Relevant Courses: All courses within the Master of Arts program.
Writing literacy for chosen audiences, including the ability to draft and format an essay in an appropriate citation style.
WHAT I have learned from this experience is the mastering the art of academic writing. Academic writing within itself differs from business writing, but it compares the same because it is directed toward a specific audience. Writing an essay or paper that is coherent and concise is paramount, due to the complexity of the material that said essay or paper covers. Each type of Academic level has specific writing styles set forth by entities that govern the writing process for each academic field of study. As a Master’s Degree holder, my experience with academic writing is long-standing, however, this program of study taught me more about the writing process than I could ever imagine. The writing process is not a day or even week-long process; however, I have learned for myself that the writing process begins in my mind first before words ever hit the paper. The other lesson I have learned is to be thankful the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, which ranks second to my Bible as a precious book! Per the forward published in the sixth edition of the manual, “the [the publishers] set to establish a simple set of procedures, or style rules, that would codify the many components of scientific writing to increase the ease of reading comprehension. This goal was subsequently embraced not only by psychologists but also by scholars in other social and behavior sciences who wished to enhance the dissemination of knowledge in their respective fields” (Vanderbos, 2012).
SO WHAT have I learned is that perhaps the most difficult aspect of writing an academic essay or paper is the fact that citation is crucial. When using other author’s work for research writing, it is important that the author is given proper credit, or otherwise it is considered as plagiarism. Therefore, this has been a concern for me within my writing during my own academic career, so that is why the publication manual, and the online writing centers at the colleges I have studied at have proved as valuable resources! Another useful resource to aid in citation and formatting is the OWL at Purdue online Writing Center, as a resource I direct my own students to when I give writing assignments. The OWL at Purdue offers an extensive catalog of APA as well as MLA style formatting tips, examples and even sample essay and papers. The most helpful of the site was its cross-referencing of the in-text and reference citations between the site and the manual. This became the most valuable source in creating the citations as well as the references pages.
NOW WHAT, although this reflection has not offered specific examples of my writing, the fact that I am at this point in the program demonstrates what I have accomplished and learned. As the old saying goes, “the proof is in the pudding”, however, I am not naive to the fact that there is still much to learn within the academic writing process and I indeed do not know it all! Another important “now what” moment I have found is that as a community college professor, who has graded many freshman and sophomore student essays, it is increasingly evident that college students just do not take writing seriously. Shocking of course, but it is not surprising, because in this student/professor’s experience, it traces back to the Instructor. In the past, this Instructor and several of her colleagues have uttered this phrase “I am not an English Instructor and this is not an English class, so I won’t grade you very hard on your essay”. Unfortunately, this practice reinforces in the student that writing literacy is not important, when it is cornerstone to a student’s academic experience and success. Therefore, this NOW WHAT will become a goal of this Instructor to help reinforce writing skills within the freshman and sophomore years, which is the most important time for these skills to be established and emphasized.