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.
· 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
Citations: Specific to this course
**Don't forget to format your references with a hanging indent!
Content from an organization's website:
The Word Bird Federation. (2001). The importance of our feathered friends. Retrieved from http://www.madeupsitewithhyperlinkremoved.com
Note that the web page title is not italicized.
A discussion board post:
Osborne, C. (2010, June 29). Re: Environmental responsibility [Online discussion group]. Retrieved from http://laureate.ecollege.com/ec/crs/default.learn?CourseID=2321812&Survey=1&47=2565415&ClientNodeID=404183&
This week, you're being asked to summarize your experience learning about Walden resources by responding to five questions. Summarizing requires careful thought about your subject, and requires you to be both thorough and concise (see the Course Definitions box to the right for more on summarizing). Make sure that you are responding to each of the five prompts provided by your instructor! Check out the Writing Center's tips on concise writing for more help on how to communicate your ideas in the most efficient way possible.
You will need to use proper APA formatting as you complete this week’s application, and for each week's assignment from here on out. Although APA rules can often feel arbitrary, they are actually valuable tools that will help you communicate your ideas about higher education 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.
Your instructor has suggested you use headings to organize your ideas as you create the first installment of your course project this week. Headings alert your reader to the general focus and hierarchy of information in a piece of writing. They also serve as a way for you, the author, to organize the content of your paper. 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. 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.
This week, you will write a short narrative relating business/political interests to the challenges of the board of your institution. This assignment requires you to analyze the institution's situation in order to effectively evaluate it. 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. Evaluating is more than just giving your opinion of something; it means using evidence to objectively examine value (again, see the Course Definitions box to the left for more detailed descriptions of analysis and evaluation). You can also read more about effective analysis on the Writing Center website.
You don't have a formal writing assignment for this week, but you are being asked to carefully read and interpret higher education job descriptions. Try this exercise to get the most out of reading these descriptions:
· List the key points or features of the job description.
· Reflect on the key points and jot down questions. Does anything surprise you or make you curious?
· Draw conclusions from your notes and questions. What are they saying overall?
You can read even more about critical reading here.
In this week's application, you will define indicators to assess your institution's progress toward its goals. Rather than trying to produce your final product right off the bat, try freewriting first. 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 or assignment.
This week you will pull all the parts of your course project together into one final document. If you haven't already, this is a great time to familiarize yourself with the course paper template, which will help you properly format your title page, running head, and reference list in APA format. Download the template here.
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org).