The Graduate Writing Coach at the USC Annenberg School of Communication works with students (MA, MCM, PhD) in graduate Communication programs including Communication, Communication Management, Global Communication, Public Diplomacy, Digital Social Media, and Communication Data Science.
Graduate writing workshops are offered throughout the semester intended to familiarize students with graduate academic writing expectations and conventions, as well as to assist them to become self-sufficient writers and editors. Similarly, one-on-one and group conferences are aimed to facilitate students’ writing skills development in smaller settings.
The meetings and workshops (see workshop schedule) will provide students with resources and strategies to develop graduate-level writing skills, including:
- Creating writing plans
- Building strong and effective introductions, thesis statements, and body paragraphs
- Working with sources
- Critical thinking
- Organization and style, format, and grammar
Additional support for PhD students include:
- Developing sustainable writing habits (for long-term projects such as dissertations or articles for publication)
- Building and facilitating Writing Groups
- Peer Review Groups
- Chapter planning and reviews
What can I expect from conferences with the Writing Coach?
Each conference with the Writing Coach is student-directed. This means students decide what the focus of the session will be. With the Writing Coach, the student will set an agenda for the session at the beginning of the conference to make the meeting as productive as possible. Students are required to submit a Pre-Session Form prior to their conference.
Successful sessions typically address global issues first (larger issues in writing related to answering the prompt/assignment, thesis statement, argumentation, organization and logical structure of arguments, incorporating sources, coherence, and unity). Similarly, students who come prepared with specific questions about their writing typically leave the meetings with practical strategies that they can then employ when writing on their own. Pertinent documents such as assignment prompts, primary and/or secondary sources, samples (if available) can be helpful during the session, though not required.
During the conference, it is typical to read and revise about 4-5 pages of a text, depending on the issues that may be apparent in the text. Each session–just as each writer–is different and develops in its own pace. Conferences are not proofreading or copyediting sessions, though grammar and style are valid and welcome topics of discussion. The Writing Coach provides non-evaluative feedback (as in no comments about what grade the assignment could get); rather, the Writing Coach provides feedback on the degree of which the assignment fulfills assignment requirements, meets genre expectations and academic conventions, and employs rhetorical features of the text to meet its purpose.
At the end of each session, the Writing Coach and the student will decide on action items to complete before the next appointment or before submitting the assignment.
Standard appointments meet for 45 minutes and express appointments meet for 30 minutes. Given the high demand for conferences, each student is limited to one appointment per week. Appointments that are 10 minutes late without notice will be marked as a “No Show,” and the spot may be given to a student on the waitlist. Excessive “No Shows” and/or cancellations may result in restrictions when scheduling appointments in the future.
Who is the Graduate Writing Coach?
Francesca Gacho, PhD (ABD) joined the Annenberg School of Communication staff as the Graduate Writing Coach in the Spring 2017 semester. She also works as a Writing Consultant at a graduate student-only Writing Center and teaches graduate writing and reading courses for first-semester international graduate students, in addition to teaching first-year composition courses at the undergraduate level. She has been teaching and tutoring since 2006 and has been working with graduate student writers since 2012. She is currently a doctoral candidate in English with a major field in Victorian literature at Claremont Graduate University, where she also received her MA. She received her BA in English from CSU Fullerton.