Using the PowerNotes Outline



The PowerNotes Outline - Provide Feedback and Build Skills

The PowerNotes outline is a powerful instructional tool. At any point in the research process, students can share an outline of their current research with the click of a button. This allows instructors to request that students turn in outlines periodically without imposing any additional burden beyond the necessary work of gathering and analyzing sources. This PowerNotes feature provides educators with a number of new instructional opportunities, two of which we highlight here.


Providing Feedback

Providing feedback on pre-draft outlines is time-consuming. Prior to PowerNotes, instructors wasted time deciphering the numerous formats submitted by students before they could address the substance of an outline. PowerNotes removes this step from the process by providing instructors with standard outline format. Each outline is organized by research topic and contains: (1) the original passage from the source; (2) any annotations the student added; and (3) a link back to the source document. Instructors can review and provide feedback on a student’s organizational structure, the sources they are using, and specific skill competency (as discussed below).

In addition, instructors can require students to turn in outlines at key steps in the research process, such as after completing their initial research or after generating a conceptual outline. Instructors can also use outline submission to help students avoid bad habits such as procrastination and deter the outsourcing of papers.


Teaching Skills - Patchwriting vs. Paraphrasing and Summarization

Many students struggle to properly paraphrase and summarize their research, instead resorting to patchwriting. Paraphrasing and summarizing are not inborn talents, rather they are skills that students must develop through practice. PowerNotes provides the perfect medium for students to practice these skills and receive feedback from their instructors.

Educators instruct students paraphrase or summarize passages (and indicate when they intend to do so) using the annotation box associated with the original passage from the source. See the following image for our example.

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When students turn in their outlines, instructors can quickly review the original passage alongside the intended paraphrase or summary, and provide feedback if necessary. Prior to having this capability, instructors would need to access the original source material and hunt through the text to determine whether the student executed the skill correctly.

To see more examples of how actual instructors used PowerNotes in their classes, click here.