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Course syllabus Academic Skills 2017-2018

In this document you can read more about:

- General course information
- Content of the course
- Learning objectives of the course
- Course material
- Examination
- Setup of the course
- Using Blackboard
- When and how to contact the teachers
- Course schedule
- Appendix A: beginners guide on writing a research proposal

General course information

Course coordinator: Dr. M. Hoetjes, office E4.09
- Group 1: Dr. M. Hoetjes Wednesday,, E1.19 (m.hoetjes@let.ru.nl)
- Group 2: Dr. K.van Krieken Wednesday, 8.45-10.30, E2.03 (k.vankrieken@let.ru.nl)
- Group 3: Dr. H. Kunert Wednesday, 15.45-17.30, E2.11 (email: TBA)
- Group 4: Drs. W. Nejjari Tuesday, 13.45-15.30, E1.10 (w.nejjari@let.ru.nl)
- Group 5: Dr. F. Kunneman Monday, 13.45-15.30, E2.03 (f.kunneman@let.ru.nl)
- Group 6: Dr. F. Kunneman Tuesday, 15.45-17.30, E3.24 (f.kunneman@let.ru.nl)
- Group 7: Dr. B. Hendriks Monday, 15.45-17.30, E2.11 (b.hendriks@let.ru.nl);

- Part of the first year curriculum of the IBC bachelor

- Course load: 5 ECTS (140 hours)
- When: 11 September 2017 - 21 December 2017
- Examination: two portfolios and two assignments, each with their own deadline.
- Course load:
Total course load: 140 hours (5 ECTS)
Classes: 26 hours (13 X 2 hours)
Portfolio: 5 hours each
Assignment: 15 hours each
Homework: 5 hours per week

Content of the course
Academic skills are an essential part of academia in general, and your studies in particular. In
order to be successful in your studies, you need to acquire practical skills that enable you to
take part in all aspects of academic life, such as critical thinking and reading, academic
writing, presenting, and discussing various topics in the field of International Business
Communication. In this course you will be introduced to all of these aspects. A large part of
the course will be practical, with many exercises, which have to be done either in class or as
homework. At the end of the course, you should not only have insight in your own reading
and writing process, but also be able to write a short research proposal in grammatically and
stylistically correct academic English.

Learning objectives
At the end of part 1 of the course the student can:
Name, interpret, explain, and display the following skills in the area of academic writing
regarding academic texts: critically process sources, reference, paraphrase, cite, apply inner
and outer structure, use an academic style and appropriate language, and critically reflect on
academic texts;
Find and select relevant sources about a theme in the field of communication and information

At the end of part 2 of the course the student can:

Argumentatively apply this knowledge when crafting academic texts according to the phases
in the writing process;
Interpret, and process these sources, with a critical perspective, into a coherent introduction to
a research proposal in such a way that a research question or hypothesis can be deduced;
Write such a text according to the guidelines for scientific language use and APA source
Course material
American Psychological Association (2010). Publication manual of the American
psychological association (6th edition). Washington, DC: American Psychological

Van Loon, J., Thuss, A., Schmidt, N., Haines. K. (2011). Academic writing in English: A
process-based approach. Bussum: Coutinho

1. 2 portfolios: one after each period. The portfolios are graded as sufficient or
insufficient. Both portfolios need to be sufficient in order to be able to pass the
course. If a portfolio is insufficient, you need to take a resit.
2. 2 assignments: one after each period. Assignment 1 contributes to 40% of the
final grade, assignment 2 contributes to 60% of the final grade.
Each partial grade needs to be at least 5.5. When a partial grade is lower than
5.5, this part of the examination must be retaken. The final grade needs to be at
least 5.5 or higher.
If you have to take a resit for one of the assignments, the highest grade you can
get for this assignment is a 6. This is a standard rule for resits of papers and

N.B. Each portfolio and assignment needs to include a statement of own work (see

Portfolio 1: portfolio one contains all exercises done during the lectures and all the homework
exercises, all in preparation of actual scientific writing.

Assignment 1: The first assignment consists of a summary (600-800 words) of a scientific

article of your choice. In this summary, you show the reader that you understand the content
and the structure of the article. You do this using appropriate formal language, and using
correct APA referencing.
N.B. You need to email your teacher before session 6 and inform him/her which article you
want to use for this assignment. Your article needs to be approved by your teacher before you
can hand in assignment 1.

Portfolio 2: portfolio two contains all exercises done during the lectures and all the homework
exercises, including your writing plan, your research proposal before it was given peer
feedback, and the peer feedback you were given.

Assignment 2: The second assignment consists of a research proposal.

The research proposal (600-800 words):
sets the context for your proposed project and must capture the reader's interest;

explains the background of your study starting from a broad picture narrowing in on
your research question;
reviews what is known about your research topic as far as it is relevant to your thesis;
should be at a level that makes it easy to understand for readers with a general
academic background, for example your classmates.
uses at least 3 academic sources (one of which can be the source used for assignment
1), and refers to these sources according to the APA guidelines (using Endnote).

In appendix A you can find a beginners guide on writing a research proposal. You will see
that this guide is very similar to the guide in the Language and Communication course, for
which you also need to write a research proposal. Please note that the research proposal for
the Academic Skills course needs to be a different research proposal than for the Language
and Communication course.

Deadlines: Portfolio 1, assignment 1: Monday October 30, 12 AM (=noon) (resit January

15, 12 AM); Portfolio 2, assignment 2: Monday January 15 2018, 12 AM (resit Monday
March 26, 2018, 12 AM)

Your work needs to be handed in in two ways: through the Turnitin link on Blackboard, and
on paper in your teachers pigeon hole. Make sure that your work adheres to the IBC rules
and regulations for written work (discussed in the first session).

Please note that as a service to you, we will also offer a voluntary, but highly recommended
test of academic English. This test will give you an idea of your level of academic English. If
you score low on this test, some (free) remedial teaching will be available. The test will take
place at the beginning of period 2.

Setup of the course

This course consists of 13 weeks of 2-hour practical seminars (2 x 45 minutes) per week.
Active participation is required!

The Academic Skills course has compulsory attendance requirements (as mentioned in the
Education and Examination Regulations). This means that you need to attend at least 80% of
all classes of this course (i.e. miss a maximum of 2 classes). If you attend less than 80% but

more than 50% of all classes, you lose your chance of taking a resit for the portfolios and
assignments. If you attend less than 50% of all classes, you fail the course.

Period 1. General skills linked to excellent academic behavior.
1. Introduction to the course; Academic etiquette
2. Reading scientific articles (structure).
3. Reading scientific articles (language, style).
4. Writing process: what kind of writer are you? Orientation, brainstorming, writers
5. Finding high quality literature; referencing, Endnote.
6. Intro to writing your own introduction to research question: pitching your idea (why is
it interesting: scientific relevance, societal relevance)

Period 2. Writing practice, producing excellent texts.

1. Writing your own introduction to research question: writing plan, how to structure
your text
2. How to formulate a sentence
3. How to structure a paragraph
4. How to connect paragraphs
5. Peer review session
6. Revising and editing your work on the basis of the feedback
7. Recap of the course, fine tuning

Using Blackboard
In this course we make use of Blackboard. We use Blackboard for:
- Announcements: news, important messages
- Assignments: some of the assignments will be posted on Blackboard
- Turnitin: here you upload your portfolios and assignment so that they can be checked
for plagiarism.
All important information will be distributed via Blackboard. Make sure that you regularly
check the Blackboard page.

When and how to contact the teachers
If you have questions about the content or the practical aspects of the course, first try to find
an answer on Blackboard or ask one of your fellow students. If you cannot find an answer to
your question, you can contact your teacher, preferably by email. Make sure that the topic of
your email is clear, that it contains an opening and an ending, and that your email is
immaculate with regard to style and grammar. In cases of unforeseen circumstances, contact
your teacher immediately.

Course schedule (subject to change, changes will be mentioned by your teacher and posted on BB)
Topic Self study prep before class Class
Session 1 Intro, After class: do the short Library course on
etiquette plagiarism:
Session 2 Reading Read chapter 1.4-1.10 (pages 26-48), 2.5, 3.6 Discuss
scientific Read article (using page 64 in section 2.5) structure of
articles: and bring to class: paper by Mui et
structure Mui, H.C., Goudbeek, M.B., Swerts, M.G.J., al (for
& Wijst, P.J. van der (2013). Culture and portfolio: a
nonverbal cues: How does power distance coherent story
influence facial expressions in game based on your
contexts? In S. Ouni, F. Berthomier, & A. notes of the
Jesse (Eds.), Proceedings of the 12 discussion, in
international conference on auditory-visual max 1 A4)
speech processing (pp. 21-26). Annecy,
France: INRIA
Session 3 Reading Read 1.11, 1.12, 2.8, 2.9 p. 49, task 24
scientific Reread article from last week and bring to p. 50, task 25
articles: class 2 exercises in
language and PPT (based on
style Mui et al)

Session 4 Writing Read chapter 1.3, 2.1-2.4, 3.1-3.3 p. 59, Task 4;
process p. 60, Task
p. 62, Task 6.
p. 91, Task 1.
p. 98, Task 11,
Session 5 Library tour Read chapter 6 and 7 of the APA Manual First half of
class will
Finding Install Endnote on your computer (you can consist of a
literature get Endnote for free from the ICT service library tour
point at the university library you need to
bring your own USB drive) Exercises in
Do the university Endnote course (including Exercise p. 93
assignments): APA workbook
http://libguides.ru.nl/endnoteX7EN/home Exercise p. 101
APA workbook

Session 6 Pitch your Send the reference of the scientific article you Pitching &
Idea want to use for assignment 1 to your teacher. Voting

Task 5B p. 61, for your pitching challenge.

Prepare pitch (you will write your research
proposal on this topic)
Session 7 Writing your Read chapter 3.4-3.5; 3.8.; 3.9: pp.103-105
own article Prepare a thesis statement for your research Task 18
proposal and find at least 2 academic sources (writing plan)
that you want to use in your proposal (and p. 120 Task 31
read these sources). p. 127 Task 36
(use one page
from one of the

Session 8 How to write Read 6.7-6.9 Tasks 15,20,
sentences Look up: noun, adjective, preposition, 21, 27 (all
adverb, participle, pronoun, phrase, clause. chapter 6)

Session 9 How to write Read 4.1-4.6; 4.9; 5.7 p. 138 Task 5

paragraphs p. 144 Tasks
11, 12
p. 155 Task 26
p. 175 Task 16

Session How to Read 4.7; 5.4-5.5; pp. 150-151:

10 connect Tasks 16-19
paragraphs pp. 165-167:
Tasks 6, 8.
Session Peer review Finish your text and bring two copies to class. Peer review
11 session
Session Revising and Read 6.5-6.6; 7 p. 188 Task
12 editing Bring your text to class. 10a
p. 191 Task 11
p. 192 Tasks
p. 216 Task 5
p. 219 Task 10
Session Recap Recap session,
13 session course feedback

Appendix A
Beginners guide on writing a research proposal

What is a research proposal?

A research proposal is a document that is written by researchers. It describes the ideas for a
study on a particular topic. Its purpose is to convince others that the proposed research idea is
worthwhile studying and the method is adequate for the purpose. It is about a study you want
to carry out in the future.

The central questions that should be answered in a research proposal are:

What do you plan to accomplish?

Why do you want to do it?

How are you going to do it?

Usually a research proposal describes a problem, states its relevance, discusses previous
research on the topic or related topics (if there is no previous research), formulates research
questions, specifies the objectives of the study, describes the research method and the
expected costs, discusses ethical issues (e.g. is it ethical to pretend that there is a major crisis
in a particular study to be able to study how people react to such a crisis?) and provides a
planning for the duration of the research project.

Students usually have to write a research proposal before they can start on their Bachelor or
Master thesis. Scientists typically write research proposals to apply for funding for their
research projects.

The research proposal you have to write for Academic Skills obviously does not need to cover
all the above mentioned aspects, but is far more restricted. The main idea is that you use the
knowledge you have acquired during the lectures (of the Academic Skills course or any of the
other courses) to develop a research idea. The text below will outline what you have to do.

Elements of the research proposal for the Academic Skills assignment

You should include the following elements in your research proposal:

1. Title
2. Abstract
3. Problem or issue at hand
4. Relevance of the Project
5. Background (literature)
6. Research question

7. Bibliography

Elements of the research proposal: a closer look

A title should be informative as well as catchy. It should be able to attract the readers
attention, but at the same time provide enough information to tempt the reader to continue

This is a very brief summary of your proposal. It should include the research question, the
motivation for the study, and if possible a hypothesis. The abstract is one of the more difficult
parts of a proposal to write because you have to be informative, but brief at the same time.

Problem or issue at hand and relevance of the project

These two aspects are usually treated together. First, you describe the problem or issue at
hand. It might be something you observed, something you came across when you studied the
literature. You need to provide some background and context. It is sometimes handy to
illustrate your problem with an example. In a second step, you need to explain why the
problem or issue is worth studying, why it is relevant. Who would profit from results of your
study? In this section you should try to be as clear and relevant as possible, your line of
reasoning should be logical.

Background (literature)
In a research proposal you write for a grant proposal or to be able to start on your BA or MA
thesis you would provide an extensive discussion of the literature on the topic you want to
study. You would want to show that you are not reinventing the wheel, that you know about
the existing literature in this particular research area, that you are able to understand, discuss
and critically evaluate this earlier research on the topic, that you can make a selection of the
relevant literature (especially if there is already a lot of research) and you also want to give
credit to those who have studied related or similar issues before.

For this particular assignment the background or literature discussion is far more restricted.
Try to find at least 3 articles that are related to the problem or issue you want to study. You
should include the(se) study/studies because your study is based on this earlier study, or
because you want to carry out the same study using a different population (the study was
carried out in the VS and you are interested to know whether the results are the same in
another country, e.g. the Netherlands), or you want to adopt a methodology that was used in
an earlier study.

A starting point for your literature research might be Google Scholar (if you use a computer
on the university campus you have direct access to many scientific journal articles) or another
search engine available via the university library.

Make sure this section of your research proposal is well organised and focuses on your issue
or problem. Try to be as informative as necessary, but as concise as possible.

Research question(s)
This is/ these are the specific question(s) you want to be able to answer at the end of your
research project. Everything you do in your study serves the aim of answering your research

There are basically three types of research questions:

1. Descriptive research questions (Questions starting with who, what, which, when,
2. Explanatory research questions (The starting point of this kind of question is usually a
state of affairs that needs an explanation. Usually questions starting with why? What is
the reason that X?, what causes X ?)
3. Predictive research questions (For this type a questions the aim is to make a prediction
with respect to a certain state of affairs based on prior knowledge (it is not about
predicting the future). Questions usually have the form: What is the consequence of X
for Y? What happens as a consequence of X? )

Research questions should be formulated clearly and precisely. They should neither be too
broad nor too narrow. They should be open questions and not yes-no-questions. Keep your
research questions simple.
The following examples of research questions (from CIRT (n.d.)) might help you formulate
your own questions.

Too narrow: What is the childhood obesity rate Less narrow: How does the education level of the
in Phoenix, AZ? parents impact childhood obesity rates in Phoenix,
This is too narrow because it can be answered with
a simple statistic. Questions that can be answered This question demonstrates the correct amount of
with a "yes" or a "no" should also typically be specificity and the results would provide the
avoided. opportunity for an argument to be formed.

Unfocused and too broad: What are the effects More focused: How does childhood obesity
of childhood obesity in the United States? correlate with academic performance in elementary
school children?
This question is so broad that research
methodology would be very difficult and the This question has a very clear focus for which data
question is too broad to be discussed in a typical can be collected, analyzed, and discussed.
research paper.

Too objective: How much time do young children More Subjective: What is the relationship
spend doing physical activity per day? between physical activity levels and childhood
This question may allow the researcher to collect
data but does not lend itself to collecting data that This is a more subjective question that may lead to
can be used to create a valid argument because the the formation of an argument based on the results
data is just factual information. and analysis of the data.

Too simple: How are school systems addressing More Complex: What are the effects of
childhood obesity? intervention programs in the elementary schools on
the rate of childhood obesity among 3rd - 6th grade
This information can be obtained without the need students?
to collect unique data. The question could be
answered with a simple online search and does not This question is more complex and requires both
provide an opportunity for analysis. investigation and evaluation which will lead the
research to form an argument that may be

Research methods
In a research proposal you write for a grant or to be able to start on your BA or MA thesis you
would need to demonstrate your knowledge about different research methods and motivate
why the approach you have chosen is adequate for the study you want to carry out.
Furthermore you would have to present a plan on how you are going to deal with your
research question and provide sufficient detail for others to determine whether your research
project is realistic.

For the Academic Skills course research proposal you do NOT need to include a section on
research methods.

Add a list of articles and/or books that you directly or indirectly cite in your proposal. The list
should adhere to the APA conventions you learned in Academic Skills and needs to be
compiled using Endnote.