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Writing Well^2: Building Traction and Triumph into Co-Authorship

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

General Topics in Graduate Education

Tagged Division

Graduate Studies

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.1716.1 - 22.1716.10



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Paper Authors


Suzanne M. Kresta University of Alberta

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Prof. Kresta is a Chemical Engineering Professor at the University of Alberta, and the co-editor of the Handbook of Industrial Mixing. Her interest in improving the writing process was initially purely selfish, but has turned out to be a joyful transition in her research group.

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John A. Nychka University of Alberta

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John was an Assistant Professor at the University of Kentucky for two years before returning to Canada and his alma mater, the University of Alberta, in 2007. He is an assistant professor in the Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering teaching and coordinating the second year introductory materials engineering service course to many disciplines of engineering. John is active in the departmental Teaching Enhancement Committee which is mandated with improving the quality of teaching within the department. He has organized and co-organized teaching workshops to bring international speakers to the University of Alberta on topics of Assessment,and he is very active in student outreach at all levels. John's passion is in the visualization of materials concepts through demonstrations and experiential learning through hands on exercises.

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Roger Graves University of Alberta

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I am Director of Writing Across the Curriculum and the author, co-author, or editor of eight books and 20 articles, including Writing Instruction in Canadian Universities. My current research interests include the development of doctoral student writing, writing assignments across disciplinary fields, and rhetorical approaches to text encoding. Currently I serve as co-President of the Canadian Association for the Study of Discourse and Writing (CASDW), the Executive Committee of the Conference on College Composition and Communication, and as a member of the Executive Board of the Canadian Association for the Study of Language and Literacy (CASLL/Inkshed).

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Writing Well2 Building Traction and Triumph into co-Authorship We report on a workshop designed to reveal some new ideas on how to write productively,effectively, and with the goal of a healthy, sustainable lifestyle. Accomplishing this requires thatwe teach graduate students to write well and independently. The results of the workshopprovided a number of great tools. First, a nationwide study of Canadian doctoral students revealsthat students learn to write in a social context. Their social groups include relationships withadvisors, research groups, peer writing groups, and departmental activities. Putting students inwriting groups, where they give each other feedback, can substantially reduce the strain on boththe student and the advisor. Second, a research paper is a specific genre of writing, so if we thinkthey don’t know how to write in this style when they start, we are right, because they have neverbeen taught to write in this new genre. Students start reading to learn content, not as writers, soseveral exercises are proposed for group meetings where students learn how to take apart ajournal paper and put it back together to uncover the argument structure and logic which liebeneath the surface. Third, there is a tight checklist of things which we expect to see included ina technical paper. Most departments have an undergraduate lab manual which can be used as astarting point for technical writing. If this is not available, a writing recipe may be developed tocut through much of the initial formatting requirements. Fourth, there is the human element oftechnical writing: maintaining momentum and excitement. One of the key points here is to stickto one level of edit at a time: fast turnaround and manageable amounts of improvement keep upthe momentum and maintain excitement around the process. Questions of how to managemultiple co-authors and order of authors were also considered. The final element we tried tocapture is the art of turning scientific results into a clear and compelling story for the reader. Thisis the ultimate achievement in a technical paper, and one that will be discussed further in thepaper.

Kresta, S. M., & Nychka, J. A., & Graves, R. (2011, June), Writing Well^2: Building Traction and Triumph into Co-Authorship Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18726

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