February 2014 -->

Walden University Writing Center

Where instructors and editors talk writing.

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

No comments
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.

No comments :

Post a Comment

Simulacra and Simile: This Post is Really, Like, Super Important

No comments
"That really, seriously, just happened, like, literally, two minutes ago."
In our daily lives, we all tend to use words such as “really,” “seriously,” and “literally” to convey a certain meaning or provide emphasis for our speech. In scholarly writing, those words are often considered unnecessary and hyperbolic (purposeful exaggeration). And just as in our scholarly writing, these words serve a specific function in our informal speech.
Let’s take the introduction quote as an example: the words “really,” “literally,” and “seriously” are all added to emphasize the verb “happen.”
Something that just happened occurred within a specific time period. For example, a phenomenon that occurred 60 minutes ago did not just happen; conversely, an event that occurred within the last 15 minutes probably just happened. To make sure to close the gap between happening and just happening, we often add the adverb “seriously” to emphasis proximity. Then the time gap shrinks to within a minute or two of the event.

So, you might ask, what word is at the core of needing these repeated and quite superfluous emphases? One simple word: like.
"You should, like, seriously, read this."
"Like” is a simile (“a figure of speech involving the comparison of one thing with another thing of different kind”) that is most often found in poetry; it also means “similar to,” “in the manner of,” and finally, “used in speech as a meaningless filler or to signify the speaker’s uncertainty” (all definitions from my Mac Dictionary). The last one is my favorite; yet, it does not convey the true significance of the word “like.” For that, we need another example.
Bill: "What's up? What did you do today?" 
Gill: "Oh, nothing much. We, you know, like, threw the football around a bit."
So, now I ask you: What did Gill do today? Did he throw the football around? Well, technically, no. 
When Gill uses the simile “like,” he states that he did something like throwing a football around. He performed a simulation that resembles throwing a football around; therefore, he may or may not have thrown the football around. We don’t know.

So, he didn’t throw the football around. So what?

Well then, smarty-pants, if Gill is telling Bill that he did not do something that he says he did, then how does he reverse the negative of “not doing” to prove that he did it? Easy: he uses emphasis.
Bill: "What's up? What did you do today?"
Gill: "Oh, nothing much. We, you know, like, threw the football around a bit. Man, once, Lill threw it really hard and I had to run super fast to, like, just catch it, you know?! That was crazy."
Gill has provided some much needed emphasis in order to substantiate his earlier claim that he was, indeed, throwing the football around. Both the words “really” and “super fast” provide hyperbole that overcompensates for the nothingness of simulation, proving to Bill that he actually did do something. He did so much of something that he really did this something. And it was amazing! Really!

Cut out words like "really," "actually," "literally," and "seriously."

For a super simple and really fast way to rid your essay of all the unnecessary "really"s, "actually"s, "literally"s, and "seriously"s, check out Writing Instructor Anne Shiell's instructional post on using Microsoft Word’s Find + Replace function for specific language.

A seasoned traveler, Writing Instructor Shawn Picht enjoys working with students from around the globe. In his free time, he likes to jog, jump rope, read literature and philosophy, write about his travels, and play Rolling Stones and Dylan songs on a blue acoustic guitar. This post was adapted from a post on his personal blog.

No comments :

Post a Comment

WriteCast Episode #6: All About Audience

No comments
This month, we bring you "All About Audience." What is audience? Why should we care about it? With a focus on course papers, Brittany and Nik talk about how and why to consider your readers.

To download the episode to your computer, press the share button on the player above, then press the download button. Visit the Writing Center's WriteCast page for our episode archive and transcripts. Happy listening!

Question: Do you think about your audience as you write? How does thinking about your readers impact your writing? Share with us in the comments!

Resources mentioned in this episode:


WriteCast podcast team

Writing Instructors Nik NadeauAnne Shiell, and Brittany Kallman Arneson produce the WriteCast podcast. 

No comments :

Post a Comment

Finish the Story

The opening lines of a story are often the best. When I’m writing, be it something short or novel length, before the idea is fully formed or an outline has been written, it is usually the first few lines that materialize; the story then follows.

Found dead at home…

I love her. I can’t help it. She’s a junkie…

The Earth cracked and nobody knew. The weight and progress of humanity had done its damage…
Finish the story.

When reading a book and I approach the end, I tend to slow down. The ending is bittersweet. I want to prolong the story. Regardless, I still finish the book.

When I’m writing, it’s the same way. To be honest, I’m better at starting stories than finishing them. The process of research and writing and revising is so rich to me that I often want to remain steeped in it for as long as possible. Much of the time, an ending never comes.

On December 20 I was approached by a YA publisher to submit one of my stories for consideration. He had heard of the broad strokes and liked it. I asked if I could have some time to tie up the loose ends. January 12 was the deadline. What I did not tell him was that loose ends meant I needed to start and finish the story.

Prior to our conversation, it was just an idea. Over the next 23 days, I wrote, took notes, jotted ideas, revised, and then submitted a YA novel of 53,300 words. I should hear back anytime between the next 2-24 months. The point is I finished the story.

I do not return books to the library before reading the last chapter. I do not leave movies before the credits start to run. There is no reason not to finish a story. It’s advice that students should hear. Rather than go one more quarter with an incomplete proposal or an undrafted chapter, finish something and submit it. That submitted draft may not be the best and it may need additional work; or, it may be done.

Dissertation Editor and Coordinator of Developmental Editing Tobias Ball holds a BA in Classical and Near Eastern Studies from the University of Minnesota, an MSt in Medieval and Renaissance Studies from Oxford University, and an MLIS from Dominican University. He enjoys writing fiction and poetry.


Post a Comment