms: illiteracy, literate and illiterate. Today we talk of multi-literacies; computer literacy, legal literacy, health literacy, cultural literacy, environmental literacy, media just to mention a few.

1.3 Reflections on diversity of Literacy
There are several views of scholars in various fields of what literacy is as used in everyday life. Some of these are as follows;
“A person who can read his or her environment but cannot read a word should not be deemed ignorant and illiterate. To me an illiterate person is he /she who, even with more than enough schooling cannot read his/her environment, identify the wealth it has and protect that wealth, multiply it and enhance his/her own quality of life. Hence, real illiteracy is about failure or incompetence in reading the wealth of one’s environment”, (Tambulukani and Banda, 2010 quoting longest serving permanent Secretary in Ministry of Education).
This quotation is looking at literacy from a broader point of view to include people’s ways of life, environmental management and generally how people survival in their environments.

“You do not need to have books in order to have literature and to have literacy. The term literacy includes survival knowledge or functional literacy. Stories, proverbs, sayings of the wise, riddles, beliefs, poems, fairy tails, myths, taboos, legends were books and not only books but theatre. My family, my home, and nature around my home were my libraries. My literary events took place in our cowshed as we were milking cows” (Vuolab, 2000).
This quotation is also perceiving literacy from a broader point of view as it touches people’s ways of life and their related social and cultural activities.

These reflections are similar to the ones obtained in a similar study recently where some respondents were saying;
“I do not need reading books to find food, raise a family, make friends or survive in my community. Our fathers lived thousands of years before us and all was well: wealthy, known leader and respected. Two of my sons and one daughter are excellent literate people compared to me but they cannot compare what they are doing to what I have. The attention and wealthy I have accumulated. All these have nothing to do with literacy alone but personality and wellbeing”.
These views suggest that it is impossible for a rational being to exclusively fit into any society without the existence of literacy. Literacy and existence to a large extent are inseparable because all forms of nature employ literacy skills to survive: humans, birds, fish, animals and all living nature. Literacy is an end to itself.

1.4 The Concept of Literacy
The concept of literacy has undergone different phases in terms of usage and meaning. From a mere identification of Latin letters to broader ways used by the people to survival, the operations they carry out and the different fields that affect their lives.

The nature of literacy is complex to establish as it touches on every aspect of human endeavor. It is part of our living as all humans make sense of their own lives, they talk about what they do, they explain and justify their actions, their feelings, their intentions and thoughts (Barton, 2007). Literacy is at the center of our everyday life.
Literacy is a basic instrument for change and development in the society. It is a beacon of hope reflecting the life cycle of a single human being in their own world. It raises critical awareness of the citizens so that they become subjects, rather than objects, of the world. This is empirically done by teaching citizens to think democratically and to continually question and critique everything they interact with in their daily lives. With literacy in its full swing, there is no room for tolerating nonsense from any sector of the society. There are no classified subjects or stories that literate people would not talk about.
Literate men and women have created this world by naming it, using words, images, objects and abstract entities. The world is a social construct in the eyes of the literates. The process of constructing it which involves the whole conscious self, feelings, emotions, memory, affects, an epistemologically curious mind, focused on the object, equally involves other thinking subjects capable of knowing and driving curious minds.
Literacy is naturally political and its processes are virtually crucial in making real democracy. There is no democracy if people are blocked or stopped from airing their views against anything and anyone. Ideal democracy is not made or attained by spiritual words or political forces but with people’s reflection and practice. It advocates for people’s practical democracy praising the goodness of all humans but discarding the devil in them. Literacy discard ideas of politicians, parents, business and the community leaders who use the educational system like schools to impose their values and beliefs at the expense of the majority.
The concept of literacy is very complex today as it impinges on every aspect of human life.
1.5 Misconceptions about Literacy
There are currently several misconceptions about literacy. The world, international and national literacy statistics are very misleading, false and unreliable mainly propagated by oppressors for their hidden agendas and ideologies. The criterion used to measure literacy levels is often very rough, biased and selfish. The research coverage of the data used to compile such false figures is often incomplete and non-representative. The majorities are measuring literacy levels in the eyes of donor lenses and developed countries using international languages. Those who are literate in other languages are deemed illiterate, poor and inferior. This is noted by a number of scholars including Arnove and Graff who observe that;
Global figures on literacy levels are noted as both unreliable and hard to interpret. Literacy statistics for Africa “do not include persons who are literate in other languages other than the official languages” which are French, English, Spanish and Portuguese, to be more specific (Arnove and Graff.1992: 285).
This suggests that failure by such mediocre researchers and media institutions to acknowledge the variation of literacy perceptions from country to country is not only a danger to the world but also to researchers themselves. They are typical examples of the illiterate literates.
1.6 The Evolution in the use of Literacy
The word literacy was used in the 12th century and probably the time before that in a series of letters from church to kingdoms in Europe for purposes of communication. Kings and royal families were urged to become literate for easy communication especially when there was confidential information sent through letters delivered by illiterate massagers. Therefore, it was restricted to a small number of elites. Although some ruling class was illiterate, literacy was one of the distinguishing marks, (Bowman and Woolf, 1994).

Graff (1991) notes that in the twelfth century, the ability to recite, in Latin, a particular passage from the Bible entitled a common law defendant to a benefit of clergy. Later a literate person was used as an admission criteria for those who wanted to be trained in clergy works for religious training institutions. During this time, many literacy related terms such as illiterate and literate developed. Some dictionaries in the early days did not even acknowledge or associate the use of literate to early letters from the church to kings. Barton (2007:19) note that;
Tracing the historical changes on how dictionaries deal with such words is generally instructive. With literacy, there are actually four words to consider: literate, illiterate, literacy and illiteracy and these can both be nouns as in ‘an illiterate’ and adjectives as in literate behaviour. Going back to Samuel Johnson’s first dictionary of English in 1755, only one term ‘illiterate’ is found. I have examined 20 dictionaries published in the 19th century and early in the 20th century. Barclay’s dictionary of 1820 also only has illiterate. Illiteracy is found in Walker’s critical pronouncing dictionary of 1839 with the caveat that it is uncommon word. Literate, but only in the sense of educate or learnt appears too.
According to Barton (2007), the word literacy finally appeared in the dictionary of 1924 with an addition of meaning ‘being able to read and write”. This meaning according to Barton gradually grows in importance so that in contemporary dictionaries, such as the COBUID English language dictionary or the concise oxford, it is the first meaning with educated as a subsidiary meaning.

In the late1930s, the word literacy started expanding in usage and meaning. The oxford English dictionary has a quotation from 1943 referring to economic literacy. This suggests that for the quotation to appear in 1943 in a written document, it means it must have started being used years before that year.

Arnove, R.F. and Graff, H., J. (1992). “National literacy campaigns in historical and comparative perspective: legacies, lessons, and issues.” In: R.F
Barton, D. (2007). Literacy: An introduction to the ecology of the written Language. 2nd Ed. USA. Blackwell Publishing.
Vuolab, K. (2000). Such a Treasure of Knowledge for Human Survival. In: Phillipson, Robert (2000). Rights To Languages .Equity, Power, and Education. London: Lawrence Erilbaum Associates, Publishers.

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Reference as: Mkandawire, S. B. (2015). LTC1100 Language Use in Academic Writing. The University of Zambia Lecture notes for week 4. Retrieved from https://sitwe.wordpress.com/2015/12/14/language-usage-in-academic-writing/

4.2 Avoidable Language in Academic writing?
Academic writing follows certain conventions which are universally accepted. One of the rules in academic writing is that certain forms of language or words used when writing should not be accepted. Such words or forms of language are used in informal setting and may be hard to be understood by others. The following are examples of avoidable language in academic writing:
(a) Do not use contractions and abbreviations
Contractions are words written in short version such as can’t for cannot in full form, don’t for do not in full form, it’s there for it is there in full form, and he’ll for he will in full form, doesn’t for does not in full form and shouldn’t for should not in full form. Any form of contraction is not allowed in academic writing. Make sure you always use the full forms of those contractions.

Abbreviations such as etc. must not be used in academic writing. Furthermore, you must use the full forms of words. For instance, rather than using TV, memo, or quote. You must use Television, memorandum or quotation.

(b) Avoid using informal English language
This means that when writing your essay consider the following:
(i) Do not write your essay in point or bullet form, numbering or sub-headings, these are expected in your research or observation reports.
(ii) Do not use colloquial words or slang expressions such as thing, cool, kid, a lot of, stuff and sort of.
(iii) Avoid double words such as what’s up, put off, bring up, get away with but instead, use words equivalent to these phrasal verbs.
(iv) Avoid common but vague words and phrase such as nice, get and thing.
(v) Do not ask questions or use exclamation marks and dashes in academic writing.
(vi) Do not use the language for phone texting or sms.
(vii) Avoid using sexist language such as him/her or herself/himself, chairman, mankind in your writing. For example, do not refer to the country as he or she nor a doctor as he or she. It is better to make them subject plurals and refer to them as they or in the case of the country, state it in neutral way.
Exercise to check your formal language extracted from http://www.uefap.com/writing/exercise/feature/styleex1.htm
1. With women especially, there is a lot of social pressure to conform to a certain physical shape.
2. Significantly, even at this late date, Lautrec was considered a bit conservative by his peers.
3. It focused on a subject that a lot of the bourgeois and upper-class exhibition-going public regarded as anti-social and anti-establishment.

The answers to these questions are:
1. With women especially, there is a great deal of social pressure to conform to a certain physical shape.
2. Significantly, even at this late date, Lautrec was considered somewhat conservative by his peers.
3. It focused on a subject that much of the bourgeois and upper-class exhibition-going public regarded as anti-social and anti-establishment.
(c) Be objective and avoid Personal Language and make your writing formal (be impersonal)
Make your writing formal and impersonal by avoiding the use of personal language such as I, My, Our, me, myself and we. Use third person to show that you are objective. Compare these:
Wrong: In this essay, I am going to discuss the importance of ……
Correct: This essay discusses the importance of ………
Wrong: My research has shown that the people of Zambia are friendly.
Correct: This research has shown that the people of Zambia are friendly.
Wrong: what I can say about this is that …….
Correct: On this subject matter, it could be said that…..

Nobody is interested in your opinion but everybody wants to know what you have ready about a particular topic. Your reader will assume that any idea not referenced in your essay is your own. It is therefore unnecessary to make this explicit use of personal language. You should not say: “In my opinion, this study is very interesting.” You must say that “this is a very interesting study.” Do not use “you” to refer to the reader or people in general. For example, do not write “You can remember life struggles of the Zambian people during colonial era”. You must say or write: “It is easy to remember the life struggles of the Zambian people during colonial era”. This means that you must not utilize emotional language but be objective rather than subjective. Meaning state points in a neutral way by using impersonal subjects. For example, instead of saying;
“I believe that singing at night help reduce fear of the dark”, you should say “It is believed that singing at night help reduce fear of the dark” or you can say “It can be argued that singing at night help reduce fear of the dark”. Note that such points must be supported by evidence from your reading by quoting the authors correctly.
More examples of objective writing in academic essays or starting arguments in writing academic style include the following:
(i) The information provided by Debby (2014:23) clearly shows that …..
(ii) This is a point of departure…….
(iii) This is where the disagreements and controversies begin …
(iv) A common conclusion on this matter is that
(v) This is not a view shared by everyone, Sitwe (2015) for example, claims that …
(vi) It is important at this stage to consider …
(vii) Several possibilities emerge …
(viii) It can be imagined that …
(ix) It may be argued that …
(x) It is widely held that …
Furthermore, to show that the writer is objective, they use the following words: ‘It was resolved that …….’ “it was observed that…….”, “it was noted that …………..”, “it was thought …….”, and “the Act was signed”, all of these suggest some space between the writer and what was observed, noted, thought and signed.
(d) Avoid making sweeping statement or generalizations but be precise and accurate
You must ensure that the phrases and sentences you are making in your essays are based on facts with evidence well stated or supported. Use hedging or dodging language in your academic writing which is more neutral. Hedging language help create some distance between what you are writing and yourself as a writer so that you are cautious and neutral about what you are writing. To avoid over generalizations, you can use words such words as some, a few, others and so forth.

Academic writing also demand precision, you need to be precise when using information, dates or figures. For example, you must not say “many people believe that” or “a lot of people believe that” when you can say “200 people believe that”.

Accuracy on the other hand demand that you must choose the correct words when writing. For example, synonyms such as meeting, assembly, gathering and conference must be well utilised. Equally, words such as money, cash, currency, capital or funds must be accurately utilised.

(e) Structure your writing carefully
When writing, make short, clear and complete sentences. Organize your writing into paragraphs, use connecting words and phrases to make your writing explicitly and easy to follow. You must also check your grammar correctly. As a writer, you are also expected to use language in expressing you points carefully so that you conform academic writing style. For example, avoid expressing strong opinions too directly Academic writing is concerned with presenting your discussion in an objective way, so there is no need to assert your opinions too strongly and openly. For instance,
Do not say: Banda has an extremely important point to make because he…..
You should say: Banda’s view is significant because…… avoiding words such as very, really, quite and extremely.
Remember that when you are writing, your views are merely contributing to the wider knowledge so you should not be too assertive to the extent that whatever you present is correct. Because of this, writers tend to use hedge language. For instance;
Do not say: Banda’s view is very correct because ………
You should say: It appears Banda’s view is ……… or It could be said that Banda’s view….
Part of this information was extracted from http://www.library.dmu.ac.uk/Support/Heat/index.php?page=488
(f) Use evidence from your reading to support your cases and reference this correctly.
Good academic essays are supported by existing literature on a particular subject matter. Every major point cited must be supported by at least one scholar to qualify or support the point raised. This is what we call responsibility.

(g) Use passive verbs than active to avoid stating the doer
This is important and it is usually done with such sentences as “tests have been conducted on ——“. Other recommended verbs to use include imagine, suggest and claim. In addition, attitudinal signals such as apparently, arguably, ideally, strangely and unexpectedly. Note that all these words allows you to hint at your attitude about something without using personal language.
Do not say: In my essay I will discuss the role of the citizens in a country. (=active verb)
You could write: In this essay the role of the citizens in a country will be discussed. (=passive verb)
Do not say: I have divided the chapter into three sections.
You could say: The chapter is divided into three sections.
(h) Make use of Hedging language
When writing academic essays, you must make a decisions about your stance on a particular subject, or the strength of the claims you are making. This is done using what linguists call hedging. The following phrases on hedging are taken from
The language used in hedging for academic writing includes:
1. Introductory verbs: e.g. seem, tend, look like, appear to be, think, believe, doubt, be sure, indicate, suggest
2. Certain lexical verbs e.g. believe, assume, suggest
3. Certain modal verbs: e.g. will, must, would, may, might, could
4. Adverbs of frequency e.g. often, sometimes, usually
4. Modal adverbs e.g. certainly, definitely, clearly, probably, possibly, perhaps, conceivably,
5. Modal adjectives e.g. certain, definite, clear, probable, possible
6. Modal nouns e.g. assumption, possibility, probability
7. That clauses e.g. It could be the case that .
e.g. It might be suggested that .
e.g. There is every hope that .
8. To-clause + adjective e.g. It may be possible to obtain .
e.g. It is important to develop .
e.g. It is useful to study .
Hedging words and examples and examples are exemplified in the following phrases from the same site. Compare the following statements:
1. It may be said that the commitment to some of the social and economic concepts was less strong than it is now.
The commitment to some of the social and economic concepts was less strong than it is now.
2. The lives they chose may seem overly ascetic and self-denying to most women today.
The lives they chose seem overly ascetic and self-denying to most women today.
3. Weismann suggested that animals become old because, if they did not, there could be no successive replacement of individuals and hence no evolution.
Weismann proved that animals become old because, if they did not, there could be no successive replacement of individuals and hence no evolution.
4. Yet often it cannot have been the case that a recalcitrant trustee remained in possession of the property entrusted to him.
Yet a recalcitrant trustee did not remain in possession of the property entrusted to him.
5. Recent work on the religious demography of Northern Ireland indicates a separating out of protestant and catholic, with the catholic population drifting westwards and vice versa.
Recent work on the religious demography of Northern Ireland shows a separating out of protestant and catholic, with the catholic population drifting westwards and vice versa.
6. By analogy, it may be possible to walk from one point in hilly country to another by a path which is always level or uphill, and yet a straight line between the points would cross a valley.
By analogy, one can walk from one point in hilly country to another by a path which is always level or uphill, and yet a straight line between the points would cross a valley.
7. There are certainly cases where this would seem to have been the only possible method of transmission.
There are cases where this would have been the only possible method of transmission.
8. Nowadays the urinary symptoms seem to be of a lesser order.
Nowadays the urinary symptoms are of a lesser order.
The choice of these phrases and sentences depends on the level of surety in the claims.
4.3 Use of Grammatical words and Tenses
When writing academic essays, do not waste time by using words anyhow. Make sure that every word count. For example:
Avoid saying: A famous theorist scholar called Albert Bandura wrote a beautiful piece of work on social learning which offers valuable insights into this discussion…
You should say: Bandura (2003) offers valuable insights into …

This demand that every word you use must be of significance in that sentence and it is informative enough.

Words must also be used clearly and concisely so that the meaning that they carry in those context are simple and straight forward. This demand that huge words must be avoided by all means necessary. For instance;
Do not say: A corpulent lackadaisical unicorn.
You should say: A fat lazy admired girl.
Do not say: The denotation was obfuscated by the orator.
You should say: The meaning was hidden by the speaker.
As a writer, you must aim for the right word for the right occasion expressed in a manner that it would be easy to understand by your readers.
Furthermore, if you are reporting on past tense or present tense, you must be consistent with the tense you are using to inform your audience readers. For example;
(a) The Past Tense
If you are writing on something that happened in the past, you have to maintain the past tense so that you do not mix up ideas. For instance,
(i) The Second World War had devastating impact upon the society in the countries affected.
(ii) The group discussions were conducted with nine groups of parents in Muchinga Province.
(iii) By 9 hours AM on Monday, everyone had already reported for work.
(b) The Present Tense
If you are writing on something that is still happening now, you have to maintain the present tense unless you want to compare it with something in the past or future. For instance,
(i) Banda’s book emphasises that fighting for boys or girls is wasting time.
(ii) The deviance theory support the view that ……
(iii) His argument illustrates that…..
Remember that when talking about events that happened in the past, avoid phrases such as: ‘in the past’ or ‘in recent times’ this and this happened but focus on specific issues at hand so your writing does not become redundant.
You must also avoid generalizing phrases and certain grammatical aspects when used, you must ensure that your reader knows what you are referring to when you use words such as: it, them, and they. Words such as people and ideas have the potential to be vague. So, avoid saying: ‘according to many people’. Ensure that you explain which people or which ideas.
4.4 Conclusion
The most important things in academic writing is to keep your writing clear and concise and make sure that you get your ideas over in a comprehensible form. Do not use informal language but your sentences must be complete with ideas arranged in paragraphs and sections.

Adler, N. (1997) International Dimensions of Organizational Behaviour. 3rd ed.Ohio: South-Western College Publishing.
Heaton, J. B. (1975) Studying in English. London: Longman
Hefferman, James & John Lincoln (1986) Writing. New York: W.W. Norton & Co.
Sir Ernest Gowers says in his The Complete Plain Words.
Quick, Radolph & Sidney Greenbaum (1973) A University Grammar of English Essex: Longman
Sheal, P. (1981). Writing Skills Essex: Longman
Byrd, P. (1994). Writing grammar textbooks: Theory and practice. System, 22 (2), 245-255.

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Terms and Concepts frequently used to ask Academic Questions.

Reference as: Mkandawire, S. B. (2015). LTC1100 Terms and Concepts frequently used to ask Academic Questions. The University of Zambia, Lecture notes for week 1. Retrieved from https://sitwe.wordpress.com/2015/12/14/terms-and-concepts-frequently-used-to-ask-academic-questions/

There are many terms and concepts used to ask academic questions in assignments, tests and examinations. Answering these questions correctly and adequately demand that you understand the key words used in such questions. In this unit, we have explained or defined some of the key terms and concepts frequently used to ask assignment, test and examination questions. You must understand these terms very well as they are applied in all academic disciplines.
(a) Define
When you are asked to define you are expected to give the exact meaning of the topic and, in some cases, how it differs from others of its type. Sometimes you may have to examine different views advanced by different scholars.
(b) Describe
To describe is to tell what happened or what happens or what the topic is. You concentrate on the primary or most important features. State and say something about each of the features. For example their implications on the topic. Description is writing about the way persons, animals, or things appear. It may take various forms such as informative description, analytical/technical or evocative description.
An informative Description simply enables the reader to identify an object. An analytical or technical description enables the reader to understand the structure of an object. It involves describing the peculiar structure of something. An evocative description re-creates the impression made by an object. The words used should evoke both the visual effect of the object and the felling that its appearance excites. Evocative description can appeal not just to the eye but also to all the other senses. A good evocative description may include abstract terms but whatever else it does, an evocative description should always to one or more of the senses. Only then can it re-create the impression that a person or object makes.
(c) Illustrate/exemplify
When you illustrate, you give one or more examples of the topic relating to the topic. You can also draw or add a picture to help illustrate a particular issue at hand.
(d) Relate
To relate is to show how a topic has an effect on something else. You show the extent to which they are alike and the connections between two or more things.
(e) Correlate
Correlation involves establishing a relationship between things or showing that two things are related and that they exist side by side.
(f) State
To state is to present the issue at hand in brief and clear form the way it is designed or made.
(g) Trace
Tracing involves giving a series of important steps in the development of historical event or a process or any sequence of happening from some point of origin.
(h) Outline/survey
An outline gives main feature or a general picture or general principles of a subject, omitting minor detail.
(i) Specify
To specify is to identify, state, definitely or exactly the details or aspects of something.
(j) Indicate
To indicate is to show, identify or make something known and understood.
(k) List/enumerate
Listing or enumeration involves entering in a catalogue or inventory and stating in order of importance or least importance objects or things. It requires one to specify item by item in order of considered importance.
(l) Elucidate/clarify
To elucidate or clarify is to make clear, bring out the meaning, throw light on or explain something.
(m) Comparison
Comparison involves showing how two things are both alike and different. You outline the similarities and differences and reach a conclusion.
(n) Contrast
When you contrast two things or situations you show only the difference between things, set in opposition in order to bring out the differences.
(o) Distinguish or differentiate between
This involves bringing out the essential features of things or ideas which make each distinctive from the other.
(p) Agree/degree
This involves giving your opinion about a topic expressing either a positive or a negative opinion. Support your opinion with appropriate examples.
(q) Analyse
To analyse is to break down the topic into its parts and explain how the parts relate to each other and to the whole.
(r) Examine
To examine is to investigate, scrutinize and inquire into a subject, theory or statement with a view to establishing the truth or falsity of the subject, theory or statement.
(s) Asses
When you asses, you weigh up, measure, estimate, the value of the subject considering points for, as well as points against and reach a conclusion.
(t) Evaluate
Here you examine, find the worth, desirability, importance, accuracy, merits or validity of a statement, idea, argument or view.
(u) Discuss
When you discuss you examine or expound the various views held upon or the various factors to be considered or involved, have a conclusion as to which interpretation is the most valid in your opinion or which aspects are the most important, giving your reasons.
(v) Comment on
To comment on something is to make explanatory remarks or criticisms upon. Pick out the most important or interesting features, as you see them.

(w) Criticize
Here you break into parts (analyse), explain the meaning of (interpret) and give your opinion.
(x) Interpret
When you interpret you explain the meaning of a topic, giving facts to support your answer or your point of view.
(y) Justify
You give reasons why the topic or assertion is true. Respond to and refute the main objections likely to be made or advanced.
(z) Prove/disapprove
In proving or disproving you demonstrate the logical argument and/or evidence connected with a proposition. Prove requires the ‘pro’ (the points for) points while disapprove requires the ‘contra’ (the points against) points.
(aa) Narrate
Narration is like storytelling. It is the writing about a succession of events narration of events can be in Chronological Order or out of chronological order. Chronological order is the simplest kind of narration in which the events are narrated according to how they actually occurred or could have occurred. Events may also be narrated out of Chronological Order. According to Hefferman & Lincoln. (1986:86)

“a short narrative can often follow chronological order with good results. However they indicate that strict adherence to chronological order in an extended narrative can lead to a boring, meaningless string of “and then.” To clarify the meaning of a sequence of events, the writer may need to depart from chronological order, moving backward to explain the cause of a particular event or jumping forward to identify its ultimate effect.
(bb) Explain/account
To explain is to tell the main reasons why the topic or something happened. One of the simplest means of explaining anything is to give an example. You can sometime use an entire story to illustrate or exemplify a point. But examples can also be stated briefly. Explanations can take various forms. These include explanation using analogy, explanation by contrast and comparison, explanation by definition, explanation by analyzing, explanation of process, explanation of cause and effect. We provide below some brief details on each of these.

(i) Using Analogy to Explain
An analogy helps the reader to understand something vast, remote, abstract, or specialized by comparing it to something compact, familiar, concrete, or ordinary. However, you should beware of arguing by analogy, of assuming that because two things are alike in some respect they are also alike others.

(ii) Using Comparison and Contract to Explain
While an analogy involves two things of different kinds, such as an orange and the whole earth, comparison and contrast normally involve two things of the same kind two cities, two schools, two games and two means of transportation. An analogy brings out the similarities between two things that we normally think of as entirely different. But most of the time, writers use comparison and contrast to explain the differences between two things that we normally think of as similar, to explain what is distinctive about each of them.

(iii) Using Definition to Explain
A definition explains a word or phrase. Defining a word can take up an entire essay. But most definitions are brief, taking no more than a sentence. Definition comes in many different forms. According to Hefferman & Lincoln (1986:98-9) the least effective definition is dictionary. They suggest that instead of quoting the dictionary, one use one more of the methods listed below:
– Defining by synonyms. A synonym is a word or phrase that means approximately the same thing as the word you are defining.
Sickness means “illness.’
Large means “big.”
– Defining by comparison, contrast, or analogy. You can define a word by comparing, contrasting, or likening it to another word:
– Defining by function. If the word denotes a person or object, you can define it saying what the person or object does:
A botanist studies plants
A linguist studies languages
A thermometer is an instrument used to measure temperature
– Defining by analysis. You can define a word by naming the class of the person or thing it denotes and then giving one or more distinctive features:
e.g. A botanist is a person who specializes in the study of plants
A hippo is a mammal that lives in water.
– Defining by example. You can define a word by giving examples after naming the class of the person or thing it denotes:
– Defining by etymology. Etymology is the study of the roots of words. You can sometimes define a word by giving its root meaning and thus showing where it came from:
(iv) Explaining Cause and Effect
All situations provoke question about their causes and effects. For example one may be interested in finding out why parents do not send their girl children to school. From this one can develop an essay by considering the answer to a question of this kind. Or one can consider the effects of a situation or event. When you attempt to determine the cause of a situation or event, you often construct a hypothesis – that is, a possible explanation of why it happened. In writing, you can likewise construct a hypothesis to explain a situation or event.
2.3 How to Answer Questions
There are a few issues you need to consider when answering questions of whatever kind:
(a) You must first understand what the question requires you to do by reading through it two to three times. All questions are demanding specific issues which need to be addressed. The reason why many students get low marks in their assignments, tests and final examination is due to failure in understanding what the question requires them to do. When you understand the question, you provide correct and appropriate answers.
For you to understand the question, try to circle the main words or phrases in the question especially the main verb (understand what you are expected to do in the action verb/imperative) in the question and decide on the necessary rhetorical strategy for answering the question (cause-effect, comparison-contrast, definition, classification, problem-solution) and so forth.
(b) Establish exactly what type of answer the main verb demands. Is it a diagram, pictorial, analysis, evaluation or detailed summary?
(c) Plan your work and paragraph it properly. Then write a brief outline of all the points you want to mention in your answer.
(d) When answering academic questions, always relate answers to the question asked. You must also ensure that answers to the questions are according to general rules of academic writing such as use of indentations; begin each paragraph with a topic sentence; support the topic sentence(s) with reasons and/or examples; use transition words to show logical organization; write a conclusion. Use correct punctuation throughout.
(e) When you complete writing the essay, read over your answer again and check if all the main ideas have been included and if the question has been answered.
(f) You must also proof read your work to check your answer for grammar and punctuation and probably on whether or not you have brought out appropriate response to a question.

It should be noted that, answering questions adequately demands an understanding of various components discussed above.

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Introduction to Academic writing and Study Skills

Reference as: Mkandawire, S. B. (2015). LTC1100 Introduction to Academic writing and Study Skills, University of Zambia Lecture notes for week 2. Retrieved from https://sitwe.wordpress.com/2015/10/27/academic-writing-and-study-skills/

1.0 Introduction
This unit provide definitions of academic writing, Academic Literacy and study skills. The unit is important as it prepares us to appreciate that there are many definitions and ways of interpreting terms.
1.1 Unit Objectives
By the end of this unit, you should be able to:
(a) define academic writing, academic literacy and study skills
(b) explain the meaning of academic literacy
(c) describe characteristics of academic writing
(d) find different sources of data for academic writing
(e) understand the format of an academic essay

1.2 What is Academic writing?
Academic writing is any form of writing that university or college students and researchers are expected to utilize in a particular field using a specific referencing style. It is usually argumentative and expository, written in prose form, used to convey information on a particular subject matter. Academic writing is all about what the writer think about a subject matter and what evidence has contributed to that kind of thinking. Academic writing is also used in different documents such as essays, dissertations, thesis and various academic publications (books, research papers, journals and conference papers).

1.3 What is academic Literacy?
Academic literacy refer to the knowledge on how academic papers or discourses are structured, presented and produced. It is generally about knowing how to write academic works, which type of language to use and the style of presenting the material at hand. A person who is academically literate is able to understand and communicate in various ways using academic language. The concept of academic literacy is specific to academia. Icelda at Angalia Internet Solution lists the following aspects as key in academic literacy as published online at http://icelda.sun.ac.za/index.php/about-icelda/definition-of-academic-literacy. Academically literate person is one who is able to:
understand a range of academic vocabulary in context; interpret and use metaphor and idiom, and perceive connotation, word play and ambiguity; understand relations between different parts of a text, be aware of the logical development of (an academic) text, via introductions to conclusions, and know how to use language that serves to make the different parts of a text hang together; interpret different kinds of text type (genre), and show sensitivity for the meaning that they convey, and the audience that they are aimed at; interpret, use and produce information presented in graphic or visual format; make distinctions between essential and non-essential information, fact and opinion, propositions and arguments; distinguish between cause and effect, classify, categorize and handle data that make comparisons; see sequence and order, do simple numerical estimations and computations that are relevant to academic information, that allow comparisons to be made, and can be applied for the purposes of an argument; know what counts as evidence for an argument, extrapolate from information by making inferences, and apply the information or its implications to other cases than the one at hand; understand the communicative function of various ways of expression in academic language (such as defining, providing examples, arguing); and make meaning (e.g. of an academic text) beyond the level of the sentence.
An understanding and application of many of these aspects highlighted above is a typical feature of academic literacy.
1.4 Characteristics of Academic Writing
Academic writing is characterized by a number of text features. These features may vary in different types of works written in academic writing style. The following are some major characteristics of academic writing. Some of the features and characteristics discussed in this section are taken from Lennie (2010:15-16).
(a) Academic writing uses a formal language with short and clear sentences. This means that there are certain words which must be avoided in academic essays. Avoidable words or phrases may include figures of speech, idioms, technical words and others. You do not use slang words, jargon, abbreviations, or many clichés in academic writing.

(b) The nature of writing in academic works is generally argumentative and expository mainly presenting the authors opinions about a particular subject matter and the evidence presented that made the write to think that way.
(c) An academic writing follows a specific referencing style used in a particular work such as American Psychological Association (APA) referencing style and Modern Language Association (MLA) referencing style both in-text and the way the publications such as books are referenced at the end. This means academic writing must document all its sources of data both inside the essay and at the end.
(d) Academic writing apply good reasoning and logic. Deductive reasoning is a big part of academic writing as your readers have to follow the path that brought you to your conclusion. One form of reasoning is based on another or certain observations. For example, if you have two situations involving John and Andrew; where john used to smoke heavily and died of cancer. And Andrew used to smoke a little but also died of cancer. Then the writer decide to generalize that ‘people who smoke die of cancer’. This generalization is logically true based on the two cases cited above but might be misleading in other circumstances which lead us to the next feature of academic writing.
(e) Academic writing must have enough evidential support to convince others for any line of thought or idea presented. Lennie (2010:15) notes that:
Support in academic writing takes the following forms: (a) The primary source for support in the critical essay is from the text (or sources quoted). The text is the authority, so using quotations is required. ( b) The continuous movement of logic in a critical essay is “assert then support; assert then support.” No assertion (general statement that needs proving) should be left without specific support (often from the text(s)). (c) You need enough support to be convincing. In general, that means for each assertion you need at least three supports. This threshold can vary, but invariably one support is not enough.

This evidential support may be quotes from authorities (writers of books, articles and other publications). Evidential support must have at least three sources or views from different authorities or cases. The example cited in (d) where the two smoking people died of cancer that led to a generalization that ‘people who smoke die of cancer’ may be ruled out if another person provide more than two cases with different results. If Sarah, Kennedy and Yona used to smoke heavily but did not die of cancer, it means that the generalization that ‘people who smoke die of cancer’ will not be logically true because there are other people who smoked heavily but did not died of cancer. Implying that there could be other causes of cancer other than smoking.
(f) Academic essays are well organized when written. Well organized because all academic essays must have “clear introduction, body, and conclusion. As you support your point in the body of the essay, you should “divide up the proof,” which means structuring the body around clear primary supports (developed in single paragraphs for short papers or multiple paragraphs for longer papers)”, Lennie (2010:15).
(g) Lennie (2010:16) further gives another feature that academic writing must have “Grammatical correctness meaning that, your essay should have few if any grammatical problems”. Generally whenever the author moves from one main point (primary support) to the next, the author needs to clearly signal to the reader that this movement is happening. This transition sentence works best when it links back to the thesis as it states the topic of that paragraph or section.
(h) Academic writing usually have unit of purpose. The title of the subject matter is maintained in the essay with each idea well developed and exhausted. There is coherence in the way information flow.
(i) The language also need to clear, impersonal and words need to be chosen for their precision. A thesaurus is a good tool to help you pick just the right words to explain the issues.
(j) The Point-of-view in academic writing is generally third person, as the focus of academic writing is to educate on the facts, not support an opinion.

1.5 What are study skills?
Study skills refer to a series of activities which help an individual to take and organize the new information for easy remembering and retaining it for future usage. This helps an individual student on learning how to become an effective learner and how to manage their own learning. Study skills also include your personal organization, planning, study times and how you manage different aspects when studying. In other ways, any skill which help boost a person’s ability to study and eventually pass exams can be termed a study skill. The following are common study skills applied in different disciplines:
1.5.1 Personal organization and management of studies.
This skill focusses on the following issues:
(a) Create your own study area and develop your own approach to studying.
As a student, you must create a study a good study area such as a library. Some students use bed rooms, dome rooms with doors open, dining halls, TV rooms, bars and others go to the library, others use other places such as common room, surrounding bush, kitchen, on the bus and other places. Be aware that some of these places are not conducive as they may disturb your focus e.g tv rooms, common rooms as they condition you to do something else.

Developing personal approach means that you must know when you think you can focus and study in a day. This will help you realize what works for you what does not really work. This entails that you must get organized right from the start. No one knows you more than you do.

(b) Study time. Effective study time takes between 25 to 40 minutes after this take a five to eight minutes break. If you planned to study for three hours, break your study time into chunks of sessions and take three to four breaks of not more than ten minutes by doing something else that you enjoy such as listening to music, taking a walk, checking the environment and others. This is an important factor because a good student must have a good and flexible time table to study which must be respected. Have specific time when to study specific subject areas. In line with point (a) above, remember that what may work for one person, may not for you. For instance, let’s say someone like studying every afternoon at 4pm, this may be convenient or the time that works for them but it may not work for another one who may be studying at 20;00 hours or at 04:00hours.

(c) Study actively and know what you are studying. Before you start studying, you must clearly understand by asking yourself what you are studying. Learning falls into two categories: Its either Concepts or Facts. Concepts are things associated with behaviour and you have questions such as what does this do and how is it done and these is are very important to remember. Facts are about how things are and these can change over time but concepts does not change easily. To understand concepts, you need to try to explain them on your own by writing it down on paper or speaking through it. As you are studding, highlight important concepts and make sure you must understand them. Another way is writing these concepts on separate papers like a collection or summary of key facts on one sheet. This is what we call data condensation study skill.

(d) Take and make effective notes
Note taking is from an oral source to written form such a lecture, speech and a church session while note making is done from a written material to written form. In both you need to take and make effective notes by focusing on key points only that are important. These can be written on a separate sheet or book so that as you revise later, you mainly focus on key issues noted. Both note taking and note making can use abbreviations, shot cuts and written in bullet form. If you are not clear on anything, you must ask your friends who took good notes and share at that level. If you cannot get from your friends either, you can ask your lecturer in the next lecture before starting another topic or whenever you are given a chance to ask questions.

(e) Use the text books you read correctly.
Sources of data for many college students include lecture notes, text books, modules, internet,
(f) Know where to get data to expand your notes.
Sources of data for many college students include lecture notes, text books, modules, internet, magazines, journals, articles and many other sources. For certain topics, you should not rely on one source of data only as it may be misleading sometimes.

1.5.2 How to retain or remember what you study.
There are many ways people use to remember what they study. These include the following:

(a) Memorization study skill.
Memorization is a deliberate mental process undertaken to compel some data or anything else to go into your memory. It also refer to the saving or putting of data on a memory device such flash disk, CD and external drive. This is done so that you can store or keep information in memory for later remembering. Study activities that facilitate memorization include reading notes many times, verbal rehearsing, drawing diagrams or pictures or map to help remember, writing something down and talking about it to someone, rote learning and other visual or auditory activities. The type of information to remember may be stories, facts, experiences, names, appointments, addresses, telephone numbers, lists, poems, pictures, maps, diagrams, facts, music and many other things. Rote learning means you are repeating the same information several times. This include reading over notes or a textbook, and re-writing notes several time to retain them.

(b) Mnemonic Study skill.
This method is actively used to organize and store factual information for later recall. There are three forms of mnemonics categorized as follows:
(i) Acronyms such as ZESCO for remembering Zambian Electricity Supply Company. Roygbiv for remembering colors of the rain ball as shown in the figure below.

Source: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/452330356293635839/

(ii) Coined Sayings such as For example, if you wanted to remember the nine planets, you construct a sentence in your real life to represent the planets such as MY VERY EARLIEST MOTHER JUST SEND US NINE POTATES. Equally, if you wanted to remember to the geographical compass, you would say NEVER EAT SOUR WHEAT or NEED EVERY SUPER WOMAN. Starting with Mercury or North in the two examples given above, the first letter of each word relates to a planets and compass point respectively and in clockwise order round a compass in the second example.
(iii) Create drawings that you think can help you remember. Any drawing created is associated to things you know or those you can easily relate to in daily life. For example, if you wanted to remember which months of the year end in 31 days and which ones end in 30 days, you can draw this image below commonly known as the Knuckle Mnemonic.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thirty_days_hath_September

Another example is if you wanted to remember the ten commandments in the bible, you would use this drawing below.


Mnemonics therefore may be acronyms, symbols, routes, objects, drawings or anything that you do every day that is used to remember some data. It is done by allocating some factual information to specific points of issues that is usually done.

(c) Data Condensing Study Skill
Data condensing is a study skill where you summarize key information in your own language which you can recall later. The way you summarize depends on the nature of the topic, but most involve condensing the large amount of information from a course or book into shorter notes. Often these notes are then condensed further into key concepts and facts. Activities used to condense information include drawing some structure such as spider diagrams, mind maps, a house, a tree and an animal with key words to help you remember the frame of the data.

Another way of summarising what you learn is try to explain in summary form what you learnt to your friend who was not there in class. This will help you master the content discussed and this will help you teach your brain to recall what you learnt. If you can explain without a book to show your understanding the same day after the lecture is better. If you explain it to someone who has no idea about the subject, it shows you fully understand the subject matter. Data condensation may be done by taking notes or making them from the reading materials.

(d) Audio Comprehension Study Skill
This involves reading and listening skills. A student may decide to play notes on soft copy into the computer or any other gadgets to read notes or a book for them and they are there listening and taking note of key information. The reading can equally be done by someone else siting in the same room or probably discuss what has been ready with others. When the reading is repeated frequently, information automatically goes to the mind. This method is heavily used by visually impaired students in different parts of the world.

(e) Examination study skill (The PQRST study method)
This study skill focusses on getting key information when studying and visualizing how examiners will ask them to use that information. This method prioritizes the information in a way that relates directly to how they will be asked to use that information in an exam, (Stangl and Robinson, 1970). PQRST is an acronym for Preview, Question, Read, Summary, Test which has been summarized in the following manner by Stangl and Robinson (1970).
(i) Preview: The student looks at the topic to be learned by glancing over the major headings or the points in the syllabus.
(ii) Question: The student formulates questions to be answered following a thorough examination of the topic(s).
(iii) Read: The student reads through the related material, focusing on the information that best relates to the questions formulated earlier.
(iv) Summary: The student summarizes the topic, bringing his or her own understanding into the process. This may include written notes, spider diagrams, flow diagrams, labeled diagrams, mnemonics, or even voice recordings.
(v) Test: The student answers the questions drafted earlier, avoiding adding any questions that might distract or change the subject.
The examination study skill is also called ‘The Black-Red-Green method’ (developed through the Royal Literary Fund) to help the student to ensure that every aspect of the question posed has been considered, both in exams and essays by the Royal Literary Fund. The student underlines relevant parts of the question using three separate colors (or some equivalent). BLAck denotes ‘BLAtant instructions’, i.e. something that clearly must be done; a directive or obvious instruction. REd is a REference Point or REquired input of some kind, usually to do with definitions, terms, cited authors, theory, etc. (either explicitly referred to or strongly implied). GREen denotes GREmlins, which are subtle signals one might easily miss, or a ‘GREEN Light’ that gives a hint on how to proceed, or where to place the emphasis in answers, (Rwehumbiza, 2013). .

The examination method is also similar to the P.E.E method. The PEE letters stand for Point, evidence and explain. This method is said to help students break down exam questions allowing them to maximize their marks/grade during the exam. They study with many different examination questions in mind and many Schools encourage practicing the P.E.E method prior to an exam. Using the PEE method, students study with all possible questions on a particular topic, (Rwehumbiza, 2013).
(f) The Cue Study Skill
The cue study skill is all about the student creating visual cue cards or flashcards where they write summarized key information on a small piece of paper to remind them, which they easily carry or move around with for revision. Many times, sstudents make their own flash cards, or more detailed index cards designed for filing, often A5 size, on which short summaries are written.

(g) The Loci and Visual Imagery Study skill
This method demand that students present whatever information they are studying in a real visual physical environment. This can be a drawing somewhere or visualize any locus location such as a room or a certain root they like. They assign certain information to certain locations in a room or a root to they like so that it is easy to remember. Many students use diagrams to bring all the information they want together. They can be used to bring all the information together and provide practice reorganizing what has been learned in order to produce something practical and useful. They can also aid the recall of information learned very quickly, particularly if the student made the diagram while studying the information. Pictures can then be transferred to flash cards that are very effective last minute revision tools rather than rereading any written material.
1.7 Format of an academic essay
Most academic essays have the information page, an introduction, main body, conclusion and references or bibliography at the end. Brief details on each of these phases are given below with examples where necessary.

1.7.1 Information page
An information page is the first sheet of paper that your lecturers or markers see before they go into the actual essay. This page contain names of the institution where the student is based, information about the student including names and institutional identification number, course code or details of the course in which the assignment is sort. Names of your lecturers or professors and assistant lecturers or tutors are also reflected on the first page. The date when the essay question was given and the due date are all reflected on the information. The question you are expected to answer and your contact details are also expected to be found on the information page. This page is commonly called the cover page.

1.7.2 Introduction
Introduction as the name suggests, is a starter or an opening point into answering the essay question. It gives readers an overview or rough guide of what the essay intends to focus on, how you as a write plans to proceed in answering the question given. Note that there are different styles of introducing you essay. For instance, if you are given an assignment question such as “Discuss the view that literacy and language are inseparable”. Look at how the following students introduced their essays to the question.

Student 1
The aim of this essay is to discuss the assertion that literacy and language are inseparable. The essay starts with this brief introduction, then proceeds to the main body where the discussion of the subject matter will take place before a concise conclusion is given at the end.

Student 2
It is impossible to conceive of literacy without implying the existence of language as the two are inseparable. These terms are many times intertwined as they both focus on the welfare of the child as he or she grows. This essay attempts to discuss the view that literacy and language are inseparable. It will begin by defining key terms in the question and then discuss in the essay which will end with conclusion and proper references.

Student 3
This assignment is going to talk about literacy and language. The answers will see if literacy is related to the language and then discuss them.

Note that the three students above have different ways of starting their essays. Student 1 has outlined almost all the parts he will have in the essay and left out references. Student two started the essay with an opinion supporting the question and then highlighted what readers expect to find in the essay. The third student has incomplete introduction with unorganized structures in the text.

Remember that your introduction must attract the reader’s attention. It must be interesting enough to entice the reader to read more of your paper and it should tell the reader what the paper will focus on.
One literary trick is to open your paper with an attention grabber (Jacobs, 2015). She further noted that some common devices used to provide the attention grabber are:

(a) Provide surprising information
Surprising information must be fact-based and backed by scholarly evidence. It is a hook or attention grabber. Providing startling information in your introduction could be pulling a few surprising or powerful facts or statistics from your research and then tying them into why you are writing the paper and why the reader should keep reading.

(b) Tell an anecdote (story)
An anecdote is a short and focused story about your topic. Stories make an interesting opening for a paper and serve to get the reader’s attention.

(c) Create a dialog
A dialog can be a simple exchange between characters on your topic. Provide summary information. Creating an introduction that provides a general summary of your topic in an interesting manner.

(d) Open with a quote
Open your paper with an interesting quote that you tie to your topic. Interesting quotes are based on the subject matter or topic you expected to write on in your essay. This usually come from scholars that have written materials such as books, articles and magazines.

(e) Ask a compelling question of the reader
Ask a question of the reader that is designed to peak their interest and make them want to learn more about your topic in order to answer the question for themselves.

(f) Finish the introduction paragraph with your thesis statement.
This way, you have an attention grabber to “hook” the reader and this leads naturally into your thesis statement which is the main point of your paper.

1.7.3 Main Body
This is where you are expected to answer the question and your focus here should be on answering the question given. Do not be overtaken by the information you find on internet, books, articles journals or any other sources that looks similar to what the question demands.
The main body of the essay is where you are expected to build up your essay with respect to the topic and your planed essay layout points. The main body is divided into paragraphs and each paragraph needs to have a topic sentence that identifies what part of your argument the paragraph will support. In general, each paragraph should be at least three sentences. If your paragraph gets too long, re-read it and see if you can break it into two paragraphs, (Jacobs, 2015).
1.7.4 Conclusion
Conclusion is the summary of your argument or of the main points raised in your essay. It is the section where the writer highlights the key issues discussed in the essay in a special way. As a writer, you are also expected to state your opinion or stance on the topic given.
1.7.5 References
When you have completed writing your essay, you need to compile a list of references consulted in your essay. References are materials referred to in your essay and it is written using different styles. You need to consult your Lecturers which referencing style they need for the course. If they have not specified, you can use any one you know. In Zambia, many institutions prefer the APA referencing system as compared to MLA, Chicago or Harvard.
1.8 Academic Sources of Data
In the University or College, when researching an assignment topic for academic purposes, acknowledging sources of data is very important. An essay with sources carry more weight and authority, and are likely to be more convincing because academic sources are authoritative in nature as they help in identifying the qualifications and expertise of the writer. Writers are careful to credit the origins of information and ideas, usually by means of a reference list or bibliography.

The aim of academic sources is to examine a topic fairly. This does not mean that they never take a side, but that the source does not ignore alternative positions on the topic. Many times, academic sources target university lecturers, students, and professionals interested in the theoretical side of a topic.

1.8.1 Types of academic sources
The most common forms of academic source of data are:
Journal articles
Published reports

Sources such as newspaper articles, magazine articles, opinion pieces, and websites are not commonly academic, although there are some exceptions. Many journal articles and reports can be found online, for example. Academic journals are very different from popular magazines, although they bear several similarities. Do not quote any material you find on the street but you need to check who the writer is before utilizing the source. Academic authors are likely to come from a universities or institutes, and academic writing is often published by a university press or a recognized publisher.

1.8.2 Primary, secondary and Tertiary sources
The sources of data for academic writing can be divided into three types, depending on their proximity to the subject of study namely: primary, secondary and tertiary sources.
(a) Primary Sources
On the first hill, Primary sources refer to first hand data with original and direct evidence. These are sources where the researcher or someone has personal experience of something. The examples of primary sources are observation, interviews data, raw data from an experiment, demographic records, works of fiction, diaries, official documents, such as census data and legal texts, objects, such as archaeological findings, numeric data and quantities or corpora.

(b) Secondary Sources
On the second hill, Secondary sources get their data from primary sources and this type of data usually values, discuss or comment on primary sources or its equivalent. They use the data or evidence from primary sources to construct an argument. Secondary sources of data include, biographies, monographs, books or research articles that analyses, critique, or synthesize a range of sources.

(c) Tertiary Sources
Tertiary sources refer to data that summarises or compiles facts and knowledges materials produced by someone else. Tertiary sources many times combine both primary and secondary sources. They are convenient for quick access to summarised facts, but not all sources that belong to this category are considered suitable for scholarly writing. For instance, it is usually not acceptable to use compilations of facts instead of reading the original sources. Therefore, students writing essays are recommended to consult their teachers on the suitability of using tertiary sources in their writing. Sources that would be regarded as tertiary sources include: textbooks, study guides, encyclopaedias and wikis’ indexes and other classification systems
Primary sources are more useful and trusted as they provide a clear first-hand information, but secondary sources have the added benefit of expert analysis and context. Tertiary sources may even be more helpful as they have third hard analysis. All the three sources are important and they differ or emphasized in certain types of writing. Your university assignments are mostly expected to use secondary sources and tertiary sources of data. It is also important to note that the distinction among primary, secondary and tertiary sources is not a fixed one. For instance, in an analysis of an encyclopaedic article, that text would be regarded as a primary source, and in a review of a scholarly monograph, the text under scrutiny would be seen as a primary source, although it would be used as secondary source material under other circumstances.
1.9 Conclusion
This unit defined academic writing on one hand as a form of writing that university or college students and researchers are expected to utilize in a particular field using a specific referencing style. On the other hand, Academic literacy referred to the knowledge on how academic papers or discourses are structured, presented and produced. Study skills looks a series of activities which help an individual to take and organize the new information for easy remembering and retaining it for future usage. The unit also discussed a number of study skills and characteristics of academic writing to help new students cope with university academic life.

1.10 Revision questions
1. Explain the difference between academic writing and academic literacy.
2. Define study skills.
3. Explain the different ways a student can use to study.
4. What are the characteristics of academic writing?

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Buckley, J. (1991). Fit to Print. Toronto: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.

Deese, J. and Ellin K. D. (1969). How to Study. New York: McGraw-Hill Book

Bremer, Rod. The Manual – A guide to the Ultimate Study Method (USM).
(Amazon Digital Services)

Jacobs, C. (2015). An introduction, body and conclusion. Available at
http://www.sophia.org/tutorials/paper-writing-introductionbodyconclusion (Accessed on 4th August 2015)

Jerold, A. W. (1982). Study Skills for Adults Returning to School. New York:
McGraw-Hill Book Company.

Lennie, L. I. (2010). What Is “Academic” Writing? Available at Writing Spaces:
http://writingspaces.org/essays, Parlor Press:
http://parlorpress.com/writingspaces and WAC Clearinghouse:

Royal Literary Fund: Mission Possible: the Study Skills available at http://www.rlf.org.uk/fellowshipscheme/writing/mission_possible.cfm
Rwehumbiza, R. (2013). Understanding Examination Techniques and Effective
study Strategies. Dar-es-salaam: Mikumi.
Stangl, W., Robinson, F. P. (1970). Effective study. New York: Harper &
Row. “The PQRST Method of Studying”. stangl-taller.at.
Retrieved 2009-02-01.

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