2015 Individual Grant Winner

Dominique Hill

Educational Leadership

Semester-Long Writing Intensive Seminar


Over the 2014-2015 academic year, I have been privy to a number of conversations, formal and informal, regarding the increased need for graduate students' professionalization. A recurring topic in each of these dialogues was student writing. My colleagues expressed the need for the creation of a space where students could receive training and guidance on their academic writing. Correspondingly, the students with whom I work with in my department, Educational Leadership, express an interest in and need for mentorship around their professionalization in particular, guidance in submitting proposals to conferences and navigating the publication process. In an attempt to address a growing area of need, conveyed by both colleagues and students, I am proposing a 1 credit hour semester-long writing intensive seminar. This seminar would extend the new 1 credit hour general graduate mentoring course, I will teach, in the Fall 2015 and focus specifically on helping students develop writing skills. The incorporation of this specific component gives students an opportunity to earn a total of 2 credit hours as well as hone their writing skills. In particular, this semester-long seminar will be dedicated to fostering a process for students to think through the connection between term papers, conference proposals and publication, with the specific goal of revising a previous course research paper and submitting this paper as a conference proposal. The goal is then for students to submit this paper for publication in a journal.

Potential Impact

The professionalization of graduate students to enter academe as scholars and faculty is ever evolving. Over the last two decades, there has been an increased focus on writing as a necessary skillset (see Austin and McDaniels, 2006 and Rose & McClafferty, 2001). In particular, Austin's (2002) study with graduate students reveals the importance of grant and proposal writing to the development and preparation of graduate students. With the changing and increasingly competitive job market, prior to attaining a degree, graduate students are expected to have actively participated in professional academic spaces, namely through publishing and attending conferences (see Austin & McDaniels, 2006). Similarly, Rose and McClafferty (2001) assert,

Writing is one of the primary sites where scholarly identity is formed and displayed: Graduate students are part of all this as they begin to form their own scholarly identities through their choices about what they research, whose work they cite, and how they communicate their own ideas. (p. 30).

In recognition of the significance of writing to the preparedness for entering academe, as well as its centrality to the development of student scholar identities (Rose & McClafferty (2001), this writing seminar has the potential to (a) make space for students to explore their researcher identity, (b) afford clarity to students about the process of translating course writing into conference proposals and publications, as well as (c) develop and hone their writing skills.

To address the needs of students in my department, needs similarly expressed by graduate students in Guillory (1996) around desired exposure to skillsets needed to be a scholar, as well as aid in the needed professionalization of graduate students, this grant would help to create a formalized process for working with graduate students on their proposal and publication writing. Below I have outlined the logistics of this project, including its objectives, timeline for implementation, budget, and process for assessing its impact.

Project Objectives

This project has four primary objectives:

  • Create a space and process for students to develop, through writing practices, their scholar identity (see Rose & McClafferty, 2001)
  • Improve students' quality of writing, particularly in the area of publications and conference proposal writing
  • Develop students' skillset in translating course writing into conference proposals and publications
  • Increase student confidence and knowledge related to the publication process and conference proposal writing

Project Plan

I will work on this project during Summer 2015, implement the semester-long writing seminar Fall 2015, attain evaluations from students at the end of the term, and organize a College of Education, Health, and Society divisional brownbag/ roundtable for early Spring 2016. During the brownbag, students will share their experience in the seminar as well as present their conference proposal paper. Specific project activities involve the following anticipated timeline:

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Summer 2015

  • Contact departmental colleagues to request end of term writing paper assignments guidelines and topics
  • Create a list of potential conferences to which students can submit
  • Identify 3-5 potential journals to which students might submit their revised term papers
  • Devise structure and flow of seminar sessions (monthly sessions, rotating between 4hr working session and 2 hr. seminar/lesson session) August to December
  • Collaborate with Howe to identify potential writing resources to assist with seminar sessions
  • Publicize seminar and recruit participants
  • Reserve rooms for first 2 meetings

Fall 2015

  • Implement monthly seminar sessions
  • Plan Spring 2016 brownbag/roundtable discussion of seminar in coordination with the Educational Leadership graduate student council dedicated to creating professional development programming for graduate students in our department
  • Collectively determine date of Spring brownbag and reserve room for brownbag/roundtable discussion
  • Work with students to identify conferences of interest, craft and submit proposals to those conferences
  • Work with students to craft full draft of manuscripts to be submitted to identified journals for review

Spring 2016

  • Graduate student brownbag/roundtable
  • Focus Group

Assessment Strategy

To assess the utility of this semester-long writing intensive seminar, I will construct a survey that will be administered to all willing participants, prior to and following, the seminar. To obtain additional qualitative data, I will conduct a focus group with students about what they learned in the seminar related to graduate professionalization, the publication and conference proposal process, and crafting scholar identity through writing agenda. Also, during the Spring 2016 brownbag presentation, students' commentary on their experience in the seminar as well as their writing accomplishments will serve as anecdotal data regarding the seminar's utility. This feedback will not only enable to determine the project's effectiveness but will also serve as a guidepost for revising it and potentially developing it into a full winter-term course in the future.

If this project is funded, I intend to attain IRB approval prior to the start of the seminar, which would allow the experience to be formally documented. Additionally, it would afford me the opportunity to share with my academic community, through publication and presentation, best practices for graduate student professionalization and developing student scholar identity.

Team Members

I will be the primary person responsible for the development and implementation of this project. However, other collaborators will include:

  • Howe Writing Center
  • Other EDL faculty members (e.g., Lisa D. Weems)


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12 copies of Writing for Conferences: A Handbook for Graduate Students and Faculty ($360, or $30 each)
To be given to workshop attendees as a reference guide (1 for myself and 1 of which will go in the department's graduate resource area)

Meals ($390)
Purchase lunch for up to 10 students and 3 faculty/staff members (myself plus up to two guests to provide writing feedback) for each of four Graduate Writing Workshops ($10/meal for 13 People for 3 seminar days)

Stipend ($1250)
Compensation for my time/effort, intellectual energy, and development of assignments and materials over summer 2015

Reports and Presentations

My intent is to document the process of working with graduate students on their academic writing and turn these data into publication and conference presentations (and possibly present at a future Lily Conference). In addition, as a group, we will devise a divisional Education, Health, & Society brownbag where students can share their writing as well as the process they underwent in the seminar. Finally, as a culminating project, we will collectively devise and submit a group conference panel to an upcoming academic conference (e.g., American Educational Studies Association, American Educational Research Association).


Austin, A. E. (2002). Preparing the Next Generation of Faculty: Graduate School as Socialization to the Academic Career. The Journal of Higher Education, 73(1), 94-122. The Ohio State University Press. Retrieved April 9, 2015, from Project MUSE database.

Austin, A. E. & McDaniels, M. (2006). Preparing the professoriate of the future: Graduate student socialization for faculty roles. In Austin, A. E., & McDaniels, M. (2006). Preparing the professoriate of the future: Graduate student socialization for faculty roles. In Higher education: Handbook of theory and research (pp. 397-456). Springer Netherlands.

Guillory, J. (1996). Preprofessionalism: What graduate students want. Profession, 91-99.

Rose, M., & McClafferty, K. A. (2001). A call for the teaching of writing in graduate education. Educational Researcher, 27-33.