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Welcome to our new blog! You can also visit us at www.delta.edu/writingcenter and email us at writingcenter@delta.edu.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Using Credible Sources

So your professor has assigned a research paper (or, really, any sort of assignment that depends on information gleaned from outside sources, rather than your own opinion). You’ve been told you must use legitimate sources—something that will survive close scrutiny, that will provide useful and accurate information or an educated opinion. There should be nothing off-the-wall and certainly nothing that could be edited or published by just any average Joe with a keyboard and wifi (lookin’ at you, Wikipedia). Well, with a World Wide Web full of cute cat videos, strange how-to tutorials, and the odd scholarly article thrown into the mix, this can be rather difficult territory to navigate.

So, how do we know what a legitimate source is? Where do we look for these sources? And how might we detect a well-polished phony from the real deal? 


Our first, and most foolproof, step: The easiest way to ensure you’re finding the best of the best articles, books, et cetera, is to use the databases provided by Delta College. These can be accessed by going to Delta’s homepage, finding the Quicklinks menu at the top of the page and scrolling to “Library Learning Information Center.” Select this option. A new page should appear. From there, review the left-hand side panel until you read *“Journals and Magazines,” “Newspapers,” or even “Government Documents” (if you need that sort of thing). Choosing one of these categories will lead you to a database where you can search for sources.

*“Journals and Magazines” is probably the most used section—it will even give you excerpts from books and other mediums of publication. You can narrow your search for a certain kind of article or topic in “Advanced Search.” I recommend using InfoTrac, EBSCO, or CINHAL Plus databases.

Articles found by using this method will typically be peer-reviewed (you can search for only peer-reviewed articles by checking a box in “Advanced Search”) or will at least be written by an author with a well-formed and educated opinion.

Which brings us to our next step: Looking up an author’s credentials.

About the Author

Because you are not limited to only using these online databases, this step can come in handy. It’s perfectly okay to Google a topic for online articles or blogs. Sometimes a professor’s assignment guidelines will even require a source or two from the Internet.  However, this is when it’s most important that we are checking out our sources for legitimacy. An easy way to do that? Research the author. Try to dig up some information on the author. Is he or she a research professor at a known university publishing their work online? Has he or she worked in the specific field in which you are researching? Has he or she published other works on a similar topic, or is the work a combined effort of a number of different people? Any of this information can be helpful in determining if a source is reliable enough to use in an academic paper.

Publisher or Source Provider

Also in regards to using a source from the Internet—simply looking at where the source is published can give you an idea if the article will be right for you or not. Anything published under a .com address should be double checked—either by looking up the author, as we mentioned above, looking into other places where the article may have been published, or checking out the legitimacy of the website. (For example, something such as ConspiracyTheory.com will likely have very biased or inaccurate information.) Information published under .gov or .org is typically credible. Any site associated with reputable institutions, such as well-known universities, credible media outlets, a specific government program or department, or respected non-governmental organizations, can provide useful sources.

The Timeline

Something else to consider: How recently was an article published? Sometimes students don’t realize they are dealing with outdated information. For example, let’s say we’re doing research on the planets in our solar system. Well, heartbreakingly enough, Pluto is no longer considered a planet. So if we are using information dated before Pluto was kicked out of the prestigious Planet Club, we should at least be aware of it. In this case, it wouldn’t affect the other information you’re looking for (on other planets), but for some topics, old information could really harm your paper. 
Extra help!

This about wraps up how to determine if a source is credible or not. There are, of course, many methods to go about looking for reliable information—the above is merely the simplest way possible in a condensed and readable format. For other tips on researching, visit these Delta College pages provided under the “Library Learning Information Center” tab on Delta’s website: 

For more information on identifying credible sources, check out WRIT Center Co-Director Angela Trabalka’s article “Locating Credible Sources”, which can be found on the WRIT’s Virtual Student Handbook under the tab “Using Sources”. Here’s the link!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Defeating Procrastination

It is not uncommon to find yourself putting off that paper right up until the time it needs to be complete. Many people procrastinate to some degree, but for some, this is an issue that can break their college career. It is important to understand why you procrastinate before you can beat the issue. Maybe you always find something better to do, like going to the movies with your friends, shopping, or playing video games until the early hours of the morning. You can do all of these things and still get your homework done on time. You just have to understand how to get the ball rolling.

There are a couple of different methods for beating procrastination. Some may be more effective than others, but you should try each one to discover which will work best for you. Keep in mind that these tips are not just for writing papers and essays. You can utilize them for class projects, presentations, or even studying for an exam or quiz. Don't let procrastination bring you down!

Start working right away

Right after you receive the assignment, you should grab a notepad or fire up your computer and start working. Any ideas that you initially have when thinking about your paper should be written out. This will create a sort of launch pad for your assignment, even if you only work on it for five minutes. 

Break the project into little tasks

If you feel overwhelmed by a large assignment, create a to do list that breaks it down into smaller portions that are easier to tackle. If your paper is due in a week, decide what part of it you're going to do each day. Tomorrow you can work on the intro. The day after that, start the body paragraphs. You'll piece the project together day by day and the looming due date won't seem so scary.

Know your "productivity hours"

Maybe you're an early riser, or maybe you're a night owl. People operate effectively at all different times throughout the day. Think about when you find yourself to be the most productive and take advantage of that time.

Reward yourself

This is something you can do for any assignment, or for one that is particularly unpleasant, to help gain some momentum. Say you start working on your paper at 6:00. Tell yourself that if you keep working until 7:00 without a break, you can grab a Snickers or some ice cream. Maybe your friend invited you out that night. If you have a 1,000 word assignment to get done, make yourself write at least 500 words before you can hang out with your friend. 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Getting the Facts Straight: Constructing a Thesis Statement for a Research Paper

I think we all dread the word “thesis.” We know we should be familiar with it. After all, we’re in college, and the professor just said we needed one and didn’t bother to explain how we go about getting one. Not to mention, even for those of us who are perfectly aware of what a thesis is, a thesis still requires hard work—it requires specificity and expertise on a subject and then being able to translate “everything you know” in a concise manner to your audience.
But you can’t think about it that way. You can’t think about the “everything” you know, all the information the articles and books have bombarded you with. You have to think about what “everything” consists of. After all, the thesis is essentially the preview of the paper (the main points and the purpose of them). Therefore, I like to think about the thesis as an addition problem or a recipe. You want to add up all the main points (or ingredients) to express a larger purpose. The main points should contribute to and support that purpose. They should be relevant. For example, if you hand someone a recipe for baking “the best cake on earth” you would not include a paragraph about relieving the bowl and spoon of the leftover batter. It is irrelevant to the overall purpose, which is to make “the best cake on earth.” Licking the bowl and spoon to their bones will not impact the quality of the cake that is currently in the oven. And in your thesis, you want to limit the main points to those influential ingredients—the ingredients that make “the best cake on earth.”

But how do you know what those ingredients are?

Well, there is no foolproof method to identifying such ingredients. You often have to experiment with the writing process just like you’d have to experiment with ingredients in the kitchen. And with experimentation comes trial and error. You may rewrite the thesis three times, because the more you wade through your topic, the farther away you’ll move from your initial thoughts and conclusions and the better the cake will become.

Preheat the oven with some prewriting.

To depart from my biases about a particular topic, I do some prewriting to generate a working (rough) thesis. I’d suggest making an outline, because this gets you thinking about cause and effect (or how one main point connects to another and so on) as well as organization, which is vital to any paper. The “outline” (I use the term very loosely) does not have to be perfect or even formatted correctly as you’ll see in my example below. Welcome to the beautiful world of prewriting—anything goes.

While outlining, I tend to focus on the body paragraphs first. Without locating and submersing myself in the main points, the details, and the source material, I probably haven’t gotten to the heart of why I’m writing this paper yet.

You will want to organize the body of your outline by idea and then integrate the appropriate sources to complement those ideas. The main points you will use in your thesis will be more accessible this way. My body paragraphs will include an idea about my topic that already exists, sources that support that idea, and a reflection on that idea (why I feel it works or doesn’t work).

Creating the Recipe: An Example of a “Working Thesis”

Step 1) Take a good look at your topic. Figure out what kind of cake you want to bake.

Topic: When is art not really art?

For this topic, I feel like I would have to be able to define what art is to be able to distinguish what it is not. I feel like I would also have to narrow it down and choose one type of art to focus on.

Revised topic: How do we define literary art?

 Step 2) Brainstorm main points. What ingredients will you need?

Body paragraph 1: Art should convey some sort of message. It should promote a lesson. It should make a statement. I would use Dante’s Inferno to express how this supposed “literary masterpiece” was used to put the “fear of God” in its readers. I would then reflect on this. I think the Inferno was giving the reader too much of the author’s opinion and not allowing for enough of the reader’s opinion. I think there has to be more of an interaction between the work of art and the art appreciator. I think the artist should try to bring something to his/her audience’s attention, but not necessarily comment on it. I think Ezra Pound said something like that.

Body paragraph 2: Art has to be beautiful or appeal to the senses, but not necessarily be meaningful. I would then probably incorporate Oscar Wilde’s opinion on art in his novel A Picture of Dorian Gray (“the artist is the creator of beautiful things” and “all art is quite useless”) to support this definition of art (Wilde 1,2). But then again, that would imply that beauty is not useful… I’m still not quite sold on this definition of art either. I have a hard time believing that art is useless when so much of it deals with the human condition. At the very least, it functions as a form of entertainment. And we use “art” as a window into the past. We can learn much about our history through art. For instance, renaissance art marks the rebirth of humanism, and through that art we can see man become more confident in himself (look at Donatello’s David versus Michelangelo’s).

Body paragraph 3: Aristotle would certainly disagree with Wilde as he discusses in his Poetics that art is used to release emotion, “imitate action,” and derive pleasure from empathy (being able to understand one another) (61). I would probably then go on to use an example from literature—maybe something from Shakespeare or the example Aristotle uses which is Oedipus Rex or something other than a play to show how literature meets those requirements. Overall, though, it seems that art serves a purpose more often than not.

Step 3) Tackle the intro (most importantly, the thesis). Taste test. Bite into the cake. Reflect. What ingredients worked best? Which could you leave out next time? Is there any you’d add? Blend your findings.

Rough Intro: It’s hard to provide specific rules for something that prides itself on breaking the rules; however, the definition of art seems to depend on the circumstance. It seems not everything works for a single circumstance, but there seems to be a circumstance for everything to work.  Rough thesis (working thesis): That being said, for literature to be considered art, certain general criteria must be met: there must be unity and consistency throughout the work even if it is consistently inconsistent, and it must put the human condition under a microscope in order to provide a thorough observation of it.   

In this case, I discussed and synthesized some of the theories and opinions about art that have already been established (main points/body paragraphs) to construct a conclusion of my own on the matter (purpose/thesis). 

Step 4) Begin the paper. Perfect the recipe. Re-make the cake.

When you begin that first draft, you are taking what you learned from the prewriting stage, applying it to the paper and working out the kinks. In other words, you are perfecting/revising the recipe for your cake.

If I were to move forward with my topic and start writing the actual paper, my thesis would undergo some tweaking, but my “working thesis,” at least, gives me a focus to adhere to as I write the paper. And this is only one example of a thesis. There are a variety of them that could work for this topic with the given information.

Works Cited

Aristotle. Aristotle’s Poetics. Trans.  S.H. Butcher. New York: Hill and Wang, 1961. Print.

Wilde, Oscar. The Picture of Dorian Gray. New York: Barnes & Noble Classics, 2003. Print.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Let's Get Personal; On Writing A Personal Narrative

   Personal narratives are a common assignment in college composition courses. The essay should include a brief story of significance where you, the writer, have learned a lesson. Many instructors describe the thesis (main point) for this paper as the "lesson learned."

So while the story of you crowd surfing at Warped Tour '08 may be exciting for you to reflect on, there is not much of a lesson learned. (Unless you learned that crowd surfing comes with the risk of being dropped onto concrete.)

  The first step is identifying a story which has impacted you in some way, be it positively or negatively. Perhaps start by compiling a list of experiences and beside them, the lesson you learned from that. Select the one you feel you can provide the most details and description for. It should be one you are passionate about, because that passion will translate into your writing, and then into your reader.

The following is a list of things to keep in mind while writing your paper.

Use of First Person
  Since this is a personal narrative, first person (I, me, my) should naturally be used. There should be no second person (you), as this would refer to your reader, who had no involvement in your experience. Third person (people, person) may be used when discussing the lesson learned, because then your reader can apply your lesson to their personal life.

Details and Description
   Details and description are like the vascular system for a paper. It gives the paper life. It makes it real to your reader. The more details and description, the better. However, be wary of going off topic. If the details/descriptions do not supplement the main point of your paper, get rid of it. It will just distract the reader from the lesson they are supposed to be learning.

Showing vs. Telling
   Many instructors tell their students that for their personal narrative, they need to show, not tell. Then they come to the WRIT Center and say, "I have no idea what they meant by that." Here are some examples to illustrate what they mean:

  • Telling:    "When I came home, dinner was ready"
  • Showing"As I walked through my wide, burgundy front door, the warm smell of arroz con pollo enveloped my nose. "
  • Telling:     "The dog was barking and growling a lot."
  • Showing:  "My ears were stinging from the sharp vocalizations made by the dog. As the beast snarled, spit flung outwards from their mouth. Their upper lip curled, revealing their pointed, plaque-ridden teeth. "
Sensory Details
   Sensory details are a big deal in personal narratives. They enhance narratives greatly. Sensory detail involves sight, smell, touch, sound, and taste. In the above examples of showing vs. telling, I used the sense of smell, sound, and sight to enhance the descriptive qualities of the sentence. When writing your narrative, you want your reader to understand everything from your perspective. If your reader is able to see, smell, and hear the things you did in your experience, then the lesson will ring loud and clear for your reader.

Figurative Language
   Figurative language is a great way to vary your sentences in your personal narrative. Here are the common ones:
  • Simile--contains "like" or "as" for a description; her hair was as golden as a retriever.
  • Metaphor--does not contain "like" or "as" but illustrates a similarity between two things; his brillo pad hair did not help him get the girls.
  • Personification--gives an inanimate object human traits; my iPhone 6 sang me a sweet lullaby of Twitter and Facebook notifications.
  • Analogy--compares two unrelated things through their similarities; reading a science book is a lot like exercising for me: I sweat, cry, and want to give up, but afterwards, I feel accomplished for even trying.

Finally, keep in mind that your body should support your thesis. The same goes for a narrative. Your story must support the lesson you are trying to convey.

Good luck on writing your personal narratives!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Now Open for the Winter Semester

Brr...It's cold outside! We would like to invite all students out of the snow this winter. While you are here warming up, we can look at your papers and guide you in revision, help you get started, or assist you in your reading comprehension for your research project, or even how to conquer that huge textbook you need to read seven chapters in this week. We have a very knowledgeable staff, who is ready to help you whenever you need it. No appointments are needed, just stop in and see us anytime!

Our hours are as follows, for the main campus:
Monday-Thursday 9:00 am to 6:00 pm
Friday 9:00 am to 2:00 pm

And for the Ricker Center in Saginaw:
Tuesday-Thursday 12:30-5:30 pm

You can also submit your papers online at http://www.delta.edu/writingcenter.aspx.

We hope to see you soon! 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

End of Another Semester

Well, here it is, another semester finished. We have all accomplished a lot in the past several weeks. Here at the WRIT Center, our students have made this our busiest semester yet--we have helped with over 1,000 different papers this semester! It is thanks to those students that come in for assistance or submit online that we have had such a great success this year. He hope that we have helped you as much as we could. I personally saw so much improvement in several individuals who come here on a regular basis, and I am grateful to help you make the Delta Difference.

One question might arise as you go on break: how do I keep my reading and writing skills fresh while I'm not studying? Here are some tips to help with this dilemma:

  1. Read: Pick up some books at the local library. Find a subject that appeals to you and find what best suits you. Some of you might get some books, an E-book reader, or an IPad for Christmas. Don't be afraid of using  these wonderful tools! They will all help you expand both your imagination and your reading and writing skills.
  2. Write: Start a journal. Be imaginative. When you have a good day, share it. When you have a bad day, still write down your thoughts. Not only can these pages contain some very precious memories, but the practice will give you the chance to improve your writing skills. Remember, practice makes perfect!
Remember, you can always come in to the WRIT Center for help next semester. We will be closed for the holidays from December 15, 2012 and will open for the new semester on January 14, 2013. Remember to come early and come often!

Thank you all for the awesome semester! Have a great holiday season!

-WRIT Center Staff

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

NEW!!! Ricker Center Hours!!!

Hi Everyone,

We at the WRIT Center are pleased to announce that we have consultants available at the Ricker Center. We will be offering the same services as we do at the Main Campus. Students living in Saginaw are encouraged to come see us there if it is closer or more convenient for you. Our hours at Ricker are as follows:

Mondays      11am-6pm @ Student Resource Center
Tuesdays      11am-6pm @ Student Resource Center
Wednesdays 12pm-5pm @ Room 112
Thursdays     12pm-5pm @ Student Resource Center

We hope to see you there!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Fall is here: Ideas to help cope with a new semester

Welcome, everyone, to an exciting new semester at Delta! It is great to see everyone back, and to see the new faces of the first-year students. I hope everyone is prepared to learn!

In the meantime, I know that many students, including myself, can get the jitters about starting new classes. College can be difficult, stressful, and time-consuming. It can be quite disconcerting starting a new semester. So, to help ease on the stress, how can one best prepare for a semester filled with three or more classes (as a full-time semester)?  Here is a list of things you can do now to ease up on the end-of-semester blues later:

  1. Plan Your Time. I'll be honest with you--this is one area I have struggled with in my life. However, I found that if I do not put together a schedule, especially when working, going to school, etc., my life can get to be very hectic and I get lost around mid-semester. It has been important to my success that I fit in homework and study time, right from week one. This has prevented me from ending up getting behind. Here are some things you want to include in that schedule:
    • Times of Classes (of course)
    • Work (if you work. If you don't, try scheduling some time for job hunting!)
    • Sleep (Yes, you want to schedule time to sleep! 7-8 hours a day is what experts say is best.)
    • Homework/study. (Make sure that you do this every week. Give yourself enough time to actually get done what you need. Rule of thumb is for every 1 hour in the classroom you need 1 1/2-2 hours studying. For 12 credits, aim for 18-24 hours weekly of study time.)
    • Leisure. (If you don't take some time for yourself to wind down at night, spend time with friends, or just vege out on the couch, you will feel overloaded and weary. Try fitting in at least 2-3 hours a day to just be you. Play video games, shoot some hoops, spend time with family, whatever helps you relax!)
    • Exercise! (Keep your body healthy. When you physically feel better, it actually helps your mind feel better! Don't believe me? Check it out for yourself! Here's a quote from Christen Anderson, MS, in an article in WebMD: "When one exercises, you can think more clearly, perform better, and your morale is better. This is pure science -- stimulate your nervous system and function at a higher level" (qtd. by Lawrence, Jean; "Train Your Brain With Exercise;" WebMD; http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/features/train-your-brain-with-exercise.)
  2. Positive Thinking: Try telling yourself, "I can do this." Anytime that you feel like you're getting bogged down, or whenever something seems too difficult, just tell yourself that you can do it! You'd be surprised, but there is a lot to be said about positive reinforcement!
  3. Do the work! When it comes down to it, I can be known as a procrastinator. This makes it hard to keep things done when they have to be done. However, I have learned that I must do things as i planned, and when I planned, for a successful college career. If Iv don't, I end up getting behind, and I, for one, hate to play catch-up! Nothing is worse than learning everything you were supposed to learn in a class the day before the exam! Plus, if you do the assigned homework, chances are that you will struggle much less in any quiz or test that your professor puts in front of you!
  4. Ask For Help: If you don't get something, don't be afraid to ask! Our instructors have posted office hours for this reason. Never be afraid of feeling stupid; asking questions is how you learn. Delta College also has other tools available for you if you ever want or need the help:
    • WRIT Center: Since this is the blog for the WRIT Center, let's start here! We are a peer-consulting service for Writing, Reading, and Information Technology for English classes or any other class that has writing or reading (so, in other words, all across the curriculum!). We will be glad to help you, no matter if you need help coming up with a topic; citing your sources; making sure your paper makes sense; reading a long, difficult textbook; finding or including New Media in your paper, or even if you're struggling with a program like Word or PowerPoint, we will do our best to help you! We are located in the back of the library, by the classrooms attached to the LLIC. We also offer online help at http://www.delta.edu/writingcenter.aspx.
    • TLC: The Teaching and Learning Center is the free tutoring center located at the front of the library. They offer tutors for nearly any subject. For more information on the TLC, please visit http://www.delta.edu/llic/tlc.aspx.
There are many other methods you can use to become successful in college, but these, in my opinion, are the most important things you can do. These things can help ease the stress of a bad grade later; in fact, these should help you to get the best grades possible!

Happy fall, welcome back, and good luck!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Starting my job at the WRIT Center

It's my second week working at the WRIT Center and my excitement about it has not settled yet. I knew I would like it, but I didn't know I'd fall in love with it.

When I first began, I was really nervous about having to prove my ability in tutoring. Once I had my first session, it felt natural. Having Michael by my side to reassure me that I didn't sound insane was also helpful, haha.

Since I haven't met the other tutors here, I'll talk a little about myself to establish some familiarity :).
My name is Autumn and this is my second semester at Delta. I graduated from Heritage High School in Saginaw, go Hawks! I'm studying to become a Radiation Therapist because the radiology field of medicine fascinates me. My favorite book is Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte and if you've read it, that says a lot about me. I love laughing and making people laugh, so I can be a little silly.

What I love most about this job so far is reading the variety of stories and opinions. Helping them communicate their message more effectively is so satisfactory.

Anyway, I hope to work here for a while. My co-workers are pretty awesome and so are the students that drop by!

-Autumn Villalta

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Ideas on Identifying and Preventing Procrastination

Everybody, at some point in their life, has experienced their own procrastination. Here are a few causes of procrastination within my own life, and perhaps within your life as well.

1.      Disorganization

This is pretty self explanatory. When we are disorganized with our time and resources, we tend to forget assignments and deadlines, lose important papers or rubrics, or lose time in the mess. While I am generally organized in most aspects of my life, there are times where I let my room, car, backpack, and schedule become disorganized. During these times, I tend to tear through my house looking for a textbook or dig through my backpack for an assignment. When I get like this, I tend to procrastinate more because I cannot find the required resources for my work.

The remedy for disorganization is pretty simple, albeit continuous. Staying organized is often a mind set. I recommend finding a personal system for yourself. You can use filing cabinets or folders to hold papers or assignments. Having a bookshelf or other shelves can help to organize books and trinkets in a room. Keeping different subjects and textbooks separate can prevent confusion. There are many ways to become organized, but generally the best is to find your own unique way and go with it.

2.      Fear

Fear is another factor of procrastination. Sometimes we are given assignments that seem overbearing or intimidating. We view them as “impossible” or “too hard,” and become stressed by the idea of even working on it. Sometimes we’re bogged down by the prospect of what grade we will receive. Other times, we are afraid of our own talent. I often have a fear of creative writing because I feel like whatever I write will just simply not be good enough. This form of fear manifests in avoidance. We simply avoid the assignment until we are forced to do it, which it usually at the last minute and under stress, which tends to negatively affect the quality of the work.

The simplest way to solve the problem of fear is to just do it. I know, I know, Nike said it first, but they have it right. We just need to put one foot in front of the other, the rest usually comes together right after. Another way is to break the assignment into different sections or parts and complete them one at a time. When we look at segments instead of a whole, we start to view the overall assignment as less menacing and easier to accomplish.

3.      Lack of Interest

I think this is a very common cause of procrastination. We are so often given assignments that we do not relate to or do not have an interest in that it becomes hard for us to find the motivation to do adequate research or to put enough work into them.

The solution to this problem requires a little bit of creative thinking. When I am faced with a paper or essay about a topic that I am not interested in, I do my best to remind myself how it is important in the big picture. Some essays, regardless of the topic, are meant as practice for the craft of writing. Other assignments, like math homework, are also used as practice for specific skills. Regarding the topic, I also try to look at the value of the information I am to gather, and then relate that to the bigger picture. Even if I am not interested in writing a research paper about aliens or UFO’s, I cans still benefit from knowledge that surrounds the topic. For example, understanding the sociological and psychological aspects of believing in aliens is certainly an interesting topic and can help me to form better ideas and theories in the fields of sociology and psychology.

4.      Perfectionism

This one is also pretty common. The idea of perfectionism is that everything performed or worked on must be perfect or must represent a whole idea. Concerning the latter reason, I am personally petrified to start a project if I do not understand the entirety of the subject invloved. Much like fear, this creates procrastination because of the need to begin and finish the assignment correctly. Another way perfectionism causes procrastination is that a perfectionist tends to focus on the minutest of details. For some assignments, that level of scrutiny and criticism might not be needed. Picking apart an entire paper or project because of small issues or other details can cause bad stress and depression. Perfectionists can also become distracted by their environment, such as a dirty desk, chores, or other things that need to get done. These things can get in the way and momentarily take precedence over a specific assignment, which can lead to procrastination.

Don’t get me wrong, paying close attention to detail is good, and should be practiced in moderation. It is when it starts to affect your school, social, and extracurricular lives that it can become destructive. When I have times like this, I try to put things into perspective: “Do I really need to tear this entire paper apart?” “Have I accomplished the main objective?” Sometimes I try to identify why I am stressed. If I understand why I am stressed it is much easier to deal with and ultimately to cool down.

These are some causes of procrastination within my own life. I hope that you were able to read through them and identify some of your as well. What I hope even more is that by identifying these causes you will be able to find your own solutions and begin to write and work on assignments without leaving them to the night before they’re due!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Hello everyone! I hope you are all settled back in from spring break! We still have the rest of the semester to go!

Remember as the following weeks unfold that you can bring your essays, papers, reading assignments, and other fun writing stuff to the WRIT Center for some quality feedback and help in writing, reading, and information technology. I encourage you to use this service as it is totally free and very helpful.

Although we are not a proofreading service the help we provide can teach you important aspects of written language, and may help you to turn your grades around. If your grades are already great, remember that we can also help with resumes, application essays, and scholarship essays!

Again, make sure to visit us here at the WRIT Center at Delta College. We also have our online submission form for assignments here.

Good luck and good writing!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Starting a Paper: How to Generate the Topic of Discussion

            Ever feel the anxiety of starting a paper? You have a topic, but have no idea of where to begin. You don’t have a topic, and need to decide on one for your next writing assignment. Here are a few tips on how to start a paper.
           The first step to take, as with any endeavor, is to sit down and think. Think about the things that interest you. What kinds of topics are exciting? What topics aren’t?
            If you can’t think of a topic off hand, then take a stroll through a library, or surf the internet, or peruse a newspaper. There are a myriad of sources of which to find topic ideas. Specifically look for controversial issues or other ideas that you feel you can research and discuss.
            If you feel bogged down by indentifying issues or topics in those manners, talk to a friend or even your professor. More than likely they can help generate some ideas that you will enjoy writing about.           
Always remember to give the thinking process a little time. Don’t become despondent or upset if you can’t identify a topic to write about. Something will come along, and if all else fails, you can always look back to your list and choose a topic.
Once I have a few ideas, I often find myself creating a list with all the possible topic ideas I have thought of. From there, I choose a few that I really think I can discuss. After I have a shorter list, maybe about 2-4 topics, I then create a sub list of points that I can discuss about each topic.
It’s also important not to be overwhelmed by a topic. Most likely, the topic you choose will be multidimensional and have many facets of which to discuss. That is not a problem. The practice you can get from writing is deciding what does and what does not belong in your paper. What is most likely going to happen is that you are to write about some specific detail or issue on a larger topic. For example, you’re most likely not going to be writing a complete autobiography or history of an event or issue, but you will write about an important aspect of it.
            When you have your topic settled, go! Start writing. Start with any idea that pops in your head about the topic or look at the sub list you created about it. Design your paper or just write. It all depends on your style and voice. Make the best of it, and rock the writing world!

Monday, November 28, 2011

I Believe in Revision

When I hand back an essay tattooed with corrections, suggestions, and comments, I always tell my students that they will learn the most from doing revisions. I encourage bold topic choices, fastwrites, and experimental forms. In a writing class, there is no failure a revision can't correct. It is both our safety net and the gnaw on our conscious -- we can always make it better. The writer is always in flux, always between drafts, always adapting to new reactions and inspirations. We live in the journey, not the destination.

I believe in revision both in and beyond paper. That analytical red pen, both literal and figurative, is always at my finger tips. Ready to pause when a class, a dinner, or conversation turns sour. I find hope in critique, in breaking apart moments and paragraphs and examining how they could be reconstructed. One of my favorite philosophers, John Dewey, believed that revision was a creative process. It is not designed to squelch our confidence or tell us what we can't do, it is there to imagine what is possible.

One of my most devastating failures came when I applied for a full-time job at the place where I was teaching part-time. I was confident, knowing the college and the student population. After my teaching demo, I felt wonderful and believed that I was only a few short months from a living wage with benefits. But I was edged out by a newcomer with more experience and education. I could have let the hard feelings put a wall between me and my colleagues, the ones who sat through my presentation, sifted through my materials, and chose someone else. However, to be a revisionist, you must learn to listen and collaborate. I talked to the co-workers, I handed over my cover letters and teaching statements, I revised. One year later I was in a full-time tenure track position.

To believe in revision is to believe in second chances. I love my job because every semester I get a second chance – a second chance at teaching an assignment, a second chance at making a-ha moments, a second chance of winning over the crowd. While I'm a hard worker, I've never enjoyed the jobs where I knew I would be doing the same task, day in and day out. I find no comfort in repetition. I rarely even read the same book twice. In order for me to be excited each and every morning, I have to believe that I am moving forward, taking the best from yesterday and putting it into action today.

A revisionist is not a perfectionist. As a working mother of two small children, I fail often; I take on too much. But my life is richer for that. When my students misunderstand directions and have to start from scratch, I tell them it is not a loss, but a gain. We learn by doing, by revising.

-- Jennifer Niester-Mika, WRIT Center co-director

So Far, So Good...

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Thursday, October 27, 2011

More about saving work!

To follow up on The Unfortunate Story of the Student Whose Paper Vanished in Cyberspace-- this happens too often! However, there is more than one way and one place to save documents whether working at Delta, from home, or on Wifi at the local coffee shop.

In Delta labs, of course, you cannot save permanently to the hard drive because everything vanishes when you log off (or if the power blinks). If you just save to the computer when you are working, the material goes automatically to the My Documents folder on the hard drive; that can be a little tedious to search for. Here's my best advice for when you don't have your flash drive with you, and even for when you do. Smart people save a backup copy!

  1. Save the document to the Desktop when you first create it, before you've even typed more than your name and the date. Then you just have to hit the Save icon at the top of the page every paragraph or so. The document is also easier to find on the desktop.
  2. When you have a complete document, there are three ways to save it for later access when you don't have a flash drive. You can
  3. E-mail it to yourself as an attachment.
  4. One of your classes must have you using a Desire2Learn site.  If you go into D2L, you will see a link at the top called "My Locker." It's just that-- online storage for your stuff!  Click on the link and follow the simple steps to upload your document to the locker, where it will be accessible to you from your home computer.
  5. Have you checked out your "My Portal" Delta site?  It's a link at the top of almost all Delta website pages.  Scroll all the way to the bottom of your Portal page, and there's a My Documents tab. Again, follow the easy steps to upload your material, and there it is for access other times and other places.
If you are writing something lengthy, it's probably wise to save your stuff to your e-mail, D2L, or MyPortal before it's done, just in case of electronic disaster. If the power goes out or software crashes, you have at least a partial draft saved.

Posted by E. Dewey

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

What is the Delta WRIT Center?

Welcome to the Delta Writ Center's new blog!
First, here are some questions you may ask about the WRIT Center...

What does WRIT mean?

The WRIT stands for Writing, Reading, and Information Technology. These are the areas that we consult students in.

Does the WRIT Center proofread papers?

The Delta College WRIT Center helps a student with letting him or her improve their English skills by  helping the student form ideas to improve for themselves.We do not do line-by-line editing while you idly stand by. We prefer an interactive session where we offer feedback on grammar issues, spelling help, structural improvement, and the paper as a whole. We will gladly assist you to learn how to form a more organized paper, and help you learn how to look for grammar and punctuation errors on your own.

How can I get my paper looked at?

There are a couple of ways to have your paper reviewed by us. First, you can stop in for a session. We are located at the back of the Delta College LLIC (library), near A-125. We are open Monday-Thursday 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. We ask that you give us about a half hour window per session to properly assist you.

If you have more questions on what a writing center is or does, please visit these other writing centers' links for their policies:

You can also submit your paper for review online by going to www.delta.edu/writingcenter and clicking on the link labeled  Writing Center Submission Form.

Any questions? Please email us at writingcenter@delta.edu.

Save Your Documents, Save them often!

Today, we had one unfortunate student who ended up losing her entire document she was working on while working on one of our computers. The important lesson learned from this: Save your work, and save often.

She had been working on this paper for over a couple hours. She never saved her document because she didn't bring in her flash drive. Then the computer blinked out unexpectedly, and Word disappeared from her taskbar--the document had closed on her, or Word had unexpectedly closed. Unfortunately, because this student never saved, there was nothing we could do to help her. We even went to get assistance from our IT help desk, and from the computer lab desk, to see if any one knew how to retrieve the missing file that had mysteriously disappeared. Nobody could help. We looked everywhere, but the file no longer existed, because the document was never saved, not even by the Auto Recover.

One strong word of advice we give to all of our students--save early, save often. You can not foresee if something happens to the program or to the computer to hinder the recovery or retrieval of your document, and we can not be of any assistance if the document is not saved. We really do not want to see you have to start from scratch on a paper that you have worked hard on for the last two hours, and we would like to help you succeed as much as possible. So please, take my advice: Save early, save often!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Citing Sources (MLA)--Introduction

*Not all source types may be given in this post--if you need more help, please email us at writingcenter@delta.edu and we will be sure to assist you. Remember, you can also submit your papers for a consultant to assist you at www.delta.edu/writingcenter.aspx.

Why Source?
    Citing sources correctly allows you to give proper credit to the person who originally gave ideas or facts that are used in your paper and allows the reader to assess the validity of the sources that you use and can further expand on the subject by looking at the sources for themselves.

Cite information, facts, and ideas that are not common knowledge. Use citations in direct quotes or when paraphrasing.

MLA: In-text Citations

In Text Citations

    • Use author if given. If no author, use title or the beginning of the title for a reference point.
      • Main thing is to make your in-text citation the first word or phrase that will occur in your Works Cited page (to simplify referencing for the reader.)
    • Use parenthetical referencing at pause of sentence, or at the end if possible.
    • Block quotes can be placed either before or after the source quotation (preferably before--see examples below.)
    • The number in the reference is the page number.
    • No punctuation is between the name and the author.
    • Use direct quotations sparingly to enhance meaning of a subject. Use your voice more, summarizing or paraphrasing sources.
  • One Author-last name of the author
    • In-sentence: 
      • Jane Hopkins calls the Western the "only true American entertainment form" (67).
    • Parenthetical:                                                                                                                                                                   
      • The Western is the only American entertainment that belongs to us (Tompkins 67).
  • Two or three authors:
    • Rico and Mano point out a number of books that are appropriate for quality multicultural education (83-90).
    • The authors point out a number of books that are appropriate for quality multicultural education (Rico and Mano 83-90).
  • Four or More Authors:
    •  use the first named author, then the phrase et al.
      • Medhurst et al. describe the relationship between Brezhnev and Nixon as "heated" (137).
      • The authors describe the relationship between Brezhnev and Nixon as "heated" (Medhurst et al. 137).
  • Corporation or organization: 
    • For long names, try to use the name in the text and only the page number in the parentheses, so reading is not interrupted by long parenthetical references:
      • According to a study performed by the National Research Council, the population of China in 1900 was increasing by more than 15 million annually (15).
    • In parenthetical referencing, shorten the terms commonly abbreviated:
      • The population of China was increasing by more than 15 million annually (Natl. Research Council 15).
      • Pre-retirement planning also has a measurable effect on stress levels (NIMH 22).
  • No Author:
    • Use first few words of the title of the source. Italicize if book title or use quotations if an article.
      • Croatians are unhappy about the time when their country was part of the former Republic of Yugoslavia ("Croatia in Crisis" 26).
      • The filmmakers, on the other hand, clearly presented Mozart's deaath as murder (Amadeus).
  • If you are quoting or paraphrasing something that is a quotation itself, use the term "qtd. in" (quoted in):
    • Samuel Johnson admitted that Edmund Burke was an "extraordinary man" (qtd. in Boswell 450.)
  • For electronic citations where the page numbers may not be apparent, use only the author's name. For pdf files, use the page numbers:
    • The Western is the only American entertainment that belongs to us (Tompkins). 

Taken from "Citing Your Sources-MLA Format" by the Delta College Library