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Archive for the ‘USF Writing Center Blog: Tips, News, and Updates’ Category

 

Tweet to Stay Focused

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012 | Posted in USF Writing Center Blog: Tips, News, and Updates by Karen Langbehn | No Comments »

Do you ever find yourself zoning out while trying to finish your homework? It’s easy to lose focus while trying to get work done outside of the classroom. It’s even harder if that work is in a subject that doesn’t hold our interest.

Researchers at Lock Haven University recently completed a study where they asked students to Tweet about the class outside of class time. They found that students stayed more interested and engaged with the course if they were asked to “micro-blog” via Twitter on their own time.

“Professors Use Twitter to Increase Student Engagement and Grades” http://bit.ly/hWK7pF (more…)

Common Writing Errors

Thursday, January 5th, 2012 | Posted in USF Writing Center Blog: Tips, News, and Updates by Karen Langbehn | No Comments »

Welcome back everyone! To get the spring semester started off, let’s go over five common errors in writing. Keeping these straight will help you improve your writing at any level.

  1. Using e.g. instead of i.e. (and vice versa). “i.e.” roughly translates into “that is” or “in other words.” “e.g.” equates to “for example.” Mixing these up can completely alter the meaning of your sentence. Check out this site for examples of when and where to use these abbreviations: http://www.grammar-monster.com/easily_confused/eg_ie.htm
  2. Mixing up “affect” and “effect”. This one drives me crazy. Not as a reader, but because I always have to look it up when I write (so don’t worry, you’re not alone on this one). It can be a difficult thing to master since when we speak these two words often sound the same. This may help you: Affect = Verb; Effect = Noun. Try replacing it with a common noun or verb and see if the sentence still makes sense. If not, you’re using the wrong one!
  3. Not using the correct citation style OR not being consistent with your citation style. While you certainly want to be sure you are using the right style, you also want to make sure you’re not jumping back and forth between APA and MLA (or any other style). Check with your professor to see what citation style fits your career field and major. Once you know what style to use, be sure to keep it the same throughout your entire paper, report or memo. Proofread for this just as you would for grammar errors to make sure you didn’t make a mistake and change it up anywhere.
  4. Using could of, would of, and should of. This is another problem that comes from the way we speak. In everyday conversation we often say “should’ve” which we’ve translated into “should of.” The correct way to say (and write) this, however, is “should have.” Could have, would have, should have.
  5. Using an apostrophe to make a word plural. Apostrophes are great. They tell us when a word is possessive or a contraction. They help us to be clear and concise in our message. But they do not make a noun plural. To make a regular noun plural, simple add an “s”.

I hope these tips help you to fine-tune your writing this semester! Have a great spring!

The Struggle to Write a Personal Statement

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011 | Posted in USF Writing Center Blog: Tips, News, and Updates by Karen Langbehn | No Comments »

Sometimes writing that personal statement is anything but personal. Between word counts, trying to “sound smart”, attempting to come off as interesting/funny/serious/intellectual/etc, the whole process is exhausting! From graduate and medical school to scholarships and grants, many of us will find it necessary to write these statements and try to explain our entire reason for being in 500 words or less.

The New York Times recently published an article about these difficulties and discussed how writing a college application is a lot like writing poetry. It’s an art form.

The article’s message? Don’t feel bad, you’re far from being the only one struggling with this genre of writing.

Highlighting & Error Finding

Monday, November 7th, 2011 | Posted in USF Writing Center Blog: Tips, News, and Updates by Karen Langbehn | No Comments »

Here is another great tip from Writing Center consultant Sandy Branham.

A tool that has been helpful for students performing critical analysis is the highlighting method. This is particularly helpful in papers for composition classes. Highlighting can really be used for anything, but I use it in 3 different ways.

1. I ask students to highlight each quote or paraphrase in their paper. Then, I ask them to use a different color highlighter to indicate areas in which the student analyzes source material. If the student uses yellow to highlight quotes and paraphrases and blue to highlight analysis, every instance of yellow highlighting should be followed by blue highlighting.

2. I use highlighting to deal with issues of tense – I ask students to use 3 different colored highlighters, and to highlight each verb in the paper. Past, present, and future tenses are each highlighted in a different color, enabling the student to easily identify areas in which unnecessary tense shifts occur.

3. I also ask students to use highlighting to identify passive voice by focusing on “to be” verbs. By highlighting each instance of a “to be” verb in the text, students are able to identify areas of passive voice and can then revise these sentences in active voice.

Grab a set of highlighters at home and try this yourself. See if you start to notice your errors and learn how to fix them on your own.

Reverse Outlines

Friday, October 28th, 2011 | Posted in USF Writing Center Blog: Tips, News, and Updates by Karen Langbehn | No Comments »

Do you have a hard time revising your papers for organization? Writing Center consultants Sandy Branham and Meagan Araujo find reverse outlines to be very helpful.

Often, we focus on outlining as a prewriting tool, but it can be just as useful after you have something written. Specifically, it helps writers check to see if they have written what they have set out to write. Reverse outlining also helps writers identify their main points, decide which order to present them, and verify if they presented sufficient supporting material.

Here’s how it works:

The process is simple: we simply read through the paper paragraph by paragraph, stopping after each paragraph to discuss the function/purpose of the paragraph. If the student identifies the paragraph as serving more that one main purpose, we discuss whether or not the student should separate the differing ideas to create two cohesive paragraphs, each with a clear and definite purpose.

If a student identifies a paragraph as having no purpose, we talk about what it would be useful for the paper to do at this particular point, allowing the student to redraft the paragraph with a clear purpose in mind.

After identifying a purpose for each paragraph, we are able to discuss the ways in which each of the paragraphs relate to one another, considering whether the student can move paragraphs around in order to increase the overall effectiveness of the organizational system in use in the paper.

So, the next time you are ready to revise, take the time to create an outline based on what you have written. Ask yourself, “What is the point of each paragraph?” Then, check to see if have made your points in a logical succession. Finally, verify your supporting material.

Grammar Workshops

Thursday, October 20th, 2011 | Posted in USF Writing Center Blog: Tips, News, and Updates by Karen Langbehn | 3 Comments »

Do you have a few grammar questions or find grammar completely confusing? Come to a grammar workshop! Workshops are offered every Monday from 2:00-3:00pm in LIB 125E (right next door to the writing center). You’ll work with a writing center consultant to learn how to find and fix your own grammar errors.You’ll get great tips on how to improve your grammar and write clearly.

No appointment needed! All workshops are free to students, faculty, and staff at USF. Need more info? Call us at 813-974-8293.

 

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