A Note about the Writing Assignments PSY 133

Good writing skills are among the most important and fundamentalthat you should develop as a student of higher education (and priorto that). No matter what field you decide to explore, writtencommunication skills will allow other people to clearly understandyou, and they will often open doors that would remain closed if youdid not have such skills. For example, many companies routinelydiscard any resumes that contain even a single spelling mistake orgrammatical error. That's it - no chance for a second impression toovercome the first, negative one. Whether you want to work forsomeone else or be your own boss, to be successful in this world, youwill generally need to make a favorable impression on others: theywill need to believe that you are competent and professional.

So, in this class writing assignments will be taken seriously ontwo levels. The most obvious will be that of content. You should taketime to think about the questions and write complete, reflectiveanswers. Make sure you answer all questions, and all parts of eachquestion. Incomplete or superficial answers will not receive fullcredit. The questions, however, will often not have a "right" or"wrong" answer; they will be personal (but not intimate!)reflections.

The second level upon which your writing assignments will begraded will be for correct spelling and grammar. All misspellingswill receive a 0.5 point deduction, even if they are a correctlyspelled word out of context (e.g. if you use the word "there" insteadof "their"). In this age of spell checks on computers, there is noexcuse for most misspellings (if you don't have spell check, use adictionary!). Proofreading is essential to find misused words andgrammatical problems. Major grammatical problems (e.g. run-onsentences, sentence fragments, subject-verb disagreements) willreceive a 0.5 point deduction, and minor ones (e.g. awkwardsentences, transitions, paragraph structure), a 0.25 pointdeduction.

I realize that this is not an English class. However, good writingskills are fundamental and transcend course topic. Therefore, takethe time to write and proofread your work. These papers cansignificantly help your course grade (especially if you are a poortest taker), or they can hurt it if you do not take them seriously.There are many free resources if you do not feel confident about yourwriting: make an appointment to have me review a paper draft, make anappointment to meet with the TA, go to the AARC in the library, orhave a friend give you feedback.


* Here is a quote from an interview published in the WashingtonPost, June 2003. The person being interviewed is an assistantdirector of a company who is answering questions about hiringpractices at her company.

"You do have to be able to speak intelligently about what youknow. If you're well-spoken, and can explain it back to me -- I'llrespect that," she says. When Van Loon sees a typo on resume, sheknocks an applicant out of the running. Her reasoning: if a candidatecan't handle the details of his own job search, he probably can'tmeet the meticulous standards of the lab team.

"You need very high attention to detail ... I need to know ifsomething is going wrong," she says.