Fall Workshops at the CWOVC

Each semester, the Center for Written, Oral, and Visual Communication offers a number of workshops designed to target specific communication skills. With topics ranging from “Communicating Science to Non-Experts” to “Academic Conversation Skills,” these workshops are the perfect way to receive focused instruction in a small group setting.  We recently tracked down two of the instructors to learn more about their particular workshops.


David Messmer
University Communication Skills: The Essentials
Wednesday, November 4, (7:00 – 8:30 pm)


1.  How did you decide to this topic?

I often hear fellow faculty members complain about things that students have said to them and find myself thinking, "I said things like that when I was an undergraduate, too."  Looking back, I wish someone had spent some time giving me tips about how to interact with faculty more effectively.  That is what this workshop aims to address.

2. Are there any students for whom this workshop would be particularly beneficial?

I try to cover a variety of scenarios that students might encounter, from day-to-day interactions to asking for letters of recommendation, so there is something for everyone.  Still, freshmen will probably benefit from the workshop the most since interacting with faculty is newest to them.

3. What's one piece of advice you have for students now?

If you have a logistical question for a professor check the syllabus first.  Professors put a lot of time into those for a reason.


Burke Nixon
Grammar Tips for Academic Writing
Tuesdays, 4:00 – 5:30 pm (October 20, 27, November 3, 10)


1. How did you decide on this topic?

I taught a similar CWOVC grammar workshop for international graduate students last fall and really enjoyed it. We focused half of the workshop time on a systematic review of certain key grammar and punctuation issues and half the time on some “tips and tricks” they could use to help them proofread their work. This time, I wanted to focus much more on the “tips and tricks,” rather than doing any English grammar review. The point of the workshop is to give international graduate students some tools in those cases where the grammar or punctuation “rules” aren’t clear or straightforward or consistent.    

2.  Are there any students for whom this workshop would be particularly beneficial? 

Any international students who want some advice and suggestions about grammar and punctuation, particularly graduate students, who are often publishing and preparing materials to apply for jobs. It’s helpful to get a refresher in how to edit and proofread your work, since grammar and punctuation are usually a part of the first impression we make on readers. 

3. What's one piece of advice you have for students now?

Paying attention to the context--and how other writers in your field have done it--is often more important than trying to remember the “rule” for, say, using the correct article or preposition. One thing we talk about is how to use your smartphone (or whatever technology you have at hand) when you find yourself with a phrase or punctuation situation you’re not sure about, to try to quickly get a consensus of how other published writers punctuate or phrase their work in a similar context.

For more information about these and other workshops, see the full list of Fall offerings here.

For information about other services the CWOVC offers, see here.