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ASU provides graduate writing camps online this summer

University Academic Success Programs (UASP) at Arizona State University hosted its annual summer writing camps for master’s degree, doctoral and graduate certificate students in June.

Each year, the Success in Graduate Writing Camp offers instruction on the academic writing and research demands of graduate school, and the Dissertation Writing Camps support doctoral candidates and dissertation prospectus writers. While UASP has hosted weeklong writing camps since 2012, this year marked the transition of all its camps to an online format.

“With ASU having to move all services online due to COVID-19, my writing staff knew the task they had at hand. They had to translate the curriculum of two different camps to an online modality,” said Ivette Chavez, director of UASP. “Their task was not a simple one of transferring the information from a face-to-face camp to online; they had to do the heavy lifting of translating the material to be equally impactful in an online platform.” 

Writing center professional staff dedicated several weeks to reimagining in-person curricula, including workshops, activities, handouts and resources, to be delivered online utilizing Zoom, Canvas and Slack. The writing center staff were intentional in designing each component to ensure that participants had an immersive, engaging virtual camp experience whether they chose to participate synchronously or asynchronously.  

“The care and concern for the graduate student really showed," said Gabriel Ramirez, a master’s degree student in criminal justice. "It was even more important to me, as an online student, to have the opportunity to participate and be a part of such an amazing camp. I’m what you’d call an older student and many of the sessions taught me something new, many of which didn’t exist when I went to high school. So when I decided to seek my advanced degree, I had to teach myself these new methods and that was definitely a difficult task to tackle alone.” 

To complement the curricula developed by writing center staff, UASP collaborated with the ASU LibraryGraduate College and the Center for Mindfulness, Compassion and Resilience as well as faculty and recent doctoral graduates to provide additional webinars. The Graduate and Professional Student Association and various colleges worked with UASP to provide some scholarships for graduate students to attend the camps. 

The Success in Graduate Writing Camp had a record number of 477 participants, which increased from 55 participants in 2019.

“The writing camp was wonderfully done and I appreciate the time and effort that went into making it happen," said camp participant Gabriel Wilde, a master’s degree student in WWII studies. "I've been very nervous to begin my graduate program, but this camp has helped me feel more confident.”

Additionally, UASP hosted two Dissertation Writing Camps that provided doctoral students support for writing prospectuses, dissertations or applied projects. Combined, the two camps increased from 60 participants in 2019 to 89 in 2020. The Maroon Camp, which has been online since its inception in 2016, offered students a flexible schedule with a flipped classroom experience, while the Gold Camp offered increased real-time participation and live workshops.

All camp participants have access to their camp’s content for the 2020–21 academic year. Carolina, a master's degree student in biology (who requested to be identified by first name only), said: “This camp introduced us to invaluable resources and ideas and I am glad that we have access to them on Canvas for an entire school year. The online format was flexible, and everyone was extremely helpful and encouraging.”

UASP hopes to offer the writing camps in-person and online next year. Find more information on graduate writing camps.

Written by University Academic Success Programs staff.