APA, Meet Google: Graduate students’ approaches to learning citation style

Main Article Content

Nancy Van Note Chism
Shrinika Weerakoon


Inspired by Perkins’ Theories of Difficulty concept, this exploratory study examined the learning patterns of graduate students as they grappled with using the style sheet of the American Psychological Association (APA). The researchers employed task performance analysis of three APA formatting tasks, interviews, and observation during a “think aloud” task to gather information on students’ misconceptions and successes. The study was able to document in detail how a group of Internet-savvy students approach the use of a style sheet. Learning APA style was found to be a matter both of overcoming conceptual blocks and personal style preferences. Once understanding of genre and conventions that may be inconsistent with prior experience and with each other are attained, motivation, patience, persistence, and attention to detail are also needed to achieve high levels of performance.


Download data is not yet available.

Article Details

How to Cite
Van Note Chism, N., & Weerakoon, S. (2012). APA, Meet Google: Graduate students’ approaches to learning citation style. Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 12(2), 27–38. Retrieved from https://scholarworks.iu.edu/journals/index.php/josotl/article/view/2020


Asano, M., Mikawa, K., Nishina, K., Maekawa, & N., Obara, H. (1995). Improvement of the accuracy of references in the Canadian Journal of Anaesthesia. Canadian Journal of Anaesthesia, 42(5), 370-372.

Bandura, A. (1986). Social foundations of thought and action: A social cognitive theory. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Collins, A.M, Brown, J.S., & Newman, S.E. (1989). Cognitive apprenticeship: Teaching the crafts of reading, writing and mathematics. In L.B. Resnick (Ed.), Knowing, learning, and instruction: Essays in honor of Robert Glaser (pp. 453-494). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Eccles, J. (1983). Expectancies, values, and academic behavior. In J. T. Spence (Ed.), Achievement and achievement motivation (pp. 75-146). San Francisco, CA: W.H. Freeman.

Garfield, E. (1990). Current comments. Essays of an Information Scientist, 13, 367-375.

Faunce, G.J., & Soames, J.R.F. (2001). The accuracy of reference lists in five experimental psychology journals. American Psychologist, 56(10), 829-830.

Jiao, Q. G., Onwuegbuzie, A. J., & Waytowich, V. L. (2008). The relationship between citation errors and library anxiety: An empirical study of doctoral students in education. Information Processing and Management, 44, 948-956.

Perkins, D. (2008, October). Theories of Difficulty. Presentation at Indiana University, Bloomington, IN. Slides also retrieved from www.tla.ed.ac.uk/events/bjep2005/presentations/perkins.ppt.

Spivey, C.A., & Wilks, S.E. (2004). Reference list accuracy in social work journals. Research on Social Work Practice, 14(4), 281-286.

Svinicki, M. D. (2004). Learning and motivation in the postsecondary classroom. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Svinicki, M. D. (2010). A guidebook for conceptual frameworks for research in engineering education. Retrieved from http://cleerhub.org/resources/gb-svinicki.

Sweetland, J. H. (1989). Errors in bibliographic citations: A continuing problem. The Library Quarterly, 59(4), 291-304.

Waytowich, V. L., Onwuegbuzie, A. J., & Jiao, Q. G. (2006). Characteristics of doctoral students who commit citation errors. Library Review, 55(3), 195-208.

Weidman, J. C., Twale, D. J., & Stein, E.L. (2001). ASHE-ERIC Higher Education Report: Vol. 28(3), Socialization of graduate and professional students in higher education: A perilous passage?. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Witkin, H., Moore, C., & Goodenough, D. Y. C. (1977). Field dependent and field independent cognitive styles and their educational implications. Review of Educational Research, 47(1), 1-64.