At the graduate school level, students are expected to have a certain level of writing skills. However, many students need a reminder of skills, and others are just developing them. While the necessary tools to write depend upon the specific field that students are studying, certain writing mandates spread across the disciplines.
Constructing and editing thesis statements are both important parts of the process. Teaching students to include their main points in the thesis statement is pivotal. Consider teaching them to write their thesis statements after they organize and develop the rest of their essays. After they have written their essays, they can go back to find the main point of each paragraph or section. Then, they can take these ideas and tie them into the thesis statements. Thesis proofreading would then involve checking off that each statement in the thesis correlates to a section of the paper.
Brainstorming and Outlining
Teaching students to write isn’t all about putting them in front of computers and asking them to type of an essay. Perfection on the first try, or even in further drafts of the same essay, is virtually impossible. Teaching your students how to brainstorm and outline helps to alleviate some of this tension, and these processes also help them to organize their essays. Consider allowing for some freedom in brainstorming techniques. You may want them to follow a traditional outline format that uses Roman numerals and letters. However, some of your students might benefit more from drawing their ideas or from typing up a very rough draft of thoughts.
Failure to teach organization to your students is likely to lead to a number of unsuccessful essays. Explain how brainstorming and organizing both lead to stronger levels of organization. Provide them with tools to organize their essays. For example, once they have finished writing, they should return to revise their essays. During this phase, they should reevaluate what their main topics are. For example, imagine that they have five main topics in their papers. They should assign each topic a different colored highlighter on their word processing program. Then, they should go through the essay and put each sentence in the appropriate color. If the sentence matches with topic one, they can put it in blue; if the sentence matches with topic two, they can pick it in pink. At the end of this process, they will see if each paragraph or section is only one color. When the colors are mixed together, they know they need to separate ideas.
Learning how to form paragraphs is another major component of ways to improve English writing. Explain to them the necessity of beginning each paragraph with a topic sentence. The topic sentence should introduce the topic of the paragraph and connect to the thesis statement. Explain that if they are staying within the same topic between two paragraphs, they should use a transition word to connect the two. The content of the paragraph depends upon the type of assignment. For example, an argument and analysis essay would elicit evidence and analysis of that evidence. You should also explain how long you want paragraphs to be. Five to seven sentences is a starting point; however, you should consider the complexity of the course and the material.
One of the largest problems students encounter is a lack of clarity. They know what they want to say in their minds, but when the information appears on paper, it does not make sense. Encourage them to use a recording device. They can say their ideas, record them, play them back and write what they hear. Encourage them to read their papers out loud to themselves and to other individuals as well.
Teaching every single grammar rule in the course of a semester is likely impossible even if you are instructing a grammar course.
However, learning how to write good English grammar is imperative. Require your students to purchase a style book at the beginning of the semester so that they can look up information when they have questions. After your students submit papers, assess the grammar struggles that are the most prevalent, and you can give mini-lessons in class.
While you want to provide your students with feedback, you should also encourage them to help one another. Providing a self-editing checklist allows them to reflect on their own work, and they can use their questions to guide their editing of other students’ essays. Peer editing can also help students to build confidence in their writing abilities as they instruct their peers.
Graduate students, regardless of their intended fields, need to know basis writing skills. When they are going into writing-centered fields, they need to have a deeper appreciation for the art and greater abilities in written communication.