Archive for June, 2011

Alternative Writing Assignments: The Integrated Paper

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

As faculty working with students to explore topics of interests we frequently request that they review the literature to gain an understanding of what is known and unknown about a topic and then present their findings in an integrated manner. While many students are familiar with developing papers termed “literature reviews” or “reviews of the literature,” these types of papers frequently do not afford the students the opportunity to integrate what has been found. Thus faculty have begun to require that students present their findings and thoughts via what is known as an “integrated paper format.”

For graduate students the term, “integrated paper” sometimes stirs up a state of confusion. Is an integrated paper a literature review, a research proposal, or an essay? Well the answer is simple, no. An integrated paper is a type of review of the literature that includes the analysis, synthesis and evaluation of information on a well-defined content area and includes the writer’s original thoughts and ideas on the topic which are based upon the available evidence.

The integrated paper begins with a brief introduction to the area of interest and focuses the reader’s attention on the issue and background of the problem. This brief introduction leads the writer into a review of each of the pertinent areas that must be explored to gain an understanding of the many facets associated with the subject of interest. It is the writer’s responsibility to provide logical transitions from one pertinent area to another. It is through these transitions that the reader begins to understand the larger picture. While discussing the findings within a pertinent content area the writer should:

  • distinguish between assertion and evidence in the studies
  • identify methodological strengths and weakness of the studies
  • identify relationships among the studies
  • identify major trends or patterns in the results
  • note how the reviewed articles relate to your topic
  • identify gaps in the literature
  • finally, consider designing a table(s) that compares important characteristics of studies reviewed.

After discussing each of these pertinent areas, it is the writer’s responsibility to write a conclusion that provides closure for the reader.

by Genevieve Pinto Zipp.

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300 Fulbright Scholars To Teach In M’sia

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

WASHINGTON: About 300 Fulbright scholars from the United States will teach English at selected Malaysian schools starting next year, said Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

He said at the outset 50 volunteers under the Fulbright programme would start teaching early next year.

“Learning English will be done in an innovative and exciting way under the programme.

“We want learning English to be fun by improving existing programmes to motivate students to speak and interact in English,” he told Malaysian journalists covering his four-day working visit to Washington, today.

The White House had initially agreed to send teachers to teach English under the Peace Corps programme following a request made by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak to President Barack Obama during the United Nations General Assembly in New York in September last year.

Muhyiddin said he followed-up the matter by holding many discussions at the ministerial level and following his meetings with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Kuala Lumpur and Washington, it was decided the White House would send English teachers under the Fulbright programme instead of the Peace Corps.

“The adoption of the Fulbright programme will not change the school timetable.

“Instead more innovative ways of teaching will be introduced by capitalising on the existing timetable,” he said, adding that the ministry would select schools which would benefit from the programme.

Muhyiddin said before the English teachers were posted to the selected schools, they would undergo an orientation programme for several weeks to acquaint them with local culture and customs.

He said there was no need to study the effectiveness of the pilot project before implementing it as Terengganu had taken its own initiative to adopt the Fulbright programme.

“From feedback received, it had received an overwhelming response from Terengganu students, who had greatly improved their command of English and are eager to learn and interact in English,” he said.

Muhyiddin said although the programme was sponsored by the U.S. government by enlisting volunteers to teach English in foreign countries, the Malaysian government decided to bear part of the cost such as accommodation.

by Leslean Arshad.


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Getting women on top

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

The fairer sex is tellingly scarce at the apex of decision-making but are quotas the right way up?

YES, women are a disadvantaged group and yes, they have made many strides over the years in terms of qualifications and ability and yes, their representation at the top decision-making levels in government and business is small compared to their population.

But is it the right thing to mandate that in five years 30% of all decision-making positions in the private sector must be held by women? Even if it is mandated, how is this going to be enforced?

A quota is a double-edged sword. Because of the potential for abuse, it is necessary to ensure that it corresponds to the availability of qualified people.

Right now, women’s representation in top decision-making positions is poor – much lower than the envisaged 30% by 2016.

Take for instance the board representation of public-listed companies (PLCs) which represent 70% of the market value in six Asean countries – Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines and Hong Kong – in a survey done by fund managers Corston-Smith.

The bad news is over 50% of PLCs in Malaysia and Singapore do not have a woman director.

Also, newspapers reported yesterday that for the top 200 companies on Bursa Malaysia, only 7.6% of their directors were women while Bank Negara Malaysia information showed that only 6% of directors of financial institutions were women.

The Corston-Smith survey reported that most companies said they could not find suitable women and added that the men’s classic response was that the quota system should apply to whaling and fishing and not for women directors.

Incidentally, Malaysia and Singa­pore were at the bottom of the table compared to the other countries.

In companies, the board is typically the highest decision-making body but often more power is vested with CEOs and the management committee who run the day-to-day operations.

When the Prime Minister announced the Cabinet had ap­­proved the 30% target for the private sector, he said the Government had embarked on such a programme in 2004. Now women comprised over 30% of decision makers in Go­­vernment.

However, it makes a difference as to what level of decision-making the women are at for both corporations and the Government.

It was very admirable and noble of the Cabinet to have set the 30% target for the private sector. But the Cabinet itself has just two women out of 30 members, a mere 6.7%, about the same as for directors in the top 200 companies.

If 30% of the Cabinet is to be women, then the number of women ministers needs to increase by three and a half fold to nine – a lot of work needs to be done.

by P. Gunasegaram.

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Faith should not be blind

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

Knowledge is the key to human freedom, and proper education enables one to make right moral and practical decisions in life, not the wrong ones.

WHEN a Muslim talks about faith, what he means is “iman”. Unlike faith, iman presupposses knowledge. So a man of faith (in the sense of iman) must have knowledge in what he believes in. Hence, to seek knowledge is the first obligation of every believer.

A certain Muslim theologian even goes to the extent of declaring that those who believe without evidence (knowledge) are not actually believers. Even though this stance had been criticised by other scholars, they agreed that every Muslim man and woman is obliged to seek knowledge.

Islam means a willing and conscious submission to God. It means one can become a Muslim only by one’s own choice.

“Let one who desires to believe believe”, says the Quran, “and let one who desires not to believe believe not”.

Islam is a word describing an act, it is what a person does. So it does not simply happen to someone, it comes into being with the person’s volition.

But we must not forget the important fact that Islam is also the name of a particular religion, which implies that the submission is not without form; every Muslim submits willingly and consciously to the will of God as prescribed by the religion of Islam.

The religion of Islam, from the very beginning, makes an open call (or a proposition) to all mankind, that they submit to the will of God, by following the religion that He has revealed to His Messenger, Muhammad.

The Quran declares that only in Islam one can find a way of life that inclines perfectly to human nature. It means, to submit to God according to the way of Islam is a natural thing to do, while any other form of submission (i.e. religions) are not only against human nature but also not acceptable to God.

This is what Islam has been saying about itself and other religions. Upon knowing it, one can either agree or disagree with it. By all means, one can use whatever tools or resources at one’s disposal to investigate and verify the claim. Any decent human being would want to know the truth and live accordingly. He would not subscribe to a false religion, belief or ideology consciously and willingly.

To truly make a choice means to have the knowledge of the nature of the thing under consideration, and to act according to that knowledge. Now Islam is the subject matter under consideration: to accept or reject Islam means to judge whether it is a true or false religion.

By Asham Ahmad.

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Corruption And Degradation Of The Malay Language

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

News Pic

LANGUAGE PURIST…Universiti Putra Malaysia lecturer in Malay Literature, Associate Prof Dr Lim Swee Tin says those who combine Malay and English words are corrupting the Malay Language. This habit is not confined to the younger generation; the print and electronic media contribute to this problem too. He believes there should be no compromise in maintaining the immaculateness of the language.Pic: Melati Mohd Ariff

SERDANG:  Listen to the language spoken casually by youngsters, or read their abbreviated text messages (SMS), and it soon becomes clear they are ignoring the rules of the language.

There is no consistency in the syntax and grammar used. Abbreviated texts have replaced paragraphs, with punctuation omitted deliberately.

Today, the emphasis is on high-speed communication at one’s fingertips. The younger generation prefers to communicate its thoughts and emotions with dots and dashes, or images, rather than expressive language.

The corruption of language has far-reaching consequences, as it becomes the norm with the passage of time.

It is, therefore, not surprising to find people using what is referred to as ‘SMS language’ in school, as well as university studies.


The Malay language is also being corrupted.

Associate Prof, Dr Lim Swee Tin, a Malay literature lecturer at Universiti Putra Malaysia’s Modern Language and Communication Faculty, said there was ‘a big shift’ in the way language was being used.

“The younger generation will certainly want to use the language that they are comfortable with, and which suits them.

“However, I see a tendency to contract words, eliminate prefixes, and what is most evident now is the habit of eliminating vowels in writing,” said Dr Lim.

He was responding to a question on his views on the younger generation’s command of Malay, during an interview with Bernama here, recently.

Dr Lim is a language purist, and loathes the usage of abbreviated English words, such as ‘Ori’ (Original) and ‘Otai’ (Old Timer).


In addition, there are those who combine Malay and English, giving rise to the ‘bahasa rojak’ that is frowned upon by linguists.

Dr Lim believes users of ‘bahasa rojak’ should be made aware that they are corrupting Malay.

However, Dr Lim is aware that this development is unavoidable, as ‘bahasa rojak’ is increasingly being accepted by language experts and the media.

“The younger generation does not care about the old ways. They quietly want to adapt the language with the aspirations of their generation,” said Dr Lim.


Dr Lim also noted that the corruption of Malay is not limited to the younger generation. Print and electronic media, too, contribute to this problem.

Dr Lim said radio programmes were the biggest culprits in corrupting the Malay language.

He cited the example of a radio station with a large following that has been using the ‘bahasa rojak’. Unfortunately, the language would be learnt by listeners, he said.

“The programme is accessed all over the country; thus, the implication is far-reaching. Therefore there is no compromise for me in maintaining the immaculateness of the language.

“These radio stations, in fact, compete with one another to win a greater share of the audience, and a bigger share of advertisement revenue, at the expense of sub-standard language,” explained Dr Lim.


Given their powerful influence, radio and television should be at the forefront in protecting the Malay language.

In an environment of rapid changes, this would help mitigate the problem of corruption of Malay, said Dr Lim.

Dr Lim also criticised English-Malay translators who were incompetent.

“We cannot translate as we like, or coin terms as we like.

“Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka has a system for translation and borrowing words. This has been long in practice.

“If this system is ignored, this will further degrade the language system, and if this continues it will be detrimental to our language,” he lamented.


Some entertainment magazines also add to the corruption of the language, especially when they are not monitored.

In the midst of the debate on ‘bahasa rojak’ several years ago, Dr Lim attempted to monitor magazines on sale.

According to him, out of the many magazines he examined, two used sub-standard language with abbreviations.

Both these were entertainment magazines, published fortnightly, and seemed to be well-received by people.

“It is mind boggling how magazines like this are published in the first place.

“The same problem is also reflected in comics for children and the youth, where the language is appalling.

“And one should never forget that when this language is used, day in day out, it soon becomes a norm, widely-accepted,” stressed Dr Lim.


But language is dynamic, and its evolution cannot be stopped.

Taking this into consideration, Dr Lim suggested that language champions and experts find a balance between the purity of a language and the aspirations of its users.

The younger generation should, especially, be counseled that such changes may affect the integrity of the language.

by Melati Mohd. Ariff.

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Designing Effective Clicker Questions by Going Beyond Factual Recall

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

At one point, a General Chemistry course at Penn State Berks had a success rate of about 50 percent, giving the multi-section course the dubious distinction of having one of the lowest GPAs on campus. After a thorough redesign, the course now consistently achieves a success rate of well over 70 percent, while the student ratings of the course and the instructors have never been higher. The key element in this chemistry course’s redesign? Clickers.

As evidence of the importance of student engagement and active learning continues to grow, clickers have become a powerful tool for helping instructors adopt a more learner-centered teaching style.

During the recent online seminar Using Clickers to Engage Students and Maximize Learning, Ike Shibley, an associate professor of chemistry at Penn State Berks, shared strategies for using clickers in the classroom and offered tips on how to write effective clicker questions.

According to Shibley, while clickers can be used for simple tasks such as taking attendance and testing factual knowledge, by thinking about the types of interactions you want for your students – interactions with the content and each other – it’s easy to begin envisioning how clickers can help create a richer learning experience.

Here are two different types of clicker questions Shibley uses to tap into higher levels of thinking:
Problem-solving questions: Scaffold your questions to allow students to progress through the questions from simple to complex. However, Shibley cautions, don’t make the questions overly complex.

Opinion questions: Assign a reading as homework and then ask students for their opinion on what they read. Getting anonymous feedback, particularly around a controversial topic, is a great way to kickstart or guide discussions.

by Mary Bart.

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Fit for the palate

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

Dodging potential poisons on the plate

FOOD safety – the connection between health and food – used to be simple: we are, to a great extent, what we eat. But in the 21st century, with global travel, food technology, and profit-driven restaurant chains, it has become more complicated.

These days, it’s not just about what we eat. It’s also about how we eat, how much we eat, what we put in what we eat, and where did what we eat come from.

“I’m afraid we have to accept the fact that in a globalised economy, the food we eat today contains ingredients and additives from many parts of the world,” says president of the Malaysian Institute of Food Technology (MIFT) Dr Nik Ismail Nik Daud.

“And because it has to travel great distances, the food will have to be processed to make it last longer, and be made available to more people,” he adds.

Food additives in processed food are not the only concern. Even fresh food – things like raw vegetables, meat, poultry and seafood – are not spared. In the past decade, we’ve heard news about contaminated tomatoes, peanut butter, chicken, eggs, pork, and beef (and the list goes on) that have caused food poisoning worldwide, both in developed and developing countries.

Making things worse is the fact that many of us do not know, or practise, the simple prevention measures that can protect us from such contamination.

Unwanted extras

After spending years managing a hospital kitchen with food safety standards in place, it has become increasingly difficult for dietitian Mary Easaw-John come to terms with the conditions of many dining areas she comes across in the country.

Most of the time, it was the testimonies of her patients that appalls her. “Malaysian consumers, even if they see rats or cats running around, they will (still) eat. And they are really famous for saying things like ‘the kuay teow from the stall under the tree is very tasty’, or ‘the rojak from that place near the drain is the best’,” she says, exasperated.

by Lim Wey Wen.

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Importance of Vocational Education

Monday, June 27th, 2011

A few years ago, vocational courses were thought to be for people who did not have the aptitude to study in a college and thus, needed skills in a particular field, to gain employment. This scenario, however, has completely changed today. These days, people have realized the importance of vocational education and are opting for such courses, both online and offline, to gain skills related to a particular field so that their job prospects can improve. Scroll down to know more on the advantages of vocational education…

Importance of Vocational Education and Training

Lesser Education Costs
Not everyone can afford to go college as a four year degree course, plus the hostel fees, commuting, added costs of books, can turn out to be very expensive. Vocational courses are a cheaper alternative for people who do not want to take up a loan to go to college. Many vocational courses, similar to four year degrees, provide placement to the students. This makes them quite useful for those who do not have the means to shell out money for a college degree.

Prepares for a Job
One of the main benefits of vocational education is that it prepares a person for a specific job. Vocational courses equip a person with the skills and qualities required to do a particular job, such as fashion designing, interior decoration, computer networking, auto repairing, etc. Many a time, the curriculum for the courses is prepared after taking suggestions from the local employers. Along with classroom instructions, practical knowledge is imparted through field work. Laboratory learning is emphasized to give the students practical knowledge on a given subject. This prepares the student for the job at hand and thus, he is able to give full justice to his profession, due to his vast knowledge.

Easy Employment
The importance of vocational education can be gauged from the fact that it makes it easier for the students to find employment. Usually, it is seen that employers prefer to hire a student who has done a vocational course rather than a college pass out, as by doing a vocational course, a student is trained specifically for a particular job. The student already possesses the right temperament, skills, qualities and education for the job and the employers feel that he will be more successful than a regular college pass out due to his knowledge. Thus, easy employment is one of the chief advantages that students from a vocational course have over others.

Success in Career
People who are already employed and those who want to get further education to advance their careers, cannot afford to take a four year break and pursue a college degree. So, in order to enhance their skills and qualifications, an alternative is to do a vocational course. You may read more on importance of education. The time duration for a vocational course is less, but the skills that are imparted to students through such courses, are quite comparable to the college courses, in terms of quality. Thus, by doing a vocational course, a professional can enhance his career prospects and achieve success.

Promotes Entrepreneurship
After doing a vocational course, a person is equipped enough to start his own business. This course of action is taken up by many a vocational course pass out students. Thus, such courses promote entrepreneurship, which is a very good thing for the economy today, considering that the recession has left many without jobs. Vocational courses increase the number of small businesses, which further increase employment, thus reducing the stress on the government to provide jobs for the unemployed.

by Aastha Dogra.

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Implications of Silence for Educators in the Multicultural Classroom

Sunday, June 26th, 2011

There are a number of ways of dealing with silent students in multicultural classroom setting. For instructors of international students, it is important to note cross cultural perspectives in course readings and grading the classroom discussion. Because of lack of language proficiency or being unfamiliar with the American classroom culture, some students from other countries feel stressed and frustrated. To bridge this gap of international students, instructors could adopt strategies such as e-mailing study questions beforehand, giving clear directions and asking specific questions or summarizing important points of the discussions (Tatar, 2005).

Brookfield (2006) suggested teacher should research what students know, speak and experience as a part of understanding the classroom so that the lessons would be inclusive for both native and foreign students.

In a traditional classroom, a teacher speaks more than his or her students. Sometimes, instructors should be silent and observe how it affects students or encourage speaking up. The balance of the class would be when both domestic students and international students get an equal opportunity to share their thoughts and perspectives as a part of class discussion. A skillful teacher always allows enough time to her/his students to respond instead of expecting immediate responses to every question. Svinivki and McKeachie (2011) recommended a silence for 5 to 30 seconds for better outcomes in discussion. Instructors are expected to know the significance of cultural values and meanings in foreign cultures. Sometimes no eye contact or being silent does not necessary mean non participation.

The U.S. students would benefit from the active participation of foreign students in the class. As they understand diverse social, cultural and linguistic experiences and perceptions of foreign students, the U.S. students should encourage and let foreign students speak in the class.

Instead of being bound with home culture and educational experiences, international students also should look for ways to familiarize themselves with the host culture. Since their main goal of overseas study is to earn a foreign education, they should expose themselves to various social norms, cultures, and beliefs in the U.S. They should speak up in the class discussion because their voices and experiences are required as much as their American counterparts.

by Krishna Bista.

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Get them talking

Sunday, June 26th, 2011

Besides boosting their confidence, asking your child about their day will also improve their English speaking skills.

OVER the last few weeks, we have been looking at ways to improve your child’s English at home by making learning the language fun. So far, we have looked at developing children’s reading and writing skills.

This week, the emphasis is on improving speaking skills. Remember, good talkers usually become good readers and writers.

Developing your child’s speaking skills does not have to entail formal lessons. Just encouraging them to talk about their day does wonders for their vocabulary and sentence construction.

It is an interesting time as well as an enjoyable and educational one when at the dinner table, parents ask their children about interesting things they saw, people they met at school, what they did or simply “a good thing that happened today”.

Always encourage your children to talk to be active, attentive listeners.

To achieve this goal, parents need to set the example and listen to what their children say as well as expand and on what they have said. When asking questions, parents should offer distinct choices, such as: “Would you like a red balloon or would you like a green one?” and “What fruit should we buy at the shop – bananas, apples or mangoes?”

Remember that children are “copiers”. How you speak, what you say, the standard or quality of words you use, your idioms and colloquial speech, as well as the grammatical errors you make, all are usually copied and quickly become “theirs”.

When speaking to your child, especially when asking questions, endeavour to use “mature” words and not “baby” ones. For example, ask “What would you like for dinner?” instead of “din-din”. Later, the word “like” can be changed to “prefer” or “fancy”.

Full-sentence responses – instead of one or two-word answers – should be encouraged. For example, when you ask: “Which book do you want to read now?” Encourage “I want to read this one about lions and tigers”, instead of just “This one”.

To build your child’s vocabulary, encourage the use of different descriptive terms when speaking to describe people, objects, feelings, events and so on, such as: tall man, huge tower, high wall, pretty dress, beautiful flower, delightful song, sad face, unhappy girl, gloomy weather, exciting day, enjoyable picnic, wonderful concert.

by Keith Wright, the author and creator of the 4S Approach To Literacy and Language (4S) — a modern, innovative and proven method of accelerating the learning of English.

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