Set a Writing Goal to Level-Up in Graduate School -->

Where instructors and editors talk writing.

Set a Writing Goal to Level-Up in Graduate School

No comments
Graduate school is a lot of work. There’s always new content to learn and new assignments to complete. When you’re constantly trying to stay on top of your coursework or capstone project (not to mention all of your responsibilities outside of school!), adding something else to your plate is probably the last thing you feel like doing.

Set a Writing Goal to Level-Up in Graduate School

A graduate degree is about mastery of skills as well as content, and one of those skills should be academic writing. You’ll likely do a lot of writing here at Walden even if you never take a writing course. That’s why setting a personal writing goal is a great way to help yourself build this professional skill alongside your disciplinary knowledge.

Brainstorm your writing goal by thinking for a few minutes about where you currently are as a writer and where you would like to be by the end of this term or even your degree program. You can then use that brainstorming to develop a SMART goal, a goal that is:

S–Specific: focused and specific; avoids generalizations and abstractions

M–Measureable: you can track your progress and completion

A–Achievable: this goal is within your control; you have the necessary resources for success

R–Relevant: this goal impacts your skills set and where you want to be

T–Timely: this goal has a reasonable timeline and completion date

I often see this goal when working with students on paper reviews: I want to write at the graduate level. This is an admirable goal, and one that makes sense for a writer working towards a graduate degree, but it’s not a SMART goal. With a little bit of thinking, though, this student writer can break this big, abstract goal down into several smaller goals that will be much more manageable.

First, the student writer needs to figure out what “writing at the graduate level” actually means. There’s a great overview in the archived Writing at the Graduate Level webinar, which can be watched anytime. From watching that webinar, the student writer will see graduate level writing broken into four components: argument and analysis, paraphrasing, scholarly voice, and APA Style.

From there, it’s best to choose one area to focus on. Maybe that’s an easy area to improve, maybe it’s an area that the student writer thinks is really important, or maybe it’s the area where they feel least confident. Even though the student is choosing only one area of focus right now, they can always come back to the others later.

Many students struggle with APA Style when they start at Walden, so let’s come up with an APA goal for our student writer. Something such as I want to use APA Style perfectly is once again admirable, but not SMART. Instead, let’s focus on just one element of APA Style: citation frequency. Here is a more effective writing goal regarding citation frequency: 

SMART Goal: My faculty told me that I don’t cite my sources enough and could be penalized for plagiarism. My writing goal is to cite frequently enough to prevent plagiarism.
This goal is specific because it deals with just one element of APA style, measurable because the student writer can track progress, achievable because there are lots of resources to learn about citation frequency, relevant because if the student writer doesn’t cite sources properly there could be consequences, and timely because they can reasonably achieve this goal within the current term.

To achieve this goal, the student writer will want to start by making sure they understand adequate citation frequency in APA style by reviewing Writing Center resources such as the citation frequency webpage, the archived recording of the How and When to Include APA Citations webinar, and the Basic Citation Frequency module. They can then apply what they’ve learned to their course papers. They can get feedback on whether they are citing sources frequently enough by making a Writing Center paper review appointment and letting the instructor know about their goal. They’ll also get feedback from faculty when their papers are graded, which will allow them to evaluate progress towards this goal.

Once the student writer feels they have mastered this goal, they can go back to the other issues of APA Style or graduate level writing that they’ve identified to narrow in on and work towards another goal. With this kind of sustained effort, they’ll make some great strides towards becoming a graduate-level writer by the time they graduate.

What are your writing goals? We would love to hear about them in the comments or in your paper review appointment!

Cheryl Read Author Image

Cheryl Read is a Writing Instructor in the Walden University Writing Center. Her current not-so-manageable writing goal is to finish her doctoral dissertation. When she’s not helping student writers at Walden, Cheryl stays busy playing with her son and getting outside in Minnesota.

"Send me new posts by email" button
Never miss a new post; Opt-out at any time

No comments :

Post a Comment