College students’ knowledge about writing a seminar paper

Submitted by: Irit Haskel-Shaham
Abstract: There is only one good, knowledge and one evil, ignorance - Socrates(1)

The seminar course taught in all academic institutions of higher education in Israel is the pinnacle of the bachelor's degree studies in which academic writing plays an essential role. Writing a seminar paper is a major challenge for many students. It requires coordinating several cognitive abilities and strategies. One important component, without which writing cannot be performed, is the knowledge stored in Long Term Memory [LTM] (Eyal, 2007; Hayes, 1996). Two main kinds of knowledge are necessary: Declarative Knowledge– knowing that - consists of linguistic, pragmatic, discourse, and sociocultural knowledge, such as knowledge on the subject and on the addressees. (Baggetun & Wasson, 2006; Hayes, 1996). Procedural Knowledge – knowing how – refers to the use of language in variant circumstances properly in order to accomplish assignments successfully. Researches show that metacognitive knowledge and writing successful products are positively related (Haskel-Shaham, 2011; Schoonen & de Glopper, 1996; van Drie, Janssen, & Groenendijk, 2018).
Our aim in the current on-going research is to analyze the quality and the quantity of the different kinds of knowledge that students have on writing a seminar paper, and to investigate the development of this knowledge after two semesters. In order to examine the nature of this knowledge, we asked students to write a letter of advice to their colleagues who are about to write a seminar paper in order to lead them towards a good and successful product (adopted from: Schoonen & de Glopper, 1996).
We use a qualitative research tool: content analysis. We consolidated a coding scheme that emerged from the students’ advice. All letters of advice were analyzed and categorized by the researcher and colleagues. In my presentation I will elaborate on the process of the analysis and on the results.
The importance of this research is that it aims to shed light on one of the most important components in the writing process. By being aware of it and by fostering it, we might help our students to accomplish the challenge of writing a well-designed seminar paper.

(1) Socrates as quoted in Diogenes Laertius' Lives of Eminent Philosophers

Keywords: Academic Writing, knowledge about Writing, Writing Process and Products.

Baggetun, R., & Wasson, B. (2006). Self-regulated learning and open writing. European Journal of Education, 41, 453–472.
Eyal, N. (2007). The wonders of the memory and the deceits of forgetfulness. Tel-Aviv: Arye Nir. Pub. House. Retrieved from: [in Hebrew]

Haskel-Shaham, I. (2011). Writing Assessment Model as a Writing Generator - Thesis submitted for the degree of “Doctor of Philosophy”. Submitted to the Senate of the Hebrew University. [in Hebrew]

Hayes, J. R. (1996). A new framework for understanding cognition and affect in writing. In C. M. Levy, & S. Ransdell (Eds.), The science of writing. Theories, methods, individual differences and applications (pp. 1- 27). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Schoonen, R. & de Glopper, K. (1996). Writing performance and knowledge about writing. In: Rajlaarsdam, G.; Couzijn, M. & Van den Berg, H. Effective teaching and learning to writing. Amsterdam. U. Press. PMid:8599961

Van Drie, J., Janssen, T. & Groenendijk, T (2018). Effects of writing instruction on adolescents’ knowledge of writing and text quality in history. Contribution to a special issue in honor of Gert Rijlaarsdam making Connections: Studies of Language and Literature Education. L1- Educational Studies in Language and Literature, 18, pp. 1-28. 2018.18.03.08