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“What Do You Mean, ‘Use My Own Words?’” A Case Study Examining Paraphrasing Difficulties Experienced by International Students

Ann Y Bouma, University of Nebraska - Lincoln

Abstract

The ability to use citations correctly becomes an essential skill that needs to be learned by all students, American or international, enrolling in an institution of higher learning in the United States. The difficulties that student writers, particularly second-language writers, experience with source use in academic writing have been widely documented, particularly in relation to issues of plagiarism, patchwriting, and an overreliance on using quotations in their writing (Campbell, 1999; Howard, 1995; Pennycook, 1996; Shi, 2004, 2010). This case study discusses three international students’ experiences in learning to use source work and their paraphrasing attempts. The findings indicate how reading comprehension impacts the ability to paraphrase without plagiarizing and the students’ reluctance to read source articles in a language that is not their primary language. It outlines the students’ thoughts about the paraphrasing process and connects their paraphrasing ability with their reading comprehension scores. Finally, it discusses what skills from classroom instruction are and are not transferred to the students’ writing. The students became familiar with the need for citations and remembered to use citations in their work. They were able to change key works in the paraphrases but were less successful with changing the sentence structure. The meaning was lost or obscured when a complete understanding of the original source was not present. These results carry important implications for the teaching of academic research writing to international students as they represent new information on the role and impact of teaching reading comprehension strategies as well as source work when instruction into paraphrasing is completed.

Subject Area

Curriculum development|English as a Second Language|Higher education

Recommended Citation

Bouma, Ann Y, "“What Do You Mean, ‘Use My Own Words?’” A Case Study Examining Paraphrasing Difficulties Experienced by International Students" (2020). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI28259940.
https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/dissertations/AAI28259940

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