Embracing the Learning Process: Transitioning from APA 6 to APA 7 -->

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Embracing the Learning Process: Transitioning from APA 6 to APA 7

It’s been 10 years since I first began my journey to master APA. When I began working in the Writing Center in 2010, APA had just published its sixth edition of the manual, so it was a perfect time for a new writing instructor like myself to dive in headfirst. Those early months of learning APA were frustrating. I can’t tell you how many times I looked up the rules for when to use “et al.” or when exactly an issue number was needed in a reference entry. Slowly but surely, however, I mastered APA’s rules. As I practiced using the style, both in my own writing and by teaching it to students, APA’s rules became second nature to me.

APA 7 manual and keyboard

Fast forward 10 years, and I’m now looking at the recently published seventh edition of APA. The manual itself has helpful tabs and a colorful cover, but as I have started exploring the new and modified rules of APA 7, I’m reminded of how challenging and daunting it can be to learn the rules of a citation style. I’m taken back to my initial foray into APA, as I’ve been asked to learn entirely new guidelines or adjust old rules for the new edition of APA. As I do so, I tell myself over and over again that I will, at some point, memorize the URL version of a DOI so I won’t need to look it up every time. Intellectually I know that this is true, and that I’ve been here before, but it still feels frustrating. I’d gotten used to knowing APA intuitively, but now this new seventh edition of APA requires an extra layer of thought to something I used to do without thinking.

On the positive side, these feelings of frustration have also been productive. As I labor over the new edition, practicing the new way to reference a webpage or including “et al.” in all citations with three or more authors, I’m reminded that my feelings of frustration are simply part of the learning process. Learning often isn’t comfortable; it’s challenging, and it requires us to step outside of our comfort zone to learn to think in a new way. And so, with this learning process, I also am reminded of the student experience. It’s been quite a long time since I went through the process of first learning APA, and so learning APA 7 has given me insight into the challenges and frustrations of any Walden student who is new to APA style. 
APA 7 transition logo
Walden University will be adopting the seventh edition of the APA manual starting in the summer terms (May 4 for semester-based programs and June 1 for quarter-based programs). So, very soon, much of the Walden community will be joining me in this learning process. To support you along the way, here are a few tips from the trenches that you may find helpful:
  • Acknowledge the Challenge: Learning APA 7, like any learning, is a process; there will be frustrations and challenges along the way. Acknowledging—and if possible, embracing—this challenge will help you avoid feelings of failure if you make a mistake or frustration if it’s taking some time.
  • Give Yourself Time: I’ve had 10 years to absorb APA, and it’s unrealistic to expect that I'll memorize and use APA 7 intuitively in a short period of time. Similarly, using APA 7 will add to your writing time, since you’ll most likely need to look up rules and double-check formats.
  • Use Resources: Once you begin learning and using APA 7, don’t feel like you’re in this alone. The Writing Center is working on a number of resources to help you transition into using the seventh edition. We will have fully updated APA resources throughout our website, so you can use tutorials on our website and services from our writing instructors and form and style editors to support your learning of APA 7. In the mean time, you can visit our APA 7 Transition page for the latest updates and a comparison table so you can see the biggest differences in the APA editions.
  • Ask Questions: Don’t forget to ask questions, too: You can email us or visit our Live Chat Hours with questions about APA 7 after the May switch dates. Your faculty and classmates can be a great source of support, too. I can’t tell you how many times I've reached out to colleagues to confirm I’m using a new APA 7 rule correctly.

APA 7 manual

We will also have new and updated webinars in May to help with the transition. You can find the full schedule and registration information on our webinars calendar page. All webinars will be recorded and archived as well, so you can watch them at your convenience.

We look forward to working with you as you engage in your own learning process with APA 7, and we’re pleased to support you on this journey. And hey, if you find yourself loving a new rule or experiencing a particular challenge, be sure to let us know. We’re all in this learning process together! 

Beth NastachowskiBeth Nastachowski has been with the Writing Center since 2010, and she currently manages the center’s webinars, modules, and videos. She spends her time running after her son, husband, two cats, and dog in St. Paul, MN. 

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  1. Replies
    1. Hi Dr. Lawrence! We Writing Center folks are hard at work updating our resources for the APA 7 transition occurring next week for some students and next month for others! Thanks for commenting!

  2. Thanks for the write up. It is encouraging. I was apprehensive of how to approach the new writing style but your write up gave me some ease.

    1. So glad to know that, Hassana! It is definitely a process and we're all in it together! :)

  3. The comparison table and the templates for APA 7 are well done! Thanks for the hard work!

    1. Thank you! We put a lot of time and effort into that table and all of our updates. It's so nice to know that it's appreciated! :)