Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Anne L. Fetter, Public Policy and Administration -->

Where instructors and editors talk writing.

Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Anne L. Fetter, Public Policy and Administration

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Anne Fetter, Walden faculty member in Public Policy and Administration
Walden faculty member Anne Fetter

Did you know the Writing Center serves faculty as well as students? The subject of our faculty spotlight this month is someone who stood out to us because of her tireless efforts to provide good writing support for her students, reaching out to us regularly to get confirmation of tricky APA rules or to seek helpful resources for particular students. Read on to learn more about California resident Dr. Anne L. Fetter, faculty member in Public Policy and Administration.

What are the most common writing challenges for your students?

APA formatting that’s compliant with APA’s sixth edition; form and style; cohesiveness; smooth flow; and concise, precise writing.

What have you done to help your students master those skills?

I try my hardest to clarify each Application, including posting 3-4 sample "A" papers (anonymous, with authors' consent) and a scoring rubric for each. In addition, I provide samples of APA-compliant documents, as well as two recently published dissertations for which I served as URR (again with their permission). I also provide examples of clear research questions lifted from those dissertations, both on the same general topic, one qualitative and one quantitative. I work with students in the workshop section to hone research questions to pass the Litmus Test. I provide extensive feedback in addition to recommending (at the beginning of the course and throughout the course) that they take advantage of the resources offered by the Writing Center. I view my role as primarily to help students master content, but when the writing is unreadable, I cannot get to the content. I emphasize that ALL scholar practitioners (yes, even me) can benefit from others reading and critiquing their work. I also have a long list of "Common Comments" that I use to indicate areas for improvement.

How does your own experience as a writer inform your work with student writers?

Deeply. Practice, practice, practice.

What advice do you have for faculty who want to help their student writers?

Send them to the Writing Center. Don't ignore nonprofessional writing or writing that doesn't adhere to APA guidelines, so that the students don't arrive in my classes saying "no one has ever critiqued my writing before" and feel angry and betrayed. I feel strongly that the faculty should present a united front in high standards of academic excellence and very high standards for clear comprehension of the topic. I even critique the APA formatting in discussion posts.

What advice do you have for students who want to improve their writing?

See above, and do not take criticism of your writing personally; it is all part of the iterative process of becoming a life-long scholar practitioner. My personal motto is to try to learn something new every day.

How is a student’s ability to write related to success in your field?

It is extremely relevant. If a student cannot write a course Application to par, he or she will never get through the dissertation process. Upon graduation, a new doctoral level professional will be called upon to write and review original summative and formative research, write clear and concise internal and external documents, and be able to present to a wide variety of diverse audiences without appearing condescending. As we do at Walden as faculty, new professionals will need to meet individuals at their own level (whatever that is).

What’s something about you that would surprise your students?

I took up horseback riding at 42, and after 3 concussions, 8 broken ribs, and a broken ankle, I gave it up at 48 only to break my leg (thanks to a 75-lb. dog) on my 50th birthday. I was a Division I skier in college (Giant Slalom) and used to swim 7-8 hours a day. I am literally just getting back to walking my dogs (a choke chain helps) and have committed to participating in one leg of a mini-triathlon aimed at breast cancer awareness next fall.

Manager of Program Outreach and Faculty Support Amber Cook compiled this interview. If you are a faculty member looking for resources to help support you in your work with student writing, please visit our website's Faculty page.

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