ASCI Online Academic Writing Seminar By R. Paul Lege
On the weekend of July 29th and 30th of 2023, The Asian Satellite Campuses Institute (ASCI) sponsored a program-wide series of online academic writing seminars for all students regardless of their discipline. Professor Lege, who is situated in the Graduate School of Law and has been teaching academic writing for over twenty years, conducted the seminars over these two days. About twenty-five students from eight different countries attended these seminars including persons from Cambodia, Kazakhstan, Laos, Mongolia, Myanmar, Philippines, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam.
This two-day event was the first of its kind of online program developed through ASCI sponsorship because it covered a specific area of need for all the students in the program that was delivered synchronously (though in several sessions). The seminars covered some of the basic concepts of the area of academic writing. To accommodate the different time zones and facilitate an interactive type of seminar, Professor Lege offered and designed one lesson for 2 sessions or periods per day. The idea was to keep classes small so that more interaction and discussion could occur within such a learning platform.
On Saturday, July 29, the two sessions covered four main topics. The first was an introduction that looked at some of the misconceptions regarding academic writing. The second topic highlighted some of the basics of form (grammar and punctuation). The third topic described some of the points related to structuring and organizing such writing to enhance meaning. The fourth topic elaborated on some of the key elements found in thesis or dissertational work such as the abstract, research questions, and thesis statement. The seminars included some interactive activities to illustrate the point of each topic, and students were allotted time to ask questions at the end of the session.
On Sunday, July 30, the two sessions also included four main topics. The first topic covered some of the concerns related to plagiarism and students had an opportunity to evaluate some cases related to this problem. The second topic discussed the importance of how audience and purpose relate to the type of discourse that such research writing will take. The third topic explained the relevancy of neutrality and how each field handles this issue. The fourth topic examined the concept of formality and included an exercise on the usage of the active and passive voice in order to illustrate the usage of each form. This session also included a question-and-answer period.
Professor Lege recorded the four sessions (2 seminars) and sent them to all the students who attended so that they may have the opportunity to review the material and provide feedback. In general, feedback was very positive and several students noted that they wished for more such learning opportunities. Ideally, such seminars are useful as an introduction and orientation into some of the basics of academic writing and hopefully, this will continue in the future. However, such lectures will probably need to be expanded to cover the needs of each student as they work through more specific guidelines for research writing in their respective field. Overall, this was a very delightful seminar and hopefully was useful to all those who attended.