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Writing skills for the future

| Ben Shinners

UW-Eau Claire takes an innovative approach to how students learn to write. The Blugold Seminar in Critical Reading and Writing, UW-Eau Claire’s first-year writing program (WRIT 114, 116, 118, 120) is based on the latest research about how college students learn to write and what they need to do in terms of written communication to succeed in their courses and beyond. The Blugold Seminar empowers students to develop rhetorical knowledge, inquiry and research skills, writing craft and digital literacy.

Taylor Pomasl, a journalism major at UWEC, recently completed the Blugold Seminar. She was nice enough to provide her thoughts on the course.

“Writing 118 was a challenging and beneficial course! In high school, I’d never touched on many aspects of writing, analysis, and research that would go far past my freshman year of college. One of the main reasons it was so beneficial was my professor recognized this in the beginning of the semester and focused much of the course on these areas.

One of our projects involved me finding around 40 sources and putting them together on a timeline based on the publication dates. When I was first assigned the project, I was overwhelmed, because I’d never had to find such an abundant number of sources before, but after that project was finished, the blogs and later projects came easily to me. There was no requirement for the amount or kinds of sources we had to find, but after completing the timeline project, I saw the benefit of having multiple sources from different mediums. It made the rest of the semester go smoother.

Another aspect of the Blugold Seminar that I loved was it didn’t just focus on writing. We rhetorically analyzed videos and articles, discussed purpose and audience, learned about research methods, and it all came together at the end for our final project. Personally, I learned the benefit of time management as well. The projects were extensive, and I found there were a few times I didn’t leave myself as much time as I should have. This is something I’ll use in the future. No matter how big the assignment seems to be, the best place to start is the beginning.

I was nervous to jump into 118 at the beginning of the semester. I had always been passionate about writing, but I wasn’t sure if I’d be up to challenge. I was blessed with an amazing professor and group of students. My professor was easy to reach and always offered help or advice whenever I was overwhelmed or stuck. My classmates made the classroom environment fun and easy to fall into.

The Blugold Seminar was a great class for me, and I’ve already used a lot of what I’ve learned in other classes. Since I’m a journalism major, I’m sure I’ll be using it for the rest of my career. Overall, it was one of my favorite classes this semester and a great way to finish off my freshman year!”

Her professor, Dr. Valerie L. Guyant, had positive comments about Taylor’s work in the Blugold Seminar.

“In many ways, Taylor embraced what we always hope for; she played around with sources, examined them for their usefulness, and discussed the positive and negative aspects of the sources. In my class, I like to use playground metaphors and sometimes discuss research as being similar to playing in a sandbox. Taylor played with all the corners of her sandbox and threw some dirt around before deciding what she wanted to build and it showed in her final product.”

Like Taylor, many students find writing academically to be nerve-wracking when they first start college. The Blugold Seminar in Critical Reading and Writing gives students the rhetoric, writing, and research skills to exceed expectations when they write for any of their classes. In fact, the foundational writing knowledge will be an asset long after UW-Eau Claire students graduate and find success in the world.