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Improving Your Writing: Strategies for Revising, Proofreading, & Using Feedback

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Presented March 7, 2019

Last updated 4/1/2019

 

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Housekeeping

  • Recording
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    • 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: Michael:  Hello everyone, welcome to today's webinar entitled Improving Your Writing: Strategy for… Strategies for Revision, Proofing & Using Feedback. I'm Michael Dusek, and I'm a Writing Instructor in the Walden Writing Center. I’ll be working behind the scenes of today's webinar. But before we begin and I hand the session over to today's presenter, Melissa, let me go through a few housekeeping issues.

First, we are recording this webinar, so you are welcome to access it at a later date via our webinar archive. In fact, note that we record all of our webinars in the Writing Center, so you’re welcome to look through that archive for other recordings that might interest you as well. We might also mention a few that will be helpful follow-up during this session. So, you know, by all means, check that out as well.  Also, if you are attending this webinar live or watching a recording, note that you will be able to participate in any polls that we use, files we share or links that we provide. You can also access the PowerPoint slides Melissa will be sharing, which are located in the Files pod that should be below on your screen.

Lastly, we welcome any questions and comments throughout the session via the Q&A box. I will be watching the Q&A box and I’m happy to answer your questions throughout the session as Melissa is presenting.

You’re also welcome to send me any technical issues that you have. Although note that there’s a help option in the top right corner of your screen. This is Adobe's technical support, sand is really the best place if tech issues persist. Okay with that, I hand it over to tonight’s presenter, Melissa Sharpe.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the title of the webinar, “Improving your Writing: Strategies for Revising, Proofing, & Using Feedback” and the speaker’s name and information: Melissa Sharpe, Writing Instructor, Walden University Writing Center

Audio:  Melissa: Thanks Michael. Thank you everybody, I am Melissa Sharpe, and I am a Writing Instructor here at the Walden University Writing Center. And thank you for joining me today to talk about Improving Your Writing:  Strategies for Revising, Proofing & Using Feedback.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Learning Objectives

  • Identify the writing stages in which revising and proofreading are used
  • Identify useful strategies for revising
  • Understand best practices for incorporating feedback from others (the Writing Center, instructors, peers)
  • Identify strategies and resources for proofing

Audio: The learning objectives for today's webinar:  is that by the end of this session you will be able to identify the writing stages were revising and proofreading are used and you’ll be able to understand and identify some strategies for revising. You’ll also be able to understand best practices for using feedback from others, as well as some strategies and resources to help you when it comes to proofreading and editing your documents.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Make time for revision

  • Why is revising and proofing important?
    • Writing = thinking
    • Develop and refine ideas
    • Polish presentation
  • Key = preparation
    • Consult syllabus
    • Plan time
    • Multiple drafts

Audio: When we look at revision and proofreading, there are a few things to keep in mind. And I will be learning from myself during this webinar tonight, because revision is not my favorite part of the writing process and, looking at the poll prior to the start of today's webinar, I can tell that is not the favorite step in the writing process for many of you, as well.

I feel like when I write something, I put a lot of work into a draft, and I want that draft to be it. I want it to be perfect and wonderful, and I don't always feel like going back and digging through it and revising and continuing to work on it. So, it's important to note that we all have to revise, myself included, and one of the best ways to ensure that it happens is to make time for it and to make sure that it is always part of your writing process.

If you get in the habit of writing things quickly in a first draft and submitting them, or maybe just the first and second draft, that becomes your habit. However, if you always build in time for revision, it will always become a part of the writing process and it will improve your work.

Revising and proofing are important, because writing is all about thinking and developing your ideas, presenting your ideas. And if you have a first draft you really like it and you share it with people, there might be some things that you overlooked, either because you were going fast or you are an expert in the field, so you kind of overlook details that others may need to know.

Perhaps the points are in an order in which you thought of them but not really in an order that an unfamiliar reader can follow.  So, revising can help make your document more reader friendly. It also ensures that you develop ideas completely, because when you revise, you're putting more time into that piece of writing, and more time typically means stronger, better ideas.

So, revising and proofing are important because they really develop that thinking in your ideas and your arguments. And proofreading really helps polish your work, making sure sentences are grammatically correct and citations are in place.

As I said, the key is to be prepared, you want to make sure that you have time for revision that you plan, you have time built into your writing process. If an assignment is due on a certain day, you want to make sure your draft is done however long prior to that date to build in time for your revision. We all have different schedules and speeds at which we work so your specific timeline, of course, is individual to you.

Another way to prepare for revising is to look at your syllabus, to look at your assignment prompt or directions. All of these documents contain certain clues that will help you with your assignment. That’s a strategy we will be looking at later today during this session.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Revision vs. Proofreading

  • Revising
    • TO LOOK AGAIN:
    • Organization
    • Paragraphing
    • Content/idea development
    • Cohesion and flow
  • Proofreading
    • TO CORRECT SMALL ERRORS:
    • Grammar
    • Citation and reference format
    • Word choice
    • Sentence construction

Audio: No, I’ve mentioned revising and proofing, and there is a difference between revision and proofreading or between revision and editing. When we talk about revising and vision, that really means that we’re looking again at our work, devising kind of has that same root as revision. So, we are we envisioning. So, we are taking a look at our organization, the order in which ideas appear in our writing or even within individual paragraphs.

We also look at our paragraphing, itself. Is there a clear, controlling main idea in that topic sentence? Do we have one idea per paragraph throughout? How’s the use of details in that paragraph. So, we are also look at the development of those paragraphs. We also look at content and idea development as a whole. Are we sticking to one main argument in this piece? Is all the content relevant? Is all the content appropriate and current for whatever that assignment, maybe?

Along with how are you developing your ideas, we could all write a paper on the same topic in this room and we would develop them in different ways. So, there’s endless ways to organize and paragraph and develop your ideas. When we are revising, we are looking at that again to make sure that what we have chosen to do makes sense and is appropriate for whatever it is we are working on.

Also, when we revise, we look at the cohesion of the document, how it all fits together and how it flows from point-to-point. If you have choppy movement from point-to-point, it allows opportunity to lose the reader or to, of course, your flow of idea is interrupted and it just isn't so strong as having smooth transitions between ideas.

So, when we revise, we are really looking at these biggest concepts related to your ideas and development of research. This is really about the thinking.

Part of the process of looking again at our work also includes proofreading or editing. And this is where we focus on correcting the smaller errors -- that would be fixing any grammar issues, looking at citations and references, examining word choice, looking at sentence construction. These are the smallest elements of writing, and they are very important, because they make our work look and sound good and academic and scholarly. However, if you have perfect grammar, citations and word choice and sentence construction but you have sloppy, and disorganized ideas, the writing will not be strong. So, we always start off revising by looking, again at those big things before we move on to proofreading or doing the polishing of our documents.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Chat:

What are some of your revision and/or proofreading

strategies?

How do you make sure you have the time and energy necessary to create cohesive and polished papers?

Audio: In the chatbox, before we look at some revision strategies, I want to know what are some of your revision or proofreading strategies that you like to use? You can also share with us how you make sure you have the time and energy in order to make it all the way through the writing process, including revising.

[silence as students type]

I see some people are talking about a few of my favorite proofreading strategies which include reading the paper out loud. This is something I recommend because you can hear your writing, you will know if you have missed something. I also like to see if people are using Grammarly and are taking advantage of our institutional subscription to Grammarly. That is excellent. And I do see some people talking about revision strategies including going back to look at their outlines, checking out the flow of ideas.

The things we look at today are all just potential strategies you can use to revise and incorporate feedback and proofread. You do not have to use them all. They are there for you as sort of a toolbox so that you can go ahead and pick the ones you like best or the ones that work best for you to add to what you are sharing with me today.

I want to thank everybody for these suggestions. I hope that you have taken a moment to look at what some of your colleagues have shared, because that could be useful for you, too.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Revising Your Writing

  • Where does it fit into the writing process?
  • What strategies can you use?

Audio: When we talk about revising our writing, we want to talk about where does it fit into the writing process, along with strategies you can use. So, these are the next two topics will be taking a look at here.

Revision is a part of the writing process. And if you have seen a linear or even circular model of the writing process, it may appear as if revision happens near the end, right before you submit it. But really, you can revise at any point during the drafting. Anytime you stop and go hmmm, and take a look at what you have on paper or in that Word document, that’s really you gearing up to revise.

So, note that even though for a lot of the discussion we have today, we are talking about revising a complete draft, you of course, revise throughout your own writing process.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: The Writing Process

Revising

  • Focused reading, note taking, and prewriting
  • Writing the first draft
  • Sharing your work
  • Writing another draft
  • Proofreading
  • Reflecting on your writing

Audio: So here is a visual of the writing process that is a little less linear. And you’ll see that revising here is right in the middle. And this is because revision, as I said, is a part of every stage, and you can tap into it. You can use it at any point in your writing.

So, if you are at the very beginning of an assignment and you’re doing some pre-writing, you’re spending time reading your sources, taking notes, thinking about what you're going to write. Maybe you're doing an outline or a web or however you generate ideas, you can revise during the process, because remember, revision is about looking at the biggest ideas-- how are you going to develop them, how are you going to organize them? So, as you create your outline and use your notes, there is room here for you to make a plan and go back and revise it. Then when you go into writing a first draft, as I said, if at any point you feel you need to go back and revisit what you have done, you are revising.

Once that draft is complete, if you choose to share your draft with another person -- maybe a coworker or fellow student or us here in the Writing Center -- that is part of the revision process, as well, because you are seeking feedback that you can use to apply. Then of course, when you work on writing another draft, you are actively revising. And there's also room for you to revise as you do that.

Although proofreading is something we do once we have, once we feel that the ideas and development are in place, when you’re proofreading, you’re actually also revising your work, those little changes to sentences can have a big impact on the ideas. After you have completed an assignment and you are reflecting on the work you do there as well as work you may do in the future, that is a form of revising, as well. So, revision is absolutely everywhere. So, if like me, you're a person who sometimes drag their feet when it comes to revision, it's helpful to know that perhaps we really are revising the whole time we are writing.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Strategy: Reverse Outlining

Audio: We are going to take a look at some strategies now that you can use to help you revise your writing. And the first one is called a reverse outline. This is a really classic way to revise that helps us look at the organization of our ideas along with the idea development. It helps us to see if our piece sticks together on one idea, if it at all makes sense to have in place. And also helps us see ideas you have already written about which can help you identify gaps of things you have left out. You can also use the reverse outline to make sure that your ideas are transitioning from one to another which really relates to the overall organization of what you have to share. So, a reverse outline gives us a really, really big picture of the draft that we have.

Throughout tonight's webinar, you will see a lot of resources linked to. These links are live within the slides. However, do not feel you need to click and open them all and see them right now, because we do have a file in the file pod that has a copy of these slides, and all the links are there for you. So, if you want to come back through and check some of those out, that's a great way to access some of these at a later date.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Reverse Outlining Example

  Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is not often discussed, but it affects over 100,000 veterans (Hall, 2009) and families. California Senate Bill 1401 and California Assembly Bill 3083 will assist the veterans in achieving assistance from the government for their PTSD. Each of these bills will be discussed further throughout the application.

  The California Senate Bill 1401 would require state to assist California veterans in receiving health screenings and treatment for PTSD (S. 1401, 2008). Furthermore, this bill reinforces the development of veteran outreach programs. Each outreach program, according to this bill, should include information and resources on PTSD for returning veterans.

  The impact upon various stakeholders is tremendous. Spouses often leave their veteran spouses because of the difficult of living with and caring for someone that has PTSD (Yeoman, 2008). Relatedly, the government is failing to provide knowledge and resources about PTSD to both veterans and their spouses. The California Senate Bill 1401 and California Assembly Bill 3083 will provide veterans with the resources to get better, but will also help families care for their veterans. 

  California Assembly Bill 3083 addresses the mental health in general among veterans (A. 3083, 2008). This bill offers federal services to all veterans that have any type of serious mental disabilities, including PTSD. This bill also addresses the importance of outreach programs for veterans’ families and evaluations for each participating veteran.

Intro and thesis: Two CA bills will help veterans with PTSD.

Paragraph 1: Bill 1401 reinforces veteran outreach programs that will help with PTSD.

Paragraph 2: Bill 1401 and 3083 will help veterans who have PTSD, but will also help their families

Paragraph 3: Bill 3083 will address PTSD because it addresses veterans’ mental health in general, as well as providing resources for families

Audio: Here's what the reverse outline looks like in action. To complete a reverse outline, what we do is we look at the draft that we have and we take it paragraph by paragraph. And you can either read the paragraph and then repeat the idea off to the side in a margin or on a separate piece of paper, or you can just copy the topic sentence, that first sentence of the paragraph. What this will do is it will create a list of the main ideas or major points that you have made throughout that draft. And when you have those major ideas or big points set aside, you will be able to tell what ideas you have covered, what ideas you have not covered, you will be able to look at the order to see if that order makes sense or not. You will be able to see if every paragraph's main idea actually connects to the thesis. Because if it doesn't, you can either change your thesis, or you can change your paragraphs. So, the reverse outline will really help you see your coverage of the topic, as a whole.

Here in this example we have a four-paragraph discussion post about PTSD. As we can tell from the introduction and the thesis which has been pulled out here to the side, already, is that this paper is looking at two bills that will help veterans with PTSD. That's the focus of the assignment. Everything needs to be about those two bills that will help veterans.

So as the student is working on revising this and I am implementing the reverse outline strategy, I have summarized the main idea of paragraph one, which is about this bill, 1401. And then I have summarized the main idea of paragraph two which is about two bills, 1401 and 3083, and then paragraph three, I have a summary of the main idea here, which is about that Bill 3083.

Now that I have this reverse outline, I am able to take a look and see if all these paragraphs relate to the thesis. All three of those paragraphs are about bills that address PTSD. So that's great. I can tell that I have stayed on topic within these paragraphs. I can also look to see if the order of these ideas makes sense. When I look at the order of these ideas, I can see that paragraph two is working to compare two bills. It's showing us what is similar about these and it's kind of extending those ideas.

However, we don't know about the second bill, yet. By the time the reader gets to paragraph two, they will have only read about Bill 1401. So, when we say in paragraph two that both of these help, the reader doesn't know what both of those bills are. So, by doing this reverse outline, we can see that it would make sense to switch paragraph two and three. This way we have one paragraph summarizing the first bill, one paragraph summarizing the second bill and then the third paragraph talking about what makes them similar. This will make more sense to the reader.

That is a writer who has done a lot of research on these bills and understands them, you can see how it was easy to write this way because we have all this knowledge. Of course, our reader does not. So, during the reverse outline we can see a better way to do this and create a cleaner, clearer flow throughout the discussion post.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Strategy: Revisiting the Instructions

Audio: Another strategy that we can look at is revisiting the instructions. Those assignment prompts that you have are usually formatted in a way that works as an awesome checklist. When we look at the directions, we can make sure that the content we have is, of course, accurate and appropriate, because you want to make sure that you respond to every question in that prompt. If the prompt gives you four things to write about and you’ve only written about one, that's only a quarter of the way done, right?

You’ll also be able to see how much space should be given to each of those components. Maybe those four questions should be covered equally, maybe they shouldn't be. You'll be able to see how long the assignment is, maybe how many sources you should be using, all of those important requirements. Your writing can be fabulous, it could win you awards. But if it’s not fulfilling the purpose of the assignment, your grade may not reflect the strength of that writing.  So, when we revise or when we revisit the instructions in order to revise to look at our content and focus, we also make sure that we meet those basic requirements, as well.
 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Revisiting the Instructions Example

In 1 to 3 pages, write a thoughtful reflection that addresses the following questions:

  • As a result of your Residency experience, how have your goals or motivations for pursuing a doctoral education developed further?
  • In your own words, how would you explain the value and associated responsibility of pursuing a doctoral education to someone unfamiliar with doctoral education?
  • What 3 distinguishing behaviors and practices of a doctoral student can you identify and relate to your development?

 

Audio: Here is a sample prompt or direction so that you can see how to revisit the instructions. If you have this as an assignment, and you’ll see that we have bolded some of the keywords here, you will be able to see that your writing is one to three pages long, if it is shorter or longer, then that, that can give you a clue to revise in order to make the page length. You can also tell this is looking for a reflection, which means we definitely want to have some of our own thoughts and ideas. We want to be able to see what the writer thinks about the topic. So, if a draft you had for this assignment was just repeating or summarizing research, perhaps that would not yet meet the requirements of this assignment, because it is asking for a reflection.

Also, we have three bullet points and each of those is a question. So, we would want to make sure that these three questions are answered in those one to three pages. And sometimes when I'm working with students who are feeling a little bit stuck or they're having a hard time getting started or making sure they met all the requirements, I suggest taking these bullets and turning them into headings. So, we would have a heading in the paper that would say goals and motivation, and we might have a heading that will be about values and responsibility. And we would have a heading about behaviors and practices. So, so when we pull out those keywords and turn them into headings, it marks off on the page the topics that we must write about. So, if you don't have any content underneath that heading, it gives you a good sign that it's time to go add some back in.

Now here, we do not quite know the exact length of what each of these sections should be. Because it is a reflection and there’s three bullet points and they are all kind of at that same level, I would feel like spending a somewhat equal amount of time on each of them would make sense here. However, if you ever have questions about an assignment, the best person to take that too, is your course instructor. They know the assignment and they know what they're looking for, and they are the person who will be grading it. However, you can revisit your instructions yourself in order to help revise and make sure you are meeting the length and all the requirements you were able to understand, yourself.

Something else that's important to note here is that we have this keyword Residency. So, we would want to make sure that this assignment reflects on the residency experience and not experience as a student over all. So, the instruction can contain a lot of great information to help you revise.

 

Visual: Strategy: Testing the Thesis

Audio: Another strategy you can use for revision is testing the thesis. When we test our thesis, what we're looking at is we want to make sure that that thesis, that controlling, main idea of the document, that it really is strong enough to be in the document. We have some criteria when we look at thesis statements. We like to make sure they arguable, specific, concise and appropriate. And if these concepts when we’re thinking about a thesis is somewhat new for you, one of these resources you will want to check out is the webinar Practical Skills:  Thesis Statements. And in this webinar, we actually look at these four criteria and we practice assessing thesis statements to see if they need that or not. If this sounds like a strategy that you might want to do and you need more information, that webinar is the best place to go.

 

When we test our thesis, this helps us to ensure that that main idea is something that makes sense for the paper that follows and that it is something that we’re able to argue throughout the length of that, that it is clear. Testing the thesis helps to ensure that your controlling idea will really be able to be something that you can write about throughout the paper.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Testing the Thesis Example

              Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is not often discussed, but it affects over 100,000 veterans (Hall, 2009) and families. California Senate Bill 1401 and California Assembly Bill 3083 will assist the veterans in achieving assistance from the government for their PTSD. Each of these bills will be discussed further throughout the application.

              The California Senate Bill 1401 would require state to assist California veterans in receiving health screenings and treatment for PTSD (S. 1401, 2008). Furthermore, this bill reinforces the development of veteran outreach programs. Each outreach program, according to this bill, should include information and resources on PTSD for returning veterans.

              The impact upon various stakeholders is tremendous. Spouses often leave their veteran spouses because of the difficult of living with and caring for someone that has PTSD (Yeoman, 2008). Relatedly, the government is failing to provide knowledge and resources about PTSD to both veterans and their spouses. The California Senate Bill 1401 and California Assembly Bill 3083 will provide veterans with the resources to get better, but will also help families care for their veterans. 

              California Assembly Bill 3083 addresses the mental health in general among veterans (A. 3083, 2008). This bill offers federal services to all veterans that have any type of serious mental disabilities, including PTSD. This bill also addresses the importance of outreach programs for veterans’ families and evaluations for each participating veteran.

  • Intro and thesis: Two CA bills will help veterans with PTSD.
  • Paragraph 1: Bill 1401 reinforces veteran outreach programs that will help with PTSD.
  • Paragraph 2: Bill 3083 will address addresses veterans’ mental health in general, as well as providing resources for families.
  • Paragraph 3: Bill 1401 and 3083 will help veterans who have PTSD, but will also help their families.

Audio: Here we have that same discussion post as when we looked at the reverse outline, the one about the bills that are related to PTSD. Now when we test the thesis, want to take a look at that main idea to ensure that it is specific -- and here I see that it's definitely about two bills, and it's about PTSD. Those are ideas specific enough that I know I can write something on it, and I know that the reader can follow along. It's not so broad to be a topic that we would need an entire book written about it, it's not so narrow that there's nothing left to say.

However, when I take a look at the main ideas of my paragraphs, I see that I sometimes talk about more than just the two bills and veteran mental health. In paragraph two and three, and you can see that this is bolded, I also seem to write a lot about families. But I don't see the keyword "families" in that introduction. Well, in the thesis, I do mention that it affects families. But I don't really connect the bills to families. I just connect bills to helping veterans. And families differ from veterans. So that might be significant enough that I would want to go and include families within the thesis.

So, when I've tested my thesis, I looked at it to make sure it's an idea I would be able to sustain for the length of the assignment without having too much or too little to say. And I also want to make sure my thesis is accurately representing the main ideas of the paragraphs that follow. In here I happen to find a gap. My paragraphs write about families, but my thesis does not yet mention families. So, I’d want to go and add that text into my thesis.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Chat

Read the thesis and the three paragraphs’ main ideas.

How does the thesis need to be adjusted to fully and

accurately represent the paper’s ideas?

  • Intro and thesis: Customer service reps should empathize with customers.
  • Paragraph 1: Customers most value empathy and solutions in response to their complaints.
  • Paragraph 2: Empathy helps to diffuse situations and makes customers feel heard.
  • Paragraph 3: Solutions help customers with their problem and result in a loyal customer.

Audio: I want to give you guys a chance now, to practice testing a thesis statement. Here I want you to read this thesis statement which is about customer service, and then take a look at the paragraphs that are in the discussion post. Does the thesis need to be adjusted in any way in order to fully and accurately represent the paper's ideas? Are there any key words or concepts missing from that thesis that we should add? I'll give you a couple minutes to look at this and then we will talk about this thesis statement and how testing the thesis will help revise this discussion post.

[silence as students type]

I see that some of you are looking for keywords that appear in those paragraph main ideas, which is perfect, that's exactly what we want to do when we test the thesis. One of the keywords some of you are pointing out is empathy. Yes, empathy appears in the main idea of paragraph one it also appears in paragraph two. So, you want to make sure that is in the thesis statement and, empathy is. That is part of our introduction and thesis. So, when we check this thesis, it definitely meets that requirement.

Something else, another keyword that some of you are talking about, let's see, we have customers and customer satisfaction is definitely a main idea that appears in all these paragraphs and when we look at our thesis, customer is definitely there. It appears twice.

Then, a few of you have pointed out another keyword is solutions. We see that in paragraph one and two and three, one and three, we see the keyword solutions, and yet the keyword solutions does not appear in that thesis statement.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Chat

Read the thesis and the three paragraphs’ main ideas.

How does the thesis need to be adjusted to fully and

accurately represent the paper’s ideas?

  • Intro and thesis: Customer service reps should empathize with customers and provide solutions.
  • Paragraph 1: Customers most value empathy and solutions in response to their complaints.
  • Paragraph 2: Empathy helps to diffuse situations and makes customers feel heard.
  • Paragraph 3: Solutions help customers with their problem and result in a loyal customer.

Audio: This is a signal for us that perhaps we should go and add solutions into the thesis statement. And here in this edit you will see that just by adding in “and provide solutions” we will strengthen the introduction and the thesis.

Now when we look at testing the thesis, it may seem like while adding a single word, how is that a major revision? Well the introduction that very first paragraph, that your reader is going to read, sets the tone and of courses introduces the topic for the rest of the paper. So, if you're going to spend several paragraphs writing about solutions and yet solutions do not appear anywhere in your introduction, the reader is going to feel like you have gotten off track. However, in reality, you have stayed on track with the idea you wanted to present, you just didn't introduce it early enough. If you are able to identify an idea that needs to appear in your introduction and thesis statement and then add it in, that's a really strong revision. It may seem small, just adding "provide solutions" into the introduction. But it will make it clear to the reader that you are going to hear about solutions throughout this paper. Then, it won’t feel off track or catch them by surprise. I want to thank you for participating in this chat.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Strategy: Assessing Paragraphs

Audio: Another strategy that will help you revise is to assess your paragraphs, to assess those individual paragraphs. One of the paragraphing tools that we use a lot here in the Writing Center is the MEAL Plan. And the MEAL Plan is a tool you can use to ensure that you have all the important elements of your paragraph, and that includes the main idea or topic sentence that tells us what the major idea of that paragraph will be. We also like to see Evidence and examples, research, statistics, proof, experts that relate to that main idea. Then, we also like to include Analysis or explanation or connections or reflections, comparison of whatever the research says, or whatever the main idea of the paragraph is. This is really where you get to flex your critical thinking on that topic. Then, we do like to conclude the paragraph in some way with a Lead out sentence.

And we use the MEAL Plan a lot, so we do have a lot of resources on the MEAL Plan including some details about it on our website. It appears in that webinar that you see link here, along with a four-part blog series about breaking down the MEAL Plan. When you assess your paragraphs for these things, you're looking for that structure of the paragraph, along with the development, which is all about the "stuff" in the paragraph, how much do you have? What order is it in? How is the content placed and being used?

When I review papers in the Writing Center, I usually focus very heavily on paragraph development. If we can get solid paragraphs that serve a purpose and develop and share an idea, and we get those as strong as they can be, then we can build a powerful piece of writing, whether that is a discussion post, or a much longer assignment. So, I like to think of paragraphs as being these essential building blocks in our writing. So, when we assess our paragraphs, we are able to have those in place for the rest of the paper to be built on.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: MEAL Plan Example

  • Main idea
  • Research on social media’s effect on high school students is still in its preliminary stages with no clear conclusions.
  • Evidence
  • While Peterson (2008) noted that 83% of teenagers claimed that social media had no impact on their academic performance, Carol (2010) found teenagers who used social media reported a higher dissatisfaction with their academics than did teenagers who use little or no social media.
  • Analysis
  • However, both authors neglect the possibility that the students are simply not aware of the negative aspects of social media.
  • Lead out
  • We can not be sure, therefore, exactly how social media might effect high school students until more studies are conducted in this area.

Audio: Here's an example of a paragraph that includes all four MEAL Plan elements. Please note that when you're actually writing, you will not put hard line breaks in between sentences as we have here. This paragraph looks like this, including different colors and underline and italics, in order to help each element, stand out to you. This of course is not how we want to format an actual paragraph, but this will serve to show how you can look at a paragraph to ensure that all four of these elements appear.

First, we have the main idea and, our main idea is stated in the first sentence of the paragraph. This is great. So, this is a checkmark for assessing this paragraph. Our topic sentence is about research on social media's effect of high school students is still in preliminary stages with no clear conclusions.

We now have a very strong and clear controlling idea. Everything in this paragraph is going to be about how research on this topic is just starting, and we don't have a lot of clear conclusions, yet.

Next, we have evidence. And here we have two separate sources that are cited, and that is a good sign, that means we have come up with this main idea based not on a single resource, but rather a few resources. So, this is all evidence. And I can tell that it's all evidence of research because of those citations. We want to cite any sentence that contains information we are repeating from one of our sources.

However, the evidence should not stand on its own, because your name is on top of that paper and you're the writer. So, we want to know what you have to think about that or what your conclusions are, and that is where the analysis comes in. There should be sentences within your paragraph that are your own thoughts, that are your conclusions, and those will not be cited, because they are yours and your name is on the paper.

Here we have analysis that follows the evidence. Something that you want to keep in mind as when we talk about MEAL Plan paragraphs, it's a useful tool. However, within your paragraph, you do not have to cluster a bunch of evidence and then follow it with a single sentence of analysis. Your evidence and analysis can be woven together. Instead of MEAL Plan M-E-A-L, you really could have M E E A E A L, something like that. Evidence and analysis could appear many times throughout that paragraph.

And here we have a lead out statement. There are many ways to conclude a paragraph. One of these is to repeat the main idea of the paragraph, itself. There is nothing wrong with wrapping it up by bringing us back to that main, controlling idea. You can also leave us with a final conclusion, the big take away. Sometimes I tell students, the last sentence of a paragraph should be whatever that one thing is that you want the reader to remember. So, if you take a look at your paragraphs and you make sure you have a topic sentence, that you have researched, that you have analysis, and that the last sentence is a strong wrap up for whatever that idea is, that is how you can assess your paragraphs to help you revise. Yes, you have to take the paragraph sentence by sentence in order to use this revision strategy, but it helps to create really strong paragraphs -- and after all, that is how you're developing your ideas.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Chat

Analyze this paragraph using the MEAL plan. What components are missing?

 

Smith (2010) conducted a content analysis of Twitter posts after the Haitian earthquake. Smith recommended public relations strategies including human voice, openness, and relational commitment. Yates and Paquette (2011) showed that responsiveness was just as important as the content of the messages when responding to crises. These approaches provided results which have insights into what went well with social media use in the crisis, what did not go so well, and suggestions for future social media uses.

Audio: I want to open up a chat now to give you a chance to try this strategy out. Take a look at this paragraph and think about those MEAL Plan elements. What components are missing? Remember, we are looking for that topic sentence or main idea. We are looking for evidence and research. We're looking for analysis or the ideas of the writer, and then also, a strong ending to the paragraph, a final point or a lead out statement. If you can find any components that are missing, go ahead and tell me in the chatbox.

[silence as students type]

Okay, I feel like Angela really said what a lot of us were thinking, which is “I feel like the paragraph started with evidence,” and that's because this paragraph does. It jumps right into a summary of a source. And so that's a pretty clear indication, as many of you have stated, that we're missing the main idea. This paragraph does not have a topic sentence that presents the overall focus of the paragraph. So, we're definitely missing that main idea. So here, we want to have a topic sentence.

Now there is not an official rule that your topic sentence cannot include a citation. However, often times a topic sentence will not include a citation. And the reason for this is, the topic sentence is your focus for the paragraph. And it's likely previewing the direction in which your ideas are going to go. So, if your topic sentence is cited, it's no longer yours. It's another writer’s. So, if the topic sentence of this paragraph is really more about Smith conducting a content analysis, that means that the entire paragraph would probably just be a summary of Smith's work. So here, we want to see a main idea that represents the main idea of this paragraph, itself.

Then, after the M in MEAL Plan, we like to look at E, which is the inclusion of evidence. And here we have two sources cited, so yes, this paragraph does include evidence. Then we are going to take a look at the letter A. One of the things I note, is that there's only one sentence here that is not cited, and that is that very last sentence. All the other ones are citing of sources. So perhaps we do not yet have enough analysis in this paragraph.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Chat

Analyze this paragraph using the MEAL plan. What components are missing?

             To better understand how to use social media in a crisis, nonprofit agencies can look at case studies in the research. Smith (2010) conducted a content analysis of Twitter posts after the Haitian earthquake. Smith recommended public relations strategies including human voice, openness, and relational commitment. Similarly, Yates and Paquette (2011) showed that responsiveness was just as important as the content of the messages when responding to crises. Both appropriate content and responsiveness need to be combined for appropriate social media use in a crises, as both are integral to getting people the correct information when they need it. These approaches provided results which have insights into what went well with social media use in the crisis, what did not go so well, and suggestions for future social media uses.

Audio: Here you will see that after doing a paragraph assessment as part of the revision process, the student has chosen to add a topic sentence here that is a great revision. And then also a sentence that helps to analyze those sources just a bit more. Again, there is no rule that tells us how long our analysis has to be. However, if you have three sentences that summarize research and only one sentence that is your own idea, perhaps there’s room to say just a little bit more. Remember, as the writer of the piece, you want to make sure that your ideas take up enough space on the page to warrant that paper being your own. So here by assessing this paragraph the student was able to find room to add just a little bit more and better enhance the main idea analysis going on in this paragraph.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Questions?

Audio: Because we have looked at a lot of revision strategies, I want to pause now to see if there are any questions that have come in before we look at other ways to revise and proofread our work.

Michael:  Hey yeah, thanks Melissa. The chat box has been pretty quiet. I think we're good to move on with the webinar. So, continue on.

Melissa:  Great, thank you. We'll have time for questions again at the end, so if you have them, please feel free to send them in to the Q&A box where Michael is ready to help.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Other Tips

Audio: Some other tips we have for revising are to take a break from your writing. If you try to revise a minute after you finish your draft, you're still too into that draft. Sometimes taking a break is what you need in order to have a fresh look at that piece to kind of reset yourself mentally. How long should that break be? That depends on your schedule and preferences and how you like to work. So as I said at the beginning of this webinar, when you're planning out your writing process and you're looking at the final today, you want to make sure that you leave time to revise, and that includes knowing when your draft has to be done in order for you to take a little break and then come back and revise it.

Another tip that a lot of writers find to be helpful is to print a hard copy and then to highlight or write on the document, itself. If you do everything typing in Word you get really comfortable reading and working on it in Word, and printing out a hard copy just makes it look new. Also sometimes there is something really motivating about that physical action of taking pen to paper. So, printing out a copy can be a great way to help you see new things and help you in that revision process.

Also, and this was an activity that I have done the classroom before, you could print a copy and cut apart the paragraphs to move them around. You could do this both by cutting out the paragraphs and then moving the entire blocks. This would help you if you are doing reverse outline. But you can also take problematic paragraphs and cut out the sentences and try moving those around or adding new ones in between. There's lots of things you can do when you have a hard copy.

You can also use Turnitin if you are wondering about your research integration, and if you have paraphrased well enough or if you have properly quoted material. We do have a Turnitin drop box that you can use for drafts that won't officially submit it there, so then that way you can submit multiple copies without it being problematic. You can access Turnitin through the Academic Skills Center.

You also want to make sure you have determined the best time of day for you to revise. Perhaps you work best at a certain time of day and you want to ensure that you do your revision during that period. Try different things out if you aren’t sure what your best time of day is yet. In order to figure out when you should be revising. Also try different techniques, we’ve talked about a lot today and we’ll still talk about more to come. it's okay to try something out a little bit and then if that works for you, great, you have a new tool to use. And if it doesn't, it's okay to not use it again.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Strategy Mixing and Matching

  • Reverse Outlining
  • MEAL Plan
  • Read Aloud
  • Finished Draft

Audio: One thing you want to keep in mind is that when it comes to revision, it's all about kind of mixing and matching those strategies. You don't have to use just one and then feel that you are complete in your revision. You want to kind of use a few of those, so maybe you can do a reverse outline along with assessing your paragraphs for the MEAL Plan and then reading your work out loud just to make sure that it sounds like. We want to mix-and-match the strategies before we get to the finished draft, because these strategies do different things and they help us look at different parts of our writing. So again, as you find things that work for you, remember that you can use multiple strategies throughout your writing process.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Revising for a Longer Research Project

Audio: Some of the work that you do and I know the assignments we have been looking at are discussion posts because they are smaller and they easily fit on the screen, but some of the writing you are going to be doing is a much longer project, or a longer, research-based project. These things may include your final course paper. Maybe have a final project as part of your master’s thesis or undergraduate program, and of course, whatever your doctoral or capstone study project is. All of these longer projects need to go through a revision process, obviously. But some things to keep in mind is you are going to have more drafts, you're going to have more versions. That's because it's a longer piece and you're working on it for a longer period of time. So, it won't be a single revision day that you spend. You're going to have more versions of this. And of course, this means that there are more opportunities to make some of those larger revisions and bigger changes, and there's more opportunity to look at feedback which is what we will be talking about next.

So as the assignment gets larger, the revision gets larger, too. So, you want to keep that in mind. And of course, we have some resources to help you with longer research projects and some of those capstone documents.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Chat

What revision and/or proofreading strategies

will you use before you turn in your next paper

Audio: Now, in the chat, I want you to take a moment and to reflect on what revision or proofreading strategies you think you might use before you turn in your next paper. This will just give us time to connect some of the things that we've looked at today with our actual writing practice.

[silence as students type]

I'm so glad to see all of these strategies that you are considering using. So, I have asked you to do this because, if you set a purpose for yourself and you think ahead of time when I revise, I'm going to do this, you're more likely to do it and follow through on it. So, I want to thank you for participating in this chat. Even though it doesn't require you to practice a revision strategy, it's going to help you set a goal for yourself in using some of the strategies that we have been using today.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Using Peer or Writing Center Feedback

Formative Feedback:

Suggestions from a “test reader” to help you revise by clarifying ideas, improving cohesion, and adjusting your organization, thereby improving your writing.

Audio: Now, we're going to talk about feedback, because using feedback can help you in revision. It's part of the writing process and there's a few different places and types of feedback. So first, we are going to look at peer or Writing Center feedback. And this is typically formative feedback, and what that means is your classmates or coworkers or somebody in the Writing Center is giving you feedback to help you improve the writing as a whole. They're not giving you a grade, which is kind of a summative or evaluative form of feedback. This is a formative feedback, and it's something just to help you develop more than to evaluate the work that you have. When you seek out this kind of feedback, you're looking for a test reader who is going to share their thoughts on your writing as a reader. What ideas need to be clarified, what didn't quite fit together or make sense? Where did it feel disorganized?

A good test reader is going to point out the areas that they really understood and can follow along with, and why they were able to do that. Then, they will also point out the areas where they had a harder time following along, or they started to feel a little bit lost. And perhaps they will point out why they felt that way there. A test reader should focus on those things, more than, say, trying to find a comma error, because that is not the basis of revision. We want to look at those big ideas. So, when you receive feedback, those test readers will reveal to you what it is like to read your document as an unfamiliar reader. Again, as a writer who is very familiar with the topic and has done a lot of research and thinking, you know everything. So, when you read it, it might be hard for you to tell where things are cloudier. But if you give it to an unfamiliar reader, they will definitely be able to point those out.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Who gives formative feedback?

  • Coworkers
  • Classmates
  • Family
  • Friends
  • Writing Center

Audio: Some people who give this type of feedback, these could be your coworkers, classmates, family, friends, us here at the Writing Center. One of the most important services we offer is the paper review service. You can schedule an appointment up to two weeks in advance and then attach your paper by 5 AM the day of that appointment, that would be Eastern time. And you will receive feedback from somebody in the Writing Center either the day of or day after the appointment. The feedback that we give will be of the formative kind that will help you develop that kind of writing, overall. So, this is a great place to go for feedback. However, coworkers and classmates and family and friends are also places that you can go to get this feedback. You want to offer some direction and that you are looking at what makes sense, what doesn’t, what could be better developed if you lost them at any point, or if they had any questions. That's a great thing to ask, can you read this, and what questions do you have?

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Approaching Feedback

  • Prepare
  • Read through all the comments
  • If unsure, ask
  • Consider your options
  • Address big suggestions first
    • Overall organization, paragraphs, argument, transitions, clarity and development of ideas
  • Then proofread (small suggestions)

Audio: When you get the feedback, you want to make sure that you are prepared to process it. Sometimes getting feedback can be really overwhelming. So, you want to be prepared to look at that feedback. You really want to be into it. When you get the feedback, make sure that you read through all the comments. And if you're not sure what something means, ask. That could be as simple as asking your friend or coworker – or, of course, emailing us here if you had a paper review, asking to have that comment clarified.

You also want to consider your options, just because somebody has left feedback for you doesn't mean you need to use it. Because we like to revise from the biggest things on down, we look for those points, notes, suggestions that relate to your organization, the ideas, that clarity. We want to get those set first before we move on to proofreading with those smaller suggestions about sentence structure and commas and citations.

So, when you approach feedback, keep in mind that you are the writer and that feedback is there to give you things to think about.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Incorporate suggestions thoughtfully…

…don’t automatically do what someone says.

Audio: You don't want to automatically do what somebody says just because they said it. You want to make sure you are considering those options and seeing if they are a good fit for your writing. Even if you make an appointment with us here in the Writing Center, the instructor that reviews your work could leave a suggestion. It doesn't mean you have to do that. You are the writer. So, take some time to carefully consider how you use that feedback. You want to consider those options and maybe consider them for future work. But it doesn't automatically mean you have to do what someone says. Getting feedback is a tool for you to use. It's not an automatic change in writing.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Using Faculty Feedback

Evaluative Feedback:

Indicates how correct the choices you made in your writing were, but doesn’t necessarily give alternatives or in-depth suggestions for changes.

Audio: You are also going to get feedback from your faculty. And this feedback is often evaluative in nature, which means they are going to tell you how correct the choices are that you made. Perhaps that is a score on a rubric. But it may not necessarily give you alternatives or suggestions or tips. It's not really there to develop your writing and improve it. It's there to tell you what your grade is, what your score is, how many points you got. However, evaluative feedback can still be used as part of your revision process to improve your writing, either if you have a chance to resubmit that assignment, or for future work that you do.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Finding Faculty Feedback

Public Comments

  • Contact the Instructor” discussion board
  • Course Announcements
  • Group e-mail messages

Private Comments

  • Grade book comment area for assignments
  • MS Word “Track Changes” text on student documents
  • In-line comments in your draft in BlackBoard
  • Individual e-mail messages

Audio: How do you find your faculty feedback? First of all, your faculty can leave feedback publicly and this would not be publicly about your work, but feedback about what they're looking for in assignments. And you might find this in the Contact the Instructor discussion board. You may find this Course Announcements or group email messages. If your instructor posts an announcement and sends an email about an assignment you’re working on about the use of sources, maybe it's a passing comment like, "Make sure your sources are from within the last five years.”  That's actually feedback you can use on your writing, because you know how old your sources should be.

So, your faculty will leave feedback publicly that applies to everybody and all the things you are writing, but they will also leave private comments, and you will find these within your gradebook comments, you will find them within your document, either in track changes or those comment bubbles similar to how we made the feedback in your writing in the Writing Center. You might find comments in your draft in Blackboard or perhaps an individual, personal email to you. All of these are places where you can find what your faculty is looking for and this can help you revise your work as you go. The suggestions may require a little bit of digging, for example, in a course announcement, it might be harder to find a gem to use to help you revise versus a comment that says something like, "Use more research to support this idea." However, in all of these places, you can find strategies to help you revise your work.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Responding to Evaluative Feedback

Asking questions for more information:

  • Where can I find more specific information on this topic?
  • Where can I find models of the best approach to the writing (or research) problem?
  • What alternatives or variations do you suggest?

Audio: When you do get feedback from an instructor, you may want to understand it more or need some more clarity. And it can be difficult to figure out what to say to your faculty member. So, when you're asking questions, here are some ideas to get you started. You may want to ask where you can find more information on a topic to help you with that. You may want to be able to ask them where you can find models, if there's alternatives they suggest. You want to make sure that your question is very specific and also that you're asking the questions, if you have a question about instructor feedback, the best place to go is back to that instructor to ask them what they meant or where you can get more help with that, if they have a suggestion for you that you can follow up on. If you're going to apply feedback, you have to make sure that you understand it. So, asking questions in order to get more information is important. That will help you revise not only that assignment, but all future work.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: With All Types of Feedback:

Focus on applying feedback from a specific assignment to improve your writing skills, not just one paper.

Audio: With all types of feedback, you want to make sure that you're applying feedback to improve your skills, not just that one paper. So, if you receive feedback from a coworker or from somebody here in the Writing Center or from your instructor about the way that you use research, after you apply that feedback within the paper, whatever you're working on next, you'll want to pay attention to how you use and apply research there. When we're able to take feedback from one assignment and then focus on that in the next one and develop the skill throughout the next few weeks, discussion posts, eventually, that skill that we're developing is going to become a strength.

I work with students in the Writing Center who have been regulars for a while, and will talk about a topic like maybe putting a concluding sentence at the end of a paragraph. And over the course of a couple weeks, as we work on that, suddenly, all paragraphs have really strong concluding paragraphs. It's gone from something they had to revise to an automatic part of their writing and a strength that they have as a writer. So, if you can take feedback and use it to improve your skills, not just this single paper, that is really how you can get the most benefit out of feedback.

 

Visual: Slide changes to the following: Strategy: Proofreading

  • Use Grammarly, Microsoft Word’s spell check
  • Match citation with reference entry
  • Read aloud
  • Helps with:
    • Spelling
    • Grammar
    • Punctuation
    • Citation format
  • Resources:

Audio: Now we have to talk about proofreading before we wrap up for the night. Once you have all those big things done with your revision and you have clear ideas and wonderful development and organization, it's time to make sure that your sentences are grammatically correct, that they make sense, that they flow well. And there are a few tools we have for this.

First of all, we have Grammarly, we do have institutional access to Grammarly. You have to use the link that is in our Writing Center webpages, and you have to make sure you sign up with your Walden email in order to get that. Also, Microsoft Word spellcheck and grammar check work pretty well for pointing out potential errors. Again, you don't want to take anything that Grammarly or Word says and make that change automatically. You want to use those as little flags to revisit that entire sentence and make sure it's a strong as it can be. Another thing you can do when you proofread is make sure every citation in your paper has a matching reference entry. And conversely, every reference entry is cited at least once in your paper. This is important because we have to make sure that every citation has a matching reference entry. It will also help you look at all of your citations and all of your reference entries to ensure that they are in APA style. One of my favorite proofreading strategies is to read out loud. When you read aloud, you're able to tell when something sounds off. If you stumble, pause, trip up or get lost or confused as you’re reading, that is a sign that it is time to go back and reword that sentence. Reading aloud slows us down enough to catch those things.

 

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

writingsupport@waldenu.edu •  Live Chat Hours

Learn More:

Check out the recorded webinars “Synthesis and Thesis Development” and “Cohesion and Flow: Bringing Your Paper Together”

Audio: Now that we have looked at a lot of revision strategies along with some quick proofreading tips, if there's any final questions I will address those. Otherwise, we can probably wrap up for the night. So, are there any last-minute questions, Michael?

Michael:  Hey yeah, Great job, Melissa. Currently, I think all the questions were kind of individual, students got them answered in the Q&A box. But if you guys have questions, whether you are listening to this recording or you have questions that occur to you after this webinar, feel free to send them to our general email right there on the slide right there, writingsupport@waldenu.edu. Also, we host a live one-on-one chat during specific hours throughout the day, so if you would like to talk to a live person and it's within that predetermined chat schedule, by all means use our chat too. That's what it's there for. A few other webinars that you might find as a supplement to the webinar you just participated in or watching would be these on the screen: “Synthesis and Thesis Development,” kind of talking about that line of thought through your whole piece here. Also “Cohesion and Flow: Bringing Your Paper Together,” talking about the flow of your idea. So again, these are good follow-ups from this webinar.

With that, I am going to wrap up tonight. I would like to say thank you to Melissa, and thank you to you guys for participating. Have a great evening.

[END OF TRANSCRIPT]