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Webinar Transcripts

Walden Assignment Prompts: Learn the Requirements

Presented Tuesday, March 8, 2016
View webinar recording
Last updated 3/23/2016


Visual: The webinar opens. On the right is a caption pod and Q&A pod side-by-side above a small PowerPoint slide pod. A large quiz pod has the webinar pretest available on the left.

Audio: Beth: Hello everyone and good evening, or at least it is evening here in Minnesota where I am calling in from. My name is Beth Nastachowski. I am the Manager of Multimedia Writing Instruction for the Writing Center and I’m going to go ahead and get us started here. We are just getting out captioning set up so that is coming if you need captioning or you use captioning, we’ll get that going and we’ll make sure you have all that information you need for the captioning. But I wanted to get started because we are on time and we only have an hour and I want to make sure we use that time wisely. So, the first to note is that we have the prewebinar quiz still open here and I encourage you to keep answering those questions, if you can, if you haven’t already taken that quiz. Just to see where you are at so far and then we’ll be going over the answers for those questions throughout the session today with our presenter Jes. And then we’ll have a quiz at the end just to make sure and to see how much you’ve learned. And so please feel free to continue to do that as I go over this quick housekeeping. A couple of things, if you haven’t been to a Writing Center webinar in a while, or this is your first webinar, welcome! I’ve started the recording for this webinar and that recording will be posted on our webinar archive by tomorrow evening. So if you have to leave for any reason, or you’d like to come back and review this session, you’re more than welcome to do so. Also, note that all the polls, files, and links that we have in the session are interactive.

Audio: We have links throughout the PowerPoint slides. There are links to relevant information. I know Jes has a lot of different chat pods ready for you, too, so I encourage you to interact with her as well. Also note that I'll be opening up a Q and A box.  Myself and colleague Claire are going to be monitoring that Q and A box, and I encourage to you submit comments and questions as you have them throughout the webinar, and we can use them right away. It also might be useful to talk about aloud for everyone as well.

Also notice that we have the email support If you do end the webinar or you exit the webinar and you have questions and you think of them later make sure you email them to us. We're happy to help. If you have any technical questions, we do have the Q and A box will be opening shortly here. Also note that the help button at the top of the screen is an Adobe help option. With that, I'm going to go ahead and end this quiz here in just a moment and we're going to switch over to our other layout. Give me just a second. And I'm going to hand it over to Jes.


Visual: The screen layout changes. The PowerPoint slides are larger and there is a photo of Jes Philbrook with her name and job title. There are also captioning, Q & A, and files pods stacked on the right.

Audio: Jes: Thanks, Beth. Hi, everyone. This is Jes Philbrook.  I am a writing instructor here at the Walden University Writing Center. And I live in Columbia, Missouri. I saw that there are some other Missourians out there. Hello!  Today our topic is Walden Assignment Prompts: Learn the Requirements. We're going to be talking about some of the common assignments that you might encounter at your course work here at Walden and different strategies and approaches for how to take on those assignments and ensure that you're fully addressing the prompt. So with that, let's begin.


Visual: PowerPoint slide changes to “Today’s Learning Objectives.”

Audio: Today's learning objectives then are fourfold. We will first look at the purpose of application assignments. And then we'll identify three sections of most Walden assignments prompts. When we go through that, I think you'll find these very familiar. And then we'll identify strategies for reading assignment prompts to use in your own assignments. And then we'll talk about some additional required components for any academic paper. So that's what we're doing today.


Visual: PowerPoint slide changes to “Walden Assignment Prompts.”

Audio: So first, Walden assignment prompts. As you might have noticed in your different courses that you've taken here at Walden, there are different ways that these assignments are titled. It might say in Blackboard writing prompts or assignment instructions or assignment guidelines. These are all just the same thing. They're assignment prompts. They are different activities that you're being asked to do and although they have many different names we're generally talking about all of these. 


Visual: PowerPoint slide changes to “What do application papers look like at Walden?”

Audio: The same goes for application papers then, too. So an application paper might also be called a course paper, might also be called a weekly paper, a weekly assignment. In essence these are just assignments that you do about every week that are applying different information that you're learning. 


Visual: PowerPoint slide of screenshot from a Blackboard classroom with an application assignment page open.

Audio: This will probably look familiar. So this is a screenshot from a blackboard page that shows an example of an application assignment. You've got application two. You have the title of the prompt writer's history essay and then some activities to prepare for this assignment, the assignment. So I hope that's familiar. If it's not, please feel free to type into our Q and A chat box and ask questions if you've seen other kinds of things on your blackboard page.


Visual: Layout changes. PowerPoint slides are moderate sized, another moderate sized pod for chat opens. The Q & A and captioning pods are still open. The files pod is not available. PowerPoint slide “Chat: What’s the purpose of weekly application assignments?” is open.

Audio: So our first chat for today then is, in your opinion, what's the purpose of weekly application assignments? What do you see as being the purpose for completing these activities and these assignments? I'll give you a minute and let you start typing some things in there. And then we'll chat. Awesome. I love the comments that are coming in. Yes, absolutely. So one of the purposes is to get students thinking about the information that they were presented. It might be kind of challenging if you were just asked to read a bunch of things each week and then not do anything with those readings so definitely to think about that information, building structure on the top of the course, excellent, think critically, keep track of studies, apply lessons, yes. Absolutely. Test proficiency. Yes, so while it's also supportive in helping you learn things it is also to test and ensure that you're gaining the knowledge that you need to demonstrate understanding, analysis, apply knowledge, yeah. You all have this. That's great.

Audio: So yes, the purpose of the weekly application assignments is—there's really many purposes. It's to apply the information that you're learning, to engage with the materials, to test your proficiency, critically think about things. It's really that supportive work that you do. All right. Thank you all very much.


Visual: Layout reverts back to large PowerPoint slides with caption pod, Q & A pod, and files pod on the right. PowerPoint slide “Purpose can shift.”

Audio: So moving along. Something else to emphasize is that purpose can shift. So you might see in, say, the early weeks of a course the purpose of your application assignments might be reflective, it might ask you to think about a time when you encountered a difficulty at your workplace and then develop strategies. But then later in your course work you might find that the purpose is to present a literature review or an annotated bibliography, something that's more of a scholarly academic piece of writing. Those purposes are always going to vary.

Audio: Similarly, the purpose is also going to shift based on your degree as well. We probably have a variety of undergraduates or master's or doctoral students here. Whatever degree you're pursuing, the purposes are going to differ there, too. So that's just something to keep in mind as you take on these application assignments each week, is that the purposes are going to differ and that the strategies are going to present here are going to help you figure out those purposes.


Visual: PowerPoint slide changes to slide 9 “Walden Assignment Prompts.”

Audio: All right. So moving on to the common three types of pieces of information that you're going to find in a Walden assignment prompt. So these are our own terms. You probably are not going to find these exact terms in all of your assignment prompts but reading many different assignment prompts as we do here in the Writing Center each day, we were able to extrapolate that these three pieces are part of most assignment prompts so there's the introduction and explanation. This is the part that explains the topic, the scenario. It sets up the context for what's happening. Often this is a grand statement. Then there's the preparation. This is more of the nuts and bolts of what should you do before you start writing. This might explain, you know, reflect on some experiences or write in response though these questions or read these materials. We see that a lot. Read, you know, X, Y, and Z course materials. So that's kind of the steps, the things that you go through. And then the action section, the final section typically is what shows you what to do when you're actually writing. So this is where you often find the direct prompt that says write a two to three-page paper that is reflective and addresses these three questions. So the action part is what you want to see mimicked in your paper but you have to go through the introduction and preparation to be fully prepared for writing that assignment. 


Visual: Slide 10 with a sample assignment prompt for a reflection essay.

Audio: All right. Let's look at these a little bit closer. So here's a sample assignment prompt from one of the graduate writing courses. So you'll see here it's somewhat lengthy but not crazy big. Probably about a half page. So the first paragraph, this is the introduction. Here it's titled reflection but you get the general idea. It's telling the reader what the assignment topic is. Then in the middle there's the preparation section. You can see that the heading here says to prepare for this reflection and doesn't exactly say preparation. But you can kind of extrapolate that the same thing's going on. And then this is the action section. So this is what the instructor actually wants the students to write. 


Visual: Slide 11 “Section 1: Introduction and Explanation.”

Audio: So let's look at these a little bit more closely. So this is the introduction and explanation section from that sample that we just showed a moment ago. What you can see here is a short paragraph. So I would like us to practice kind of figuring out what is it that this assignment is asking students to do. 


Visual: Layout changes so that the PowerPoint is moderate sized again and a moderate sized chat pod opens. The Q & A pod and captioning pods are still open but the file pod is temporarily gone.

Audio: So here's our next little chat pod. Take a minute and try and figure out after reading this what is the assignment topic and what is this prompt asking you to do. Fantastic. Once again you've all done it. Yes. Absolutely. So as you read through this paragraph, you'll notice that a few of the sentences aren't exactly telling the writer what they need to do in the paper. But that very last sentence tells the writer to reflect on their learning in this course and how what they have learned will help with future writing in their course work and professional career. So the things that you all are writing here to talk about what you learned in the course to use the knowledge gained and apply it to the doctoral study, to reflect on what was studied and apply it. Absolutely. That is definitely what's going on here with this introduction.  Now, this is the introduction, not the action section. So it isn't actually telling the reader exactly what needs to be in the paper. But you can still see that one final sentence really does show what the writer needs to do in their assignment. So thank you. I'll let you all take another minute, if you want to. It looks like you've all finished typing. So thank you very much. We'll keep moving forward.


Visual: Layout reverts back to larger PowerPoint slides with smaller captioning, Q&A, and files pods open on the right. PowerPoint slide 12 “Section 2: Preparation” is showing.

Audio: So this is the part from section two then, the preparation section. What you'll notice here is that it has a list of questions, so it's again—this is the part that's telling the writer what they should do before they start writing. So this tells the writer to review topics, consider questions, and then it lists questions, what practical skills have you learned to improve your writing, how would you describe your writing before taking this course. So again, this is the part that gives those directions.


Visual: Slide 13 “Section 3: Action” opens.

Audio: Section 3 then, the action section looking closer at this now you can see this includes the page range. So it's a two to three-page reflective essay in which you do the following, and then it directs the reader what is to do. It also explains where to go if the student has questions and when to post to the Blackboard site. So there's a lot going on with this action section that let's the writer know what's going on. So at this point we've concluded the part where we're talking about the three sections of most Walden assignment prompts. I wanted to check and see. Claire, are there any questions that I can help address right now?

Audio: Claire: Yeah, hi, Jes. Yeah, there is a question. Should the introduction of the paper itself have those kinds—the parts of the assignment that are in that final part of the prompt?

Audio: Jes: Oh, that's a great question. Yes, absolutely. So we'll look at this a little bit late where we're talking about academic writing standards but now is a good time to preview it.  When you're writing an introduction for a discussion board post or for a paper, it's a good idea to bring in, not the actual language from the prompt, but the ideas. So if the prompt is giving some context and says, you know, in this case study this happened and, you know, you need to figure out how to respond to this, that would be really helpful for the reader if in the introduction it introduced the case study as well and laid out that background information. So if there's information in the assignment prompt that would be relevant for your reader to have as background information in the introduction, that's absolutely what you want to include. And it's also a really good idea to form a thesis statement or a purpose statement in response to the action items in the assignment prompt. So if your assignment prompt like this one is saying assess your growth as a writer, based on your response to the prompts above a thesis statement might say as a writer I have grown through, you know, X, Y, and Z actions, whatever it is that that person is arguing about. So yeah, absolutely. Does that answer the question, Claire?

Audio: Claire: Yeah, great, Jes. And we have one more question for the moment. How should a student know how many words to write in their assignment?

Audio: Jes: That's another good question. But a trickier one. So when you're figuring out how much to write in your assignment, that's often the kind of thing that you'll want to ask your faculty member if it doesn't state it explicitly in the assignment prompt to. This assignment prompt for example says compose a two to three-page reflective essay, so you could see how many pages you're writing double spaced and there you would go. If it doesn't list how long the assignment is supposed to be, it's possible that that information would be in the syllabus so, for example, oftentimes instructors won't list exactly how long a discussion board post needs to be because it's in the syllabus. So you could take a look there. But that would be definitely the kind of thing that I would check the assignment sheet, check the syllabus, check the rubric which we'll talk about later, too. That might include page length or count. That's a good question to ask your faculty member. Any more, Claire?

Audio: Claire: No. That's all we have for now.

Audio: Jes: All right. Thanks so much. And everyone, please do keep submitting your questions to the Q and A box. We'll have another chance to answer them soon. 


Visual: Slide opens “7 Strategies for Demystifying Writing Prompts.”

Audio: So moving forward then to the actual strategies. This is kind of the bread and butter of today's presentation. I love talking about strategies for writing because writing can be hard sometimes and figuring out how to interpret an assignment and take it on really helps when you have some strategies or some tools in your tool belt. So we're going to go over these 7 strategies today and give you a chance to practice some of them.


Visual: Slide “Strategy 1: Highlight Action Words” opens.

Audio: So strategy one is to highlight action words. So by action words, I mean that in every assignment prompt there are going to be verbs that tell the writer what it is they need to do in their paper. And these verbs are going to say things like reflect or argue or address.


Visual: Action words in the assignment prompt change to a yellow font on slide.

Audio: So if we take a look at this highlighting action words you can see here that all of the action words, all of the verbs that are telling the writer what to do have been highlighted. This writer needs to prepare, review, consider, respond, describe, so this is a very descriptive assignment prompt. It's not argumentative. It's descriptive and then the assignment is compose and assess and include. So from all of these action words we really are able to see that this isn't necessarily an argumentative paper that has to bring in academic sources. This is a reflection where you review and assess and you describe and you consider. So strategy one highlight action words. I think if you do this, you'll have an easier time of figuring out the heart of the assignment and what kinds of things your faculty member is asking you to write about.


Visual: Slide changes to “Strategy 2: Change Pronouns from Second Person to First Person.” Presenter points out second person pronouns in the writing prompt using a green arrow.

Audio: Strategy 2 then is to change pronouns from second person to first person. So when you're doing this the idea is that you look through the assignment prompt and you identify where there are currently second person pronouns. So for example, in this one, we can see that it says your right here. Let's see if I can get this arrow to go there. So we've got your right there, and then we have you again, and your again. So that's the second person pronoun. 


Visual: Pronouns on the slide change from second person to first person and are in black font (the remaining words are in white font).

Audio: So what happens then when—there we go. What happens when you do this is you take those second person pronouns and you switch them to be first person so that suddenly this assignment prompt isn't about someone else. It's about you and it's about what you do in your prompt. So suddenly this assignment says what practical skills have I learned to improve my writing. How would I describe my writing before taking this course.  How would I describe my writing now. This takes something that kind of felt separate and not something that you needed to do and makes it more personal and achievable. So strategy two, change second place pronouns from second person to first person. And I'll pause there really quick. Claire, are there any questions about strategies one or two?

Audio: Claire: Nothing pertaining to those particular strategies yet.


Visual: Slide changes to “Strategy 3: Outline Using Language from the Writing Prompt.” Slide shows typed, single-page outline with six main sections; the first five have subsections. The introduction subsections are background information and thesis. The subsections for the body paragraphs illustrate the MEAL plan.

Audio: Jes: All right. Thank you. So moving on, outline using language from the writing prompt. So you'll notice here that there's an outline with an introduction, several different body sections, and a conclusion. The idea is that you take the questions that you were posed in the assignment prompt and the directives that you were given to do one, two, three, four, however many things you need to do in your paper and you find ways to divide those up and organize them so that you have an outline where you have a paragraph or maybe several paragraphs that address each of the topics brought up in the assignment prompt. So as you remember, this assignment prompt is only asking for two to three pages. So it doesn't need to be, you know, like a full page on each of these questions. Probably a paragraph would be enough. So in this sample outline I outline just for that, for one paragraph on each of the questions in addition to an introduction and conclusion. You'll notice, too, then that these paragraphs, they don't just say, you know, the paragraph will be about this. They have this main idea, evidence analysis, and leadout. And that's because this MEAL is what we call the meal plan for paragraphing. You might have listened to one of our other webinars about the MEAL plan or perhaps gone to our website but if you haven't you can click this live link here. I'll click down there for the MEAL plan for paragraphing and learn more. But the idea is that each body paragraph should have a topic sentence that states your main idea. Some evidence, in this case that would be personal evidence. You might say, you know, before I was a bad writer and I got C's on my papers and the analysis would be reflecting on that. Maybe I got C's on my papers because I won't working very hard, and the leadout is the conclusion sentence. That's why I have the A, B, C, D here. You'll notice, too, in the files pod there's a file called outlining your outline and that helps to illustrate the same thing if you want to do something similar and use this outline for yourself.  Strategy four then is to outline your outline.


Visual: Slide changes to “Strategy 4: Outline your Outline.” The outline on the previous slide now has estimates for how much time each main section will require. This also includes “due dates” for when to complete each section. A time estimate for revision is added to the bottom of the outline, but is not included as a part of the outline.

Audio: So you notice that this is extremely similar to the photo that was on the slide before but the big difference is that time stamps have been added to this along with some revision at the very bottom. So there's a revision. So these time stamps. The reason that these are helpful is that they can take a bigger assignment and break it down into smaller more manageable parts that perhaps aren't as frightening to begin. 


Visual: Jes uses a green arrow to point out the time estimates and due dates for each section as she discusses the slide.

Audio: A two to three-page paper isn't, you know, extremely long but for some people it might take a while to write that so deciding I'll write my introduction and my first body section first. And I'll do that before dinner. And then having dinner and saying, all right, I'll write my third section and my fourth section after dinner. And then deciding, all right, I'm done for today, I'm going to do the fifth section and the conclusion tomorrow morning. That can take an assignment that feels a little bit unmanageable at the time and break it into manageable chunk s so that you ensure that you have time to complete it. In addition scheduling and revision time can help to ensure that you have the proper time to reflect on what you wrote, to read back through it, to get some feedback and to edit and proofread. So that's outlining your outline. And again, what this does it allows you to schedule time for discrete writing tasks including revision.  All right.


Visual: Slide changes to “Strategy 5: Make a Checklist” and shows a ten item checklist for the process of completing an assignment. Jes uses a green arrow again to point out different items on the checklist as she discusses them.

Audio: The next kind of outlining is strategy 5, to make a checklist. So this works really well with strategies three and four because it is also kind of making an outline line. But this outline is less about the paper and more about the steps that you need to go through to complete the paper. So our first step here, this is just a sample, is to make an appointment with the Writing Center for a paper review. This will allow you to ensure that there's an appointment available when you need one and then you can upload your paper when it's complete and you'll get feedback from an instructor like me or like Claire. And that feedback can help you with that revision step.

Then you'll notice here that the second check mark and the third check mark and the fourth check mark are all from the assignment prompt, so review previous topics, readings, assignments, that was all part of the preparation section of the sample prompt we looked at. Consider following questions. Same thing, that's from preparation. Compose a two to three-page reflective essay. That's from the action section. That's just a reminder of how many pages to write and what kind of essay it is. And then below that we have revise, upload to the paper appointment, revise again based on instructor suggestions and comments.

You can submit your paper to Grammarly and this is a live link. Grammarly can help you. It's an automated grammar checker that gives you suggestions for revising and TurnItIn to check for plagiarism and also can do other things. And then edit and proofread. One thing I want to emphasize here is that you want to include in your checklist the steps provided in the assignment prompt but it's also a really good idea to include these steps for revision. This allows you to not just write the paper and submit it but take the time to reflect and ensure that you are turning in and writing the best paper that you can. 

All right. Our next strategy moves into a different area. So I want to pause again to see if there's been any questions about these outlines and checklists. Claire, do you have any for me?

Audio: Claire: Yeah. I have one question, Jes. What should a student do with their outlining if the assignment says to put a few different main points in the same paragraph or section? So one more detailed example we're using.

Audio: Jes: That's a great question and really appropriate, too, because oftentimes assignment prompts do ask you to do one more thing. So there's a couple different approaches you can take.  You can write several shorter paragraphs. There's nothing wrong with having more paragraphs as long as you're allowed but it would also be okay to have a more complex, main idea. And say your main idea includes two or three things that are related. You just want to ensure that then in your evidence and in your analysis you brought up information on those two or three things that have some connection and transition. It would also be completely fine to have a bigger, more robust paragraph that has several sentences of evidence and several sentences of analysis but then that main idea and leadout that connect everything and show how the many different points are related. Does that help, Claire?

Audio: Claire: Yeah. I think that was a great answer. And on a slightly related note, how should a student know what formatting they should use for an assignment? So concerning APA specifically.

Audio: Jes: That is another great question. So in a minute here when we get to the different academic writing standards we'll have a link that takes you to the our APA formatting page and on that page it has an APA template that you can use and download on to your computer and it has the running head in proper format and the title page and the rest of the paper with the proper headings and all of that spacing. So that's one strategy. You can download that APA formatting template and use that for your writing as a starting point. So you get an assignment and the first thing you do is open up your template and change the title. That's completely okay. Another idea is that you can go to our Walden Writing Center web page and go to the APA section of our web page. You'll see it in the header at the bar and that has tips and suggestions for what format to use. You can also go that route if you're the more creative type and would rather do the formatting yourself instead of use a template. Does that help, Claire.

Audio: Claire: Right. And the main thing, too, is that all formal work for Walden should be using that APA template. So it's a really important resource and you guys can follow that link when it comes up on the forth coming slide.

Audio: Jes: Yes, absolutely. Thank you, Claire. I appreciate your addition there.  


Visual: Slide changes to “Strategy 6: Refer to the Rubric” and shows an example of a scoring rubric matrix for a discussion post. The rubric has headings for exemplary, acceptable, approaching acceptable, and needs significant improvement. Jes uses the green arrow to point out different sections of the rubric as she discusses the slide.

Audio: All right. Let's keep going. We have two more strategies. So strategy 6 is to refer to the rubric. You might not see a rubric for every single assignment that you write here at Walden but many of your assignments will have these. And what's unique about the rubric is that it is often quite different than the assignment prompt in that it's not focusing exactly on what tasks you're supposed to accomplish but it shows what kinds of things the instructor or the faculty member values when they're grading. So when we look at this rubric, for example, you'll notice at the very top is clarity and completeness of ideas. So this faculty member values a clear pattern of idea formation and compelling reasons. In addition, grammar and mechanic s is right here so grammar, punctuation, addressing the task. It's important this faculty member that the student address all aspects of the task fully and completely. So if you see this on your rubric you're going to want to make sure to kind of use your action section and your preparation section as a checklist so that checklist strategy can really help. And then responses to the other students. So this part is not actually even about what document you write. It's about how you respond to your peers. So from this, as a writer, what I would gain from this is that a third of my paper, the significance is clearness and completeness of ideas. And another third is fully addressing the task. So when I'm writing and revising and editing, I want to focus on clarity and addressing the task. And then grammar and mechanics is important but it's only a third of the paper. So I would focus most of my effort of revision on clarity and completing some ideas and addressing tasks, and then I would probably leave grammar and mechanics until the end and do my editing then once I know that the rest of the paper is clear and complete. So depending on the rubric that you get, you're going to find that there are different things that are valued, maybe 80% of the grade is organization or 50% of the grade is grammar. So based on kind of how it's weighted you'll want to make sure that you remember those ideas. And even if you make a paper review appointment you would want to ask in your paper review appointment, you know, can you help me with clarity and complete use of ideas and addressing the task and, if you have time, grammar and mechanics. So these are just good tips to keep in mind. The rubric can really help you as you're revising.


Visual: “Strategy 7: Ask your Faculty” is added to the slide with the rubric.

Audio: Strategy 7 then is to ask your faculty. So if strategy 1 through 6 has failed you, and you still don't know what it is you're supposed to do in your assignment or you just still have questions, maybe as that question before brought up, maybe you don't know how many words you're supposed to write or how long your paper is supposed to be, ask your faculty. They're there to help you. Their job is to communicate with you and to teach and you to support you as you're working on your class. So please, don't be afraid to ask them.  They're there for you. We're here for you, too, in the Writing Center and you can always email us at writing support if you have a question. But in terms of the assignment and what the assignment is asking, if you can't figure it out from the assignment prompt your faculty member is probably the best person to help you at that point. All right. So those are our 7 strategies. I'll pause again before I move into academic writing standards. Claire, have there been any questions?

Audio: Claire: Just one about Writing Center appointments. Can students submit discussion posts for their paper review appointments?

Audio: Jes: Yes, absolutely you can. I actually reviewed two of them today. So yes, please do submit your discussion posts. You know, those are actually really nice for us to help you on because our appointments are limited to 30 minutes, and you can really do a lot of good work with a discussion board post in 30 minutes and help students with strategies for revision on that document but also future documents. So yes, absolutely. We're happy to take your discussion posts. Anything else?

Audio: Claire: No. Thanks, Jes.


Visual: Slide changes to “Strategy Practice: Section 2: Preparation.”

Audio: Jes: Awesome, thank you, Claire, you're doing great. Moving on, let's practice this. So here is section two, preparation from a sample, different assignment prompt.


Visual: Layout changes so that the PowerPoint slide is moderate-sized and includes the prompt for the chat activity. The “Preparation” section of the assignment prompt is below the chat prompt. The layout also has a moderate-sized chat pod, the small Q&A pod, and the captioning pod. The files pod is not visible.

Audio: We're going to open up the chat box in a minute. Here's what I would like you to do. Read through this. You can skim. Remember the action words are just the verbs to that's what you look for. In the chat box please list three of the action words that you would highlight to show what to do for this assignment. I'll give you a minute.

Awesome. Once again, you've all done it. Download, review, apply. So this part of the preparation assignment is really just kind of the nitty-gritty stuff. You're supposed to download a paper, check, you can do that. You can add that to the top of your checklist. You're supposed to review it, which means read it as some people here have noted and then apply the criteria. If you keep reading you might see consider. You're downloading, reviewing the paper and using the guidelines to apply to that document. Good job. You're experts at this now.


Visual: Layout and slide changes. The PowerPoint slide is now large and shows “Strategy Practice: Section 3: Action.” At the top of the slide is the chat activity prompt. Below that is a sample assignment prompt. The chat pod is not visible. The right side of the screen shows the smaller pods for captioning, Q&A, and files.

Audio: Moving on then, let's practice with the action section. So this is another sample for a different assignment. It's the action section. And here's what I would like you to do in the chat box.


Visual: Layout changes back to a moderate-sized PowerPoint slide, moderate-sized chat pod, and smaller Q&A and captioning pods at the top.

Audio: List what are three of the items you would place on your checklist for completing this assignment. So remember, the checklist was the document that we showed that had the different steps for revision and editing but also the different steps for how to complete the assignment. So what are three of the things you would put on your checklist for completing this assignment. I'll give you a minute. 

All right. You can keep typing but I'll talk through what I'm seeing. These look great. So yeah, the checklist often includes the steps that you'll take to complete the assignment, the important information to remember in the assignment prompt, and the different things that you'll do for revision. So the things that I'm seeing here about, you know, use Microsoft Word, track changes, compose a two page paper. Focus on specific paragraphs, review the paper.  Review the document. Focus on specifics, communicate.

Yeah, so it looks like all of you are doing a really good job of including the steps that you would include for completing the assignment. Additional information that you can include in your checklist is things like make a paper review appointment, take some time to proofread and edit, run the paper through Grammarly or through TurnItIn, revise based on the writing instructor's feedback that you receive. So you all did a fantastic job of showing the steps you need to complete for the assignment but do remember that there's other steps that you can complete to prepare, to revise, edit and to proofread and then you'll get the extra support that you need. Fantastic. All right.


Visual: Layout and PowerPoint slide change. PowerPoint slide is now large and shows the new chat prompt at the top. The bottom shows another example of a scoring rubric. The captioning, Q&A, and files pods are all located on the right.

Audio: We have one more little practice. This is another rubric which has some interesting point variation. So I would like you in the chat box to look at this rubric and figure out kind of using the same method that we showed a minute ago.


Visual: Layout changes back to the moderate-sized PowerPoint slide, the moderate-sized chat pod, and the smaller Q&A and captioning pods at the top.

Audio: What are three significant assignment aspects to note based on this rubric? So based on how things are ordered and how points are divvied up, kind of what I'm asking is what does it seem that this faculty member really values and wants to see in your paper and maybe what things aren't as significant or aren't as highly valid in the rubric. I'll give you a minute.

All right. Fantastic. It looks like you're all kind of gathering that in this assignment, the reasoning and evidence and the conclusion are really important.


Visual: Jes uses the green arrow to point out parts of the rubric as she discusses them.

Audio: Those things as you'll notice, you know, get my little green arrow again. The reasons and evidence are 30 points and then the quality and the conclusion is another 20. So that means that 50% of the grade is related to the conclusion and the reasoning and the evidence. So then as you all are also noting the APA style is important. That's 10% of the grade along with grammar and errors. Evidence needs to be cited throughout. There needs to be counter arguments. Assumptions need to be identified, and there needs to be no ambiguous jargon. And then the introduction is important, too. So basically, what we're showing here with the rubric s is that using these point totals and how things are ordered can help you figure out what to value. 

So if I was a writer I would want to make sure that my conclusion is very strong and that my reasoning and evidence are very strong throughout. And once I felt like I had a handle on those then I would probably tackle some of the other things like maybe revising the introduction or looking at my jargon or working on my counter argument or working on grammar. So thank you, awesome. You all are wonderful chatters today.


Visual: Layout shifts back to the large PowerPoint slide on the left and the smaller captioning, Q&A, and file pods stacked on the right.

Audio: All right. We are done with this part of the activity. Claire, have any questions come up during these chat sessions?

Audio: Claire: No. I think everybody's seeing things really straightforward.


Visual: PowerPoint slide changes to show a rotary dialed phone with three text boxes below stacked in a pyramid. The top text box says “All types of communications have conventions:” and the bottom two boxes say “Phone calls” and “Academic writing.”

Audio: Jes: Great. All righty. So here is our last little section about academic conventions. So just like phone calls, where there is a standard convention that you will greet the person calling you and conclude that conversation without hanging up, academic writing has conventions, too.


Visual: PowerPoiont slide changes to “Academic Writing Standards” and has a bulleted list with links to corresponding pages on the Writing Center website.

Audio: And in academic writing some of these conventions include things like APA formatting, introduction paragraphs, thesis statement or conclusions. Now your assignment prompt might not say explicitly you need to use APA formatting or you need to include an introduction or a thesis statement or conclusion, but the reason it doesn't say this is not because it's not needed. It's because it's expected because it's an academic writing standard.


Visual: Jes uses the green arrow to point out the links as she discusses the slide.

Audio: So if you like to learn more about APA format, for example, our question earlier about the template, this link right here will bring you to the template and it will allow you to download that. This link here will get you to our introductions page which has some samples and some instruction on how to effectively provide background information and a thesis in your introduction. Here you can get a link to our thesis statement page and we actually have a lot of excellent resources on writing a thesis statement like a webinar and also a podcast. So if you're curious about thesis statements and you feel like you need some more instruction on that, you can go there. Same with our conclusion page. And then this avoid assignment prompt writing. We're going to talk more about that in a second here.


Visual: PowerPoint slide changes to “Avoid Assignment Prompt Wording” and has two text boxes stacked on the left. The top box is labelled “Avoid this Conclusion” and the bottom box is labelled “Better Conclusion.” Each box contains an example conclusion.

Audio: So what this means is if you are given an assignment prompt that perhaps says that you should explain the skills you learned to improve your writing or describe your writing before taking the course, you would not want to write a conclusion that explicitly uses that wording. This is kind of similar to earlier when Claire asked if you need to include the language from the prompt in your introduction. You need to include the ideas but you also want to have your own spin, and you want to write a unique paper that you wrote, that couldn't have been written by anyone else.

So this first conclusion, it really reflects the assignment prompt too heavily. You can see and kind of extrapolate how it is using that same language. A better conclusion then is more personal. So this one says while writing throughout high school and college I've learned many skills like paraphrasing. These skills will serve me well of achieving my goals and my APA format in this course. This is showing how and kind of gives us personal examples.


Visual: PowerPoint slide changes. The heading is the same, but the text boxes change and move to the right. The top box now says “Avoid these headings” and the bottom box says “Better headings.” Both text boxes have accompanying examples.

Audio: Similarly, if you're given questions and a prompt, some people oftentimes feel tempted to use those questions as headings. However headings are most effective when they're short, they're brief and they're not listed as questions. So rather than listing what practical skills have you learned to improve your writing you can just say my writing skills, my previous writing experience. So those shorter more concise, more directive headings are going to be more helpful for your reader but also it allows you to kind of deviate from the assignment prompt wording. So that's that for academic writing standards.


Visual: PowerPoint slide changes to a prompt for a practice activity and then a few questions for the chat activity.

Audio: I would like to you just take a minute then and here's our final chat.


Visual: The layout changes back to the moderate-sized PowerPoint slide and moderate-sized chat pod. The Q&A and captioning pods are above the chat pod and the file box is not visible.

Audio: Earlier, we asked you to open up your next application assignment prompt and kind of think about that. So I would like to you just post in the chat box what strategies or tips that we've talked about do you think you will use to help complete your next assignment. So what here, what of our 7 strategies, what about academic writing standards has been most important and do you think that you'll carry over into your own writing practice?

Oh, fantastic. I'm so glad to see that such a variety of this looks like it will be helpful. We've got the APA template, reflecting on what the assignment is real really asking you to do. That's great. And paper review outlines. Yeah, we'll talk about paper reviews in just a minute here. Reflecting, APA, conclusions. Links for APA format. I love that a bunch of the strategies. Strategy five, to see what the instructor emphasized. I'm so glad to see that. Second first to first person. The different outlines, referring to the rubric. We've also got getting help from the Writing Center. Yes, we are happy to help you. We do so through these webinars but we also have our paper review service and our chat service. If you go to our website you'll see all the different things we have available for you. Excellent. Very glad to hear that this is going to be helpful. All right. I'm going to keep moving on. But if you haven't gotten a chance to type just keep these things in your head and think about what are you going to use next time you go. All right.


Visual: Layout and PowerPoint slide change. The PowerPoint slide is large and is titled “Paper Review Appointments.” It has two text boxes. One is headed “Purpose” and the other is headed “Mini Writing lesson.” Jes uses the green arrow to point out important points she is discussing on the slide.

Audio: So a little bit more detail on one of the strategies that you can use to get some revision help. So this live link here will get you to our paper review appointment page if you're curious. Just a bit of context. So paper reviews are here to provide feedback to help you develop skills long-term. So we're here to look at your papers and to give you comments on some, though not always all of your draft, and then you're expected to use that feedback and learn from it so we might present a lesson on, say, how to write topic sentences or how to use a comma or avoid comma splices and then you take ownership of that revision process through the feedback that you received. So we're here as kind of guides and mentors to look at your writing and to give you ideas that will help you with that paper and with future papers.


Visual: The PowerPoint slide changes to “Paper Review Process” and shows the steps students use to schedule a paper review appointment. The slide has four nested text boxes titled, “Make an appointment,” “Complete form,” “Attach paper,” and “Relax (whew!).” Each text box provides details on the corresponding step. Jes uses the green arrow to guide the participants through the process.

Audio: The process then is like this. So you make an appointment, and this is why on the checklist we have this first. You make an appointment. Sometimes we're booked for the whole week so making an appointment early ensures that you have an appointment when you want it. So if you know that you have a paper due on Sunday, you might want to make an appointment for Thursday or Friday. You go to MyWalden portal and the MyPass scheduling system and make an appointment. And then you complete the form that comes up once you have an account. You give details and describe concerns and areas for help. The more information you can provide on that sheet the better. As an instructor I find it so valuable when students tell me what they're struggling with and what they're working on. So you want to do that. And then attach the paper and by 5 am the day of the appointment or immediately, and then you get to sit back and relax and the writing instructor will review your paper and get it back to you within two days. So that's the process. Again, the links are here, and if you didn't get them right away you can get them if you download the PowerPoint for today. But that's our paper review process. I hope that you'll consider it and take that into consideration.


Visual: A new PowerPoint slide opens that shows the link for the WriteCast episode 11 with a link to the podcast.

Audio: Another tip that might be helpful is to check out this right cast episode about strategies for following your assignment instructions. Podcasts are great because you can listen to them in your car or on your phone. So if you want help on how to address your assignment instructions this is a great start. I think I'm going to hand this over to Beth so she can do some closing things, and then we'll answer questions after that if there's time.


Visual: The quiz pod takes the place of the PowerPoint slides. The PowerPoint slide is now located at the bottom right with the Q&A, files, and captioning pods above that.

Audio:  Beth: Awesome. Thank you so much, Jes. Thanks for taking us through that. And I'm actually going to be loading our quiz here. So I wondered if you could start us off by answering a question that a student is asking about counter arguments and when they know they need to include counter arguments. While I load this do you mind answering that question?

Audio: Jes: Yes, absolutely. So counter arguments are particularly important when you are writing an argumentative paper about a controversial topic.


Visual: The layout remains the same, but the PowerPoint slide changes to show when and where students can ask questions about the webinar, including and Twitter. Below that information are links to other related webinar recordings.

Audio: So if you're writing a paper like the one that we were demonstrating here reflecting on your own practices there's a very good chance that you don't need a counter argument there because there isn't one. You're writing about yourself and no one can really dispute your reflections on yourself. But if you're writing on a controversial topic. Electronic records on nursing for example, but if you're writing a paper about why electronic records on nursing are so important and valuable that would be a good time to bring up the counter argument and to address why is it that some people don't think we need electronic records in nursing or why is it that some people think they're a bad idea. Another example is if you are presenting a proposal for how to address a problem, and you're making an argument for how to resolve that problem. That would be a good time to bring up the counter argument and talk about how other people think that the problem should be addressed or why there might be an issue with yours. So I guess in general, it's best to bring up the counter argument when you know that what you're writing is controversial and someone might honestly disagree with it, then it's good to give voice to that counter argument and address it so that the reader hear it is, understands why it's not something that you think is very important, and then can move on to see your argument.


Visual: The webinar postquiz is now open in the quiz pod.

Audio: Beth: And could I add something real quick, there? I was just going to say that is something that you might just watch out for in the assignment prompt as well. Sometimes your assignment might specifically be focused on or the instructor might specifically want you to work with counter arguments or showing two sides of an issue, too. So that's something just to keep in mind on or keep an eye on at least because in that assignment prompt it might ask you specifically to do that. So again, all these strategy also help you identify, too, if that's the case. Does that make sense, Jes?

Audio: Jes: Yes, that's brilliant. Thanks for adding that, Beth.

Audio: Beth: No. Of course, that was such a helpful answer. We also had another question earlier when we were talking about paragraphs. Would that be something that we could talk about now maybe?

Audio: Jes: Yeah, sure. Can you restate the question again?

Audio: Beth: Of course. Yes. I didn't state it at all. So let me do that. The question—you're fine. No. The question was about transitions and so specifically thinking about paragraphs. And I suppose, too, thinking about your outline where you need to make sure you're covering the different points outlined in the assignment prompt. How would you suggest students think about transitioning between those different requirements and between the paragraphs? Does that make sense?

Audio: Jes: Yes, absolutely. That's a great question. Yeah, and you know, this is something that I think is often very challenging when you're tackling an assignment that seems to have pretty unrelated questions. But this is kind of the joy of writing is that it gets to be your creative job then to figure out how do those questions relate. And is there a way that they could be organized that allows for the flow to be a little bit stronger. In the prompt that we showed earlier with the four questions and then the outline, actually I reorganize the questions in a way that seemed to have a better flow to me. So that's an option is to reorganize the questions in a way that make sense to you and then really reflect on and think about how those questions might be connected.

And in your topic sentence then you can have a complex sentence that refers back to the previous idea and then connects to the next one. So yeah, I think it's—it's about ordering things in a way that logically makes sense to you and connecting them through transitions and through sentences that allow you to connect those ideas. Do either of you have more ideas on that?

Audio: Beth: The only thing I was going to say, Jes, and I know we're focusing more on the start of the writing process and assignment prompts, right, because that's more at the start of our whole process here, but the other thing I would just say, too, is to remember that it's really useful to go after the assignment prompt and maybe that outline you create before you start writing after you finished writing your draft as well and just double-checking that you've completed everything and that you kind of stayed true to the outline and maybe double-check that go you might need to go back and revise the outline or your draft or how you've be kind of organized things. That's something to keep in mind, too. A lot of these strategies can be used on the back end when you're looking at revising and polishing and get being ready to submit your assignments, too. So I don't know if you would agree with that, Jes, or if you have anything to add. I just thought that might be useful to keep in mind.

Audio: Jes: Oh, I absolutely agree. I think that's great, Beth. 

Audio: Beth: It looks like we're out of time. I'm going to give people time to finish that survey. So keep at that. And I thought, Jes, if you wouldn't mind giving us a quick last thought. What's one more thing that you wants students to keep in mind at the end of the session as they leave.

Audio:  Jes: Absolutely. I guess final thoughts are to just keep working at it. I think oftentimes, you know, this early stage of understanding the assignment can be challenging. And so today, you know, we've given you some strategies. I would like to see you practice those strategies and see if that can help you as you're working to understand your assignment. But know that this writing process is something we learn and we practice, and just like basketball, just like tennis, piano, things that aren't sports related they require practice. And so if you're using these strategies and you're practicing and you're writing every week and you're seeking out feedback from the writing center, you're doing the practice you need to get to your goal of doing well on these assignments. So just keep that in mind. Understanding the assignment prompt and these strategies are just part of that big cycle of practicing your writing so that you can keep moving in the direction of where you want to go. And thank you all for attending. This has been wonderful.

Audio:   Beth:  Well, thank you, Jes. No, thank you. That's a great presentation. And I like those last thoughts. Those are great. Thank you, Jes. Thank you, Claire, also for answering all those great questions and facilitating the session. And thank you everyone for attending.  We're going to go ahead and end the quiz here and then I'm going to go ahead and end the webinar. But the last thing I wanted to say is remember we have webinars throughout the month. I hope to see you at another webinar and do e-mail us if you have any questions after this session, too. So thank you so much. Have a great night.