Friday @ the Center
October 2, 2009
Writing in Any Course?
Writing assignments are a key way to learn critical thinking skills, as well as effective communication strategies, and writing activities can be employed in every kind of class, not just composition or W courses. Like learning to play the guitar or to throw a baseball, writing is not an ability that you are taught in one composition class and then achieve mastery. It takes continual practice, experimentation, and crafting, and all faculty can assign, read, and respond to writing—especially the thinking that it demonstrates. For information on both global aspects of writing and more specific details about finishing errors most often made by college students, check out Writing for Everyone, a series first published in Friday @ the Center in 2007.
Writing Personal Statements?
If you have students who are planning to apply to graduate school either this fall or in the future, encourage them to attend the CFSD's annual seminar, "The Nuts and Bolts of Applying to Graduate School," on Tuesday, Oct. 27, from 1 p.m. - 1:50 p.m. in Demaray Hall 255. Topics to be discussed include the application process and time line, GRE's, obtaining recommendations, and writing the personal statement.
If your undergraduates apply to graduate school, you will be writing letters of recommendations. Both graduate and undergraduate faculty are often asked to write letters of support for grant and fellowship applications. A few tips for writing letters of recommendations:
- Write at least a page, but don't write more than a page. Too little doesn't convey enthusiasm; too much is not read.
- Give at least one or two specific examples of something this particular student did that impressed you. Generalizations like "works hard," "is organized," "writes well," need a concrete example to make the applicant stand out from 50 other applicants with recommendations that say "works hard," "is organized," "writes well."
- Ask the student to provide you with a list of courses, papers, or projects that you have supervised. That brief information can help jog your memory.
- Find out who else is writing recommendations and decide what you should focus on as opposed to others. For example, one recommender might focus on the student's research project, while another might spend more time on how the student functioned as a TA.
- Be honest. If you don't think you are able to write a positive, not necessarily glowing, recommendation, tell the student you don't think you are the best person for the job.
New to writing recommendations? I'm happy to look at a draft and give you some feedback.
Quote of the Week
"Many calls to Christian scholarship dream of a kind of seamless 'unified field theory' that will unite faith and discipline into a single harmonious discourse. In many cases, I do not think this goal accounts realistically for the reductions and limitations built into foundational metaphors of academic disciplines."
--Stephen Jenson, Christian Scholars Review, Fall 2009