The Beginning

By this point (I’m assuming) you read the first page and (hopefully) some of the posts, and perhaps you’re wondering where this all originated. Yes, this stems from a class assignment but what about the content? Did these ideas simply spring into my mind via a moment of utter enlightenment? Did I shout EUREKA! and then begin this project. Ha, no. It started as most assignments, papers, undertakings do with research; lots of reading and learning was the beginning.

It began with Anne Beaufort’s Writing in the Real World: Making the Transition from School to Work. (Here’s a link should you want to buy yourself a copy: Book) Her book seeks to “make curriculum/writing assignments rich in social meaning for students, or, to state it another way, how to make the communicative work of the writing project of greater importance to students than the grades” (Beaufort, 194). Now, does that not sound like an amazing goal? Basically, Beaufort believed in the social nature of writing and how through its social context it transfers into all aspects of our lives. (I hope you’ve gotten at least somewhat how important transfer is to me at this point.)

To go right along with Beaufort is Elizabeth Wardle (Yay for strong female writers!) who wrote “Understanding ‘Transfer’ from FYC: Preliminary Results of a Longitudinal Study.” (Which I can link for you here: Wardle even though I think I link it somewhere else too… It really is just that important.) Wardle’s article focuses more on ways that students and teachers can help further the concept of transfer as a university’s goal. She ends her article by stating, “program directors might develop collaborative research projects with faculty from across their universities to better understand what goals they do and do not share for assignments and outcomes and to closely examine how students interpret assignments from various courses” (Wardle, 82-83). She wants to see students become aware of transfer and how their education as a whole intertwines.

The ultimate goal of these two passionate and driven women is to help students see the way their education and eventual life goals all intersect with writing. I’d like to count myself among their number as I strive to better understand the concept of transfer myself in a world that seems as confused by it as I was in the beginning.

(I’d give you a clever metaphor for transfer right now if I could come up with a good one) Instead I’ll give you a link to Transfer because it is a good place to start.

If you want to see exactly the kinds of questions that were on the surveys I’ve added them below!

Learning from Failure

Here is an article about learning from failure that I found helpful. Now, I know it is not an article on writing, but we have been discussing transfer… So, look at the ways the article applies not only to your life but also to your writing. For example, the article talks about preparation to achieve your goal in terms of eating healthy and stocking the fridge with healthy foods. That’s a great example – Now think of it in terms of writing. Making sure you have the correct information before drafting essay or typing out an email. Transfer – think about it: Huffington Post Article

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Some Resources

resourcesMaybe you’ve found some of this interesting. Are you curious about writing and transfer? Here is a list of some sources that might be helpful. Plus some other writing sites that are helpful to any student!

Practice, Practice, Practice

“Communication is vital to a people-centered job!” ~ From the person who wrote in pink pen on their survey

No matter what types of writing the employees were doing (sales reports, agendas, correspondences through email, PowerPoints) they all agreed that practicing writing was important. Many of them had no training in writing for the job field they were entering and found that they had to learn on the job. I asked how they learned about rules of their new writing environment, and one person put “the hard way.” Just that. No other explanation, and somehow I understand what he/she meant.

These professionals admit to still getting nervous when they write (Her exact words were “I always get nervous when I write something! Even an email makes me examine every word I’ve used.”) and not knowing if they are writing correctly when they need to do something new. One person talked about needing to learn to write a federal grant and asking three other people for assistance and reading various other grants in order to accomplish it. “I don’t have the same amount of practice with grants that others do… I looked their grants over and found them helpful!”

Research and practice… Remind anyone of what we do in school?

Here’s a link to another post that talks about practice! Reading, Writing, and Talking

Professional Writing Skills

One of the questions on my survey to professional employees was “What kind of skill do good writers have?” If you’ve read about what the first-year students wrote, it probably seems similar.

A lot of them gave me very long-winded lists. I’ve boiled it down to a short one for you.

  • Good grammar
  • Clarity
  • Conciseness
  • “Proficient vocabulary” (I see what they did there!)
  • Flow of ideas
  • Process of communication (the medium of writing: text, email, paragraphs, bullet points)
  • Content

I narrowed it down by grouping them into these seven. It is much shorter than the list of student’s concept of “good” writers. It seems like professionals realize the utmost important skills of a writer… Or maybe they have a better grasp of the big picture of writing. Students seem to get caught up on the details (*cough cough* the grammar or thesis). Yes, grammar is important, but it seems like the rest is equally as important to professionals.

Here’s a link to the student’s version of this question: “Good” Writers

Writing Importance

“Writing is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words.”
~ Mark Twain

Is writing important to an employed professional? Here are my two favorite answers:

“Absolutely! It is one way to present yourself as a well-educated professional.”

“Yes, you must sound intelligent when representing yourself, or what you stand for.”

You’ll notice I bolded a few words I thought were important. Out of all the surveys, I read about 75% used a word like “intelligent” or “well-educated” to describe why writing is important as a professional. Apparently, the better you write, the smarter you sound. Not a bad deal.

I, also, (as I’m sure you noticed) italicized a couple words too… It seems writing ties in with how potential employers will perceive you. Resumes are important as the initial stage to employment, and they’re written. Before even getting an interview an employer wants to read about you on paper. Fail the written portion – fail to get the job.

See how much writing you already do and how that will help you in this post: How many papers do you write?

Employer Perspective

“A great employee is like a four leaf clover, hard to find and lucky to have.” ~ Tammy Cohen

We’ve talked about how writing looks from a student perspective: How hard it can be, how terrifying, and how practice makes perfect. But, what about once you reach the workforce? Here I sit, basically preaching about how important writing will be once you get a job. Yet, I haven’t even explained it. So, here it is.

Much like the earlier surveys, I gave surveys out to actually employed adults and asked them about writing. Here’s the biggest fact to take out of what they said;  100% said writing is important to their job! And let me make it clear that I did not ask a bunch of authors or former English majors. I assure you that almost all of the people answering did not have an English degree. These were regular employed people, and they said writing was important – Huzzah!

Here is a link to a post all about what writing skills employers said were important:  Professional Writing Skills