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WriteCast Episode 50: Why the Third Time’s the Charm for Writing Center Appointments

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WriteCast Episode 50: Why the Third Time’s the Charm for Writing Center Appointments

© Walden University Writing Center 2018

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[Introduction music]


MAX: Welcome to Write Cast: A Casual Conversation for Serious Writers, a monthly podcast by the Walden University Writing Center. I’m Max Philbrook,


CLAIRE: and I’m Claire Helakoski.

This month, we’ll discuss research about the writing process, repeat appointments, and our recommendations for enhancing your writing process.


MAX: Hello, listeners! Today Claire and I want to discuss an initiative that we and our fellow writing instructors here in the Writing Center have been working on. We call it The Third Time's the Charm because learners who come and work in the writing center three times are more likely to display characteristics of motivated students. So, what we’d like to do today is share with you some of the research we found about writing and specifically repeat appointments in the writing center, as well as give you our recommendations for how to work repeat writing center appointments into your writing process. So first let's check out the research, because after all, Claire, aren’t we always telling our students to use evidence to support their claims?


CLAIRE: Yes, we are!


MAX: So, we looked in some of the writing center literature on the topic. For example, one study found that three tutoring sessions can help students adjust their motivations, and this shifting motivation went from an extrinsic motivation, such as grades and external rewards, to a more intrinsic motivation. And increasing intrinsic motivation, a student can improve overall learning. So that's just one piece of the puzzle. What does that mean for our students, Claire?


CLAIRE: For students, that means that we recommend coming in for a paper review three times, three different reviews. It can be three papers or three appointments for the same paper. It’s really the number of times rather than the number of assignments. And we recommend that because the studies show that reviews with the writing center can improve your confidence and give you the motivation to continue working on advancing your learning and working towards building your writing skills.


MAX: So, we're kind of scholar practitioners here in the Writing Center the same way that Walden students are. Some of the evidence we collected comes from qualitative sources as well. After paper review appointments, we ask our students to fill out a survey that describes how the appointment went and what those perceptions of that particular appointment were, and the students’ responses to our survey corroborate and help support this idea of the third time's the charm, as well. One of our students said, “I feel confident handing in my assignments in my course when the Writing Center has helped in making my writing better.”


CLAIRE: Another student said, “This is my second appointment with my instructor and I feel I'm becoming a better writer with their assistance.”


MAX: And the third student said that “I continue to learn from the service; excellent reviews each time.” So, we're seeing a pattern of students having good results and being motivated to come back to working with the Writing Center instructor.


CLAIRE: Yes, so as these students have kind of explained, as research has indicated as well, coming back for additional feedback from a Writing Center instructor on your course work is beneficial especially in contrast to only coming into the Writing Center once or twice.


MAX: Why I think this works so well and why it's so important for these multiple appointments, Claire, is that writing is a process. Writing, like anything that you do, really, is a skill that takes time to develop. And so, Steph Curry, who is a, you know, an amazing three-point shooter, doesn't just go out there and chuck some balls at the basket, you know, every time he goes out to play basketball. No, this is a guy who works endlessly in the gym and who was practicing all of the different elements of shooting that three-pointer. The writing process gets broken down all of these steps in all of this, all these individual moments in the writing process--each one takes time to develop, and so just like shooting three-pointers, just like fixing a car, just like changing a diaper, whatever--the more you do it, the better you get at it. And so, I think the more often you have a writing center appointment, the more often you talk about writing and think about writing with an expert or a trained instructor like we have in the Writing Center, the easier it's going to be to think about and practice those writing skills.


And finally, these writing center appointments are ways for you to be supported, and they’re  ways for you to chunk up the writing process into manageable chunks.


CLAIRE: Yeah, and what, you know, what Max and I, and the other writing instructors, have really noticed in those students who come back to us multiple times is that they are more driven and more self-aware regarding their process and what they want to focus on and work on. So those repeat appointments can really help give you the language and the focus on what particular skills you want to work on building each time. And that's hard to do if you're only coming in once a semester, but coming in several times really allows you to kind of build that self-motivation and that language to kind of help focus yourself and your writing instructor as they're working on your document with you.


MAX: And another reason why it's good to come in multiple times for appointments is because the writing instructors are pretty nice,


CLAIRE: [Laughs]


MAX: and helpful. They really want to see you students succeed, and that can be one of the most motivating factors, I think, is when someone shares in your success and shares in your your tribulations and overcoming those obstacles.

Claire, will you tell us a bit about the review process and what it looks like for a student who might want to make those appointments in their busy schedule?


CLAIRE: Definitely, and I just want to start out with a little disclaimer here, for those of you who are listening and are not Walden students, we are going to focus a little bit in particular on the Walden Writing Center here and our paper review service, which is run through our myPASS system. So, this is going to be a little bit more detail than we usually get in the podcast about myPASS and about those paper review appointments specific to Waldon. Just so you're aware. But the strategies in general can be beneficial regardless of where you are attending school or where you are in your academic writing process. So, with all that said, if you want to have those three appointments, you make a goal for yourself to have let's say three appointments in a semester through the myPASS system, what might that look like? It might look different for different students depending on how much time you have when your papers are due and what you really want to focus on. My suggestion would be if you haven't used are myPASS system before to go ahead and come in and just submit something, whether that's something you're currently working on or even something you recently turned in, and submit something so that your writing instructor can take a look at it, look at the patterns in your work and provide some feedback for areas to focus on or how things are going in your work so far. Or if you have any questions about your work, you can ask them in the appointment form and that way kind of get a good foundation to grow from and to build from as you continue. So once you've submitted something for your review you then you can take a look at your schedule for your course or courses and see what papers you have coming up. Then my suggestion would be to try doing two reviews in one week or a review one week and then a review the next week depending on when your paper is due. You can have up to two reviews a week, so you could do a review on a Monday and then schedule another appointment on Thursday, either with the same instructor or a different instructor, and that'll give you time to have your review turned back into you with feedback from that Writing Center instructor and give you some time to revise before your next appointment. So you can keep working on the same document with them, whether that's within the same week or one week and then the next week, whatever works best for your schedule. But we have openings you can schedule up to two weeks in advance, so my suggestion would be to really like make a plan for yourself plan to submit your work. Give yourself a little miniature deadline to have someone read it and review it, and give yourself time to revise, build it, and kind of make that accountability of submitting your work and having someone else read it and planning to revise it be part of your process and part of your schedule.


MAX: That's such a good idea, Claire, to create multiple appointments in one week so you give yourself that structure. What should students do between those appointments or after their first paper review appointment?


CLAIRE: Yeah, and that's an important part of the process too, in dealing with writing as a process. So if you're incorporating the Writing Center as part of your writing process, which we encourage, you'll get feedback from your instructor and that feedback will have some kind of resources or action steps or suggestions for what you should do or what you should look into and keep in mind as you're either revising that particular document or working on future documents. So my suggestion would be to go through, read through your writing instructor’s feedback, consider it, take a look at any of the resources that appeal to you, then maybe take a few notes for yourself or leave them up while you are either revising that document or working on your next document. You know, if your writing instructor for example mentions that you don't have a topic sentence sometime then that's something that you might want to keep a note of and as you're writing your next document, take a look and look back at topic sentences and think, okay, am I being clear here, what have I learned about topic sentences, what was a good example of a topic sentence pointed out that I can try and think about as I'm writing. So, keeping that as part of your process and maybe even keeping a physical document or electronic document of what you're working on and what your goals are for your work as you're writing new things will help kind of internalize those processes and help you advance your skills over time.


MAX: It's clear from what you're describing here that the third paper review appointment is not a magic potion.


CLAIRE: Right, it's more of a space to allow you to work on your own goals and skills that you want to advance. The writing appointment itself won't do the work for you, but making that space for yourself and integrating it into your process will help you do the work that you already want to do.


MAX: Yeah. So, listeners, thank you so much for joining us today as we described our third time's the charm initiative. We are excited to work with you Walden students here in the Writing Center. And if you'd like to learn more about the research and our own experiences as writing instructors, we have a few resources on our blog that we encourage you to check out. There's two blog posts in the series. One is written by Claire on strategies for what to do during those three Writing Center appointments. So, if you're thinking to yourself, what on earth would I do during three writing center appointments, Claire clearly breaks it down by review one, two, and three to give you a very clear blueprint about what you can do to make the most of your three Writing Center appointments. And we also have an overview post where we describe the research and we discuss in more depth why the third time is the charm when it comes to writing center appointments.

Thank you very much, listeners; it's been a real pleasure chatting with you today.


CLAIRE: Thanks again for listening today, everyone, and we hope if you are a Walden student to see you in the Writing Center and our myPASS system. Remember, students: Keep writing,


MAX: Keep inspiring.




MAX: WriteCast is a production of the Walden University Writing Center. You can find past episodes on iTunes and on our website We’d love to hear from you. Connect with us on Facebook, on Twitter @WUWritingCenter, and on our blog: Thanks for listening!