Archive for the “Uncategorized” category

The one page you really MUST follow

by admin on September 12, 2014

My new website,, is up and running. It is dedicated to supporting students with college and career advice. I also use it to share with those not taking my classes the kind of discussions we have in class about (…)

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My Last Lecture (but not really)

by admin on February 20, 2014

On Wednesday, 2/19/2014, I delivered Ball State University’s annual Last Lecture talk. About 500 students attended – all the seats were taken, and many were left standing or sitting on the floor. I talked about the different skills students should (…)

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Emory Secrets and a Little about Writing

by admin on April 27, 2013

Emory Secrets is a facebook page that allows students to post ideas, confessions, or pleas for advice anonymously. It was launched by a group of (still anonymous) students in December 2012. I was a regular on that page, posting as (…)

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The Powerful First Person

by admin on April 1, 2012

Inexperienced writers, including most college students, often report that the greatest difficulty they have with essays is writing the introduction. My students tell me that they know an introduction has to be powerful, to grab the reader’s attention right from (…)

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My Role as a Writing Instructor: More Lessons from Student Papers

by admin on March 9, 2012

Last semester I posted a list of major issues that came up in my students’ essays. Despite my efforts, many of these have recurred this time around. I can’t blame my students for not trying hard enough. After all, these (…)

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Lessons from Midterms

by admin on October 12, 2011

Grading the 20+ take-home exams I inflicted on my students is finally done, and now it is time for some writing lessons, based on the most common errors I’ve found. Read and share. 1. Proper language – it appears most (…)

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More Expressions to Avoid

by admin on September 27, 2011

Have a paper due soon or an exam coming up? You may want to look at this wonderful blog dedicated to unnecessary (i.e. redundant) yet common phrases. Polish your writing by avoiding these hackneyed expressions, many of which also appear (…)

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Especially for Midterms: On Redundancy

by admin on September 23, 2011

Today I mentioned in class that in the upcoming take-home exam I will look for writing quality as much as substance. When students asked about the strict page limit I intend to impose, I explained that one of the best (…)

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Words We Don't Use

by admin on September 13, 2011

Since I posted my first “Words to Avoid” list on my writing guide in August 2010, I have been getting occasional e-mails from readers and students protesting my decision to ban common and (what they thought were) very useful expressions, (…)

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A Writer's Deadly Sins

by admin on September 1, 2011

Every now and then, I read a new article, column, or op-ed about the miserable state of writing among young adults. The authors of these pieces are usually college professors who feel that they had enough and must rant about (…)

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