Geography class offers opportunity to improve academic writing skills

Abbey Swank

Academic writing is a skill. Like all skills, it can be learned and practiced. And the skill of academic writing is essential, even after college is finished.

Despite this, some college departments do not put much emphasis on teaching students to write.

“In many research-oriented departments, such as the geography department, there is a tendency to focus more on the gathering of data and information,” associate geography professor James Tyner said. “And there is less emphasis on turning that data into articles or books.”

To help combat this issue, Tyner will begin teaching a one-credit-hour class, focusing on social and geographic writing. The class begins March 1 and will be held for three consecutive Thursdays from 4-7 p.m., he said. Registration is still open.

The class will cover the process of writing and submitting journal articles and book chapters, as well as look into what makes a good title, abstract and book review, he said.

Tyner said the class will be based mainly on discussions from assigned readings. There will be no tests or quizzes.

“Academic research is a story and learning how to write that story is just as important as collecting the data,” geography student Steve Butcher said. “And a lot of students miss out on learning how to do that writing.”

Butcher, who is taking the course to help with his dissertation, said it is important for students to learn skills that can help them outside of the classroom.

“I am going to look at the nuts and bolts of writing articles and books, so students have that experience before they have to publish anything,” Tyner said. “The area of academic writing needs more attention paid to it, but for now, I hope I can help students at least learn the basics.”

Contact College of Arts and Sciences reporter Abbey Swank at [email protected].