Thursday, April 10, 2014

News from Nairobi

By James Chege
Maryknoll Institute of African Studies
Editor: Father Michael C. Kirwen, Director

Writing intensifies as final day
of the semester approaches

Students at the MIASMU library work on the final draft of their course papers.
As the second semester of the 2013/2014 academic year draws to a close, students are working tirelessly to complete their MIASMU research/integration papers. This is a 17-20 page research-integration paper written on a unique topic relevant to the course chosen by a student and monitored the lecturer by means of an outline submitted after four week and a rough draft submitted  after seven weeks of study.

By this method, the writing is on-going, adjusted and updated through the new information and ideas arising from the lectures and field research.  In this regard it is not a standard academic paper or essay  that would ordinarily be written solely from books and other literature.  In fact, students are encouraged to quote field research data in the text of their papers since it is primary data that cannot be sourced from books.  Furthermore, the paper is pivotal to the MIAS educational method as sharpens the students ability to interrelate the lecture material and the field research data with the intent of uncovering the deeper meanings, the structures relevant to the topics of their papers. The final draft of the paper is handed in on the last day of the semester and counts for 60 percent of the course grade.

The paper on which students  write out their thoughts in a graphic mode is like a mirror of their minds, and they dialogue with it as they search  for the appropriate and insightful words, metaphors and expressions — a process that develops immensely their mental ability to  analyze and comprehend the inner values and ideas underpinning the topics and issues of their papers. This kind of in-depth analysis is what is looked for in evaluation  of students’ papers.