A Template for APA Style

So I’ve just started my third class towards an M.Ed. in International Education Administration through Endicott College. (I’m currently knocking out a course per week thanks to the extremely accelerated summer program in hot and sunny Madrid.) This third class is entitled Research Methods and is one part statistics, one part searching, one part analysis, and two parts pedantry. A major course aim is to teach us – or at least familiarize us – with the ins and outs of how to cite, reference, and format in proper APA style.

Since every assignment for this course needs be completed with a cover page and reference page as per APA guidelines, I decided to save myself some time and whip up a document to use as a template (link to .docx file below). I saved it as a personal template (see a video tutorial here) and now anytime I need to write a paper that needs to be formatted as per APA guidelines, I only need to create a new document from the template.

Features:

  • 1″ margins
  • 12 pt Times New Roman Font
  • Double spaced
  • Running header on cover page
  • Header on subsequent pages
  • Page numbers throughout
  • Hanging indent on References page (If you are copying your citation from another source, use “Paste and Match Formatting” and it should keep the double spacing and hanging indent.)

I hope you find it useful!

DownloadAPA Template

Citation and Attribution in Grade 7

Our Grade 7 Science students are researching various natural disasters as part of their unit on Earth Science. The teachers have asked me to come in and talk about image attribution. As usual, I took things a bit further than that and used the time to discuss copyright, fair use, Creative Commons, MLA citations and attribution. It seemed a lot more interesting than just showing up, saying “This is you can attribute your image” and then walking out!

We started by looking at some of the amazing and horrifying images of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami at The Big Picture. We read the captions and discussed how the news wire services work. In every caption was an attribution to the photographer: for example (David Guttenfelder/Associated Press). We boiled the concept of attribution down to this:

Attribution is about being polite and giving credit where credit is due.

We took a moment to discuss copyrights and how it should work in the real world: ask for permission, pay some money (probably) and then use the other person’s work. All students agreed that that isn’t how it actually works for them. We talked about Fair Use in Education (for their academic work) and Creative Commons (for their personal projects) and how they apply. It was quick, simple and to the point.

A finally, what is usually the boring stuff: MLA citation. When I asked them why they needed to cite their work, I got some good answers:

  • Avoid plagiarism
  • Allow the teacher to check your sources.
  • Allow others to go deeper into material.

All of those reasons where useful to others, but weren’t actually useful to the students themselves. So I had an idea: I quickly loaded up the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus site and went over it with them. We talked about the various elements of a proper MLA citation and how it applied to this site. And then we made the connection:

Citation is about verifying the quality of your source.

Yes it takes some time to do (even when using NoodleTools), but most things that are important usually do!

Is MLA Dead?

As part of our Tablet Rollout to Middle School students, all students in grades 6, 7 and 8 have spent a session with our librarian discussing a range of things. Grade 7 and 8 students talked about the need to reference their work, how to create a Works Cited page, and how to use Noodle Tools to create an MLA-approved citation.

I agree whole-heartedly with the skills and ethics involved with referencing:

  • Creating a citation requires students to verify the authenticity and veracity of the source they are using.
  • Including citations is a way of acknowledging the work of others.
  • Citations allow the reader to verify the information that the author is presenting.

When I was in junior high school (we didn’t have no stinkin’ middle schools back then!), my bibliography was my proof to the teacher that I did the research for my essay (which I typed out on a typewriter). Did she go to the library, find the book that I put on my bibliography and check my work? I doubt it. (Actually, I know quite a few students who ‘padded’ their bibliographies to make themselves look smarter!)

Now that we’re 1:1 throughout the Middle School/High School and all the students are paperless (no printing privileges on campus for any student!), don’t hyperlinks make more sense? Yes, we still need to explicitly teach students how to verify the validity of their sources. But aren’t hyperlinks actually a better way of acknowledging the work of others? When used in online writing such as blogs and wikis, the authors of the sites being linked to will be notified that they are being acknowledged. And aren’t hyperlinks a more useful way for the reader to check the information the author is using? A single click and she can see for herself where I got my information from.

Is MLA dead? As I said in an earlier tweet which inspired this post, is MLA  an anachronism whose time has come?

Image Credit:Encyclopædia Britannica, Eleventh Edition (1911)‘ by Stewart (CC BY)