students attending the GradPower writing workshops

CES Ph.D. students attending the GradPower writing workshops

Upstairs on the third floor of the Leatherby Libraries on a Tuesday evening, you might see a group of
College of Educational Studies Ph.D.
students huddled together around a conference table, learning more about writing articles, literature reviews and conference proposals. Led by
Dr. Geraldine “Gerri” McNenny
, these weekly or bi-weekly workshops are not only consistently crowded and very popular, but are helping students get published.

We wanted to take a few moments to interview Dr. McNenny, Director, Graduate Project on Writing & Educational Research, about her work:

How long have you been offering the writing workshops?

The writing workshops, offered under the Graduate Project on Writing and Educational Research (Grad POWER), have been available to graduate students in the CES since the fall of 2007. The more focused workshop series for first-year doctoral students was initiated in the fall of 2013 and has been going strong ever since then.

Do you notice a difference in the level of writing that’s coming out of CES as a result of this and other efforts to improve student writing?

Definitely. Doctoral students’ writing has really taken off in recent years as a result of the combination of EDUC 750 promoting professional productivity, the workshops that follow through with support for further writing, and faculty mentoring. Students have written back to me to tell me that the workshops gave them the group support and opportunities for experimentation and feedback that provided them with the extra impetus to submit conference proposals and manuscripts for publication.

What are some of the most significant outcomes you can point to – published articles, successful conference proposals, that sort of thing?

We have definitely seen a rise in the number of published articles, successful conference proposals, published book reviews, and grant proposals submitted for dissertation support. Each year, CES faculty collaborate to hold a workshop for grant writing for dissertation support, and many students have taken advantage of this to submit scholarship and grant applications as a result. Our research shows that doctoral student productivity is significantly increased when participants experience themselves as part of a supportive community of writing peers. That’s what I aim to provide in offering these workshops. In addition to workshops in professional productivity for incoming doctoral students, I also give workshops on writing conference proposals, scholarly book reviews, articles, grant proposals, and editorials. Each June I offer a workshop for writing proposals for the American Educational Research Association (AERA) annual conference. All these opportunities create an atmosphere of positive support and mentoring to help our doctoral students mature as professional writers.

Anything else you’d like to add about the workshops?

Dr. Dawn Hunter
, the director of the Ph.D. Program, and I want to encourage all doctoral students and graduate students throughout the College of Educational Studies to take advantage of the writing support offered by the CES. In addition to writing workshops, the CES also supports the Graduate Writing Fellows Program, a peer mentoring program that allows students to work one-on-one with graduate peers in specific courses. Contrary to traditional representations of the writing process, writing is a very social undertaking. Sharing your work with mentors and peers, getting feedback from others, and experiencing the encouragement provided by a community of scholars are key strategies to building a successful professional career in education. We welcome all CES graduate students to participate in the writing support so generously supported by CES’s Dean Don Cardinal.