Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Preparing for the New MLA

When I first heard the news that MLA launched an updated system, I felt a little sick. I’ve created tons of interactive online and hard copy activities to help my students navigate reading and writing MLA Works Cited entries. Because of the hanging indent spacing and variability of monitor size, each online Works Cited entry needs to be imported as an image. (I cheated with my samples here, so if the spacing looks funky, please forgive me. The OWL Purdue link above is dandy!) Days of work await me. Yikes.

Once I looked at the new MLA, however, I began to feel better. The changes make tons of sense, and I think students will understand the format more. Perhaps they will start to understand why I think being able to flip to a reference page and assess the quality of research from the entries is such an important and empowering kind of academic literacy. But now I’m getting ahead of myself…a new documentation style can only promise so much!

The big changes? No more underlining—like APA, MLA now puts publications and book titles in italics. The electronic resource formats have been streamlined somewhat, (We no longer have to identify a database “service”—hooray!) and entries now use “Print” if they are hard copy and “Web” if they’ve been accessed electronically. Here’s a little sample of old versus new:

Book with One Author, old MLA:

Miles, Felix. The Civil War. New York: Random House, 2007.

Book with One Author, new MLA:

Miles, Felix. The Civil War. New York: Random House, 2007. Print.

Journal Article from a Subscription Database, old MLA:

Homiak, Kathleen. “Six Strategies for Taking a Patient’s Health

History.” Patient Care Weekly 8.2 (2008): n.p. Academic Search

Elite. EBSCOhost. Seminole High School Library. 7 July 2009.

Journal Article from a Subscription Database, new MLA:

Homiak, Kathleen. “Six Strategies for Taking a Patient’s Health

History.” Patient Care Weekly 8.2 (2008): n.pag. Academic Search

Elite. Web. 7 July 2009.

Well prepared activities help me teach students how to read and write research documentation effectively, so I’m going to put the time in to update my materials. My department has agreed to go with the new MLA this fall, so I’m working on the changes, one exercise at a time. It’s certainly helping me internalize the new format…

co-posted on Between Classes: Living a Balanced Life as a Quality Teacher

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