Communicating a written assignment in EMI

In both courses that I am involved in teaching, students are required to produce a portfolio. Students are asked to reflect on their learning during the class, and to link it to personal experiences. They have several entries to write, and then arrange them into a single assignment.

One requirement is to use the APA referencing style for the general layout of the portfolio, and for quoting, referencing and so on. During the first lecture of each course, along with explaining the assignments, we explain what is APA and how to use it. For that, we show the Purdue website and go through some example with them. We also strongly emphasis the importance of using APA, and of including additional sources to their portfolio to those provided during the course. They are, of course, expected to properly list them at the end of the portfolio.

At the exception of a couple of students, all seems to struggle with using APA. In the last set of assignments that I just finished to grade, 90-95% of 80 students lost points for either not using APA at all or using it wrong.  I realize that as I am used to use APA and the Purdue website, so maybe my explanations are not that clear and simple enough. Or maybe I do not spend enough time on the Purdue website. We, usually, show the website during the first session only. Then, students who need further explanation come at the end of the class to ask. It is quite common to have students asking about APA after a few sessions (probably after their first encounter with referencing).  In this case, I go through the website with them again.

Does any of you encounter such issue with explaining APA (or any other referencing style for that matter)? Would any of you have some suggestions of how to deal with that? Thanks 🙂