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Webinar Transcripts

Strategies for Demystifying Walden Assignment Prompts

Presented May 15, 2019

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Last updated 6/5/2019

 

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Housekeeping

  • Recording
    • Will be available online within 24 hours.
  • Interact
    • Polls, files, and links are interactive.
  • Q&A
    • Now: Use the Q&A box.
    • Later: Send to writingsupport@waldenu.edu or visit our  Live Chat Hours.
  • Help
    • Ask in the Q&A box.
    • Choose “Help” in the upper right-hand corner of the webinar room

Audio: Melissa: Hello everyone and welcome. My name is Melissa Sharp and I am a writing instructor here at the Walden University writing center. Before we begin and I hand the session over to Michael, I want to go over a few housekeeping items.

First, we are recording this webinar so you are welcome to access it at a later date through our webinar archive. And there you’ll find that we actually record all of our webinars. So, you are welcome to look through that archive for other recordings that might interest you. Or this is a good way to catch a webinar that just doesn’t fit into your schedule.

Also, whether you are attending this webinar live today or watching the recording you will find that we have some interactive elements today including some links, chats and the files which you will see in the files pod at the bottom of your screen which happens to include the PowerPoint slides from today. You can interact with all these things throughout the webinar and if you want to save those links or access them later it is a great idea to go to the files pod and download the slides for today's webinar.

I also welcome questions and comments throughout the session and you can use the Q&A box for these. I will be watching the Q&A box and am happy and excited to answer your questions as Michael is presenting. You are also welcome to send any technical issues you have here, as well. Although note that there is a help option at the top right corner of the screen. This is Adobe’s technical support and it really is the best place to go if you need technical help. Alright with that, I will hand it over to Michael.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the title slide: Strategies for Demystifying Walden Assignment Prompts. Michael Dusek, Writing Instructor, Walden University Writing Center

Audio: Michael: Awesome. Thank you for that sterling introduction Melissa. And welcome you guys to today's webinar entitled Strategies for Demystifying Walden Assignment Prompts. I’m Michael Dusek, I’m going to be presenting this webinar. You can see my academic glamour shot [Laughter] there on this first slide but really what we’re going to be discussing in this webinar is how to read an assignment prompt and understand what that assignment prompt is asking you to do. This is kind of foundational, but being able to kind of suss out what’s being asked of you in an assignment prompt really allows you to address those questions directly. And really organize a piece that is what the professor and the prompt is looking for. Before you can really craft a piece that addresses the assignment prompt its first important to understand what the prompt is asking you to do. That’s what this webinar really is all about.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Learning Outcomes

You will be able to:

  • Explain the purpose of application assignments
  • Identify the three sections of most Walden assignment prompts
  • Employ strategies for reading assignment prompts to use in your own assignments
  • Understand the required components of any academic paper

Audio: Some learning outcomes, what are we going to do here in this webinar? After this webinar you will be able to first, explain the purpose of application assignments. Okay, yeah, so that’s one element here. Two, you’re going to identify the three sections of most Walden assignment prompts, we’re going to be looking at how most Walden assignment prompts are broken down. There’s basically three sections that the majority of Walden assignment prompts kind of adhere to. And we’re going to be taking a look at those and what they do, how they are different from one another, and we we’re going to be taking a look at an example as well. So, that’ll be something that we will unpack together.

Employ strategies for reading assignment prompts to use in your own assignments. Yeah, hopefully when you leave this webinar, you’re going to have a couple of strategies to use to effectively read assignment prompts and be able to glean what that assignment prompt is really asking you to do.

Lastly, we are going to understand the required components of any academic paper. Sometimes when you are looking at an assignment prompt, they don’t always mention certain elements of academic writing -- in that prompt specifically, sometimes things like APA style isn’t mentioned, or the idea that there should be a beginning, a middle and an end to an academic piece isn’t always explicitly stated in an assignment prompt. So, we’re going to talk about some of these kinds of unwritten elements that often sometimes assignment prompts are asking of you, kind of without asking. If that makes sense, so we’re going to unpack that later as we get going.

This is really what we are going to work on tonight. Dealing again with assignment prompts and how to really understand them fully so that you can write a more complete and effective piece.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Walden Assignment Prompts

  • Instructions for completing an application assignment have many names
  • Writing Prompts
  • Assignment Instructions
  • Assignment Prompts
  • Assignment Guidelines

Audio: So, first Walden assignment prompts. We’re going to talk about the instructional prompts. Instructions for completing an application assignment have many names. So, you might see different names when it comes to an assignment prompt, some people are going to call them writing prompts. Some people, some instructors, some professors are going to refer to them as assignment instructions. Some will be talking specifically about assignment prompts which you will hear me talking about in this webinar, that is how I prefer to refer to this specific concept. And lastly, some people will refer to these as assignment guidelines.

All four of these are kind of synonymous, they are synonyms for one another so that they can kind of be used interchangeably. Whenever you encounter any of these four phrases you can be sure that this is really about an assignment prompt, something the instructor has crafted in order to give you some direction on an assignment. But again, the purpose of this slide, is that these four phrases are interchangeable. You will see assignment prompts referred to as all four of these things.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: What do Application Papers Look Like at Walden?

  • Application paper
  • Course paper
  • Weekly paper
  • Weekly assignment

Audio: What do application papers look like at Walden? An application paper is going to ask you really to apply the knowledge that you’re working with. Right? This can be something like a discussion post, where you may be reading one piece and then you’re applying that knowledge to maybe a question that your professor is asking of you. These kind of lead into course papers where you are expressing your own argument, you are taking scholarship that you've been exposed to or that perhaps you have researched yourself, and you are then using that to craft an argument of your own. But really, you need to apply your knowledge before you craft an argument of your own and so that's how these two elements correspond.

And to do this, we look at maybe crafting a weekly paper or looking at a weekly assignment, my point with the slide as these things roll into each other, you are not going to do things in a vacuum. An application paper leads into a course paper which can inform your weekly paper which can inform weekly assignments, which then in turn ask for more application.  So really the important thing to remember here is that you are not, again, working in a vacuum. The application papers you are crafting throughout the course during the week really then lead into you crafting an argument of your own in a course paper.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Sample Assignment Prompt from Blackboard

Image of Blackboard class assignment

Audio: Here is an example of an assignment prompt from blackboard. This is what it could look like. We have application two, writer’s history essay. We will get a look at assignment prompts on a later slide, but this is how these can appear within our Blackboard platform, this is what they can look like.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Chat

What’s the first thing you do when you receive a new assignment?

Audio: Okay let's start by just kind of getting some opinions here some strategies. What’s the first thing you do when you receive a new assignment? Imagine that you’re entering a course and you get this assignment prompt. What’s the first thing that you do as you approach that assignment? I’m going to give you guys a couple minutes to respond go ahead and put your answers in the chat box. And in a couple minutes I will check back with you and we’ll talk about some of your answers.

[Attendees working]

Michael: Alright, I’m going to give you one more minute to throw your response in the chat box. We are going to talk to these in about a minute so I will mute for about one more minute.

[Attendees working]

Michael: Okay it seems to have quieted down in the chat box. So, let’s unpack a couple of these. The first thing that I saw that kind of stuck out to me is a number of you guys said some said along the lines of read the instructions, look at the instructions, look at the guidelines, something like that. I mean that is what this is all about, right? What the assignment is meant to do is to get some instructions across to you and provide guidance for you as to what the paper is about and how to go about writing it. I think that’ s really the first thing to do for a lot of people.

Another common response that stuck out to me is I saw a number of you talking about looking up the rubric, that is another great strategy because a rubric is going to tell you how you are being graded. If you have that in mind even before you write that’s going to allow you to tailor your piece in some ways, to make it more effective and get -- make sure you are addressing some of those larger elements of the rubric even before you write and to keep that in mind as you draft. I think that’s another great strategy.

Another thing, that the last one that sticks out to me is to ask for instructor clarification. And what I'm envisioning here is if something does not make sense to you, to reach out to your instructor and to ask them for clarification. Some of these strategies we are going to be discussing later on in this presentation so kudos to you for being ahead of the game. Specifically, with the instructor clarification piece, I think that this is really useful and an important step in crafting an academic piece. If you don’t understand something, the best person to go is to the person that crafted the assignment prompt. So, I think reaching out to the instructor is a good idea.

Every instructor is different, right? I guess I just want to give a disclaimer that it is absolutely appropriate for you to reach out to the instructor and ask for clarification on an assignment prompt. That is part of their job to make sure people are up to speed. So, don’t be intimidated by that. If that is something if you need clarification you should feel free to go ahead and get that from your instructor. If you're asking for clarification on everything that’s going on, that might get to be a little bit of overkill. Right? You can’t use instructor clarification as a crutch. But if there are one or two things you need clarification on, I’d like to remind you that it is appropriate to ask for that from your instructor.

Awesome, you guys, thanks for participating. Again, I saw some good initial strategies here to help you clean what the assignment prompt is asking of you, and then later on to ask for help if it is not immediately obvious.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Purpose Can Shift

  • Assignment
    •  

Position paper

Program evaluation

Annotated bibliography

Literature review

Final papers, theses, studies

  • Degree
    •  
    •  
    •  

Audio: It’s important to remember that your purpose can shift throughout your program. Some assignments are going to ask you to reflect, to take a position, to evaluate a program. You might be asked to create an annotated bibliography or a literature review. Towards the end of your program you’re going to be asked to do final papers, theses, studies and a dissertation perhaps. These can kind of morph from the beginning of your program until the end. You’re going to be starting with more interactive discussion board type assignments, and as you go on through your program, you’re going to be getting in the larger assignments that eventually can lead to a degree once you finish that. So, it’s important to remember that the assignment prompts that you initially encounter for something like a discussion post is going to look a lot different than the assignment prompt for something like a literature review or annotated bibliography. So, each assignment, as you go through your program, is going to have specific features.

Effectively reading an assignment prompt is going to really que you in on the features you need to include in this assignment, that may be I did in a previous one, or which features would be important to omit or which features I don’t need in this assignment, whereas I may have needed that in a previous one. Keep in mind, different assignment have different instructions have different guidelines. And being able to read that assignment prompt effectively will tell you which way you need to take something.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Walden Assignment Prompts: Three Sections

1. Introduction and explanation

  • What’s the assignment’s topic? What is the scenario or situation you should respond to?

2. Preparation

  • What should you read before writing? What should you think about or consider before writing?

3. Action

  • What should you do when writing? What are the requirements for the paper?

Audio: So, yea, let’s then take a look, let's shift here and let’s take a look at the common format of the majority of Walden assignment prompts. As I mentioned at the beginning of this webinar, there’s really three sections in your typical Walden assignment prompts. First, the first section is going to be kind of an introduction an explanation section. In this section then, you’re going to be looking at the topic of the assignment. What is the scenario or situation you should respond to? It’s going to give you some of that introductory or contextual information. From the first section, you’ll know kind of what the topic area that you’re going to be working with is. Maybe the overall situation or scenario you are going to be asked to respond to. So that kind of background or contextual information is going to come in this first part.

The second part is what I really like is, this preparation part and it is concerned with things like what should you read before writing? What should you think about or consider before writing? What I like about this preparation section is that it really points you to materials that you need to be familiar with in order to effectively respond. I think that is good because it just tells you straightaway that this is what you’re going to need to respond to.

The first section brings up a topic, the second section will say, hey, I want you to look at these things before you actually do respond, and then drumroll -- the end is going to actually ask you to do that. The third section will ask you to put it into action. You will be concerned with things with what you should do when you are writing, what are the requirements of the specific assignment?

In my past, in my history dealing with students face to face, when you hand out an assignment prompt, the first thing people want to know is, how long does this paper have to be? Right? Students -- they want to know those logistical things. Which is fine. It is a logistical consideration to know how long I have to be in this piece. The third section is where you will really find this information. Some of the Xs and Os things, or logistical information.

Again, this is what your typical Walden assignment prompt is going to look like. First you have an introductory an explanation section that brings up the topic. Second, you’re going to have a preparation section, which points you toward some resources you will work with in your actual composition of the assignment. And then third, it’s going to give you the logistical information, the logistical points about that specific piece. How long does this have to be? What questions specifically -- should you respond to, is going to be what you will find in the third section.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Walden Assignment Prompts: Three Sections

Reflection

During this course, you have engaged in the writing process by brainstorming, outlining, drafting, reviewing, and revising an essay. You have also examined grammar, sentence, and paragraph construction. As this course draws to a close, take the time to reflect on your learning in this course, and how what you have learned will help you with future writing, both in your coursework and in your professional career.

To prepare for this Reflection:

Review previous topics, readings, assignments, Discussion threads, and your own writing in this course.

Consider the following questions and respond to them as part of your reflection essay.

  • What practical skills have you learned to improve your writing?
  • How would you describe your writing before taking this course?
  • How would you describe your writing now?
  • How do you anticipate the skills you have learned in this course will contribute to your personal and academic goals?
  • The assignment:
  • Compose a 2- to 3-page reflective essay in which you do the following:
  • Assess your growth as a writer based on your responses to the prompts above. Be sure to include how you anticipate the skills you have learned in this course will contribute to your personal and academic goals.
  • Questions about this assignment? Post them in the Contact the Instructor area. That way, everyone in the class will see, and benefit from, the Instructor's response.
  • Submit your Reflection by Day 7. In order to receive full credit, all assignments are due on time.

Audio: Here's what this could look like in an actual assignment prompt. This is an actual prompt that has been used. Part one here, again this is an introduction or an explanation section. It goes like this [reading the prompt in the slide].

During this course, you have engaged in the writing process by brainstorming, outlining, drafting, reviewing, and revising an essay. You have also examined grammar, sentence, and paragraph construction. As this course draws to a close, take the time to reflect on your learning in this course, and how slash what you have learned will help you with future writing, both in your coursework and in your professional career.

This section brings up a topic for reflecting on the writing process and how the writing process can help you in further courses, and beyond in your professional life. That’s the topic this assignment prompt brings up in the first section.

Section 2, again we have the preparation part, to prepare for this reflection. It says it straight out. To prepare for this, you need to do this, you need to review previous topics, discussion threads, and your own writing in this course. Consider the following questions and respond to them as part of your reflection essay. First, what practical skills have you learned to improve your writing? What would you describe -- how would you describe your writing before taking this course, excuse me? How would you describe your writing now? What do you anticipate the skills you have learned in this course will contribute -- excuse me, how do you anticipate the skills you have learned in this course will contribute to your personal and academic goals? As you may have gleaned, this is a reflection peace. Right? To prepare to write this piece, this is asking you in the second section to reflect on your own journey as a writer, thanking about things like how you improved, where you were as a writer before this course and where you are now. How far have you come? It is a reflection of thinking about your own process. And then thinking about how can the skills that I’ve gained here can be used in the wider world?

I will say this one more time. As this is a reflection peace, to prepare to write a reflection piece you need to reflect. That is what this is asking you to do who.

The third section is the actual assignment. This is the meat here. This is where the assignment prompt tells you actually what it wants you to do. What it is asking you to do. So, in this case, compose a 2 to 3-page reflective essay in which you do the following: assess your growth as a writer based on your responses to the prompts above. Be sure to include how you anticipate the skills you have learned in this course will contribute to your personal and academic goals. Questions about this assignment? Post them in the contact the instructor area. That way everyone in the class will see and benefit from the instructor's response. Submit your reflection by day seven in order to receive full credit all assignments are due on time.

So, this has more of the logistical information. We find out how long this is to be, 2-3 pages, we find out when it’s due, on day 7 of that week. We also are looking at the specific questions that are being asked. Assess your growth as a writer based on responses to the prompts above. So that would be in this preparation question. Be sure to include how you anticipate the skills you have learned in this course a will contribute to your personal and academic goals. The second part, as it asks you to be sure to include this, I would be sure to include that idea in your writing. It is asking you to include it so be sure you do just that.

Again, this is a typical assignment prompt that you’ll encounter here at Walden. And you can see the three parts that are broken down there.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Walden Assignment Prompts: Section 1

Chat:

What’s this assignment’s topic? What is the scenario or situation you should respond to?

Reflection

During this course, you have engaged in the writing process by brainstorming, outlining, drafting, reviewing, and revising an essay. You have also examined grammar, sentence, and paragraph construction. As this course draws to a close, take the time to reflect on your learning in this course, and how what you have learned will help you with future writing, both in your coursework and in your professional career.

Audio: Taking a look at this first part, what I’m looking for here is in the chat box, what is this assignments topic. What is the scenario or situation that you should respond to? So again, I read this out loud, so I’m not going to do it again. Take a second and read part one of this assignment prompt. And then place your response in the chat box. What is the topic of this assignment? What is the scenario or situation you should respond to? I’m going to go on mute and we’re going to come back and look at some of the answers as a large group.

[Attendees working]

Michael: Okay I have seen some awesome responses at this point -- multiple people still typing and I will give you another minute to drop your answer into the chat box. Again, if this was an assignment prompt you just picked up, I'm looking for, what is the assignments topic and what is the scenario or situation you should respond to?

[Attendees working]

Michael: I am seeing some awesome responses here. A lot of people are really on the money. The topic of the essay is about writing an essay or the writing process. And really the scenario that you are responding to, this is asking you to talk about maybe what you have learned over this hypothetical course, and how that is going to help you in your future endeavors, whether they be professional or academic. A lot of you are right on top of this. Again, this first section sets the stage for what is to come. Good job and thank you guys for participating. This is a very participatory group, that’s awesome.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Walden Assignment Prompts: Section 2

To prepare for this Reflection:

Review previous topics, readings, assignments, Discussion threads, and your own writing in this course.

Consider the following questions and respond to them as part of your reflection essay.

  • What practical skills have you learned to improve your writing?
  • How would you describe your writing before taking this course?
  • How would you describe your writing now?
  • How do you anticipate the skills you have learned in this course will contribute to your personal and academic goals?

Audio: So then to break this down even further, let's take a look at section 2 of this assignment prompt. Again, I’ve already read this, we are going to be looking at some of the practical skills you learned to improve your writing it’s asking you to reflect on these. How you would describe your writing before, how you would describe your writing after taking the course. How do you anticipate these skills you have learned in this course will contribute to your personal and academic goals? This is all pre-writing, intellectual work that you need to put in before you can really write the piece. Before you sit down and start talking about some of these larger -- addressing some of these prompts and some of these questions on the prompt, which is really asking you to reflect. To think about how far you have come. These questions are pushing you towards that reflection.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Walden Assignment Prompts: Section 3

The assignment:

Compose a 2- to 3-page reflective essay in which you do the following:

Assess your growth as a writer based on your responses to the prompts above. Be sure to include how you anticipate the skills you have learned in this course will contribute to your personal and academic goals.

Questions about this assignment? Post them in the Contact the Instructor area. That way, everyone in the class will see, and benefit from, the Instructor's response.

Submit your Reflection by Day 7. In order to receive full credit, all assignments are due on time.

Audio: And then in section 3, again, as we read through this, this is again, the logistics here. It’s going to tell you how long this is meant to be, when it is due, and it will point you towards the direct questions they want you to address, in this case those would be in section 2. But it is really assessing what you have learned in the course and how it will help you moving forward. But this third section is where you will find more of this, how long should it be, when is it due, what exactly am I putting together? Another cue to pick out is the reflective essay. It is giving you the genre of the specific essay-- to punctuate this, section 3 is where you get the information as to exactly what you’re going to need to do on the assignment. They brought up the topic, the prompt brought up the topic, the prompt told you what you need to do to prepare for the essay, section 3 will tell you that action piece. It will tell you here’s what you exactly need to do.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: 7 Strategies for Demystifying Writing Prompts

1. Highlight action words

2. Change pronouns to first person

3. Create an outline

4. Outline your outline

5. Make a checklist

6. Refer to the rubric

7. Ask your faculty

Audio: So yeah, we are at a good half way point here, I’m going to stop and pause for questions Melissa, are there any questions that came into the Q&A box you feel could be beneficial to the larger group?

Melissa: We haven’t received too many questions, one thing someone was wondering is if all writing assignments look this way? If they all have those same three parts. Or if all the assignments throughout a student’s entire program will look like these?

Michael: That is a good question. The simple answer is, no, no, they won’t. This is a common format that we see a lot at Walden, that a lot of professors use because they feel it works well for students and for clarity of what they are asking for, and that type of thing. But this is not across the board. Instructors are different. Each person is different in their own individual sense. Some instructors might not use this format. I think the important thing here and were going to talk about some of these strategies moving forward, is being nimble and flexible in how you are able to read these assignment prompts. And really glean the meaning or glean what is being asked of you out of those prompts. I feel like I am getting a little convoluted here. But to answer the question directly, no, not all the assignment prompts will look this way, the important thing to remember is you need to be able to pull what the assignment prompt is asking of you out of the prompt. Does that make sense, Melissa?

Melissa: Yeah, that did, thank you so much for that. That is the only question we had right now.

Michael: Okay. Great. If you have more questions, feel free to throw those into the Q&A box. I am anticipating we will have time at the end where I can address more of those. If that applies to you, feel free to do that.

Moving forward then, we’re going to look at some strategies for demystifying writing prompts. I will just read down the list. We’re going to look at highlighting action words. Action words are good because they’re going to tell you what you need to do, they’re gonna really push you towards a specific action in one way or another. Looking at those action words can inform what you need to do in an assignment.

Change pronouns to the first person. Sometimes it is easier, rather than someone asking you something, if you change the pronouns it sounds like you're asking yourself something. That can be helpful for some people so were going to look at what that might look like, and how to employ that strategy.

Three, creating an outline. Assignment prompts to a large extent can inform an outline, and effective outline of the piece. If we think back to the assignment prompt example that we just looked at, for a few slides, a few things that stick out is what where was my writing before the course and where is my writing after the course? So, this can inform your organization of your assignment because each of these is a separate question you can address these questions individually in body paragraphs, that’s how an assignment prompt can inform your organization and inform an outline.

Outline your outline. We’ll get into that a little bit. I’ll tell you what I mean about that. Five, make a checklist. So, looking at, I have to do X, Y, and Z in this assignment, so a checklist can push you to verify that you are doing that.

Refer to the rubric. Yes, so looking at and keeping in mind how you are being graded as you go on to compose a piece.

And lastly, ask a faculty, as we mentioned before, can be a great technique, and is definitely appropriate within an academic community.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Strategy 1: Highlight Action Words

To prepare for this Reflection:

Review previous topics, readings, assignments, Discussion threads, and your own writing in this course.

Consider the following questions and respond to them as part of your reflection essay.

  • What practical skills have you learned to improve your writing?
  • How would you describe your writing before taking this course?
  • How would you describe your writing now?
  • How do you anticipate the skills you have learned in this course will contribute to your personal and academic goals?

The assignment:

Compose a 2- to 3-page reflective essay in which you do the following:

Assess your growth as a writer based on your responses to the prompts above. Be sure to include how you anticipate the skills you have learned in this course will contribute to your personal and academic goals.

Questions about this assignment? Post them in the Contact the Instructor area. That way, everyone in the class will see, and benefit from, the Instructor's response.

Submit your Reflection by Day 7. In order to receive full credit, all assignments are due on time.

Audio: Okay, so strategy one. Highlighting action words. Taking a look at this in a previous example of an assignment prompt, we have this preparation section here. I’m not going to read it again because I have done this a couple times, but we will now look at some of the action words that are contained within the section of the assignment prompt. In these two sections.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Strategy 1: Highlight Action Words

To prepare for this Reflection:

Review previous topics, readings, assignments, Discussion threads, and your own writing in this course.

Consider the following questions and respond to them as part of your reflection essay.

  • What practical skills have you learned to improve your writing?
  • How would you describe your writing before taking this course?
  • How would you describe your writing now?
  • How do you anticipate the skills you have learned in this course will contribute to your personal and academic goals?

The assignment:

Compose a 2- to 3-page reflective essay in which you do the following:

Assess your growth as a writer based on your responses to the prompts above. Be sure to include how you anticipate the skills you have learned in this course will contribute to your personal and academic goals.

Questions about this assignment? Post them in the Contact the Instructor area. That way, everyone in the class will see, and benefit from, the Instructor's response.

Submit your Reflection by Day 7. In order to receive full credit, all assignments are due on time.

Audio: Here’s in our first section, this would be our second section -- but here is what the action words are asking you to do. You are going to prepare, so it tells you right away this is a preparation section. To do that. Then you’re going to review some stuff. You’re going to consider some stuff and then you’re going to respond to that stuff. By looking at the action words, it does not tell you exactly what you are reviewing, what you are considering and what you are responding to just by looking at the action words, but it gives you an idea of what you'll be doing here. We can tell that we will be reviewing some things, consider or reflect, and then respond to that. So, you are basically responding to some questions.

In those questions, then you can also see some action words that are present. Describe is present there, so you’re going to be describing something. You’re going to be giving a written description of something. This is not a perfect thing but looking at the action words can give you an idea of what you will be doing in an assignment.

Then looking again at the third section of the assignment prompt, you’re going to compose -- so you will write, to compose is to write. You’re going to assess, so give a value judgment based on some of the questions in the previous section here. And you are going to include something. So, make sure you include that thing -- to break this down even further, compose tells you will write something, says tells you will make a value judgment or judgment call on something, whether it was good or bad or how far you came. And then lastly, tells you to include something, which should send -- set off a red flag in your mind, whenever an assignment from tells you to include something, specifically, you should definitely be sure to include that. Right? That is something it specifically is asking you for. That should be kind of an attention grabber and you should say, hey, I better include this thing because it is asking for it specifically. This is how action was can inform what your understanding of what an assignment prompt is asking you to do.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Strategy 2: Change Pronouns to First Person

To prepare for this Reflection:

Review previous topics, readings, assignments, Discussion threads, and your own writing in this course.

Consider the following questions and respond to them as part of your reflection essay.

  • What practical skills have you learned to improve your writing?
  • How would you describe your writing before taking this course?
  • How would you describe your writing now?
  • How do you anticipate the skills you have learned in this course will contribute to your personal and academic goals?

Audio: Strategy two: changing pronouns to the first person. As we look at some of these questions, we see some second person pronouns. Your being one, you, your, you’re as I’m looking through this... So really, what this is, it’s directing itself towards you, towards the reader. Specifically. As you look at and think about what I should do here, it can be helpful to change the pronouns of this sentence to address yourself specifically, it will tell you in a little more direct way what you should do. Or if I’m writing this, what I should do.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Strategy 2: Change Pronouns to First Person

To prepare for this Reflection:

Review previous topics, readings, assignments, Discussion threads, and my own writing in this course.

Consider the following questions and respond to them as part of my reflection essay.

  • What practical skills have I learned to improve my writing?
  • How would you describe my writing before taking this course?
  • How would you describe my writing now?
  • How do you anticipate the skills I have learned in this course will contribute to my personal and academic goals?

Audio: Here’s what this looks like. Again, we had some you’s and some yours in there. But we’ve changed these to the first person, my, I or my respectively. So, this reads something like this. Review previous topics, readings, assignments, Discussion threads, and my own writing in this course.

What am I working with here? My own writing, my own topics, my own readings, my own assignments, my own discussion threads, this is my writing.

What practical skills have I learned to improve my writing? Yeah, definitely, it essentially is taking this from the place where it’s asking you to do something, to kind of more pushing you to say: I am going to do this thing. How would you describe my writing before taking this course? So, again, changing this from second person pronouns into first person pronouns makes this more personal. And it pushes you especially in a reflection assignment, to look at your own work and to assess what you are doing. This might not be useful to every person, but for some of you this might be a good technique in order to push you to look inward and to do this based on your own thoughts, your own feelings, and reflecting on your own work.

Changing to a first-person pronoun can push you to think of what you have to do an assignment as being more personal as more related to you more specifically.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Strategy 3: Create an Outline

  1. Introduction
    1. Background information
    2. Thesis statement
  • Importance of writing in higher ed
  • This course has helped me
  1. How would I describe my writing before taking this course?
    1. Main idea: Before taking this course, my writing was…
  • Jumbled, readers confused
  • I know what I want to say
  1. How would I describe my writing now?
    1. Main idea: After taking this course, my writing is…
  • More organized, clarity
  • Better grades, positive feedback
  1. What practical skills have I learned to improve my writing?
    1. Main idea: I have learned many writing skills such as…
  • Organization, MEAL plan
  • Reach out for help, practice
  1. How do I anticipate the skills I have learned in this course will contribute to my personal and academic goals?
    1. Main idea: These skills will contribute to my goals by…
  • Every Walden class has writing
  • Importance of practicing, learning
  1. Conclusion

Audio: Number three, creating an outline. I love outlines. Okay. Full disclosure, I use outlines all the time. And for a couple of reasons. One, I think its kind of low stakes. I think an outline can allow you to get your ideas onto a page, and you can see how these ideas interact with one another. Sometimes when you’re outlining, a logical order of ideas kind of emerges. And you can I think paragraph 3 would look better, or be more logically included as paragraph 2 and you can move those ideas and paragraphs around without having to rewrite the whole paragraph or the whole section to fit it in that place. That is what I mean by low stakes. You could reorganize your draft easily without actually having to do a lot of leg work, as you would if you had written the whole piece and now you're trying to move paragraph five, say, to where paragraph two is, you’re going to need to re-craft both of those paragraphs and probably those paragraphs around them for the piece to retain that flow or logical progression of thought.

Another reason I like outlining is it shows you where you are going. I had a mentor once tell me that it is easier to get where you are going once you have been there already. You can get to your conclusions more directly if you know what your conclusions are. That was kind of profound to me. Maybe not to you. But that idea has shaped my writing, that if I set a roadmap for how I want to get to the end, I can look at that roadmap and say, all right, well, I can make a shortcut here if I want to, or I can explain this more, if that was something important to me.

Here is a basic outline. An introduction which includes a background piece or contextual information. A thesis statement or kind of a main argument of your piece. And then it breaks down the piece into an organization, based on the questions the assignment prompt is asking. I would have one paragraph that would describe my writing before taking the course, I would include a paragraph that describes my writing now. I would include a paragraph that talks about what practical skills I have learned in this cause and vis-à-vis my writing. Lastly, how the skills will contribute to my personal and academic goals.

As you might recognize, these four body sections are essentially being taken directly from the assignment prompt. Right? They are each addressing a certain aspect of the assignment prompt. This is an effective way to do this.

To kind of finish this and to craft this into a piece, you can fill in the blanks here. In your introduction you will be talking about the importance of writing in higher education or this course that has helped you, naming that course specifically, maybe talking about the theme of the course. In paragraph one, you will again talk about where your writing was before the course. Perhaps talk about how your writing was jumbled or confusing to readers. You know what you want to say maybe but you are not saying it in a way that is satisfying to you, that could be where you were at before the course. After the course, maybe you are more organized or clear with your ideas, getting better grades and positive feedback, which also is a great -- I mean those are motivating factors. And good indicators that you are on the right track.

When you talk about practical skills you can talk about maybe something you learned in writing, so maybe that MEAL plan or kind of reaching out for help and learning that was a skill that could improve your practice. Lastly, in your last body paragraph, how does this apply to your professional and academic life but you can talk about how every Walden course has writing and this is an important practice in learning and employing radios. Sure. So, again this assignment -- this outline was essentially lifted from the assignment prompt, basically word for word in some cases. So, let the assignment prompt dictate how your piece is going to be organized, is the idea I am getting at here.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Strategy 4: Outline Your Outline

  1. Introduction
    1. Background information
    2. Thesis statement
  • Introduce – 30 min
  1. How would I describe my writing before taking this course?
    1. Main idea: Before taking this course, my writing was…
  • Look at previous writing – 30 min
  1. How would I describe my writing now?
    1. Main idea: After taking this course, my writing is…
  • Reflect – 15 min
  1. What practical skills have I learned to improve my writing?
    1. Main idea: I have learned many writing skills such as…
  • Reflect – 15 min
  1. How do I anticipate the skills I have learned in this course                                             will contribute to my personal and academic goals?
    1. Main idea: These skills will contribute to my goals by…
  • Brainstorm & reflect – 15 min
  1. Conclusion
  • Close – 15 min
  • Estimate time: 2 hours

Schedule time for discrete writing tasks, including revision

Audio: Outline your outline. So, this is even more logistical. Think about how long -- how much time you’re going to devote to doing these tasks. We have again our outline here, we have included topic sentences, before taking this course my idea, my writing was, blank. Outlining your outline can give you an idea of how much time you want to spend on each of these big ideas, so in this case you’re going to spend 30 minutes introducing your topic or introducing the topic of this essay, introducing the importance of writing or the specific course where you saw an improvement into your writing. That takes about 30 minutes to do. Look at your previous writing, describing where you were before the course, thinking maybe 30 minutes there. Reflecting on your writing now, maybe 15 minutes. Looking at practical skills you’ve gained, maybe 15 minutes there. Brainstorming and reflecting on how this writing experience and writing improvement can be used in your professional or academic life, perhaps that will take you about 15 minutes. And then lastly, you will lead the reader out, you’re going to conclude. So, to craft a discussion posted that asked you to do these things maybe it takes you about two hours. My point in outlining the outline is you are giving yourself logistical markers to kind of think about, how much time will I need to craft this discussion post? Well ,if I set it up like this, about two hours so that is just kind of logistic thing that can be helpful to keep in mind. Outlining your outline.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Strategy 5: Make a Checklist

  • Make appointment for a Writing Center Paper Review
  • Review previous topics, readings, assignments and discussion threads
  • Consider the following questions:
    • 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?
    • How do I anticipate the skills I have learned in this course will contribute to my personal and academic goals?
  • Compose a 2- to 3-page reflective essay with introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion
  • Revise essay and submit for Paper Review appointment
  • Revise using Paper Review suggestions and comments
  • Submit to Grammarly and Turnitin and edit and proofread
  • Submit paper to my instructor

Audio: Strategy five. Make a checklist. A checklist is a good way to keep yourself accountable, to say, I need to do these five things, and then to actually make sure that you do that. So, this is what checklist could look like for the sample assignment prompt. Make an appointment for the writing center paper review. That could be on your checklist, sure. We will give a shameless plug here for the writing center. That actually is a great part of the writing process because your getting feedback from somebody else. Oftentimes, the tendency when you are writing something is to be so into the peace and into the intellectual work that it takes to do that piece, that you can neglect some smaller things, you can -- it can be hard for you to find a place where you are being unclear to the reader because in your mind these ideas are clear. So, getting that outside perspective is really important.

Review previous topics, readings, assignments and discussion threads. This was something the assignment prompt is asking you to do specifically, so that is a great thing to include on a checklist that you’d be making. Consider the following questions and then list them there. Compose a 2-3 page reflection. Sure. Revise and submit for a paper review appointment. Yeah, so return to the writing center after revision. Absolutely. Revise using paper reviews, suggestions and comments. Sure. Submit to Grammarly or TurnitIn. So finally, that kind of turn it in I’m done. Can be another check mark on your list that you want to do. Submit paper to your instructor. I guess I am a list person. For those of you who think of yourselves as list people or who get a feeling of satisfaction for putting a check mark next to a box on a list, that can be something useful to you.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Strategy 6: Refer to the Rubric

[Image of a Rubric]

Still have questions?

Strategy 7:

Ask your faculty

Audio: Refer to the rubric, strategy six. Yes, this is something that I do when I was a graduate student, that I would do this right away. How am I being graded here? That’s something that could be really useful to keep in mind as you compose a piece because it allows you to tailor your work specifically to what the instructor is looking for. Definitely, definitely look at the rubric before you write I would also look at the rubric after you compose a draft. Looking at, did I do these things, did I…,if I were to grade this piece myself using this rubric, where would I land? This is a useful strategy at all levels of writing.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Walden Assignment Prompts: Section 1

Chat:

Highlight action words: List three of the action

words that you could highlight to show what to do for this assignment.

To prepare for this Application:

  • Download from Doc Sharing and read your partner's draft essay.
  • Review the Peer Critique Guidelines handout and the "Track Changes" article from this week.
  • Apply the Peer Critique Guidelines to the Sample Student Draft.
  • Consider the items in the Peer Critique Guidelines as your evaluation criteria and checklist for critically reading your partner's paper.

Assertions you make should be grounded in and supported by the guidelines. You may refer directly to questions or criteria from the guidelines in your critique.

Remember that this is more than a proofreading session. Look for errors in logic and organization in addition to grammar and punctuation errors. Use Chapters 4 and 7 of the APA Manual as reference.

Audio: Still have questions? Then reach out to your faculty. I will go back--one second.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Strategy 6: Refer to the Rubric

[Image of a Rubric]

Still have questions?

Strategy 7:

Ask your faculty

Audio: Reach out your faculty then if you still have questions. And again, this is an appropriate question. Instructors are not trying to trick you; they're not trying to make these things as confusing as they can for you. So, asking for clarification if you are confused is a way to get these things cleared up. Instructors are again, not in the business of making your life hard, they are really here to help you along this academic journey as you refine your skills as a scholar and as a practitioner. So, asking your faculty, reaching out to them is an appropriate thing.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Walden Assignment Prompts: Section 1

Chat:

Highlight action words: List three of the action

words that you could highlight to show what to do for this assignment.

To prepare for this Application:

  • Download from Doc Sharing and read your partner's draft essay.
  • Review the Peer Critique Guidelines handout and the "Track Changes" article from this week.
  • Apply the Peer Critique Guidelines to the Sample Student Draft.
  • Consider the items in the Peer Critique Guidelines as your evaluation criteria and checklist for critically reading your partner's paper.

Assertions you make should be grounded in and supported by the guidelines. You may refer directly to questions or criteria from the guidelines in your critique.

Remember that this is more than a proofreading session. Look for errors in logic and organization in addition to grammar and punctuation errors. Use Chapters 4 and 7 of the APA Manual as reference.

Audio: Okay, let's do some more chat. For the next chat we’re going to look at this piece. This section, the preparation section of an assignment prompt. I’d like you to list three of the action words you can highlight to show what to do for the assignment. This is going to be quicker because we are running up against the time deadline. Let's take a minute or two and think about what action words you would highlight if you are going to highlight the action was in this preparation section.

[Attendees working]

Michael: Okay. In the interest of time, I’m going to move on but you guys are right on top of this. Prepare is an action word, download is an action word, review, apply, consider, these are all things that this assignment prompt is asking you to do. Recap, yeah -- definitely. So, I think you guys are pretty on top of picking out these action words. But from this download, it’s asking you to retrieve a source that you’re going to be working with, review and read that source. Apply, so think about how the ideas from the source can apply to some scenario that is probably going to be given in the next bit. You are on top of this, good job.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Walden Assignment Prompts: Section 1

Chat:

Refer to the rubric: What aspect or aspects should

you pay closest attention to based on the rubric?

Audio: Let's do another chat thing here. From this section 3, I’d like you to compose a checklist, a brief checklist, maybe just list a few things that you think would be important to do if you were to encounter this is a section on an assignment prompt. To read the chat prompt here specifically, what are three of the items that you’d place on your checklist for completing this assignment? And I’ll go on mute for a minute.

[Attendees working]

Michael: In the interest of time, I’m going to move on. Some of the things I would put on a checklist would be, one, it asks you to compose a two-page paper. I would do that and focus on specific paragraphs, sentences or note other issues directly by using this feature, specifically talking about track changes, using track changes would be something I would put on here. One thing I am not seeing too much of in the chat box is the notion of revising or revision. I would want to revise this piece once I have crafted it. You could also submit that to the writing center paper review would be another thing on the checklist. Definitely on my checklist I would include turn it in to the professor for a grade. Just because that always feels to best to get off the check list. You are on top of this. You must be [indiscernible]

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Walden Assignment Prompts: Section 1

Chat:

Refer to the rubric: What aspect or aspects should

you pay closest attention to based on the rubric?

Audio: A couple other things. This ask you to look at a rubric, I’m going to kind of burn through this one because I would like to get to some student questions at the end here. But if you look at this rubric, really what would be the most important thing to do -- what aspect or aspects should you pay closest attention to based on the rubric. You’d look at the highest point totals. What are the things that are going to be graded on mostly? The discussion and analysis would be something that I would focus on primarily. Quality of your conclusion would be another thing, that I would focus on a lot. Based on those two things, that’s half of your grade right there, so focusing on those two elements is going to set you up to really have a stronger piece than if you were to really stay focus on something like APA style, this is an important thing to include but you really want to focus on the things that will be most beneficial for you.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Assignment Requirements

Even if the assignment prompt doesn’t explicitly ask for these things, they are most likely necessary:

Audio: Other tips -- so this is what I was getting at, at the beginning of this presentation, at the beginning of this webinar. Not every assignment prompt is going to list every specific element that you need to include. Some things are going to be implied. Here at Walden we use APA formatting style so that is implied that you’re going to use that, even if the assignment prompt does not say, use APA formatting style, you should use APA formatting style, right? You should always include an introduction paragraph. You want to always lead the reader into your piece so that they understand what you are talking about. Right? So, it does not start abruptly.

You want to always include a thesis statement. This thesis statement tells the reader the main argument or where the pieces going and it is an absolutely essential element in academic writing and should be included in every piece. Even if the assignment prompt is not asking for a thesis you should include one. A conclusion paragraph. Similarly, to the way that you lead the reader into your work with an introduction, lead a reader out with your conclusion not a lot of assignment prompts will specifically tell you to include one but you should always do so as that is a common convention of academic writing.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Avoid Assignment Prompt Wording

Avoid this Conclusion:

              I have explained the skills I learned to improve my writing. I have also described my writing before taking this course. I concluded by explaining my goals for writing.

Better Conclusion:

              While writing throughout high school and college I have learned many skills, like paraphrasing. These skills will serve me well in achieving my goals of improving my APA format in this course.

Avoid these Headings:

What practical skills have you learned to improve your writing?

How would you describe your writing before taking this course?

Better Headings:

My Writing Skills

My Previous Writing Experience

Audio: And you want to avoid the assignment prompt wording. Here’s what that looks like. If you look over on the right-hand side, I will sometimes see this sometimes where students take the exact question from the assignment prompt and work them into headings. So, a heading would be like what practical skills you have you learned to improve your writing? You don’t want to respond using that direct heading. Substituting a question from the assignment prompt as a heading.  You can be a little more artful there. For something like that one, what practical skills have you learned to improve your writing. something like practical skills would be a great heading to use. So, don’t just repeat the questions from the assignment prompt from your document even as headings.

Conclusions -- instead of kind of using the first person and kind of leading the reader back through the assignment prompt, actually work with your writing. [coughing] excuse me. A conclusion like I have explained the skills I learned to improve writing; I have also described my writing for taking the course. You're just going down the assignment prompt. A better way to do that is to be a little more artful about it. It could sound something like this. While working throughout high school and college I have learned many skills like paraphrasing. These skills will serve me well in achieving my goals of improving my APA formatting in this course. Yeah so again, don’t just lead the reader by the nose, back through the specific bullet points on the assignment prompt, be a little more artful in getting those ideas across.

And this works similarly, equally well in headings. Instead of just repeating the questions from the assignment prompt. Use a little bit more of your creative license and craft headings, that get that idea across and but don’t just ask questions to be responded to.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Additional Tools and Resources

WriteCast episode 11

with Brittany and Nik

"Doesn’t Meet Requirements"—Strategies for Following Your Assignment Instructions

Blog Post

By Jes Philbrook

Prompted to Write: A Guide for Using Walden Assignment Prompts to Your Advantage

Audio: But essentially as follow ups to this webinar, additional tools and resources. You can check out this WriteCast episode 11. Doesn’t meet requirments: Strategies for following assignments Instructions. Or this blog post from a colleague of ours Jes Philbrook, Promoted to Write: a guide for using Walden Assignment Prompts to Your Advantage. These are great follow up resources that you can use in addition to this webinar.  

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Questions: Ask Now or Later

writingsupport@waldenu.edu •  Live Chat Hours

Learn More:

What is Academic Writing? and Writing and Responding to Discussion Posts

Make a Paper Review Appointment!

Assist students in becoming better academic writers by providing online, asynchronous feedback by appointment.

Audio: To kind of conclude that, I’ll ask, is there any other questions Melissa, that would benefit the rest of the group here.

Melissa: You know what Michael, you must have done a great job explaining all those strategies, because I did not have a single question come in about those 7 strategies, or how to apply them, I think we are good to wrap up for tonight. I want to thank everybody for joining us. And here on this slide you will see a couple of additional links that will give you information on related topics, both what is academic writing as well as a general field of writing. And then some more information on writing and responding to discussion post. Like Michael said, in today’s webinar, we do offer paper review appointments. So that’s something to check out if you want us to help you with the writing process or to see how that assignment is coming along.  If you think of questions tomorrow or even later today, feel free to email those us at writingsupport@waldenu.edu and I want to thank everybody again today for spending some time with us today in this webinar, have a great day.

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