Friday, 9 April 2010

It Is Finished....All the Papers Marked


The past week has been a rather busy one. Most of my time was consumed by marking all the papers for our TEE students who took my course, Biblical Interpretation, and the research papers of my Master of Theology students.

I am still rather puzzled at the papers produced by the TEE students. Despite all my reminders not to do so, a large number of students still consulted dated popular commentaries by William Barclay and Matthew Henry. As a result, it is not surprising that only a very small percentage referred to semi-technical and technical commentaries in their exegesis papers. And even smaller numbers looked up journals despite easy access to ALTAS.

It seems to me that this observation only goes to show the extent of the influence of the writings of Barclay and Henry among believers, and these works appear to be the first port of call in looking for resources to aid them in understanding the text.

How can we encourage the students to leave these popular references behind and move on to consult recent academic works?

24 comments:

逍遥子 Odysseus said...

haha , Rev Lim approves my reading list?

Paul Long said...

My guess is because those resources are public domain and thus free, hence easy to access using free software like e-sword etc.

I got lazy once too and used Thayers rather than BAGD for a definition which you pointed out to me *shame* :-(

Kar Yong said...

Odysseus,
What reading list are you reffering to? I never approve Henry and Barclay...and even Strong's :-)

Kar Yong said...

Hi Paul,
Opps....you still remember the incident ah?

BTW, I did not mention that Thayers received quite a fair bit of citation, but hardly anyone refers to BDAG, and none, TDNT and NIDNTT! Some still referred to Strong's!

Israel Lee said...

I think this is a behavioural thing and our students being pragmatic as always, chooses the cheapest and easiest way out (a free and searchable resource in e-sword). ;-)

Kar Yong said...

Hi Israel,
Well, ATLAS - the online journal search engine with many full-texts journals - they are free to our TEE students. They are easily searchable and easily available - but why hardly anyone referred to them? This is why I am puzzled...

Israel Lee said...

ha ha. Again, it is a behavioural thing amongst our students in any varsity. It is 'easier' and more practical to search from one single source than to search multiple sources. This was how they were trained at school level. One reference book for each subject. One book to rule them all! ;-)

逍遥子 Odysseus said...

Hi Sir , I declare my reading list in my blog lah,,,with the books cover,,,,,hehe

darrel bock, joel green, robert alter , phyllis trible, alan powell and etc,,,

but in sunday school class, matthew henry and Barclay ,perhaps quite suitable reading?

M SIBAT said...

I suppose part of the reasons why TEE students consult those commentaries because they are readily stocked and/or available in their local church libraries or bookrooms. And perhaps, due to budget constraints, most bible-reference resources in a church library are hardly updated with the latest scholarly development as most would tend to buy the popular paperbacks of that particular month/year ...

Kar Yong said...

Hi Israel,
But ALTAS is A single online search engine with many fulltext that is freely and easily available to our students - but why hardly anyone consults it? Perhaps the downside is you will probably get 100hits for a search :-0

Kar Yong said...

Hi melissa,
Your point is noted. But it still does not explain why no one really bothers to consult ATLAS that is FREE for all TEE students. So the issue of budget constraint would not have surfaced for ATLAS. Why hardly any journals reference and citation despite many attempts to explain to crtucial need to do so?

Perng Shyang Teng said...

KY, if you are teaching the Chinese class, you will find then 陈终道、马有藻... Haha, same pattern la!

Rev. Silvester L.M. David said...

I pity you Kar Yong.....wonder when will students meet up to your basic standards...I thought i was the last one that you needed to suffer with....

Kar Yong said...

Hi PS,
It is the same in the Chinese track as well?

Kar Yong said...

Hi Silvester,
I don't think it's a question of meeting standards. If you are to do medicine in university, you simply won't consult your Form 4 biology text book; and if you do history in college, you will never use form 2 history text book, right?

Rev. Silvester L.M. David said...

oopssss........you are absolutely right.

Kar Yong said...

Hi Rev Silvester,
How are you coping now? Recovered from your surgery?

sp lim said...

Fyi ATLAS is not free for TEE students. RM50 per year. Well, it's not expensive considering all the info there is in there. But I've sort of given up using it. Maybe I don't know how to search but most of the time I can't find what I want. When I do find what I want, very often the full text is not available but only abstract. Very very frustrating. I still haven't renew my subscription this year.

M SIBAT said...

:) By the way ATLA is seemingly rather difficult to navigate for the more matured students (which makes up the majority of the students enrolling in TEE).

Plus there is this tendency to narrow the search to a rather specific keyword or passage of Scripture which the assignments asked for. I think perhaps next time you can advise your students on how widen their "search" scope. I often get a look of disbelief when my friends take a look at my final bibliography list.

Having done thesis before for my undergraduate study have also helped me a lot in citing and looking up for references. But for most or some of the TEE students who take the courses, they may not have such background or any hints of remembrance. So, it is a bit daunting for them whereas by comparison M Henry/ W Barclay are much easier to understand since they are more devotionally-oriented.

One way is perhaps to spend 20-30 minutes alone on how to write/cite/look for articles in ATLA or Google Books (some may not still get it). That would help considering the fact there will be newcomers every now and then.

Just my thoughts tho.

:) MS

Sivin Kit said...

perhaps I should do a blog post on how to do a search on ATLA. It was great for my MTh modules and later thesis. Should be adequate for TEE.

Rev. Silvester L.M. David said...

I am better now bro. Still on MC till end of the month. I have been asked to rest my voice for some time. Thanks for the thought.

Kar Yong said...

SP,
I am so sorry - I thought that ATLAS is available free for all. But I am surprised that you are not able to find it of much help - I never have any problems seacrhing for the stuff I need in ATLAS - in fact, I always find information overload. Could it be that some of you are not familiar with ATLAS?

Kar Yong said...

Mel,
I amnot sure whether my memory serves me well, but I recall I did do a quick demo for ATLAS. But it does seem strange that, except for perhaps a very small handful, the remaining students did not even bother to consult commentaries and journals. In this class that I taught, many are below 30s - so they are not "matured" students category. Even those below 30s did not even use ATLAS. This is what puzzles me.

I remember mentionining countless times not to use Barclay and Henry in the class - but that somehow did not register in the minds of the students. So the only conclusion that I can arrive is that I am such a hopeless communicator that can't even get a simple message across.

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