Even for the most experienced writers, producing academic writing can be a daunting task. When I was a graduate student I often felt paralyzed by the pressure to produce something brilliant, or at least coherent, on my first try, knowing that my work would be evaluated and given a grade. Sometimes, as writers, we acknowledge that there will be errors in our first draft, but we assume that those errors will be mostly surface-level grammar or punctuation errors, or problems with the organization of our paper.
Well, I'm here to tell you that it is completely normal for the ideas in your initial draft to be as rough as the grammar or organization. Though we are often taught otherwise, writing is not a linear process. It's unrealistic to expect to come up with all your ideas in your head first, and then simply transcribe them onto the page. Instead, let your ideas develop through the writing process. You don't need to "have it all figured out" before you begin to write. Just start: Getting something on the page is usually the hardest part of the process. Start early, so that you have plenty of time to go back and evaluate your draft's ideas, as well as its grammar, punctuation, and organization.
Finally, I encourage you to talk to your colleagues and instructors about writing. Share what works for you, and what you're concerned about. This dialogue helps demystify the writing process, making it less nerve-wracking. You can also take a look at the Writing Center website's resources on avoiding writer's block. Good luck!
Throughout this course, you will be asked to respond to each week's resources in a variety of ways. Look for these terms in your assignment descriptions; then, use these definitions to be sure you create the right kind of writing for that particular week.
Describe: to give a detailed account of something.
Summarize: to express the main points of a reading in a shorter form. Think about the who, what, why, where, and how.
Analyze: to study or determine the nature of something by breaking it down and looking closely at its parts.
Apply: to use or show the relevance of an idea or theory in a particular situation.
Evaluate: to determine the significance, worth, or condition of something studying and appraising it carefully.
Propose: to form or put forward a plan or intention.
Reflect: to think about an idea deeply and consider its impact.
During this course, you will be asked to gather information in a variety of ways: through interviews, surveys, observation, and gathering published sources. The process of obtaining this data can be overwhelming! Don't forget that the wonderful Walden Librarians are happy to help you with any step in your research process. Check out the Library Skills resources for more information.
· Using the APA course paper template. Use the first template listed on this page to save yourself a lot of trouble! For your application assignments, you will not need to include an abstract, so be sure to eliminate that page in the template!
· Asserting a strong thesis statement
Citations: The Basics
As you begin considering your writing assignments for this course, consider doing some freewriting to generate ideas. Freewriting is like brainstorming on the page: a completely uncensored flow of thoughts where no idea is a bad idea. Once you feel like you've got all your thoughts onto the page, go back and narrow down which ones feel the most important or relevant to the particular task at hand. And don't throw that freewriting away! Save it somewhere safe--even the ideas you didn't use might come in handy for a future project.
During this module, you are being asked to work ahead on the literature review section of your major assessment, the Philosophy of Education Essay. I'll say more about formatting a literature review later, but for now, as you collect your sources, you will need to focus on identifying and evaluating credible academic sources. Academic sources are those which have been peer-reviewed by scholars who are knowledgeable in that particular field. If you have any questions as to whether a source is academic or not, make sure to contact the Walden librarians for more guidance.
Evaluating and analyzing the content of academic sources is the next step after determining whether a source is appropriate to use in academic writing. You will need to think critically about the sources you are summarizing and evaluating for your literature review. Critical thinking is something that comes with practice, and it starts with reading. As you read this week's resources,
You can read even more about critical reading here.
As you complete this module's assignment, you will need to focus on effective paraphrasing, academic integrity, and proper APA formatting. Even though all these rules can sometimes feel arbitrary, they are actually valuable tools that will help you communicate your ideas about your field more effectively and efficiently to your audience. Following proper APA format gives you credibility, while proper citation and paraphrasing shows that you understand the context in which you are working. Take a peek at our web resources on APA style and paraphrasing for more information on this important aspect of scholarship.
The Leadership Report you will begin creating for this week's module includes a lot of information. Try using headings to organize this information into different sections. Headings alert your reader to the general focus and hierarchy of information in a piece of writing. In APA, there are four levels of headings, each with a different formatting style. As they increase in number, they also increase in specificity. For instance, you would choose to format a heading as a level 2 if you wanted to break down information under a level 1 heading into smaller parts. A level 3 heading breaks down information under a level 2 heading, and so forth. There's no specific requirement about how detailed your headings should be. You might have mostly level 1 headings in your paper, if the content under each one doesn't need to be broken down into smaller parts.
Headings should be short and should describe generally what will be discussed below, and can follow the flow of your assignment. In fact, for this particular assignment, the headings are built right into the assignment sheet! Headings should not, however, be identical to prompts from your instructor. Read more about headings on the Writing Center website, and check out the course paper template to see how they should be formatted.
As you complete your Leadership Report, you will need to engage in a thorough analysis of the data you have collected. Analysis involves breaking down an idea into its respective parts and examining each one carefully--basically, it's all about showing all sides of an idea or issue in detail (see the Course Definitions box to the left). And it's not just a detailed summary; analysis also requires you to look critically at the issue, idea, or in this case, organization. Read more here about conducting an effective analysis.
As you continue to work on your major assessment, the Philosophy of Education Essay, consider these tips on writing a successful literature review.This your opportunity to give your reader a window into the academic conversation on a particular subtopic in your field that has taken place up to this point. Rather than simply summarizing the content of the research, you should show how the different authors' ideas are similar or different from one another, and describe the implications they have for further research in that field. It can help to think about your literature review as a description of a dinner party where all of the scholars in your field are present. Read more about this helpful metaphor.
You also need to write about a pop culture artifact for your assignment during this module. We are very used to providing our opinions on pop culture--we like this song, we hate that television program. Remember that this assignment is an academic analysis of this cultural artifact, and your observations need to be backed up with research and information from your course!
As you near the end of your major assessment, the Philosophy of Education Essay, don't forget about the importance of revising and proofreading! The Writing Center has some great resources on this important step in the writing process. Don't forget to submit your major assessment via Taskstream by the end of the module!
Your final reflection is personal in nature, but it still should have a clear structure and argument, and be supported by outside sources that are properly cited. Be sure to create a clear thesis statement that describes the main focus of your reflection, and place it at the end of your first paragraph. Because your reflection paper may have multiple parts, you may need to take two sentences to state the focus of your paper. This is okay, especially in a reflection, where the thesis is more of a guide to the paper's content than to its argument. If any writing-specific questions have you stumped, be sure to ask a writing tutor (email@example.com).
You will also complete a Best Practices for Diverse Learners assignment during this module. Don't forget to follow the instructions for how to structure your paper--with an introduction, a body, and a conclusion--inside the assignment sheet. To make this structure easier to achieve, try making an outline first. You can read more about outlining here. Good luck!