Walden’s Writing Center Offers Value-Added Services to All Students
Whether counting stars or diamonds, many people rely heavily on ratings and reviews to make informed decisions.1 Those decisions can be as easy as choosing a movie to watch, as important as picking a doctor, or as life-changing as selecting an accredited online college for earning a doctoral degree.
With a dissertation or doctoral research study at the heart of the doctoral journey, student satisfaction with a university’s academic writing support services is an important metric to consider. And finding a writing center with 50 full-time instructors is a great find indeed.
“These writing professionals are available to our doctoral students in a way that you wouldn’t see replicated anywhere else,” says Brian Timmerman, director of the Writing Center at Walden University, an accredited institution offering more than 80 online degree programs. “At other universities, it’s assumed that students will hire an outside editor, who can charge by the hour, page, or word. Well, at Walden, the Writing Center services are a part of the students’ tuition fees.”
The writing support is an important differentiator among doctoral degree programs, but the Writing Center offers its services to all Walden students, who also may be earning certificates and bachelor’s and master’s degrees online.
According to Timmerman, over half a million unique users visit the Writing Center in a month to learn new skills and perfect existing ones. He says part of the center’s mission is instilling confidence in students new to academic writing. Some adult learners make their first visit after receiving a lower-than-expected grade on a writing assignment.
“First, we have to calm [students] nerves and say, ‘No, you’re a fine communicator for certain in your everyday life.’ But many of them don’t have experience with academic writing. And then we have to get them to a place where they can recognize that those are two different forms of communication.
“People may feel they’re admitting a skill deficit by using the Writing Center, and that’s not the case at all. And particularly with doctoral students. They all will need writing support in some form or another, not necessarily from the Writing Center, but you know, they're just not going to be prepared in the way that they need to be. And the fact that all of this is free and available to them, and they can get started early, I think is huge,” says Timmerman.
Another Walden differentiator is its commitment to diversity and empowering positive social change across its global community of adult learners. Today, Walden alumni hail from over 160 countries.2 Meeting the needs of non-native English-speaking students is another of the center’s strengths.
“Roughly 25% of the students that we work with in the Writing Center identify as non-native speakers,” Timmerman says. “And we have professionals on staff whose backgrounds are in serving non-native English-speaking populations. We recognize the variety of needs that come from not only just working with students whose native language may not be English, but also being sure that we’re not homogenizing those populations either.”
In 2019, 2.5 million users visited the Writing Center’s website. Here are just a few of the center’s signature services:
- Tutoring: This one-on-one student support goes deep. Timmerman calls it “our flagship service.” Writing professionals work with students on all aspects of the writing process and focus on coursework to preapproved proposals. Students upload their work and writing instructors provide thoughtful, individualized feedback within two days. “It’s a very thorough review. It’s not just about fixing things or editing. It’s about critically thinking about the topic you’ve chosen to write about and making sure that you’re doing proper analysis of the material that you’re reading. Not that we’re subject matter experts by any stretch. But we can ask critical questions to help students identify portions of the paper that they need to flesh out,” he says.
- Chat and Office Hours: Instructors and editors host chat sessions and offer office hours for individualized instruction and editing Q&As.
- Asynchronous Writing Support: Students can e-mail questions at the coursework and capstone level and receive a response within 24 hours. “We try to be as accommodating as we possibly can because we know that students have busy lives,” Timmerman says.
- Modules: Using the center’s modules, students start with quizzes that assess knowledge of topics like grammar, Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA) style, and plagiarism prevention. Then, they work through multimedia tutorials to achieve mastery. “It’s all self-guided, and you even get a certificate at the end,” Timmerman says.
- Live and Archived Webinars: Live webinars allow students to interact by asking questions and participating in surveys that can help guide presenters. The Writing Center is using webinars as a tool to highlight key changes in the 7th edition of the APA publication manual, which Walden began using May 4, 2020.
- Open Access: Many of the Writing Center’s resources are available to non-Walden students. “As part of Walden’s social change mission, we really advocated that the majority of our site be open access,” Timmerman says. “So, the fact that our website exists out there so that someone from another institution can learn about an Oxford comma is pretty cool.”
- Form and Style Review: Editors conduct an 8- to 10-hour form and style review for each student completing a doctoral degree program. The review’s purpose is to edit doctoral capstone manuscripts to help students prepare them for publication in ProQuest and ScholarWorks, Walden’s digital repository of academic achievement, by applying expertise in APA style, grammar, and the nuances of academic language. “To have a professional review your material before it’s out there and everyone sees it is quite a gift that the university is providing students. I'm proud of that,” Timmerman says. “I'm really proud of that.”
Walden’s Higher Education Heritage
The Writing Center is a prime example of Walden’s high-quality academic support. Over its 50 years as a leader in developing distance higher education, Walden has built a strong support system to help students achieve success. Walden offers student support throughout the online education journey, with Enrollment Specialists, financial aid advisors, the Writing Center, Student Success Advisors, and more—all standing by to support you as you earn a degree.
The accredited university offers excellence across its online degree programs. Walden’s over 3,000 faculty members include Fulbright scholars and specialists, competitive grant winners, and excellence in teaching and mentoring honorees.3 And Walden is the No. 1 granter of doctoral research degrees.4
If you’re ready to expand your knowledge and advance your career, chose a proven leader as your partner on the path to excellence.
Walden University is an accredited institution offering bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral, and certificate programs online. Expand your career options and earn your degree using a convenient, flexible learning platform that fits your busy life.
2Source: Walden University Office of Institutional Research and Assessment, based on fall 2019 enrollment data.
3Source: Walden University Office of Institutional Research and Assessment, based on fall 2019 information provided by faculty
4Source: National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) Integrated Postsecondary Education Database (IPEDS). Retrieved March 2020; includes 2017–18 provisional data and all classifications of instructional programs (CIP) codes. A doctoral research degree is a PhD or other doctoral degree that requires advanced work beyond the master’s level, including the preparation and defense of a dissertation based on original research or the planning and execution of an original project demonstrating substantial artistic or scholarly achievement. Some examples of this type of degree may include EdD, DMA, DBA, DSc, DA, DM, or others, as designated by the awarding institution.
Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.
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