Friday, October 2, 2015

Tessa on Thesis Statements

During my time at The Writing Center I’ve noticed that students often struggle with creating, understanding, and identifying thesis statements. In fact, this was once a challenge for me early in my academic career. Your thesis statement is the most important part of your paper, and identifying your thesis makes the writing process much easier. First, let’s answer the question: What is a thesis statement? Basically, the thesis states your claim or your reason for writing the paper. For example, if I was writing a paper on the benefits of a university writing center my thesis might look like this:

University writing centers offer many benefits to the student body, faculty, and the university as a whole. 

What I’ve done here is prepare my audience (the reader) for my paper. I’ve told my reader what my paper will be about and what to expect. But I’ve also obligated myself to fulfill this promise. By making this promise to the reader, I hold myself accountable to write my paper in a way that fulfills the reader’s expectations. 

Keeping my thesis in mind helps me stay focused when I write my paper. In my thesis statement, I claim that a university writing center is beneficial for students, faculty, and the whole university, so I need to make sure I address all three of my claims in the paper. One way I could to do this is by developing a paragraph for each topic: how the university writing center benefits students, how it benefits faculty, and how it benefits the entire university. By doing this, my thesis is supported by the body of my essay, and I fulfill my promise to the reader. 

Once you understand what a thesis statement is, you can better understand its mini-me, the topic sentence. The topic sentence does for the paragraph what the thesis statement does for the essay. So, for my paper on the benefits of a university writing center my topic sentence for the first body paragraph might be:

Students in all majors and disciplines and at any level of writing confidence can benefit by visiting the university’s writing center. 

This topic sentence tells my reader that this paragraph is about the ways in which students benefit from university writing centers. As writers, what we are trying to say might make sense in our head, or even when we read our paper, but it’s important to remember that our readers might need a little direction. By developing a clear thesis statement and topic sentences, we help readers understand where the paper is going, much like road signs help us navigate the road. 

For more tips on writing a thesis statement, check out the Purdue Online Writing Lab.


Friday, September 25, 2015

What do you think of the RSU Writing Center?

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How are we doing? RSU students, faculty, and staff can visit this link to tell us what we're doing well and what needs improvement:

(RSU login required to complete survey)

Thank you for taking a moment or two to tell us what you think. :)


Monday, August 17, 2015

Book your Writing Center appointment online! <--UPDATED POST

Welcome back, RSU students!

The RSU Writing Center is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays and provides assistance with writing from any major in 1000-level or higher courses.

We also help with resumes, cover letters, personal statements, etc.

We are now doing all of our scheduling online at this link:

You can log on with your RSU student webmail address ( and password! Your student webmail is a Gmail account.

Whether you want assistance in person, over the phone, via email, or over Skype, you'll need to visit

Happy writing,

Monday, June 22, 2015

Prezi Collection

Hi, all,

I've been making Prezi slideshows with voiceover recently and wanted to place them all in one handy location. So here they are! Just click the links to view them all.

RSU Writing Center Overview

MLA Style: The Basics

MLA Style: Intermediate
APA Style: The Basics

Decoding APA Style: APA Style in Action (for APA novices or intermediates)

Chicago Style: The Basics

Paragraph Structure 

How To Use Evidence in Body Paragraphs

Finding Evidence and Blending It into Your Own Writing

Writing Assignment Primer: A Refresher for Writing in the Disciplines

Feedback is always welcome! What do you think of these? What requests would you like to make for new Prezis with brief writing tips, advice, refreshers, or primers?

Happy writing,

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Writing Center Tip: How To Use Evidence in Body Paragraphs (Prezi Slideshow)

Students often ask me how much evidence they should use in a paper in each paragraph. I've created a visual explanation using the free online presentation tool, Prezi, to share my answer with all of you. Have a look at the "How To Use Evidence in Body Paragraphs" Prezi by clicking here. Just click the right and left arrows underneath the slides to move backward or forward through the presentation.

If you're interested in creating your own Prezi, let me know. I'd be glad to walk you through the process of creating your own student account and composing your own presentation with this tool. Their slideshows are more dynamic, in terms of transitions and slide design, than those you can create in Microsoft PowerPoint, I think.

Happy writing,

P.S. Don't forget about the free writing resources available through our website. You can find help with MLA, APA, Chicago Style, and other citation styles, as well as with grammar, spelling, and punctuation issues.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

McKinze's Reflection on the Semester

One of the best things about my job as a tutor is that I seem to learn something new every session. My writing process has developed tremendously during my time in the Writing Center, and my writing skills have greatly improved. One of the greatest improvements I have personally made this semester would definitely be my use of APA format. As an English major, I typically use MLA format in all my courses, but I have learned that various majors and degrees use different types of writing formats. This semester, we have had many Capstone students request assistance on their assignments, and I have had many students request help with APA format. I had never worked with APA before, so it was something I had to learn in order to better help other students. During appointments earlier in the semester, I actually learned the format along with the students I was assisting and I have not stopped learning about APA.

A few weeks ago, I worked with a student via email who requested assistance with her APA format in her Capstone project. She was extremely frustrated with APA and felt as if she could not get the hang of it. I was able to share my experience of learning APA format with her, and she seemed to relax. I think she needed to know that I was not an expert in APA and that I was just a student like her; I had to learn the format, too. It can be extremely frustrating, and I see so many students who become upset with themselves when they do not fully understand APA guidelines. I try to always remind them that I was in their shoes at one point and that every expert in APA, including their professor, was once a beginner struggling with the same issues.

Remember to check out the Writing Center page on the RSU website for some helpful links and a template for APA format. Here’s another helpful link with some general questions about APA.

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