Essay Clinic: Human Computer Interaction Research – University of Tokyo

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Indonesia Mengglobal Essay Clinic is our effort to provide tangible help for Indonesian applicants who want to study abroad. This essay clinic is not meant to showcase ‘the perfect essay’, but by analyzing other people’s essays (what works, what does not work, what’s good, what’s bad), we hope you can learn how to write an effective application essay and how to continuously improve your own essay. We also accept essay submissions. Click here to learn on how to participate!!

Note on the Essay

The essay was submitted for an application to Human Computer Interaction research program at University of Tokyo through Monbukagakusho Scholarship Program 2015. It is submitted under the question:

“Study program in Japan: (Describe this in detail and concretely—particularly about the ultimate goal of your research in Japan)”

The Essay

In Japan, I would like to continue my study at information system area, focus on ubiquitous learning and computing. Due to my undergraduate education, I believe that information system, specifically ubiquitous learning and computing, is the right field for me and I will have no field-related problems conducting my research and pursuing higher degree in this area. The following is the detail and concreteness of my research after arrival in Japan.

Aim of Research
The long term goal of this research is to provide learning media center for Children with ASD. In the future, I hope that the learning media can help Children diagnosed with ASD to improve their cognitive, academic achievement and communication skill.

Objectives of Research
To develop learning media based on Augmented Reality for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) to introduce letters, words, sentences and facial expressions.

Outline
Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are a group of developmental disabilities characterized by impairments in social interaction and communication. According to estimates from Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, about 1 out to 88 children has been identified with an ASD. In Indonesia, the number of children with ASD has been increased significantly during the last two decades. In 1990, the children with ASD were approximately 1 out to 5000 cases of birth. The number kept increasing; in the year of 2009 the number of children with autism was 1 out to 100 cases of birth. There is no cure for children with ASD, but appropriate treatments can help them develop their life skills to function more independently.

As it is stated in 1945 constitution, children with disabilities and other children with special needs in Indonesia have equal rights in speech, to express opinion, to have education, well-being and health. Indonesian Governments should provide full assurance for children with disabilities and other children with special needs to obtain quality education and actively participate in the society. Unfortunately, the limited availability of educational media and the common assumption that children with ASD are disgrace to family are the most common factors why they do not treat their children with ASD properly.

I am interested to do research and develop the media for helping them to improve their skills of reading using Augmented Reality (AR) technology. Augmented reality is a term in which virtual object is imposed to real world so a person will see a virtual world as well as a real world. This characteristic brings advantages on learning to support visualization and collaborative activity. Augmented Reality will improve the way delivering information that they can accept. The children with ASD are visual learners, so they need to have their material presented visually.

Why are children with ASD being taught the skills of reading first? Although the development of communication and social and behavioral skills is crucially important for children with ASD, so too is the acquisition of academic skills. Professionals usually suggest that skills in reading be taught. When children acquire a sight vocabulary of 25 to 50 words, they can build sound and symbol associations by using familiar words, giving the letters a meaningful context (for example: M is for Mommy, D is for Daddy, etc.). Teachers often find it most efficient to work from a “top down” approach—backward chaining from whole words to the sounds contained within words.

This research plan is included in the research area of ubiquitous computing. Ubiquitous computing is an inter-disciplinary research focused on cutting edge research in human-centered multimedia computing focusing on assistive, rehabilitative and healthcare applications. Most ubiquitous computing research takes a technology-centrist view in solving real world problems.

It will be my greatest desire to continue my study at university in Japan, as many among them have reached the highest standard in technology and gained international recognition. Besides, several laboratories at universities in Japan conduct research in the same area of my interest—about Augmented Reality. Several universities in Japan conduct their lectures in either by coursework or by research. My research plan is about developing products, so I will take more portion on laboratory to enhance my research.

Feedback from Andrego Halim:

Before analyzing this essay in detail, we need to first understand the prompt to plan the essay properly. The ‘ultimate goal of your research’ in the prompt suggests that the committee asks how the completion of this research can solve the writer’s future goal. For this reason, it is important to start by introducing the writer’s ultimate goal then explain 2-3 proposed research ideas and connect how each of these ideas contribute to his/her ultimate goal.

With the above outline in mind, the writer does not need to put different headings of “Aim of Research”, “Objectives of Research” nor “Outline”. Academic community has widely understood that an ‘aim’ describes the general idea while ‘objectives’ describe the specific ones, but there is no need to label it in the essay as such unless prompted.

In the introductory paragraph, the writer started with generic dull sentences. An introductory paragraph in this essay should have served two purposes: (1) introduce the ultimate goal of the writer’s research, accompanied by 2-3 research ideas and (2) spark reader’s interest to read the rest of the essay. With specific regards to (1), the writer needs to be more specific on his/her goal as ubiquitous learning and computing is still a big field to explore. Alternatively, the writer could have introduced his/her motivation on helping the ASD children as the ultimate goal, and then finish the rest of the paragraph on each specific research idea to help achieve that goal.

Diving into the “Objectives of Research” and “Outline” sections, the flow becomes very unorganized. The writer went over too much irrelevant topics and technical terms in weird order; starting from ASD’s basic definition and statistics, Indonesian’s government’s law, Augmented Reality’s definition, back to ASD, and ubiquitous computing’s definition. The readers from the scholarship committee team should be educated enough to understand basic technical terms so there is no need to waste too much word counts on these definitions. Instead, the writer should have expanded on 2-3 proposed research ideas on what “virtual world” project to build that can help these ASD children. It is insufficient to simply say that the writer wants to use “ubiquitous computing” technology, or “Augmented reality” technology, etc. Instead, he/she should have stated the plan to use technology A to create X, or use technology B to create Y, and so on.

To the keen eyes, it is also very trivial that big portions of the essays were plagiarized due to the inconsistent language style.

  • In paragraph “stated in 1945 constitution…”, most contents were copied from the last page of this URL.
  • In paragraph “Why are children…”, the first two sentences were copied from this URL, while the rest of the paragraph comes from this URL.
  • In paragraph on ubiquitous computing, most sentences were copied from this URL,  and this URL.
  • and so on

These are RED flags which will disqualify the writer from the whole application process. Any types of essay/publication MUST NOT plagiarize any content from anywhere. Although ‘budaya mencontek’ may have been a deeply-rooted Indonesian culture, it must cease to exist.

Last but not least, the writer seems to have issues with basic grammar and word usage. However this is still very minor compared to the much more serious issue on the flow, structure, and plagiarism discussed above.

Photo: Japanese Cherry Blossom from Wikimedia

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