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The Road to Success: The Benefits of Doctoral Writing Workshops

Academic writing support is a prized feature in Walden University’s online doctoral degree programs.

A dissertation is the crowning achievement in any PhD or professional doctorate program, and doctoral writing support can help guide you to a successful completion and proud graduation day.

Dr. Brenda Hudson, senior core faculty for the online Doctoral Writing Workshops housed in Walden University’s Office of Academic Support, developed the workshops to help support doctoral candidates on their dissertation journeys. A team of doctorally prepared faculty members—headed by Dr. Hudson—leads the optional workshops, which Walden offers tuition-free.

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“We've been there. And we tell students, ‘You can do it. We've done it. We know what it's like,’” says Dr. Hudson, who earned her PhD in Rhetoric and Scientific Communication from the University of Minnesota. “And so, we offer our own advice on how we got through it.”

Dr. Hudson says one reason she created the series of six online workshops is because “writing your dissertation or capstone can be lonely.” Each workshop is limited to 10 students and runs for six weeks. Faculty members provide weekly writing-related instruction and feedback on students’ dissertation drafts. Throughout the process, doctoral candidates enjoy support from other students, too.

“Students are going through this cohort with others who are working on that same section of the proposal, or postproposal. So, there's that community that's built in, which helps when you're on your own, writing your own research.”

The six workshop modules are: Preproposal, Proposal, Introduction, Literature Review, Methods Section, and Postproposal. We sat down with Dr. Hudson recently to learn more about the academic writing support Walden offers its doctoral candidates through these value-added workshops.

Walden: Can you tell us about the structure of the workshops?

Dr. Hudson: Sure. There are two main components each week: instruction on writing-related topics, such as scholarly voice, and individual feedback of students’ dissertation drafts. In the discussion forum each week, students learn writing best practices and share their experiences with each other. They then practice incorporating these best practice learnings into their draft excerpts, which are submitted as weekly assignments, and their writing faculty member provides tailored feedback on these weekly dissertation excerpts. This feedback is provided in Track Changes, with suggested edits and comments on how to improve their writing, and how to convey their ideas concisely and precisely with correct APA format. This is geared to help them with their writing. We work with the chairs or the committee members and the students so that we're really clear that we are not giving advice on the program content but on how students articulate their ideas.

Walden: Can you share an example of how this works?

Dr. Hudson: As writing faculty, we're all really interested readers. And so if we noticed, for instance, in the literature review that there are studies cited that may be outdated, we'll suggest to the student, ‘Check with your chair. Have you saturated the sources yet?’ So, we're used to posing questions or just getting our students to think about content-related areas and looping in the chair for that. … And then in the discussion forum—that's the other part of the workshops—we have writing-related resources. A lot of them are from the Writing Center, on common issues that we see. For instance, we have resources on how to avoid passive voice or how to use APA, Seventh Edition, correctly.

Walden: How do the doctoral candidates use this feedback?

Dr. Hudson: In the feedback, faculty will ask, ‘What are some of the things that you need to work on in your writing?’ The student can choose which areas they want to work on, and we have the resources available for them to learn. And then in the discussion, they talk about how they're applying these best writing principles and what successes they’re having or what challenges they’re still experiencing. It's nice in the discussion to have a sense of camaraderie among the students. Because they'll see that others are struggling with certain things, too, or they'll have great tips to share on how to overcome problems.

Walden: Each workshop is six weeks. Does that mean each section takes six weeks to write?

Dr. Hudson: So, a student takes a workshop, not with the intention that it takes them six weeks to finish whatever section they're on, but because those six weeks give them six weekly deadlines. And the writing faculty who lead those workshops give one-on-one feedback to the students each week.

Walden: What feedback do you receive from doctoral candidates?

Dr. Hudson: There are a couple of things that we hear quite often. One is, ‘I have been really struggling with motivating myself to write, but now I have these weekly deadlines. I know that I have to turn in an excerpt each week, so it gets me going.’ … They're so grateful to have the weekly deadline and that one-on-one feedback from a writing faculty member. And then also, like I was saying, they appreciate being part of a community and knowing that they're not alone.

Walden: What sets Walden apart as a good choice for working professionals interested in earning a doctoral degree online?

Dr. Hudson: Walden has so much support for their doctoral-level students, including tutoring and Writing Center resources. We’re here to help. … I obtained my doctorate at a traditional brick-and-mortar, and I wish that I had had a writing workshop available and some of the other resources that Walden has, too.

Walden: What do you find most rewarding about leading the Doctoral Writing Workshops?

Dr. Hudson: It's fun to see students come back to take more than one workshop—not because they didn't get what they needed, but because they got exactly what they needed: writing instruction, weekly deadlines, and a sense of community. So that's been really rewarding to see repeat customers, as it were, in these tuition-free workshops. … It’s also really rewarding to see students who are reluctant writers, or not so confident, come and get the help they need in a way that is really supportive and that allows them to advance their dissertation drafts.

Explore Online Doctoral Programs

When you decide to earn an online PhD or professional doctorate, you’ve set your sights on the pinnacle of higher education. If you’re trying to determine which doctoral degree is right for you, consider your academic and career goals.

In Walden’s online PhD degree programs, you’ll focus on original research, data analysis, and the evaluation of theory. Online PhD degree program choices include a PhD in Psychology and a PhD in Education.

In Walden’s professional doctorate online degree programs, you’ll use research to design practices and find solutions to complex issues in your career field. Online degree options include a Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) and a Doctor of Public Health (DrPH).

In all of Walden’s doctoral-level programs, you’ll have access to academic support, writing workshops, and a comprehensive suite of other student support services to help boost your success.

You’ll also enjoy Walden’s signature flexibility, which puts earning a terminal degree within reach for working professionals. You won’t have to pause your career to advance your educational goals. With a laptop and an internet connection, you can work on your doctoral studies when and where it suits you.

With the online learning support of an accredited university to help guide you, you’ll have the tools you need to blaze a path to a doctoral degree and a leadership role in your chosen career.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering online doctoral programs. Expand your career options and earn your doctoral degree using a convenient, flexible learning platform that fits your busy life.

Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.

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