Supporting Students’ Academic Writing Skills Remotely

Supporting Students’ Academic Writing Skills Remotely

As author David McCullough puts it, “Writing is thinking. To write clearly is to think clearly. That’s why it’s so hard.” Lately I’ve been finding ways to support students with writing. We know that writing and research go hand in hand, and it is an iterative process. Teaching citations can also be challenging, particularly for new students. However, they are part of the writing process and experience. Here I will share some tips for you to consider in supporting writing remotely for students.

Tips and Resources to Support College-Level Writing Skills:

  • The Excelsior College’s Online Writing Lab (licensed under Creative Commons 4.0) is a free, timely, easy-to-use resource in supporting the writing process. Designed like a series of modules, users can learn more about grammar essentials, avoiding plagiarism, and more. 
  • The Ashford University’s Writing Center is also a great place to explore how to deliver writing support through tutorials. Their website is very clean and simple to use. From learning how to cite something to understanding different writing styles and assignments, the site can be shown to your students to illustrate the process of academic writing. The writing samples part is also useful to show how papers are evaluated and constructed differently. 
  • APA Handouts and Guides: If you are looking for a document to give to students, consider checking the APA Handouts and Guides page. These handouts provide a “checklist”-like approach for students writing papers using the APA style. One of the hardest and most important skills to learn as a writer is to paraphrase quotes and ideas from other sources. By learning how to paraphrase, students will be able to express the ideas and thoughts more clearly in their own words. This paraphrasing and citation activities handout may give you an opportunity to explore these skills with students struggling with writing and citing works appropriately. One important resource to consider showing is the General Principles for Reducing Bias, which can explain how to write using inclusive language and to minimize bias.  
  • Academic Writing Resources in LibGuides: Consider organizing a LibGuide that captures the different types of writings and expectations in your academic program. University of Southern California Libraries designed a detailed guide on writing practices. You may consider doing something similar, and in addition, you may want to work with your writing center (if you have one) or with a writing faculty to create one. These resources may also increase exposure and foster collaboration. Also, hosting a webinar on academic writing practices and citation management are opportunities to support your students with writing/research needs. 

All of these resources can be integrated into your library’s content management system, such as Canvas, Blackboard, or Moodle. Of course, you can consider creating video tutorials on academic writing/citation practices; be sure to keep the videos brief, and highlight these resources because there is simply a lot to cover. 

If there are opportunities to interact with students remotely on writing/citation practices, consider having exercises where students learn how to cite a source properly or to paraphrase a passage, and to share their work with each other in a peer community to learn from one another. It is definitely an ongoing process in teaching academic writing.

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