An investigation of APA citation style skills of international students studying at Unitec Institute of Technology

2018-12-06T02:45:13Z (GMT) by Izzy Zhang
Many university and polytechnic students in New Zealand are asked to use APA citation style in their
writing assignments. However, a literature review on major works published in the last 10 years found
no studies examining how well New Zealand students handle APA style. Moreover, in my daily work in
an academic library, I have noticed many of our students have difficulties in formatting papers using
APA style.
Taking a different approach, this research used a specifically designed test to probe for the most
common problems students face with formatting APA reference list and in-text citation. This approach
was based on the following considerations: (a) to facilitate a quantitative comparison and analysis of
each APA element; (2) to verify this research approach, which was hardly used before. Special attention
was paid to digital resources (e.g., blog post, video stream, etc.) to reflect a growing digital academic
and research environment. Furthermore, this test has a strong focus on information resources
relevant to New Zealand.
The research findings show that students’ APA style skills remained at the basic level. They had some
ideas about the rules, but did not comply with many of them. One significant finding is that they
lacked the skills to judge the nature of information sources. Students generally performed well with
those information resources with which they are familiar. The research findings provide a snapshot on
how a sample of international students performed regarding APA style, and may inform the design of
a future APA style training session.