Home » Writing » Observations about Writing Quality

Observations about Writing Quality

Contact Info: Dan Mitchell

Office: A15
Email: mitchelldan@deanza.edu
Phone: 408.864.8511

Office Hours: Spring

 Monday thru Thursday
  8:50 am - 9:15 am
  11:20 am - 11:45 am
 (other times by appointment)

Office Hours: Fall & Winter

Monday and Wednesday
  8:50 am - 9:20 am
  11:20 am - 11:50 am
 Tuesday and Thursday
  8:30 am - 9:20 am
(other times by appointment)

As I read concert reports I am always looking for interesting observations about the performances along with evidence that you were engaged by the music. I don’t always see this — and not all concert are equally exciting! — but in many papers I do find such things.

On the other hand, sometimes I notice a surprising number of papers with writing problems.

I understand that these can come from many sources including lack of writing experience or models of good writing, the challenges of writing in a second language, working in an assignment format this is not the familiar five paragraph essay, dealing with musical concepts and terms, and more. Learning to deal with these challenges is, of course, part of your college experience, and if you work at it you will get better over time.

However, some of the writing problems seem to come from sources that are less acceptable or understandable. I have seen a surprising number of papers in which it seemed that the writer had shared raw notes from the concert or perhaps a very early stream-of-consciousness first draft. In other cases the writer had not taken the time to run the spell-check feature of his or her word processing program. In too many other cases it seemed that the writer may not have actually read his or her own paper carefully before submitting it, judging from the number of inexplicable and sometimes bizarre writing errors: sentences that make no sense, strange misspellings, confused wording, and so forth.

To answer the inevitable question: Yes, at some level this can affect your grade, and students have lost a full letter grade or more as a result of less-than-sufficient editing and proofreading. There are a some minimum standards for lower-division college writing. Beyond that, some writing issues can interfere with my ability to make sense of your paper, and they may provide evidence of less than full engagement with the assignment.

There is no single answer to this sort of problem. In some cases it can be challenging to overcome these things — but in others it may simply be a matter of giving yourself sufficient time to write your first draft, edit and write further improved drafts, and then edit carefully and critically. Once you do devote sufficient time and effort to this you will begin to produce writing that demonstrates your intellectual capabilities and your engagement with the subject.

Finally, I’m here to help you! If you aren’t sure about your writing, come and talk to me about it. In particular, come to me as you work on drafts of your papers. We’ll make an appointment to sit down and go over the work together, and I can almost always help you move towards a finished paper that you’ll be proud of.

Advertisements

Contact Info: Dan Mitchell

Office: A15
Email: mitchelldan@deanza.edu
Phone: 408.864.8511

Office Hours: Spring

 Monday thru Thursday
  8:50 am - 9:15 am
  11:20 am - 11:45 am
 (other times by appointment)

Office Hours: Fall & Winter

Monday and Wednesday
  8:50 am - 9:20 am
  11:20 am - 11:50 am
 Tuesday and Thursday
  8:30 am - 9:20 am
(other times by appointment)
%d bloggers like this: