Writing Workshops with Erma


Lisa Gerardy, Writing Center Specialist

In my spare time, when I am not wearing my Academic Support Center Specialist hat, I’m a humor blogger.  I blog under my maiden name so as to avoid any confusion with any academic writing I do.  As an academic, I attend conferences relating to pedagogy in online education and other such serious matters. As a humor writer, I recently had the opportunity to attend the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop.  It truly was a writers’ workshop and not just a humor writers’ workshop. Not only did I receive humor writing tips, but I also relearned the value of freewriting, and I was reminded of what makes a good conference presentation.

I really enjoyed most of the workshops I attended at the Erma Bombeck conference.  My favorite by far was “How to Uncover Your Voice and Get It Down on Paper.”  The speakers, Kathy Kinney and Cindy Ratzlaff, taught us how to set a kitchen timer and just write without editing or judging ourselves.  This method seems like a common sense practice, but many writers never allow themselves the freedom to write without editing as they go. As a writing professor, I have known about free writing for years, but I had never really allowed myself the pleasure. Kathy and Cindy gave every participant a kitchen timer along with a picture and a list of prompt questions. We did a lot of writing during the workshop.  We also did a lot of laughing when we shared the stories we had written using this method.

During the last five minutes of the workshop, someone told me that Kathy Kinney played the character of Mimi on the Drew Carey Show.  Since I’m not someone who is very interested in celebrities, I had not realized that.  I just thought that she and Cindy were awesome writers and workshop leaders.  At the beginning of the workshop, I had already followed them on Facebook and liked their page Queen of Your Own Life.  Now, I receive daily reminders to stop judging myself and just write. This was by far the most productive session I attended.

While there were plenty of worthwhile sessions at the Erma Bombeck conference, there were also those that I could have skipped.  Even the not so great sessions ended up being educational, though. I learned how to give a good workshop by learning how NOT to give a workshop. For example, I saw one of the original Saturday Night Live writers speak at two different workshops.  Since Saturday Night Live was my favorite show and a career aspiration in my twenties, I had high hopes for this speaker.

The first workshop was a panel discussion called “Let’s Talk about Success.”  The Saturday Night Live alumnus talked about being discovered by Lorne Michaels in a comedy club and having his career take off from there.  It was an interesting story, but not really helpful.  Then, I went to his solo session called “Is There a Secret to Writing Funny?” I never found out if there was a secret or what the secret was because he basically gave the same story.  The only thing I got out of it was “have your best work ready” and “write.”  Other than that both presentations were filled with stories from his fabulous life writing funny scripts for television shows.  Again, for a Saturday Night Live fan, this was interesting, but it wasn’t as productive as the other sessions I attended.

Overall, the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop was well worth the time and money.  I made many great connections with my fellow writers and presenters.  I spent a lot of time at the conference actually writing, which is something I never seem to have enough time to do at home.  I came home from the conference with ideas and the energy to keep writing.  In addition, I also learned that the next time I give a presentation, I will be sure that there are some tangible takeaways for anyone who attends.  Sometimes learning what doesn’t work can help us discover what does work

The Icing on the Cake: Presenting at Academic Conferences with Colleagues

Jennifer Propp, Kaplan University Writing Center Tutor


I have been very lucky to have presented at a variety of conferences. In fact, the very first time I stood in front of a room filled with my colleagues’ expectant faces, my co-presenter was none other than my mother, another long-time academic. We discussed the importance of student engagement and demonstrated the various ways to catch and keep our students’ attention from the first to the last day of class. My mother even “smuggled” clickers to the conference to demonstrate how face-to-face instructors can use polls just as their online counterparts did, and still do, in weekly online seminars. The presentation was interactive, and the positive response from the participants really resonated with me. I also understood the benefit of presenting with a partner, especially one I knew so well. We each took the part of the presentation in which we knew we would excel, we joked with one another, and we put on a great “show” if I do say so myself. I loved every minute of it.

The trend of working with a co-presenter continued once I started presenting at online conferences. This time, a co-worker and I decided to discuss a universal issue for nearly all faculty who work in online education, the inability to close the laptop at the end of the day and pay attention to the other areas of our lives. We found that many of our fellow instructors were also desperately seeking a solution to this work-life balance problem, and we thought that investigating it would give us both greater insight into refining our own habits as well. Even though my friend and co-worker and I had a lot in common in that we were both working moms trying to find professional fulfillment while enjoying personal time, many other areas of our lives, such as family backgrounds, level of outside help, and area of the country in which we lived, differed quite a bit. These contrasts provided differing perspectives on how we struggled to find that elusive work-life balance and only added to the discussion with like-minded faculty seeking a way to log out of the online classroom at a reasonable hour without feeling guilty about an unanswered email or recently submitted dropbox assignment. We ended up giving that presentation three or four more times, changing it a bit so that it evolved as we did the same, both as educators and as individuals. I learned a lot from my co-presenter, and I learned a lot from those in the audience who were brave enough to share their own experiences.

Both of my co-presenters, different as they are, are brilliant academics who added so much to our respective presentations. While I have also presented alone and enjoyed the experience, I have to admit that I really enjoy collaborating with a fellow faculty member. It gives the discussion a depth that I might not achieve on my own, and when I find someone with whom I just “click”, when we find that rhythm together and see the enjoyment on the participants’ faces, well, that is just the icing on the academic cake.


Left Out Online: Students in Need of More

Kyle Harley, Kaplan University Writing Center Tutor

kuwcnews.wordpress.comUnderstanding those who feel ostracized within the classroom can be a bit tricky in an online setting. Because instructors and tutors alike work with so many students, a few do fall through the cracks from time to time.  I have worked with so many students in the Writing Fundamentals program and learned that  many share a variety of experiences that certainly impact their writing ability. Some feel they are not heard in the classroom; some feel the professor does not understand them personally; and some just flat out give up due to feeling too far behind or just not good enough. More often than not, the student writes fantastically, but anyone can see the piling amount of anxiety these feelings can potentially create, not only in a writing setting, but across multiple disciplines as well.

As we already do a fantastic amount of great work as is, what else can we do to better the online experience for these students who feel left out or misunderstood? Due to the variety of unique experiences and firsthand student examples, I have combined a list of best practices that I personally employ and could potentially be applied if one of your students falls into one of the categories listed above. By increasing their confidence in the classroom, even if they feel their voice is heard, we will certainly better assist these students in their academic pursuit.

Get to know your students—every single one.

This seems a bit like no-brainer, but at an increasing rate students persistently mention how a tutor or instructor just breezes through the material and rarely gets to know the person on the other end of the screen. Now, this comes with reservation of course, because there is no need to know each and every detail about our students, but making an extended effort to reach out in some way makes all the difference. When students feel some form of connectivity with their tutor or instructor, even if it is as simple as asking about their career or where they live, students calm down considerably and approach their work in a completely different manner. I always employ this method prior to workshops, for instance, to help acclimate the student to the session while at the same time establishing rapport to assist with the conversation. In a classroom setting, this may become a bit more difficult, but try progressively doing this over the course of the term. Some students cannot believe that their professor wants to get to know them personally, so the additional touch could help to improve retention. One of the simplest and tried and true methods for creating this atmosphere directly stems, of course, from common ground.

Common ground breaks the ice and allows for growth.

Finding a few commonalities with students absolutely makes the difference. Thinking back to college, all of my favorite professors shared something personal about their life that I could relate to and, consequently, we created a stronger bond. An example of this first reared its head when I found out one of my professors was and still is just as obsessed with horror film as I am. This opened up an amazing door of opportunity to not only have a place to talk movies, but also produce work that circulated around that very interest—not to mention get some fantastic film recommendations. By sharing where you live, in a general sense, you may discover that you reside in the same state that your student is from. This could potentially lead to a great dialogue on current issues within the area that the student could write about as it affects their lives, as well. I know from experience here at the university that a good number of our instructors and tutors already utilize this technique, but it is easy to forget about this simple trick when we get tied up in all of our work. Popping into class fifteen minutes earlier than expected can act, in a way, as a mini-office hour you house with your students. Since tutoring is a much faster process,  tutors can welcome the student back after the session. Establishing these lasting relationships encourages continued visits, which is all we can really ask of our students. But what of the students who seemingly have problems with every instructor and/or tutor? Certainly they exist, and maybe it is in part because, as educators, we misidentify the problem.

Take the extra time to identify the student’s issue correctly.

Much like when students misidentify what they need assistance with, so, too, do educators sometimes misidentify students’ issues and what they need assistance with. Many of my Fundamentals students come to their first meeting with the excuse “I’m just not good at writing.” As we all know, this excuse typically stems from a lack of confidence in their writing instead of a lack in ability. Once they come to this realization, often after we have broken the ice and established some common ground, their writing nearly instantly improves as was the case with one student whom I worked with. Instead of  allowing this student to feel that he simply could not write well, we re-identified the issue and appropriated their focus elsewhere—on his confidence. Now, still to this day I see this particular student in Live Tutoring and in Paper Review, confident as ever. In a classroom setting, some students may find that the assignment instructions are impossible and that they will never be able to accomplish the task. To combat this, why not ask if there is any confusion and have a different way of explaining the material to better reach your students? The issue is usually not that the material is too difficult for the students; instead, they may just be a bit confused over the phrasing of the assignment. In fact, I think we all have had that anxiety with an assignment at some point, yet we still accomplished completing assignments.

For students, having a sense of comfort in an online setting  brings down a pre-constructed barrier that impedes their development in a scholastic setting.  In the classroom and in tutoring, this should be where our practice begins.

Serious About Spacing

By Chrissine Rios, MA, Kaplan University Writing Center

Are you one of them? Do you space like it’s an exact science? Do you bypass 2.0 on the spacing shortcut and go straight for Line Spacing Options?

Not this: 2.0. Done.

Not This-2.0.Done

But this:  Line spacing > After and Before: 0 and 0 > “Don’t add space between paragraphs of the same style”: Check. OK.

But this-LineSpaceOptions

I do this. I get right in there and change the spacing to double, make all other settings 0 and check the “Don’t add space” box. I’m quick too because I know Word better than any other software. I’ve been using it for 18 years. If you also remember word processing in the days before Internet, then you’ve probably also been using Microsoft Word since its earliest version and are just as adept with its options and settings.

I would not expect the typical undergraduate to be as adept with MS Word as I am or even very concerned with Line Spacing Options. Students only have to set their paragraphs to double, after all.

In my paper reviews and in Live Tutoring, I help students with double-spacing when the I see quadruple-spacing instead of paragraph indentations or instead of hanging indentations on the reference list or if I see single-spacing or inconsistent spacing that distracts me from reading or leaves me no room to put comment bubbles next to where I’m commenting. And when I do comment on spacing, I’ll refer the student to the Writing Center’s APA Headers and Title Page tutorial, which is a video demonstration on page formatting in Word. Or, if the problem involves hanging indentations, I recommend our APA Reference Page Tutorial, 6th Edition.

You may know these videos as they are two of the Writing Center’s most popular resources. The reference page tutorial has had over 44 thousand views since it was published in December of 2011. It shows how to (1) create a page break to begin the references list on a new page, (2) center the heading “References” on the first line of the page, (3) left justify the first line of the references list, and (4) create hanging indentions by selecting “hanging” on the Special menu in Paragraph settings. The tutorial is very basic, intended for students new to APA. It’s 2:27 minutes long, including the musical intro and outro, so it’s not only basic but short.

Recently, I received an email about this video that panicked me. An instructor wrote saying the video was showing incorrect spacing, and that it needed to be fixed because it was misleading students about APA formatting. She pointed out that the “After” spacing is set at 10 points and not 0.

You can see this during the ten seconds that the tutor narrating is showing how to select “hanging” from the Special menu. She begins by saying, “Everything down here stays the same” as she circles the line spacing settings with her pointer. I’ve put an orange box around the area for you to see (Figure 3). The tutor then moves her pointer to the Special menu where she selects “hanging.” She then clicks okay, and the next step, she informs the viewer, is to start writing the citations, and that concludes the tutorial. Again, very basic. This is not a tutorial on double spacing as that is done in our title page tutorial.

References Video Screenshot

Figure 3: Screenshot of references video

I’m the point-of-contact for resource development at the Writing Center and Academic Support Center, so I fix any problems with resources right away. Due to how many times this video has been viewed and because I’ve never heard a complaint about this one before or noticed this issue in the video myself, I took this instructor’s concern very seriously. After all, I format the same way that she does! But, confession: I only just learned to change the “before” and “after” paragraph spacing a year ago, and I did not do it for the purpose of APA style but while developing resources and trying to make content fit on the page the way I wanted.

So I watched the video again to assess the gravity of this issue, and I watched our title page video too, which also shows the After spacing to be 10 points, and then I opened up Word and formatted my document accordingly. And now I think it’s time we all got serious about spacing.

First, Find the difference:

1. Line spacing as shown in the video: Double, Before 0, After 10, “Don’t add space…” checked.

Line Spacing Double 1.102. Line spacing “fixed”: Double, Before 0, After 0, “Don’t add space…” checked.

Line Spacing - Double 00

Side by side: No difference in line spacing on the page.

side by side 1

side by side 2According to my experimentation and observation, when “Don’t add space between paragraphs of the same style,” is checked, a number in the After box does not add space. Since the video shows the “Don’t add space between paragraphs of the same style,” students are correctly being shown how to double-space.

Additionally, if the Before and After settings are both at 0, and that “Don’t add space” box is not checked, there also won’t be extra space, so that’s an alternative for the same desired result: either check the box OR put 0 in the “before” and “after” settings. Doing one or the other will create evenly double-spaced lines throughout the document. Yet, APA does not explicitly state the need to go into the document’s settings and alter the defaults.

Here is the APA spacing requirement. Note that APA style is ultimately for professional and scholarly publications, and the line spacing requirement is in the “Author Responsibilities” section of Chapter 8, “The Publication Process.” In 8.03 “Preparing the Manuscript for Submission,” the requirement for line spacing is the following:

Double-space between all text lines of the manuscript. Double-space after every line in the title, headings, footnotes, quotations, references, and figure captions. Although you may apply triple- or quadruple-spacing in special circumstances, such as immediately before and after a displayed equation, never use single-spacing or one-and-a-half spacing except in tables or figures. (APA, 2009, p. 229)

This section on manuscript requirements begins by acknowledging that different publications have their own specifications, and that APA’s focus in this chapter is on preparing a peer review draft that is readable.

So here is the crux of the issue: APA says to double-space, and MS Word says double-spacing is 2.0, Before: 0, After 10. My version of MS Office 2013 came with these default settings, anyway. Other versions may be different. I’ve seen 0 After and 5.95 Before as the default too. Yet, I do not see the APA requirements or the Word defaults as being at odds.

If I were told to color using orange, I would color with a crayon that says Orange on the side. To expect my orange to be Hex #FF7F00 when my software’s default orange is Hex #ED7D31 would be unfair. Now if I were told to use a specific Hex number and was shown how to change the Hex number, then that would be fair. Similarly, if students are asked to double space, it is unfair to expect them to do more than select double-spacing on the formatting ribbon at the top of the page. Students have various competencies with technology and won’t automatically know to do more than that without being informed to do so, and many more need to also be shown how. So it’s as simple as helping students meet expectations by being clear about what they are and by providing the support necessary for them to meet them.

In the Writing Center, we tutor how to double-space by showing them how to go into the Line Setting Options, select 2.0, and check the “Do not add space” box. However, when students come to us for help with their thesis statements, we help them with their thesis statements and not spacing, if you know what I mean. We also encourage instructors to share our APA tutorials as instructional aids when they assign papers that must follow APA style guidelines for page formatting and citation. And I will update that reference page video this year using a newer version of Word, but should I leave Word’s default Before and After spacing or change it? Please comment if you have an opinion on this.

And consider this: What if next year, APA says we should all single space because that is easier to read or that creates more accessible files for a diverse readership using multiple technologies. We can zoom in on the page, after all. I’m reminded how spacing after periods has evolved. First we typed with two spaces after periods, and then word processors automatically added extra space after end marks, so APA went to one space after periods, and now that we do most of our reading on a screen, APA has changed it back to two spaces because it’s easier to read, but look at me. I’m still using one space! This could be trouble if I were a student and my instructor expected double.

Better Readers = Better Writers and Thinkers

Amy Sexton, Kaplan University Writing Center Tutor


https://kuwcnews.wordpress.com/As a writing tutor, I often tutor reading.  Those who understand the inextricable connections between reading and writing will realize that this is not a contradictory statement.  College students often face what may be a daunting task of making meaning from complex texts and other materials and then writing about what they have learned.  For example, an English education major taking a required general education science course may find the more scientific course material very difficult to understand. Even students completing courses in their major may find comprehending the formal language used in academic texts a challenge.  How can tutors and teachers assist students in their reading efforts?   Here are three suggestions based on my work with students:

  1. Help students realize that reading for understanding takes time and effort.  When students tell me in live tutoring that they are having trouble understanding a reading, I always ask them how many times they have read it.  Typically, the answer is once, sometimes twice; rarely do I hear they have read it more than twice.  I often tell students that, depending on the complexity of the material and their familiarity with the topic, they may need to read some pieces five or six times.  Students are usually surprised to hear this number, which indicates that most of them are probably not reading difficult material as many times as they need to be.  Think about your own experiences reading new, complex information.  Do you immediately comprehend the material after one or two readings?  Or, are you like me, and find that you only fully understand after several readings?    Along the same lines, I also talk to students about what it means to read actively.  I ask them what note-taking strategies they are using to help aid in their comprehension.  Often students do not realize that simply taking notes or annotating texts can be very effective reading strategies!
  2.   Demonstrate close reading. One of my most rewarding tutorial sessions occurred when I was working with a student who was having trouble finding and summarizing an article for a course assignment.  He said that he had found a couple articles, but that he did not understand them.   We selected one article, and then, as he listened, I verbalized my own thought processes as I read the first paragraph.  As I read each sentence aloud, I vocalized my metacognition by saying things like “This sentence is about….”  And “I think the rest of the article will be about ….”.  After around five minutes of my modeling close reading, the student experienced a light bulb moment:  “Well, I hadn’t been reading it like that”, he exclaimed.  In my experiences teaching and tutoring students reading skills, many of them are not aware that effective reading involves actively thinking about the material they are reading.
  3. Introduce them to online study aids like Wikipedia and YouTube.  Internet sources, especially sources like Wikipedia, often receive a bad rap in academia, but they can be valuable study aids for students who are struggling to read more traditional course materials like textbooks and lectures.  While students should be aware that internet sources, especially collaborative wikis might not always be accurate, they should not be afraid to use them as auxiliary aids to help them comprehend complex texts and process complicated information.  Teachers can also select and curate these types of study materials for students in their courses.   While students will still need to read and understand their required course materials, exposing them to less difficult readings, study aids, and videos   may give them a starting point for doing so.  Having a starting point for understanding can make any task seem less overwhelming.

Teachers and tutors can easily share these strategies with students in tutorial sessions, writing conferences, course discussions, seminars, and workshops.  By helping students improve and develop their reading comprehension skills, we also empower them to begin writing about what they are reading, and in the process, become better students and thinkers.





Teaching Voice with Poetry

By Chrissine Rios, MA, Kaplan University Writing Center

While we work with our students toward effective sentences, they (we!) create outcomes, and one of the most important yet least considered of these is voice.  In having spoken with my colleagues and writer-friends, one suggested that the quality of voice is both elusive and immediate, but not abstract—even if not easily taught.  He suggested poetry as a way to bring attention to voice and better writing.  By including poetry in our conversations with students between drafts or in a seminar or workshop, we can highlight voice as an element of style as important as every other academic convention.  Students could learn that within academic writing too, like poetry, there is freedom.   They only need to cultivate it with their unique writer’s voice.

When teaching and tutoring writing for business, nursing, IT, and the sciences, we stress uniqueness all the time, but more so, “originality,” and our emphasis is anti-plagiarism not the cultivation of an authentic voice.  While stylistic choices of vocabulary and syntax will align writing with a category or genre—formal or informal, academic or literary—voice is what makes a piece of writing uniquely a writer’s own:

Before any thought of writing takes hold, we speak first, day to day, toward morning and our lives.  We talk and move and make ourselves within the piques and lulls as our sound gathers, resonates, and becomes meaningful.  We don’t ask ourselves that it could be either crisp and bitter or welcoming—we rely on the sound we make, our voice. (M. Callaghan, personal communication, April 14)

Voice is intrinsic in our speech and should be considered just as powerful in our writing.  Yet most mentions of voice in tutoring writing will be warnings against the passive voice, which we describe as wordy and unspecific.  For the sake of clarity, brevity, and other rhetorical reasons rooted in audience awareness, we encourage academic writers to use the active voice.  Avoid the “to be + past participle” construction, we say.  Leaving it at that, we strip the idea of voice down to a part of speech or grammatical unit.  We want so much for our students to succeed that we instruct on what not to do instead of what to do or how. 

With all the other don’ts combined—don’t write in the first or second person; don’t write fragments; don’t say “a lot”; don’t be superfluous—writing academically can feel as oppressive as low carb dieting, yet we restrict language choices for good reason, yes?  Readability is paramount:  Writing needs to be clear, accurate, and concise, so a reader can read it.

Yet you know as I do that readers seek mountains more from reading than readability.  Good writing does not equate easy reading.  Along with economical language, we should be encouraging students to make language choices that reflect their authentic voices.  We wouldn’t have to abandon the tenet of readability to do so.  According to writing teacher and author, Donald Murray (2003), “Voice is the magical heard quality in writing” that makes readers keep reading and then read the same author again (p. 195).  Readability is about voice. Instead of verbal dieting, or in addition to it, perhaps, let’s help students to hear language and savor it like every word matters in the same way that it matters in poetry.

Reading poetry is a tangible yet intimate and joyful way to connect with language and fall in love with it or at least hear how language reflects voice.  April, 2016 is the 20th Anniversary of National Poetry Month, so now is the perfect time to read and (re)connect with poetryresources are plentiful. I encourage you to explore and enjoy and invite your students to do the same. I will as well in the Writing Center.  Let’s help our students learn to love writing and reading by connecting them with great examples and inspirational voices in poetry.


Poetry Foundation

Academy of American Poets (Poetry.org)

How to Read a Poem and Fall in Love with Poetry by Edward Hirsch (1999)


Why People Need Poetry a Ted Talk by Poetry Critic Stephen Burt

Reading by Norman Dubie of “Fever” and other selected poems


Poetry” by Marianne Moore

A Blessing” by James Wright

“The Avenues” by David St. John (Podcast)

“Winter Stars” by Larry Levis


Callaghan, M. (2005). Epigram. The grace of the eye. Traverse City: Michigan  

Writers Cooperative Press

Murray, D. M. (2013). The craft of revision, fifth anniversary

edition. [Kindle version]. Retrieved from Amazon.com

Proper Use of Labels in Course Work

Dr. Tamara Fudge, professor in the School of Business and Information Technology

Writing a paper or even posting in a discussion board involves more than just writing content; it should include labeling. For a paper, these labels are called subheadings; for a discussion board, it is the subject line.  Unfortunately, the power of the label can be overlooked.  Here are some reasons to use labels and, more importantly, how to use them.

A Word of Caution

First, a word of caution is necessary.  Before using headings in your papers, make sure that you actually need them.  Headings and subheadings are often used to separate sections of a long paper – often scientific publications or upper-level academic writing – and make it easier for readers to follow. However, headings and subheadings are rarely used in short papers, unless required by the professor and the assignment. They should not be used simply to avoid normal transitioning between paragraphs.

Reasons for Labels

A subheading or subject line’s purpose is to help a reader understand the associated content and to be able to find information quickly. It is important for the student to learn how to label information for the workplace, where bosses tend to scan documents for small bits of information and need the guidance of subheadings. It also assists a professor in grading an assignment by clearly identifying and matching sections to the assignment requirements.  In the discussion boards, descriptive subject lines prove an understanding of the material or at the very least provide a unique moniker. (When every initial post is called “Initial Post,” there are no winners.)

An Incredibly Bad Practice

One practice to always avoid is copying assignment or discussion questions, making the words bold, and pretending the words constitute a subheading. Copying never proves you understand anything. Questions are too long to use as appropriate labels; they cannot be perused quickly. Importantly, these questions are someone else’s work, so using them is plagiarizing.


  • Keep subheadings and subject lines short (typically 1-5 words) and descriptive.
  • Pay homage to the rules of netiquette and never write in all-caps.
  • Write formally by avoiding clichés, questions, and conversational phrases.
  • For most circumstances, avoid humor, as not everyone will “get it.”
  • For discussion post subject lines, do not include your name, the unit number, the discussion or topic number, or the name of the unit. These are already known entities and do not adequately describe the content in the post. Besides, the poster’s name is always associated with a post.
  • For assignments, check that the formatting of your subheadings is done correctly. The Writing Center has materials to assist in learning the proper way of presenting levels of subheadings.

Instead of allowing the copying of questions, those who teach courses taken early in a student’s program might consider offering an assignment template that already contains appropriate subheadings. Alternatively, suggesting a simple outline and providing good subheadings can teach the importance of good labeling. Of course, encouraging students to identify content on their own would be optimal.


This is a blog post, so subheadings were really not necessary. However, I hope they helped make the point!  While stealing a question or using “answer 1” as a subject line takes no real effort, labeling well is also not difficult and should lead to good workplace habits. There are many reasons to promote the writing of strong, descriptive labels and to consider teaching the power of the label.