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Division of Continuing and Global Education

What a Writer Needs To Begin SPOT

Before you decide to begin a SPOT experience, please consider the following questions:

  • How much time do I have to dedicate to SPOT each week over the next few months? If you have less than an hour each week to spend on SPOT, then you may not be as successful as you could be. SPOT is not simply about turning in writing and getting a grade, then moving to the next assignment. It is about researching, reading, drafting, doing more research, and revising/redrafting. In short, participants get better at writing by doing work, by putting in time and effort. Writing and the research that goes into effective writing takes time and labor, so if you plan on doing SPOT, then plan for something like the following:
    • If you plan on completing SPOT in 6 months (the maximum time you can spend in SPOT), it is expected that you will spend about 2 hours a week on the work of the tutorial.
    • If you plan on completing SPOT in 1 month, it is expected that you will need to spend around 11 hours a week doing work for the tutorial.

The above timetables are only meant as general guidelines, since everyone reads, writes, and does related work at different speeds. Interruptions and breaks will affect how quickly you can complete tasks, and often you may want to spend more time on a unit or activity, especially if you feel you need help in that area.

  • What has been my experience with researching, reading, and writing from academic literature, particularly the literature of my discipline? If you have had trouble reading, understanding, summarizing, or writing from academic sources in the past, then you’ll want to pay close attention to the writer’s inventory you produce before the first unit (step 0 of the first unit). This is where you determine your own writing goals, weaknesses, and strengths. It’s not important that you have deep knowledge of your chosen field’s literature or its genres, but it is important that you realize part of SPOT’s goals are to help writers figure out what they need to know about writing in and for their discipline.
  • What do I know about the genres that those in my discipline write? Again, much like your past reading experiences, knowing what you know and do not know about the genres of your field will help you learn what you need to know through SPOT’s units and experiences. Because everyone has slightly different writing experiences and contact with the genres that are expected to be used when writing in various disciplines, you should make a strong effort to know all the genres of writing (the ways folks communicate in your discipline, the media they use to communicate ideas, etc.) available and practice writing them in SPOT.
  • What if I have had trouble with grammar and punctuation in the past? This is not a problem or a reason not to enroll in SPOT. In fact, good writing does not equate to good grammar use. Certainly, writing clear and effective sentences is important to communicating and building a writer’s ethos (authority and credibility) on the page. Effective and clear sentences also help writers think through their ideas better when they are writing to figure out what they think, and writing to think or learn is big part of SPOT. In most cases, the feedback and activities will not involve explicit instruction in grammar or punctuation; however, if a writer’s drafts are difficult to understand, then the WM may provide some grammatical instruction. It is advised that all writers buy the writing handbook adopted by Fresno State, A Writer’s Reference 7th ed., custom edition for Fresno State (ISBN 978-1-4576-4092-6), which has university-specific content.