A Graduate Writing Advisory Board was convened to discuss ways to promote a culture of effective writing practices among our graduate students and faculty. One area the group discussed was the need for greater support for the teaching of writing at the graduate level and the promotion of a positive culture around writing pedagogy. To that end, the Board is developing a series of short videos entitled “Effective Strategies for Teaching Graduate Writing.”

Why Assign Graduate Writing?

No matter the discipline, a graduate education requires writing. Although we may expect graduate students to be proficient writers when they are admitted to our programs, students still require mentoring and support in the genres of academic writing such as conference papers, dissertation proposals, literature reviews, abstracts, and theses.

Evaluating Graduate Student Writing

Responding to graduate student writing takes time. Here are some ways to use your time more efficiently while providing valuable feedback to students:

  • Read twice for more effective feedback (and to save time)
  • Lower-order review: identify patterns of error rather than serving as a copy editor
  • Scaffold graduate student assignments

Creating Transparent Assignments

The Transparency in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education project focuses on ways to promote student achievement through the principles of transparency. Students succeed when they know the purpose, task, and criteria for assignments. Reflecting on these questions can be fruitful for faculty, too.

  • Think about your reasons for assigning a particular piece of writing. The seminar paper need not be the only model for graduate student writing.
  • Make sure students know the steps they need to take to fulfill the assignment by providing models.
  • Make it clear how the work will be evaluated.

Innovative Assignment Design

Beyond the seminar paper there are a range of other types of graduate writing assignments that can help students develop skills in a range of academic genres.

  • Conference-style presentations
  • Academic blogging
  • Annotated bibliographies
  • Collaborative assignments

Working with English Language Learners

Many graduate programs have a large number of international students. Currently the English Language Center offers several programs designed for English Language Learners, though the emphasis is on undergraduate rather than graduate students.

Professional Development Academy Writing Resources

The Graduate College's Professional Development Academy offers several resources to assist graduate students with their writing, including the biannual Grad Rebel Writing Boot Camp, writing groups, workshops and more. To learn more, please contact Graduate Student Services at gradrebel@unlv.edu or 702-895-3320.