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Webinar Transcripts

Cohesion and Flow: Bringing Your Paper Together

Presented September 9, 2020  
View the recording

 

Visual: The webinar begins with a PowerPoint title slide in the large central panel with the Webinar title and “Writing Center”. A captioning pod, Q&A pod, and files pod are stacked on the right side. 

Audio: Anne:  Hello everyone and welcome to Five Ways to Create Flow in Your Academic Writing. I am Anne Shiell. I have Max with me today. I will introduce him in just a moment. I just want to say again, thank you for taking time out of your busy schedules today, whether you are with us live or are watching us on the recording. But know that we are super excited to share with you today. Before we really dig in, I have a couple of housekeeping things.

 

Visual: The slide changes to says “Housekeeping” and the following: 

  • Recording 
  • Will be available online a day or two from now. 
  • Interact 
  • Polls, files, and links are interactive. 
  • Q&A 
  • Help 
  • Choose “Help” in the upper right hand corner of the webinar room. 

Audio: The recording will be available later on in our webinar archive. You can download the files and the slides in a PDF form from the files pod in the bottom right corner of your screen. That will not be present throughout the whole webinar but it is here right now and then it will come back on at the end. The polls, the files, and the links are all interactive whether you are watching live or whether you are watching a recording. There are also active links within the PDF file that I mentioned. There is a Q&A box that you can use if you have any technical trouble or need any help or have any questions throughout the webinar. If you have technical trouble another great place to look is the help button at the top right of your webinar room. That will take you to some Adobe tutorials that will be helpful for you.  

 
Visual: Slide Changes to the Presenter and Facilitator slide.   

Audio: Anne: Our presenter today is Max Philbrook. He is one of our writing instructors at the Writing Center. As I mentioned, I am Anne Shiell, also from the Writing Center. I want to say thank you also to Kathy who out is our captioner today. With that I will turn it over to you Max.  

Max:  Thanks very much and it is very nice to be here chatting with you all. It is a beautiful Wednesday morning here where I am, in Minnesota. And I hope that is a beautiful day wherever you are as well. It is very neat to see such a worldwide audience represented here. It really is my honor to present for you all. So, thank you Anne Shiell, and to our caption who is here providing us with accessibility. Thank you very much to her. Thank you all very much for being here. As Anne Shiell said we are taking time out of our busy lives to work on something that is very important, but can sometimes be secondary or tertiary or however far down the list it goes. It is really good to be here and I love thinking and talking about flow and writing, and all sorts of writing concepts. I am a writing instructor here in the Writing Center at Walden University. I have been here over five years. The bulk of my job experience is working with writers. Working individually one on one with coursework documents and Capstone documents, and any type of writing that you are doing to achieve your Walden goals. I have spent a lot of time thinking over these last five years about how to best support Walden writers. One great way is webinars like this. Another great way, that I will chat about later, is our paper review service which is an integral and very useful service that Walden students can use. But I will save that for later. Let us focus on what the goal is for today.  

 

Visual: Slide changes to Session Overview slide. The slide says, “Session Overview,” and the following:

  1. Define flow and how it affects your readers’ experience​
  2. Identify and practice five different writing techniques that you can use to enhance your writing’s flow​
  • Create Logical Connections​
  • Use Topic Sentences​
  • Transition with Words, Sentences, and Paragraphs​
  • Write Concisely​
  • Vary Sentence Structure​
  1. Introduce Writing Center services and resources that you can use to practice these flow techniques​

Audio: Max: Today's session is all about the elusive flow. So, often when I asked students what they want to work on in a writing session or if I'm tutoring them one on one, they say I want my writing to flow. In today's session we are going to define flow and how it affects your reader's experience. The bulk of today's presentation is going to be identifying five specific and concrete strategies that you can begin to incorporate into your writing wherever you are into your writing process, wherever you are in your Walden degree program. You can start practicing the strategies today in order to really start enhancing the flow and making your reader's job easier. That is a little preview of the topics we will cover. Those five bullet points they are. At the end of the session I'm going to circle back. Anne Shiell and I will answer questions if there are any. We're going to talk about the Writer Center services and resources and how you can continue to work on flow. That is what I wanted to talk about. This webinar is chalked full of information and I will do my best to give you practical strategies. However, this is just an introduction to each of these strategies. As you know, scholarly academic writing can become quite complex. There is only so much ground we can cover here in 60 minutes. My plan, and my overall goal, is to introduce these concepts to you. Provide you links and resources so you can follow up and continue studying them. I will give you ideas for what that looks like moving forward.  

So, without any further ado let us get into the concepts of flow. What is flow? In psychology, flow is a concept that was being researched by a psychologist named Csikszentmihalyi in the late 20th century and the idea of flow is a psychological term that was being studied for people who were in the flow or in the zone. He wanted to find out what that was and how it works. What that researcher found, along with others, is that the idea of a flow starts where a person or subject enters a different psychological state that is characterized by an intense and focused intention. It was characterized by a distortion of temporal experience. So, think back to the last time you were feeling the flow or were in the zone. Did it like, flash and go by in just a second. Suddenly an hour had passed, or four hours had passed, and you did not know where the time went. Not only that, but flow state is characterized by it being an optimal experience for the subject. So, it is perfect. The thing you're doing is not too hard, but it is also not too easy. It is not something that you are an expert at, but it is something that you're comfortable with. So, it is this perfect optimal state where you are able to focus and you are able to perform the task at hand in the way that you are not able to do usually. It is really about certain conditions being met that allow you, or in this case, your reader to enter the flow state. I love this metaphor of flow on the slide here.

 

Visual: Slide changes to What is Flow slide. This slide says “What is Flow,” and the following: Flow is like how it would feel to be carried along in the water of a stream. Supported and in control; satisfied and engaged.

Audio: Max: Thank you Anne Shiell for advancing the slide. So, what is the flow? It feels like you are being carried along in the water. You are safe and supported. There is some resistance, but you are also moving forward toward your goal. That is what flow is. You are entering the stream that is carrying you on to your next destination.

 

Visual: Slide changes to What is Flow slide. The slide says “What is Flow,” and the following: Where else do we see the idea of flow?​

  • Improvisational music​
  • Meditation or yoga​
  • Hockey team breaking out of the zone or a football team passing the ball out of their defensive third​
  • Kendrick Lamar vs. Eminem?​
  • Steller writing produced in a long writing session ​
  • House cleaning marathon

Audio: There are just a few other examples maybe of flow states that may be common to you or maybe you have heard of.  Improvisational musician, or maybe meditation or yoga. Suddenly you are in a flow state. For those of you who enjoy sports, may be your favorite football team moves the ball effortlessly from the defensive third to the attack of third. All of the pieces are moving together. For those hip-hop fans out there, flow is how we characterize the way our favorite rapper delivers their content. So, I put the ever present debate of Eminem versus Kendrick Lamar. Closer to home maybe we can think about the last time we were writing and we were hitting flow. We were in the zone. Suddenly an hour passed, and we had written a lot of prose and we were feeling good. There are many different examples about what is flow. So, let us open it up. Anne Shiell can you change the format for us?

 

Visual: Slide changes to Chat slide. The slide says “Chat,” and the following:

When was the last time you were in the flow? What activity were you doing? ​

Have you ever witnessed someone else in the zone? An artist, a musician, or some other professional?

Audio: Max: I would like to pose this question to the audience. If you can remember, what was the last time you were in a flow state? What were you doing? How did it feel? Or if you cannot remember being in a flow state recently, what was the last time you saw someone in a flow state? I am just curious if this concept is hitting home and are you have may be seeing this concept in your life. Maybe you have experienced it in your life. I'm just going to take a moment and I'm going to go on mute. I would love to hear from you all. There is a chat box now and if you would please just respond to the question, when were you in a flow state last and how did it feel. Then we will come back together and start talking about scholarly academic writing. 

I'm seeing a lot a very interesting examples of when you all entered the flow state. This is so interesting for me to see. Everything from intellectual activity, like doing the writing for your prospectus or writing a limerick for your Christmas card. All the way to physical states like ice-skating and doing an audit, and things like that. Exercising or eating a cake. I'm glad this is useful and interesting and is recognizable to you all. So, thank you all for participating in the chat. We're going to continue to use the chat as we go along. We are going to do some practice on flow. So, be prepared to respond later in the presentation. So, thank you all so much. I'm very glad that this concept is something that you are familiar with.

 

Visual: Slide changes to What is Flow? slide. The slide says “What is Flow?” and the following:

Flow in academic writing is all about your readers​

To help your reader flow through your writing with understanding and engagement, writers must create writing that is​

  • Predictable and organized ​
  • Easy to follow with reader-focused cues ​
  • Concise and focused ​

​This means creating writing that progresses naturally from one idea to the next so your reader can enter their flow state.​

Audio: Max: Let us bring it home and let us discuss flow in the context of academic writing. Contrary to maybe what you think about flow in writing, when we think about flow the flow state is not for you, the writer. The flow state is what we are trying to get our reader into. There are different strategies that you will use as a writer but ultimately we want to encourage and create an atmosphere that is conducive for our reader to enter the flow state. That is what we are going to work on today. We're going to work on different ways that you can make your writing predictable and organized, easy to follow with reader focus around the topic. These are the characteristics of scholarly writing that allow your reader to enter the flow state. So you want to make it challenging and interesting, but not too complex. You want to make it interesting but not so interesting that it is not novel and innovative. We need to find the perfect zone that is going to help our reader enter their flow state.

 

Visual: Slide changes to Five Ways to Create Flow in Your Writing slide. The slide says “Five Ways to Create Flow in Your Writing,” and the following:

  • Create Logical Connections​
  • Use Topic Sentences​
  • Transition with Words, Sentences, and Paragraphs​
  • Write Concisely​
  • Vary Sentence Structure

Audio: Max: There are five strategies that we have pinpointed, that exists that will help you bring your reader into that flow state. One thing that I would like to bring out because the title of the slide Five Ways to Create Flow In Your Writing, is actually a link that will take you to a blog series that we put together in the Walden Writing Center. It really goes into depth in each one of these topics. The link is live and it will take you out to our blog and then you can really read more in depth. Just to note, all of the links are live in this slide deck. So, if you download the slides or if you click here in the Adobe presentation then you will get taken to the location where these links go. So, keep that in mind, that they links are live in the slide deck. Sound good? So, these are the five strategies that we're going to use. Let us dive in and let us think about how we can encourage our reader to enter the flow state by making some decisions that are reader centered in our writing.

 

Visual: Slide changes to Create Logical Connections slide. The slide says “Create Logical Connections.”

Audio: Max: First and foremost, let's think about how we can, how we can create logical connections with different elements in our writings to enhance our reader's experience. 

 

Visual: Slide changes to Creating Logical Connections in Your Writing slide. The slide says “Creating Logical Connections in Your Writing,” and the following:

Explicitly make connections between different ideas in your writing. 

Audio: Max: With logical connections in the writing we are explicitly connecting different elements in our writing so that our reader has an easier time bridging the gap between those different elements. We are keeping our reader in the flow state because they do not need to think really hard and in depth about how point A relates to point B. When it comes to the connections being made in writing, a lot of times for the writer called those connections are clear. They are our ideas and we are the ones putting them together. However, the writer knows those connections but the reader does not. So, it is important that we make those connections for the reader. Let us look at a few different strategies for enhancing the connections in our writing.

 

Visual: Slide changes to Creating Logical Connections in Your Writing slide. The slide says “Creating Logical Connections in Your Writing,” and the following:

Some strategies for creating logical connections: ​

  • Analysis – explaining the connection between the evidence you’ve provided and your overall claim in that section. ​
  • Consistent and Precise Terminology – varying your terminology can lead to confusion and in scholarly writing; clarity and precision is more important than dynamic word choice. ​
  • “Refer back” method – a writing strategy you can practice to create connections at the sentence level

Audio: Max: In scholarly writing most of it is done with sources.  Evidence-based writing is the gold standard here at Walden and in your social science field. When we are providing evidence, it is importing to also provide analysis of the evidence.  Analysis is the part of the paragraph where you go in and you explain why you chose the evidence and how that evidence applies to your argument in that paragraph. Many times the connection between evidence and your overall point is clear to you because you wrote it, you have been doing the research. But you also need to share that connection with the reader. A more concrete way that we can enhance connections is through consistent and precise terminology. If you refer to something as electronic health records in paragraph one, refer to it as electronic health records in paragraph two. When you use the same term and use precise terminology your reader can better understand that you are referring to the same thing and your connection can be made across paragraphs. One of my favorite methods for enhancing flow by connections is the refer back method. This is a strategy you can use at the sentence level.

 

Visual: Slide changes to Using the “Refer Back” Method slide. The slide says “Using the ‘Refer Back’ Method and the following:

In each successive sentence in a paragraph, refer back to the previous sentence to create logical connections between sentences. ​

The Walden University Writing Center provides many services for Walden students. These services are intended to help support Walden writers wherever they are in their writing development. Each individual’s writing development is different, so Writing Center instructors use strategies to appeal to students with different learning styles. Students who prefer multimedia instruction can find a whole library of writing-related videos in the Writing Center’s archive. 

Audio: Max: Here's what I mean by the refer back method. In each successive sentence you are going to refer back to the previous sentence in some sort of subtle way. You are constantly kind of oscillating between moving forward but also reminding your reader what you have already covered. Here in this paragraph, I just added some bolds and color coding to the paragraph to kind of show you how one sentence refers back to the previous one. In the first sentence we have the idea of providing many services and then right away in that second sentence of the paragraph I refer back to that previous sentence. These services are intended to help Walden writers with their writing development.  

So, writing developments -- each individual’s writing development is different, so on and so forth. This is a writing kind of skill or technique that you can use to connect the sentences together so the reader is fully informed and those connections are being made. The best way to kind of wrap your head around this concept is to practice.

 

Visual: Slide switches to Practice slide. The slide says “Practice,” and the following:

Read these two related sentences below. Your job for this practice is to add something to the second sentence so it “refers back” to the previous sentence. ​

In the chat box, please write the “refer back” you would add to sentence two to create a logical connection.

Sentence 1: The most successful graduate writers regularly practice revision skills with their own writing.​

Sentence 2: Students often do not leave themselves enough time in their writing process for effective revision. 

Audio: As we switch into the next layout I would like you to practice. There are two sentences that you can see. What I would like you to do is read both sentences and then add something to sentence two so that way it will refer back to sentence one. So, take a moment to read both sentences, and then add something to the second sentence so that that connection is being made with a refer back to sentence one. I'm going to go on mute. I will give you a chance to think through this and then we will come back together. Sentence one is the most successful graduate writers regularly practice revision skills with their own writing. Sentence two is students often do not leave themselves enough time in their writing process for effective revision. Sentence one is the most successful graduate writers regularly practice revision skills with their own.  Sentence two is students often do not leave themselves enough time in the writing process for effective revision.  

Excellent. So, take another 30 seconds. I can see that multiple attendees are typing and that is great. These are not easy concepts, but do your best. See what your fellow attendees have been posting in the chat box to give you some ideas as well. So, let us take another 30 seconds and then we will move on. Thanks everyone these are looking very good.

In the interest of time, I'm going to continue forward but I would just like to point out that all of these responses are effective. What I'm seeing in the chat box, these are very effective responses. Those responses that simply add one word of a connection, that works as a refer back. Those that have the term graduate students in sentence two, those are really effective too. It is referring back to the population that we brought up in sentence one. What I will say as we move on, is that there is no right answer for these practices. That is what I love about writing, and it is what is very challenging about writing, is that there are no right answers.  It is interpretive, it is artistic it is performative. It is up to you to decide what works best for you and what works best to get your reader in that flow state. Excellent work everyone.  Let us move forward. I am so pleased that we have such a sharp, smart group of people today. I'm really glad to be presenting to you today.  

 

Visual: The slide changes to Using Topic Sentences slide. The slide says “Using Topic Sentences.”

Audio: Max: The next strategy that you can use for enhancing your readers flow states allowing them to focus on your ideas more is by using topic sentences.

 

Visual: The slide changes to Using Topic Sentences slide. The slide says “Using Topic Sentences,” and the following:

The importance of the paragraph’s first sentence

Aim for the first sentence of a paragraph to be​

  • clear​
  • declarative​
  • specific, yet general​

​Prevent your reader from having to guess or interpret what the paragraph will be about.

Audio: Max: What is a topic sentence? A topic sentence is that first sentence of a paragraph.  The topic sentence does the work of introducing the topic of the paragraph to the reader. So, the next time you are reading a very dense, difficult, scholarly piece of writing, note where your eyes go as you are reading that study or that article. Your eyes are drawn to the first sentence of each paragraph. You can use that to your advantage in your own writing. Readers want to know what is going to happen in each paragraph. So, if you can began each paragraph with a clear, declarative, specific yet general statement of the topic of the paragraph then you are helping your reader stay in that flow state.

 

Visual: The slide changes to Strategies for Using Topic Sentences slide. The slide says “Strategies for Using Topic Sentences,” and the following:

  • Make sure the topic sentence introduces the topic of the paragraph precisely and clearly​
  • Use specific and consistent terminology​
  • Create a bridge to your overall ideas ​
  • Example: “Another way asynchronous writing appointments support student writers is the flexibility they provide.”​
  • Don’t use evidence/citations in your topic sentence; this is a good time for you to guide the conversation with your own insight

Audio: Max: Using topic sentences strategically, remember to introduce that topic, use specific and consistent terminology, create a bridge between this paragraph that you are about to start and maybe the previous paragraph. I put an example in there. Really, the topic sentence is your opportunity for your voice to come through. It is where you are guiding your reader through your arguments. So, you do not necessarily want to include evidenced or siding material in the topic sentence because there will be plenty of time for that later in the paragraph. That opening sentence should we really be an introduction of the topic. That is primarily going to come from your voice and your insight as the writer. Remember, this is just an introduction on these topics. If you want more instruction or you want more content and information about topic sentences, check out our Writing Center resources.  

 

Visual: The slide changes to Practice slide. The slide says “Practice,” and the following:

Read the paragraph on the next slide. ​

After you have an idea about the paragraph’s topic, write a topic sentence for the paragraph. ​

Write only one sentence and do your best to capture the true topic of this paragraph.

Audio: Max: Let us jump into practice. I really think this idea of topic sentences works best when you are practicing. What I would like to do is I would like to present the next slide here, and Anne Shiell if you could move forward.

 

Visual: The slide changes to Practice slide. The slide says “Practice,” and the following:

In the chat box, write a topic sentence for the beginning of this paragraph that enhances its flow:

Certain programs allow patients to view their medical records in a password-protected online environment, print out immunization records, and perform other necessary tasks with an immediacy that paper records do not allow (James, 2011). The convenience of immediacy spans also to healthcare professionals who may need to transfer records to other medical institutions for a patient's procedure. Rather than spending the time and money copying, faxing, or printing records, healthcare professionals can simply transfer information via the electronic medical records programs (Hunter, 2009). 

Audio: Max: I will read this next paragraph and while I am doing so could you please, feel free to read ahead, but write a single sentence that you would put at the beginning of this paragraph as a topic sentence. We do not know where this paragraph sets with on the broader context of the paper but we can think about ways to introduce the topic of this paragraph. As I'm reading feel free to read ahead but start putting the sentences in the chat box introduces this paragraph. Here's the paragraph, Certain programs allow patients to view their medical records in a password-protected online environment, print out immunization records, and perform other necessary tasks with an intermediate theory that paper records do not allow the convenience of immediate ----- Healthcare professionals may need to transfer records to other medical institutions for a patient's procedure. Rather than spending the time and money copying and faxing, healthcare professionals can simply transfer information via the electronic medical records program. So, if you had to introduce this paragraph in a single sentence how would you do so? I will go on mute and I will let you think, read, and write. Please, as you come up with your topic sentence pop those in the chat box so we can see what you're coming up with. Thanks everyone. 

This is excellent. These are excellent examples of topic sentences that introduce the information in this paragraph. If I was a reader of this paper and I read your topic sentences, I would be able to stay in my flow state because I know precisely what information is going to be covered in the next paragraph. And a lot of these examples I also see how it relates back to the previous information that we already covered. Advance the slide.

 

Visual: The slide changes to Practice slide. The slide says “Practice: Example Topic Sentence,” and the following:

Electronic medical records (EMRs) promote patient satisfaction with their ease of use. Certain programs allow patients to view their medical records in a password-protected online environment, print out immunization records, and perform other necessary tasks with an immediacy that paper records do not allow (James, 2011). The convenience of immediacy spans also to healthcare professionals who may need to transfer records to other medical institutions for a patient's procedure. Rather than spending the time and money copying, faxing, or printing records, healthcare professionals can simply transfer information via the EMRs programs (Hunter, 2009). 

Audio: Max: Here is basically what I saw in the chat box for many of you. The sample that I added is electronic medical records promote patient satisfaction with their ease of use. The terms I saw about EMR's save time and money. Boom. That is a great topic sentence. Just making sure that you cover the entire breadth of the paragraph in a concise way. It is challenging but boy that pay off for the reader is so much. Excellent job, very nice job providing a topic sentence for this paragraph.  

 

Visual: The slide changes to Transition with Words, Sentences, & Paragraphs. The slide says “Transition with Words, Sentences, & Paragraphs”

Audio: Max: Moving forward, our next strategy for enhancing flow in our scholarly writing is transitions. 

 

Visual: The slide changes to Use Transitions to Enhance Flow slide. The slide says “Using Transitions to Enhance Flow” and the following:

Transitions​

  • Help bridge the gap between elements of your paper​
  • Explain relationships between ideas in your writing​
  • Connect one idea to another​
  • Can take many forms, including single words

Audio: Max: Transitions are a concept that I know is quite familiar to most Walden writers. There is, I think, an understanding that you have to be able to connect different pieces of information in your paper. That is great. But what I think is so important to note about transitions is that they take many forms. They are not just single words that you add on to a sentence. But they can also be full sentences. Sentences that connect paragraphs together. Or if you are writing a longer research paper, say a major assessment, transitions can also be full paragraphs. You can write a whole paragraph to transition between sections of your paper.

 

Visual: The slide changes to Use Transitions to Enhance Flow slide. The slide says “Using Transitions to Enhance Flow” and the following:

Transitions can take place in many different levels of your writing: ​

  • Use word-level transitions to signal relationships between local-elements of your writing. ​
  • Use a sentence-level transition to signal a new direction in your paper at the paragraph level. ​
  • Use an entire paragraph to transition between major sections of a longer writing project like a capstone or major assessment.

Audio: Max: I just put the three different types of paragraphs, sorry the three different types of transitions, here on the slide. Word level, sentence level, entire paragraph. You need to decide which type is right in each situation for your type of writing. If you start to think about these different levels, the different scope of transitions, then you can really start to put transitions into use in order to keep your reader in that flow state.

 

Visual: The slide changes to Transitions Between Paragraphs slide. This slide says “Transitions Between Paragraphs” and the following:

These transitions usually note the relationship between two or more paragraphs at the start of the next paragraph.​
Example: ​

…Jones (2009) confirmed that many CEOs have no future plans to offer health benefits to their part-time employees.​

Although part-time employees may have difficulty getting benefits, government officials are tackling the issue of health care in other ways. For example…

Audio: Max: I just wanted to put a few examples. Here is a transition between paragraphs. You can see in the first sentence, Jones confirmed that many CEOs have no future plans to offer health benefits to their part-time employees. And then in bold I have a transition linking it to the next part. Although part-time employees may have difficulty getting benefits, government officials are tackling the issue of healthcare in other ways. So, you can see that we are moving from CEOs in the first paragraph into government officials in the next paragraph, and we have that sentence level transition connecting the ideas in those paragraphs together. Whatever you do, make sure that your reader knows what that connection is. If there is no connection then you may need to get creative and invent one just so your reader can bridge along and stay with you.

 

Visual: The slide changes to Transition Within Paragraphs slide. The slide says “Transitions Within Paragraphs” and the following:

These transitions note the relationships between sentences within a paragraph.​
Example without a transition: ​

…Fillmore (2015) found that social workers are often overworked. Mitchell and Van (2016) surveyed social workers to gain insight in their stress levels…

Audio: Max: Also, a very common and important type of transition is transitions within paragraphs that connects together.

 

Visual: The slide changes to Transitions Within Paragraphs slide. The slide says “Transitions Within Paragraphs” and the following:

Chronological:​

…Fillmore (2015) found that social workers are often overworked. Later, Mitchell and Van (2016) surveyed social workers to gain insight in their stress levels…

Comparison:​

…Fillmore (2015) found that social workers are often overworked. On the other hand, Mitchell and Van (2016) surveyed social workers to gain insight in their stress levels…

Concession:​

…Fillmore (2015) found that social workers are often overworked. Nevertheless, Mitchell and Van (2016) surveyed social workers to gain insight in their stress levels…

Audio: I just want to illustrate here for you that there are different examples.

Here: ---- those are two sentences and we do not see a connection between them. I wanted to show you that there are many different ways that we can connect these paragraphs together, sorry the sentences together. I will just pause here for a moment and remember the differences between sentences and paragraphs and transitions! So, transitions within a paragraph, there are chronological ways that we connect these two sentences together. Later we can compare these two sentences, or on the other hand, we can concede or make a concession between these two. The Writing Center has a great website on transitions that gives a full list of all the different types of transitions that you can use. What I will say to you is that I have never encountered a paper that has had too many transitions in it. You may be asking yourself what should I do, Max? Should I put a transition between every single sentence? No, I'm not saying that. I am saying that the more you can be clear about how different ideas work together and what the connection is between different parts of your paper, the stronger your writing will be and the easier time your reader will have staying in their flow state. Those are just some examples. Remember transitions is a complex academic writing task so you will have to keep working on it.

 

Visual: The slide changes to Practice After the Webinar slide. The slide says “Practice After the Webinar” and the following:

Add a transition to the following sentences to improve their flow. Type your transitional word or phrase in the chat box.

….Fuller (2014) suggested that students typically reticent to participate in a traditional classroom may feel more comfortable participating in an online class’s discussion board. Evans (2015) found that students felt they could express their ideas more clearly in an online discussion board than in a face-to-face class discussion…

Audio: Max: I just want to provide a bit of opportunity for practice after the webinar. So if you are interested in practicing further, you can kind of play around with different transition words with these two sentences. Here are some examples for transitions.  

 

Visual: The slide changes to Write With Concise Prose Concisely slide. The slide says “Write With Concise Prose Concisely”

Audio: I would like to move forward into the next strategy for enhancing your readers flow state. And that is to write concisely. Hopefully at this point you are starting to see that a lot of the strategies overlap. A lot of these strategies kind of influence each other. So, write concisely can be applied to topic sentences, and topic sentences can be thought of as a form of transitions, and making connections is also a form of transitions. So, these are not discrete.  These are not study and master number one and then study and master number two. Instead, these all kind of work together and the more you kind of think about these kind of practical strategies, the more you will see how you can put them all to work together in your academic scholarly writing. 

 

Visual: The slide changes to Write Concisely slide. The slide says “Write Concisely” and the following:

Writing concisely​

  • Allows your reader to focus on the ideas you are conveying​
  • Means using fewer words to express similar ideas​
  • Also means being conscious of how you put your ideas together​
  • Rarely happens in the first draft​
  • Requires revision

Audio: Max: So, what is writing concisely? Writing concisely is simply that. It is the act of writing in a way that allows your reader to focus on your ideas. A lot of times there is a tendency for academic writers to think of scholarly writing as these big flowering things, using long words and complex sentence structures. Yes, some academic writing is like that. However, the strongest academic writing is the writing that allows me to focus on the ideas being presented by the writer. If you write concisely, you assure the reader can do just that. So, it means to use fewer words to express similar ideas, it means being conscious about how you put your ideas together. What I really want to stress here is that can concise writing is the easiest when you are doing it in the revision phase of your writing. No one writes perfectly the first time. No one. Even when you are in the zone and writing in your flow states, it is not easy to write concisely. Writing concisely really happens during revision. Revision is after you have a draft of your paper, when you come back to it, and when you think about it again and you see it again. Revision, see again. When you start to think about your own writing critically, that is when you do really good revision work. It rarely happens in the first draft. It requires revision.

 

Visual: The slide changes to Strategies for Writing Concisely slide. The slide says “Strategies for Writing Concisely” and the following:

  • Strive for economy of expression ​
  • Engage your reader with a declarative, scholarly voice​
  • It seems to this researcher that the literature is quite informative on the topic of writing at the graduate level. ​
  • Revision: The scholarly literature contains much information on graduate writing.​
  • Use active verbs and sentence constructions​
  • It has been noted by writing instructors that….​
  • Revision: Writing instructors noted that…​
  • Stay focused on what is the true meaning of what you are trying to convey​
  • Combine sentences that contain overlapping information 

Audio: Max:  There is a famous style guide that I received early on in my education from a very concerned English teacher, Ms. Cagle. Hi Ms. Cagle. It was Strunk and White.  It included a term called economy of expression. That means using as little verbiage or as few words as possible to convey your idea. One way to do that is to write with a declarative scholarly voice so instead of having a lot of conversational flourishes in your writing.  It seems to this researcher that the literature is quite informative on the topic blah, blah, blah. Instead, if you are declarative you are able to eliminate a lot of the extra baggage, that extra verbiage. The scholarly literature contains much information. You do not need to say or write it feels like, it feels that. You are writing it, your reader already knows that it feels that way to you. So, the more declarative, the more authoritative and concise you can be the better your writing will be.

Use active verbs in sentence construction. I get a lot of questions about what is wrong with passive voice? Why is active voice so much more preferred? This is why. If you use active verbs and eliminate helping verbs and weaker non- active verbs, it allows you to get to the point and be very precise, concise, and specific about what you are doing. It has been noted by writing instructors that passive and kind of wordy and not concise wording, but if we switch the phrasing of the sentence and change it to an active verb construction, writing instructors noted that.  Boom. Now we have a much more concise sentence and a much more exciting sentence that is going to encourage your reader to stay in that flow state.

The final example here is combine things, sentences that contain overlapping information. I would like to practice combining sentences here because this is very, very important. It is useful if you can take two sentences and combine the information into a single sentence while still maintaining the meaning. While still harnessing the overall meaning of your writing. Then you will have much more concise prose and your flow is going to be enhanced.

 

Visual: The slide changes to Practice slide. The slide says “Practice” and the following:

In the chat box, combine the following two sentences into one single sentence to practice concise writing. ​

Try to eliminate anything unnecessary while maintaining as much of the sentence’s meaning as possible. 

Sentence 1: Writing at the graduate level requires a distinct set of communication skills from writers to be done effectively.​

Sentence 2: Many students begin graduate school with writing skills that are relevant to their profession. 

Audio: Max: So, Anne Shiell if you can switch our next format please. In the chat box combine these two sentences. I would like you to do your best to take the meaning of these two sentences and combine them to form one sentence that harnesses the same meaning but does so in a more concise way. One sentence instead of two. If you can still achieve the same meaning in a straightforward way it is better than two sentences. So, sentence one says, writing at the graduate level requires a distinct set of communication skills for writing to be done effectively. Sentence two says, many students begin graduate school with writing skills that are relevant to their profession. So, you will see that there is some overlap here with transitions and writing concisely. What I would like you to do is take these two sentences and form a single sentence. Maybe you will use some skills from your refer back strategy that we talked about, or maybe you will look for some of those transitions that you can embed with into sentence. Whatever your strategies are, think about how to combine these. I'm going to go on mute and we will take about 60 seconds. Then we will come back and see what we came up with and we will move on to our final strategy for enhancing flow. Thanks everyone.

These are wonderful responses. I was hesitant to put this exercise into the presentation today because this is a challenging concept. This is a challenging skill. But I am very, very impressed at the type of responses that I'm getting back. I see people focusing on keeping effective communication, keeping the idea of professional writing versus academic writing, and just these subtle ways that you all are combining the sentences into one to make these ideas more concise is very impressive. It is really nice to see. I will leave it at that. You can see your fellow student’s responses here in the chat box. Like I said, this is a challenging concept and it is not something that you just flip a switch and get. It is not even something that you can do on the first try, as in during your rough draft. You do not know what your ideas are perfectly it so it really takes revision. It really takes having two sentences side-by-side in a paragraph. It requires you to look at those and say hey wait a second I can combine this idea into a single sentence to help my reader as they proceed through my work. Thank you all so much for your attention. Thank you all so much for your hard work. I think I will review this transcript later so I can steal some of these really good ideas for my own selfish reasons. It is not selfish, it is so I can help other students understand this concept better in the future. Very impressive, and thank you all so much.

 

Visual: The slide changes to Practice: Example slide. The slide says “Practice: Example” and the following:

Sentence 1: Writing at the graduate level requires a distinct set of communication skills from writers to be done effectively.​

Sentence 2: Many students begin graduate school with writing skills that are relevant to their profession. 

Sample combined sentence: Effective writing at the graduate level requires communication skills differing from those that students have done in their professional experience. 

Audio: Max: Here is my sample. Like I said, I do not know, I will read it anyway.  So effective writing at the graduate level requires communication skills different from those that students have done in their professional experience. I just wanted to put that out there is a possible combination.  

 

Visual: The slide changes to Vary Sentence Structure slide. The slide says “Vary Sentence Structure”

Audio: Max: Vary sentence structure is our final strategy for how you can enhance the flow of your writing, by doing certain writing tasks, doing certain things to enhance your routers flow state. 

 

Visual: The slide changes to Vary Sentence Structure slide. The slide says “Vary Sentence Structure” and the following:

A varied sentence structure​

  • gives the reader a sense of movement and interest in a piece of writing​
  • helps the reader avoid monotony and boredom ​
  • shouldn’t be so complex that it impedes your reader’s comprehension

Audio: Max: Varying sentence structure is probably the most advanced concept here that we are presenting today. I'm not going to go into a great detail on varying sentence structure today because this is one of those topics that requires study. It requires not a mastery of sentence mechanics but an understanding of sentence mechanics that I do not have time to get into day. I just want to give an overview and then we will move into the final phase of the presentation. Changing sentence structure gives your reader a sense of movement. It allows them to stay in the flow state because the way you are structuring your sentence allows them to move between your ideas. It helps the reader avoid monotony and boredom. As a caveat, it should not be so complex that it impedes your reader's comprehension. I am not saying that complex sentence structure is better but what I'm saying is that you if you can find ways to vary your sentence structure between subjects and other types your reader will be more engaged.

 

Visual: The slide changes to Vary Sentence Structure slide. The slide says “Vary Sentence Structure” and the following:

Four Types of Sentence Structures​

  • Simple sentences – contain a single independent clause​
  • Compound sentences – contain at least two independent clauses​
  • Complex sentences – contain at least one independent clause and one dependent clause​
  • Compound-complex sentences – contain at least two independent clauses and at least one dependent clause

Audio: Max: Here on the slide, I have added the different types of sentence structures. There are four main sentence structures. Simple sentences, compound sentences, complex sentences, and then the hybrid compound-complex. Like I said, if you have the time and if you're curious, please follow up on the Writing Center's website to learn more about these types of sentence structures.

 

Visual: The slide changes to Example of Varied Sentence Structure slide. The slide says “Example of Varied Sentence Structure” and the following:

Fuller (2014) suggested that students typically reticent to participate in a traditional classroom may feel more comfortable participating in an online class’s discussion board. Evans (2015) found that students felt they could express their ideas more clearly in an online discussion board than in a face-to-face class discussion. The asynchronous nature of online discussion boards may help students take their time when writing. Taking more time to write may allow students to revise for clarity. Students may feel more comfortable sharing their writing online.

Revision: Fuller (2014) suggested that students typically reticent to participate in a traditional classroom may feel more comfortable participating in an online class’s discussion board. In a related study, Evans (2015) found that students felt they could express their ideas more clearly in an online discussion board than in a face-to-face class discussion. The asynchronous nature of online discussion boards may help students take their time when writing, which may allow them to revise for clarity and help them feel more comfortable sharing their writing online.

Audio: Max: This is an example slide. What you will see here is a paragraph that has very repetitive sentence structure. Then there is a revised paragraph at the bottom and it has a different sentence structure. I'm not going to read these both, but they are here for your information. You can come back to them later and you can see that both are written effectively, both have scholarly information in nature and have a scholarly tone. You can see the subtle difference that sentence change can provide for the reader. It is not change anything, it is even not noticeable. But what you will see is a movement in a flow through the ideas.

 

Visual: The slide changes to Strategies to Vary Sentence Structure slide. The slide says “Strategies to Vary Sentence Structure” and the following:

  • Learn more about the grammar and mechanics of sentence structures​
  • Become comfortable using different structures in different situations​
  • Seek to vary the length of your sentences ​
  • Don’t sacrifice clarity for complexity

Audio: Max: My suggestions are to learn more about grammar and mechanics of sentences, to become comfortable using different sentences, to seek to change the length of your sentences. Also, I will say this caveat again, your job is to be clear and precise, to get your reader to understand and follow along with your ideas. So do not sacrifice clarity for complexity. There is a fine line for you to walk here. You want to very sentence structure and you also do not want to have overly complex sentence structure where your reader cannot follow along with your ideas.

 

Visual: The slide changes to Practice After Webinar slide. The slide says “Practice After Webinar” and the following:

Combine the following sentences into one or two sentences that use a different structure. ​

Feel free to edit/revise the sentence to make it work for you, but try to maintain the meaning of the original sentences.

Sentence 1: There is no universal consensus on what makes good writing.​

Sentence 2: Writing standards vary depending on the situation.​

Sentence 3: Language standards can be used as a form of oppression against certain populations. 

Audio: Max: Here is a practice that I have for after the webinar. It asks you to take this three sentences and combine them sorry, change three sentences into two. So if you would like to follow up in more practice there please go ahead.

 

Visual: The slide changes to Next Steps for Practicing Flow slide. The slide says “Next Steps for Practicing Flow” and the following:

Audio: Max: Really, I want to make sure we have time to go over the next steps for practicing flow. I've given you a lot of information. I'm going to mute in a moment and we will hear from Anne Shiell. And we will hear from some comments that are coming in. I do want to emphasize that this is not the end of your journey for learning how to enhance your flow and how to keep your reader in that flow state.

The best, number one, proven by study after study in the writing study literature, the best way to improve your writing and to develop more and different skills as a scholarly writer is to practice. It just so happens that here at Walden as part of your tuition, so it is a free to use service, is our Writing Center paper review service. My role as a writing instructor here at Walden is that I spend most of my time reading student’s writing that they have submitted and providing feedback and strategies and resources and tips and tricks and activities for that writer so that they can continue to improve. We do that through our Writing Center paper review services. Basically, what you do is you take your paper, you submit it to our platform, and then you give me a little bit of information about what you want to work on and what your assignment is. Send me your writing hand and say hey Max, I would love to work on the five strategies for flow, can we do that? So, what I do is I pick up your paper, I work on it, I give you ideas, share links with you, I point to specific places in your writing where you can work on flow. And then I send you the paper back. It is completely asynchronous. It is something that you as a Walden student have access to. That is the number one way. You can sign up for three paper review appointments per week. I encourage you to check out the page on our website that has the information in the policies on that.

I added a link here to the Writing Center's website. We have a search box. Type the word flow into the search box on our website and you will have a wonderful variety of resources that you can use for that. I would also like you to save the email address at the bottom, writingsuport@WaldenU.edu. We have a trained writing instructor or one of our graduate assistants monitoring this e-mail address seven days a week and so if you have any writing related questions, you can write in and expect an answer to your question within 48 hours. I believe that is our turnaround time. Usually, it comes back in the same day. Yes, you have strategies now, but likely the strategies you are still thinking about them, so I want you to encourage you to keep working on them. The next time you are writing for a draft for coursework paper or even a discussion board post, practice these strategies, use transitions, use a transition in every paragraph, try to refer back to the previous sentence in every sentence. Just try it. Practice. It may not be perfect, but what you are doing is you are enhancing your skills, you are developing ideas, you are keeping that reader in the flow state.

 

Visual: The slide changes to Recommended Resource slide. The slide says “Recommended Resource” and the following:

Strategies for Enhancing ‘Flow’ in Your Academic Writing: 5 Part Blog Series

One of the most popular series of blog posts on the Walden University Writing Center Blog is about enhancing your writing’s flow. In those posts, we look at five concrete ways you can shape your writing to entice your reader to enter their flow state. 

Audio: Max: So, with that let me access the next slide. So, here's another link to our blog post that covers each one of these five stats strategies in depth.

 

Visual: The slide changes to Questions? slide. The slide says “Questions?” and the following:

Ask now in the chat box or email us at writingsupport@waldenu.edu

Audio: Max: With that I would ask Anne Shiell to forward to the next review. If anyone has questions you can pop those into the chat box now. Anne Shiell, is there anything that came in that you would like to address verbally?  

Anne:  We do not have any outstanding questions in the question pod aside from one about resources for students -----. 

Max: This is a wonderful question.  It is actually something that we in the Writing Center think a lot about. The writing support that Capstone writers need is very different than the writing support that master students or undergraduate students just starting out in the program need. We have a lot of Capstone specific writing resources on our website. We also have an entire website dedicated to Capstone writers. This is the Writing Center form and style website. As you can see in the chat box there, Anne Shiell just put the link into that. So whoever asked to that question, thank you very much, It is much appreciated.  

Since there are no other questions, I think I will just say thank you again to our captioner. Thank you again to Anne Shiell for facilitating behind the scenes. I always get kind of sentimental at this point in the webinar. Thank you all attendees and observers. This is a tricky time in history and in our lives. The social change work and research that you all are doing is so necessary and so important right now. It is my honor and it just makes me so happy to provide you with this. It is just a small support for you to achieve those goals that you have for social change and change in this world. Thank you so much for doing what you are doing. Thank you for being here. Thank you for believing in the Walden mission. Thank you for improving those communities that you are working with. With that I will sign off. Anne Shiell, take us home.  

Anne:  Thank you so much everybody for joining us. I just have a couple of administrative notes. If you joined late or if you want to review the recording, it will be available on our website by the end of the week and it will come to you by e-mail as well. When I close the room in just a moment you should have a window pop up with a survey. We would love to hear your feedback about this webinar in particular, or just about our webinar services in general. So again, thank you so much. Good-bye.