Helping Students Write - Graduate Writing Center
Faculty Support of Student Writing
When you notice limitations in your students' writing ability, encourage skills development as early as possible. The materials on this page are organized by frequently observed areas for growth. Each section includes targeted approaches and resources that you can recommend to your students.
Jump to a focus area:
GWC coaching and resources on critical reading and writing help students cultivate the skills to rigorously assess and construct scholarly arguments.
Ask your students to request coaching focused on strengthening the argument in their writing. This critical element of a paper can often be dramatically improved when students receive coaching on constructing an outline, refining their thesis statement, and crafting topic sentences.
Contact the GWC about collaborations to help specific students or to share expectations about an assignment. Input from faculty helps us keep our support for students aligned with faculty needs.
Direct your students to our writing workshops that emphasize critical thinking, argument, and evidence:
- Constructing Research Questions
- Critical Thinking in Review
- Strategic Reading, Level II: Critiquing a Text
- Writing Persuasively: Logic, Evidence, and Style
- Refer students to the Critical Thinking and Argument and Analysis sections of the GWC's Writing Resources pages, which provide learning and reference materials collected specifically for NPS students.
- View video versions of three GWC critical-thinking workshops, available in our selection of recorded workshops.
- Consider assigning short writing assignments in class or as part of the thesis development process to help students practice their argumentation and develop an awareness of the steps required to persuade the reader with evidence.
- Collaborate with GWC can help you design assignments and provide guidance to students. You can also team with a coach to provide feedback on critical thinking and argument to students in your course.
Ask us to set up Directed Study to provide extra support to students who struggle with critical thinking and argumentation. In a GWC Directed Study, the student will work regularly with one or two coaches, dedicating up to three hours per week for an entire quarter.
National Security Affairs and Defense Analysis have dedicated quarter-long writing classes. Sometimes students from other departments are able to join these courses when space is available, either on their own initiative or at an advisor's suggestion.
Organizing Research Documents
Understanding how research documents should be structured is often challenging for new graduate students. The GWC can help students learn about academic expectations and how to craft the elements common to theses, conference papers, and articles.
Ask students to request coaching to work on outlining and organization and discuss standard expectations for theses, even before they've written their chapters. When students are facing a complex document, meeting with a coach can help them implement the structural conventions of their field.
Provide students and the GWC with examples of well-organized work in your field that they can discuss and analyze. This helps coaches stay aligned with your preferences and your field's conventions.
Direct your students to our writing workshops that emphasize the organization and structure of research writing:
- Mastering the Literature Review
- Organization: The Secret to Academic Writing
- Professional Executive Summaries
- Technical Writing
- Understanding Paper Types
- What (Nearly) Every Academic Paper Needs
- Writing for Academic Journals
- Use the customizable Thesis Chapter Feedback Framework as a quick and straightforward way to provide students with an overview of the major sections of a thesis or research report. The matrix breaks the thesis down into the most common sections and subsections and provides criteria that students can use to guide their work.
- Students find our quick videos "Writing an Introduction to a Paper" and "What's Different about Academic Writing?" useful to start thinking about how academic writing should be structured.
Our discipline-specific abstracts infographics and literature review infographic also come in handy for quick and targeted support. The abstracts infographics provide annotated examples of strong abstracts.
- The Organization and Structure and Writing a Thesis sections of the GWC's Writing Resources pages provide additional learning and reference materials collected specifically for NPS students.
Assigning research proposals and paper outlines as course deliverables can help ensure that students learn and practice these skills, become aware of what they don't know, and get valuable feedback. The GWC can help you design these assignments and provide guidance to students on how to learn from them.
Citations and Avoiding Plagiarism
Helping students ensure that their work meets the highest standards of academic integrity is central to the GWC's mission. We provide a number of tools and approaches to assist students in learning the principles of attribution and proper citation style.
Advise students that they can meet with a coach to learn how to avoid plagiarism. Students may request an iThenticate report and paraphrasing help in GWC coaching sessions. Coaches use iThenticate to offer guidance on how to build skills in proper citation.
Require students or advisees to meet with a writing coach on a certain document or to meet with a coach a certain number of times per term to work on attribution issues. To make a mandatory referral, contact the GWC.
Direct your students to our writing workshops that emphasize how to cite and skillfully incorporate source material.
- Citation Management with Zotero
- Mastering Note-Taking and Time Management
- Paraphrasing and Quoting Like a Pro
- TPO refresher handouts: "Citing Responsibly in APA" / Chicago Author-Date / Chicago Notes-Bibliography / IEEE and "Using Signal Phrases Effectively"
- "Plagiarism Prevention 101": This self-paced module includes thorough context, explanation, and how-to information to understand attribution and avoid plagiarism. The module can be customized for specific citation styles; contact us to learn more.
- GWC video tutorials: "Core Principles of Correct Citation" and "Source Blending" videos on paraphrasing, quoting, summarizing, and signal phrases.
- "Plagiarism Prevention 101" is also available in video form.
- The Dudley Knox Library's Citation Guide provides a comprehensive resource for citing in APA, Chicago, IEEE, INFORMS, and other styles.
- To help students learn more about using the citation management software Zotero, refer them to the Dudley Knox Library's Zotero page.
- The iThenticate FAQ helps students learn more about iThenticate and the way it is used during the thesis process.
- Citations / Avoiding Plagiarism: this section of the GWC's Writing Resources pages provides additional learning and reference materials collected specifically for NPS students.
- The Generative AI webpage offers guidance on how you can prudently use generative AI to support academic work.
- The ChatGPT infographic summarizes some key conversations and controversies about AI text generators and offers advice for educators.
- Require students to cite in their coursework. It is best to require the citation style that they will use when writing a thesis or a conference paper in the field. This practice can be essential for developing awareness of proper attribution and can help students identify what they still need to learn about avoiding plagiarism.
- In curriculums with limited required writing before the thesis, assign short, straightforward writing assignments to give students opportunities to learn and practice attribution. The GWC can help you design these assignments and provide guidance to students on how to learn from them.
- Any of our workshops can be customized, and video content can be packaged for delivery in your classroom. Just ask!
Grammar and Punctuation
For students struggling with grammar and punctuation, early intervention is recommended to help them learn to revise their own work and to build awareness of how much revision their drafts will require. The GWC offers one-on-one and group instruction, as well as self-service resources.
Ask your students to request coaching focused specifically on grammar and punctuation.
Faculty can collaborate with the GWC to help a specific student or share expectations about an assignment. Input from faculty helps us keep our approach to supporting students aligned with faculty needs.
Direct your students to our writing workshops that emphasize grammar, syntax, and writing mechanics:
- Strategies for Active-Voice Writing
- Writing Essentials: Clarity and Concision
- Writing Essentials: Grammar
- Writing Essentials: Punctuation
- Writing Essentials: Strong Sentences
Recommend our Writing Mechanics Modules, short instructional videos that link to other learning materials and offer quizzes to test comprehension and awareness:
- Colons & Semicolons
- Commonly Confused Words
- Hyphens & Dashes
- Quotations & Quotation Marks
The GWC's Writing Resources pages on grammar and punctuation contain learning and reference materials collected specifically for NPS students. The Resources section also has an alphabetical index that makes it easy to search topics.
- Try assigning short writing assignments in class or as part of the thesis process to help students develop an awareness of their limitations and practice effective improvement strategies. The GWC can help you design these assignments and provide guidance to students on how to learn from them.
- Ask us about collaborating with a coach, who can provide feedback to students on papers written in your courses, emphasizing writing skills in areas of need.
- Ask us to set up Directed Study with students who struggle with their writing. In a GWC Directed Study, the student will work regularly with one or two coaches, dedicating up to three hours per week for an entire quarter.
- National Security Affairs and Defense Analysis have dedicated quarter-long writing classes. Sometimes students from other departments are able to join these courses when space is available, either on their own initiative or at an advisor's suggestion.