Interview with Professor Hocutt

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Prof. Daniel Hocutt

B.A. University of Richmond
M.A. University of Richmond
English

In 2011, two Writing Consultants met with Dr. Hocutt to discuss his experience teaching continuing studies and professional students. Here are some of his words of advice for you, the SPCS student, and for Writing Consultants working with SPCS students.

What are some of the biggest struggles you see SPCS students having often?

Key Points:

[SPCS Students] haven't been in the academic environment for a long time.

  • Many SPCS students have extensive experience reading technical papers (manuals, progress reports, etc.) rather than persuasive papers, which are common in academic writing.

They... [usually need] help developing arguments, both on the logics side and on the construction of the argument.

  • Many SPCS students need help specifically formulating and writing out an argument, since they may not have much real-world experience in reading and writing argumentative essays.

What advice would you give to students returning to academic writing?

Key Points:

If you read better, you'll begin to write better.

  • Reading different forms of writing (such as newspapers and magazines, as well as scholarly journals) will expose you to different models of writing styles.
  • Comparing and contrasting different styles (such as the Richmond-Times Dispatch and the New York Times) also allows you to see how different writing styles can affect the portrayal of an argument.

There's no better way to improve writing than to write.

  • Even writing informally such as in emails, blogs, discussion boards, or a journal will help your writing skills over time.
  • Take at least a small portion of your day, every day, to write. Just as with any other skill, writing well takes practice.

What makes SPCS students different from traditional students? How are their learning styles different?

Key Points:

SPCS students don't differ that much from traditional students.

  • All students have the same issues of being intimidated by professors, not knowing what their professor wants from them, and being in a new and unfamiliar environment.
  • Because of increased responsibilities, time management can be an issue that many SPCS students must grapple with moreso than traditional students. If you feel overwhelemed, don't worry-- many others feel the same way.

"[In regards to their] learning styles, [SPCS students] come from a professional environment.

  • Writing that connects your professional work to your academic work can be very useful in honing your writing ability, because it's a topic that you know and are familiar with.

What techniques would you offer writing consultants to use when working with SPCS students?

Key Points:

"Have adult students read their work aloud.

  • Consultants working with SPCS students should let the student read his or her work aloud in order to notice any mistakes or confusing sentences they had written. Hearing their argument aloud makes those confusions much more noticeable to the writer and usually the writer will be able to fix his or her own mistakes.

We thank Professor Hocutt for his help in creating this segment!

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