Tag: graduate students

Collective Motivation as an Incentive for Achieving Writing Goals: Narratives from Our Graduate Student/Faculty Writing Group

Olalekan Adepoju, Assistant Director for Graduate Student Writing

‘Hanging in there’ is a common expression at our weekly writing group. It is an expression that resonates with both graduate students and faculty participants as they seek to navigate the plethora of writing demands as well as other academic and life anxieties. Mostly, the expression is not out of frustration; rather it is made to describe how this group of people are progressing along in their academic activities, specifically graduate-level writing, despite its attendant challenges and struggles. Hence, they are not only ‘hanging in there,’ but also consistently taking ‘baby steps’ toward the completion of their various projects. And the weekly writing group has thus become a safe environment for writers to connect with, encourage, and motivate each other along the way.

A brief overview: the weekly writing group, which is organized by the University Writing Center, invites graduate students and faculty at the University of Louisville to come together during a dedicate time to work on any writing project at their own pace. The primary goal of our writing group is to provide support, community, and accountability for participants working on research or scholarly writing. Hence, it is not surprising that participants are open to discussing writing struggles, offering strategies working for them and sharing writing resources beneficial to everyone. Below are perspectives anonymously shared by some of the writing group participants on the importance of the weekly writing group:

“I appreciate having a space in which I can be a part of a community of writers and also can be held accountable.”

“It gave me the structured time to write with a group of people and see their progress in their writing journey and also see my own progress.”

“The writing group was a supportive group of peers steadily working on their individual writing goals.”

From participants’ reports above, we see that the writing group not only provides an influential support to the writers, but it also facilitates a sense of belonging to community working toward similar goals. To these participants, the writing group becomes a literal representation of ‘hanging in there’ because the group promotes significant actions that encourage them to forge ahead despite the difficulties. These significant actions invariably become a means for collective motivation that incentivizes participants to accomplish their writing goals as much as possible. Some of the significant actions peculiar to our writing group include:

  • Respectfully listening to writing concerns, needs, and struggles.
  • Discussing both writing related and non-writing related concerns: From work-life balance to organizing literature review, to self-care, among others
  • Celebrating milestones and success stories: Be it completing the day’s writing goals, completion/defense of dissertation, submission of articles for publication or conference abstract
  • Sharing relevant writing (and non-writing) resources such as blogposts, productivity planner, and yes, movie recommendations
  • Setting a week-long, specific writing goal to keep everyone accountable

Research has shown that writing groups help writers to improve their writing, establish a good writing habit, and be more productive in and confident about their writing. In addition to these benefits, the participants at our weekly graduate students and faculty writing group continue to affirm how the group encourages them to hang in there and take consistent baby steps toward accomplishing their writing projects.

If you are a University of Louisville graduate student or faculty member and are interested in participating in our supportive writing community, please e-mail writing@louisville.edu for more information.

Graduate Students: We’re Here to Help You With Your Coursework, Too!

Meghan Hancock, Assistant Director for Graduate Writing

Here at the U of L Writing Center, we work with a lot of graduate students on their master’s theses or dissertations.  These are always fun for us, as they give us the chance to not only hone our own skills in helping students with larger projects, but also the chance to learn about the up and coming research of U of L graduate students across the disciplines.

You don’t have to wait until you’re working on your culminating project, though (and in this context I’m talking about master’s theses or dissertations), to come to us as a graduate student.  The writing you do during your coursework can be challenging as well, and we’re here to help!

hancockAs a fellow graduate student myself, I know how difficult coursework can be.  We’re often juggling coursework with responsibilities as TA’s teaching several courses at once, with our work as research assistants, with our time in a work-study position, or sometimes even balancing coursework with a full time job while taking care of our families.  In other words, we have a lot on our plates.  Finding the time, then, to dedicate to weekly seminar course preparation as well as the time needed to research and write toward a seminar paper due at the end of a semester can be difficult.  Not only this—sometimes (when you’re a new graduate student especially) you might be encountering some of the writing genres expected of you for the first time.  I remember, for instance, how lost I felt when I had to write my first seminar paper.  Was it the same as the research papers I had to do as an undergraduate, or were there differences that I didn’t know about?

This is where consultants at the Writing Center can help.  We’re familiar with those genres.  Your coursework (while often thought of as something to get out of the way before you begin your degree’s culminating project) is the time when you learn how to write within your discipline and enter the scholarly conversation others in your field have begun.  Coming to the Writing Center to work on things like seminar papers, then, might give you some insight on your writing as a graduate student that will help you when it comes time to write your thesis or dissertation.   Many of the elements of a typical seminar paper, like a short review of relevant scholarship, critical engagement with sources, and a semi-original argument that contributes to your chosen field in some way, will also be expected in your thesis or dissertation.  It helps to start working on these skills sooner rather than later.  In other words, it’s never too late to try the Writing Center if you’re a graduate student!