Optional Writing Intensive allows doctoral students to hone their craft

Nobel Prize-winning novelist William Faulkner oft claimed that “In writing, you must kill all your darlings.”  Of course, the idea is to step back from one’s one work to critically analyze if it states clearly the intent.


It was in this vein that the UMKC School of Education’s Loyce Caruthers, Ph.D., invited current IPh.D., Ed.D. Higher Education and Ed.D. PK-12 Education Administration students to apply to participate in a 2017 Summer Writing Intensive that met nearly three hours every other week for a total of four sessions.


The objective was to allow students a safe space to enhance their writing and engage in discussion and feedback regarding the development of their dissertation proposals.


Kara Kynion from the UMKC Writing Studio provided students with expectations of graduate-level writing, including how to best develop the literature review and how to effectively approach peer reviews.  Special guests Raquel Coy, principal in the North Kansas City School District, and Keith Mispagel (Ed.D., ’16), superintendent of the Fort Leavenworth School District, provided insights into their journeys to earn doctoral degrees.


Doctoral faculty Caruthers, Donna Davis, Michele Maher, Marie McCarther and Dianne Smith, emerita professor, also participated in a panel presentation to provide tips to students about their expectations of the dissertation process as chairs and members of committee.


Caruthers initially had reservations that the group would not be able to meet the intended outcomes in such a short time frame, but “an analysis of pre- and post-data indicated positive change in various areas,” she said.  “Overall, the most significant change was students who emerged feeling the next steps in their current writing projects were clearer.  They also felt more confident giving feedback on others’ writing.”


Indeed, one student reflected that “I wrote and read more than I have in a while; achieved a much deeper, more intimate understanding of my topic and progress on my proposal.”


Participant Steve Pankey, an Ed.D. candidate in Higher Education, said “The course was a great opportunity to revisit each of the first three chapters of my dissertation as well as gain the perspective of classmates and colleagues that could objectively step through my work. Due to the small group size, we were also fortunate to receive additional feedback from Dr. Caruthers through the summer; something that helped to solidify content and structure.  The whole process was a great way to stay on track and keep motivated.”


Caruthers plans to reconvene the group after Thanksgiving to check on continued progress.


Work is also underway for a 2018 Summer Writing Intensive; stay tuned for dates and details.