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Walden University Writing Center

Where instructors and editors talk writing.

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Podcast Episode 37: Transitioning to Master's-Level Writing

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If you're starting or in the early stages of a master's degree program, then this is the episode for you! Join us for today's WriteCast podcast episode as Beth and Brittany break down differences between undergraduate-level and master's-level writing and share tips on how to transition between them in "Transitioning to Master's-Level Writing".

Beth and Brittany discuss their own transitions between undergraduate and master's level coursework as well as ideas to assist Walden students with their transition. In the episode, they also discuss these two resources:
Click on the player below to listen to the full episode now! If you'd like a transcript of today's episode, or if you'd like a list of all of our episodes, click over to our WriteCast: A Casual Conversation for Serious Writers homepage. Happy Listening! 




author

The WriteCast podcast
 is produced by Anne Shiell and the staff of the Walden University Writing Center and delves into a different writing issue in each episode. In line with the mission of the Writing Center, WriteCast provides multi-modal, on demand writing instruction that enhances students' writing skill and ease. We hope you enjoy this episode and comment in the box below


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Student Spotlight: Breanne Ahearn, Richard W. Riley College of Education and Leadership

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The Walden University Writing Center is privileged to work with talented students. In the Student Spotlight Series, we aim to support incredible work our students do, both in and out of the classroom. The goal of the Student Spotlight Series is to provide the Walden community with a place to build bridges and make connections by developing shared understanding of the diverse and varied student journey. Students share stories about their writing process, their efforts towards social change, and their motivations for pursuing higher education. We ask questions, and students generously answer.
This Student Spotlight features Breanne Ahearn, student of the Richard W. Riley College of Education and Leadership.


Image of bridge over water. Text read: Student Spotlight Series, Building Bridges, Making Connections, Walden University Writing Center
The WUWC Student Spotlight Series: Building Bridges. Making Connections.
What are you passionate about? What are your hobbies?
I’m originally from California, a small beach town just north of San Diego, to be exact. I spent a better part of my life enjoying things like the playing in the sand, spending time with friends, and bettering myself overall. As I’ve grown older, I have found those passions have only expanded. I’m a big fan of personal fitness. I love marital arts as a workout tool. I love to mediate, do yoga, spend time at the beach, hike mountain sides, and spend time with my friends and my best friend who is also my husband. 
Best Friend and Spouse

What is your educational background?

My educational background is bit diverse… I began college several years after many of my friends. I started as a pre-med major and, after having completed a number of classes in my concentration at the community college level, I realized I really wasn’t ready to take the next step and head off to a four-year university in Monterey Bay, California. So I stayed home and took a class in radio fundamentals (just for the heck of it). My first day, I was hooked. I was thrown (metaphorically) into the deep end of radio and found myself on the air my first day of class. Our campus radio station was like no other; we were Federal Communications Commission regulated and CNN News affiliated. In other words, there was no goofing around or child’s play allowed.

I started in the news division then worked my way up over the 4 semesters I was there to having my own show then becoming the station manager. I changed my major from Pre-Med to Communications and, after creating an award winning and nationally recognized radio documentary, I left California and finished my undergraduate degree in Atlanta, GA. While I was finishing my last two semesters of college, I was offered a job with a brand new radio news station with the second largest radio company in the U.S. While there, I took a leave of absence and moved to London, England, where I studied Television Journalism at Goldsmiths, University of London. After a year in the program, I had my Master of Arts degree and decided I wanted to continue my education into the doctoral field. Over the years, I have taught students, peers, colleagues, and I decided, instead of taking the journalism route as I have in the past, that I would study my doctorate under the education concentration and bend my journalism practices into teaching.


Breanne's must-haves for a successful day at work
Have you encountered any challenges while at Walden and how did you overcome those challenges?
I grew up a student with a learning disability and, when you're told from a young age that you can’t do something or that the odds are not in your favor, you either accept defeated or you refuse to give up. In my career I am able to bend my practices in a direction that works best for me but, while at Walden, that hasn’t been the case. I have been forced to address issues that have long plagued my studies (statistics) and had to completely relearn how to write. I have used the support of my adviser, the Writing Center, and my professors with each new challenge. Not only has that support group been there to help me when I have a simple question or am completely off the mark, but the support I receive at home also contributes to my “I refuse to give up” attitude.
An example of the daily life of Breanne's career in broadcast journalism
How do you hope to apply the work you have done as a student to the work you will do after graduating?
Since my time in community college I have found myself aiding others in their studies. There are areas I succeed at and there are areas that I require additional learning. However, I know, with the skills I have been taught, both at Walden and in my career, that I have the ability, knowledge, and experience to walk into a classroom or an office full of individuals who have that desire to learn more and to teach them. I don’t plan on leaving a newsroom just yet but I do plan on entering into a classroom and teaching the next generation while I continue to do what I love.

In what ways do you hope your dissertation/capstone will contribute to positive social change? Why is that important to you?

It is important for students in the communications concentration to understand the newest and most effective ways of learning in today's digital age. With that said, some four year universities continue to teach behind the times, and their students are suffering upon graduation. Many of them lack the experience to gain employment. Some are successful with getting a job only to find their education is in no way an aid in their chosen field and they must learn tools to be effective in today's field. In today’s world journalist are called amateurs, fake news writers, liars. A positive social change needs to take place, and it needs to start in the classroom. The only way for that to occur is if we, as educators, teach the most up to date and highly sought after practices.


The Walden University Writing Center provides information and assistance to students with services like live chat, webinars, course visits, paper reviews, podcasts, modules, and the writing center webpages. Through these services they provide students assistance with APA, scholarly writing, and help students gain skills and confidence to enhance their scholarly work.


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Revision Strategies: A Three-Part Blog Series

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Today we’re here to talk about revision in your writing. It’s important to build revision into your writing process for a multitude of reasons, but you may not know how to get started. We bring you this revision blog series to assist you in incorporating revision into your writing process.

Revision Strategies

Revision in your academic writing means taking some space from your work and looking back at it critically. This is an important step because it can allow you to see gaps in your ideas, where transitions can be strengthened, and even catch typos. So how can you get started? Check out these blog posts for assistance!


Revision By Subtraction: Writing Instructor Melissa writes about tips and tricks to help condense your work and avoid unnecessary words that can clutter up your meaning.

Be Your Own Best Reader: Editor Lydia writes about some ways to incorporate revision into your process.  Lydia goes over how to build time, space, reflection, and a support system into your writing process to help you revise to the fullest.


Developing Revision Strategies for Condensing Your Work: Writing Instructor Claire discusses strategies to go back through your work after you’ve finished a draft and some techniques to help you condense or cut out ideas you may not need.


Use these blog posts to assist you in revising for sentence-level issues, condensing ideas, and taking some space from your work for reflection. With the assistance of these tools, you can incorporate revision as a step in your writing process. Have some revision tips or found one here that works for you? Share with us below!


The Walden Writing Center provides information and assistance to students with services like live chat, webinars, course visits, paper reviews, podcasts, modules, and the writing center webpages. Through these services they provide students assistance with APA, scholarly writing, and help students gain skills and confidence to enhance their scholarly work.


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Citations and Style: APA Documentation With a Purpose

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Most Walden proposals (the first three parts of a capstone study) cover three topics: overview of the study, literature review, and methodology. Because many of the sentences in those chapters present facts or ideas that do not belong to the writer, citations are needed, whether parenthetical or in-text.
Citations and Style!

Choosing between parenthetical and in-text citations 
It is important to understand the difference between a parenthetical citation—where the author(s) and year appear between parentheses, often at the end of a sentence—and an in-text citation—where the author(s) appears in the narrative, often toward the start of a sentence. The difference is one of relative importance. For example, a parenthetical citation is generally used because the authors’ ideas are more important than the authors themselves. By keeping the ideas in the foreground and the authors in the background, the argument is easier to follow and the text is easier to read.

On the other hand, an in-text citation is often used because the authors are roughly as important as their ideas, for example, in a discussion of competing theories. (In-text citations have one other application that is unrelated to importance: They are used to start out a series of sentences that are based on a single source. With the author in the narrative, another citation is not needed until after a new source is used within the same paragraph.)

Purposefully using parenthetical and in-text citations
Although parenthetical and in-text citations are of equal validity, parenthetical citations are virtually hidden in a sentence. Because a given sentence typically carries one idea, and because parenthetical citations appear right after that idea, such citations often appear at the end of a sentence, cloaked in parentheses, and thus easily ignored as readers leap to the next sentence.

In-text citations, on the other hand, are a prominent part of a sentence by design. Often enough, they are the subject. But this means they can easily imbalance a sentence. Here are some words of guidance for developing your own citation style:

1. Using author names in the narrative can overemphasize them when they are used as the subject of a sentence, but the problem is compounded when the names are used at the start of a paragraph: That is where readers need a topic sentence. Readers have still more trouble if a series of paragraphs starts with an in-text citation—common in the literature review. While the author names are important, they should not overshadow the import of their claims.

2. As the subject of a sentence, an in-text citation can retard flow—of both sentence and paragraph—especially if the citation includes multiple authors. If possible, the sentence should be rewritten to move the citation out of the subject position. Instead of “Anders, Berwin, and Cretel stated that,” greater balance is possible with the alternative phrasing, “According to Anders, Berwin, and Cretel…."

3. In-text citations require verbs to characterize what the author(s) wrote, for example, claimed, suggested, conducted, and examined. But for many students, it is not easy to accurately characterize what a source writes. However, it is very important to get close. The simple verbs, “stated” and “wrote” are good places to start. Also keep in mind that verbs describing what sources did should be conjugated in the past tense.

4. Sometimes a sentence that ends with a parenthetical citation is followed in the very next sentence by that same citation used as an in-text citation. For example, “…adapted for homeless populations (Gelberg, Andersen, & Leake, 2000). Gelberg, Andersen, and Leake (2000) suggested that homeless populations are….” Here, the sources are listed back-to-back, once in each sentence. To avoid this logjam, start with an in-text citation. Because the author is given in the narrative, no further citations would be needed in the same paragraph until after a different source were used.

Citations are required for all facts or ideas that do not belong to the writer. While parenthetical citations and in-text citations are equally valid, in-text citations are more visible; they carry more weight and are harder to work with, especially when used as the subject of a sentence or at the start of a paragraph. By becoming familiar with both kinds of citations, students can control the prominence of authors and improve sentence flow: important steps for shaping scholarly style.



Tim McIndoo
 is a Senior Dissertation Editor in the Walden Writing Center. He came to Walden University in 2007 with over 30 years of editorial experience, including work as translator and photographer. He lives in Minneapolis with four cats.


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Thursday Thoughts: Writing Refresh—Assignment Prompts as Outline

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Hello, Walden students! Today let’s talk a little bit about the very first part of an assignment—the prompt. Did you know that you can use the assignment prompt (often with a little bit of tweaking) as an outline for your paper? Read on for some tips and resources to help you stay organized and fully answer your prompts.



As you know, your assignment or assignment prompt lets you know what you need to write about in your paper, right? But with a little bit of tweaking and re-arranging, you can also use it to begin an outline for your paper and as a checklist at the end to ensure you’ve hit all the points.


We have a wonderful webinar on interpreting your assignment that details various strategies and multiple examples of how to interpret and break apart your assignment prompts. You can watch it, and dozens of other helpful live webinar recordings on our Webinar Archive page
 

For discussion posts in particular, we have a great blog post that goes over the steps towards organizing a discussion post from the prompt itself here. You can also use these strategies to help you in larger prompts!



Here is a link to a podcast episode about “Doesn’t Meet Requirements” that goes over what this comment might mean and how to avoid it by outlining and carefully looking over the prompt.

 

Essentially, all of these resources recommend that you take a second look at your prompt and work to visually break it down. This might involve highlighting, bolding certain words, or creating a mini-outline. Once you’ve separated out the different elements of the prompt, you can be sure you’re meeting the requirements! This might take a little practice, since sometimes one sentence in a prompt might have a few aspects to cover in your paper, but use these tools to assist you and soon you’ll be outlining from prompts with ease.



Do you have any tips on using prompts to help you outline, or find any of these resources particularly helpful? Share below!




The Walden Writing Center provides information and assistance to students with services like live chat, webinars, course visits, paper reviews, podcasts, modules, and the writing center webpages. Through these services they provide students assistance with APA, scholarly writing, and help students gain skills and confidence to enhance their scholarly work.


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