Meet the Faculty: Maureen Morasch, Graduate Writing Center Chair
Many doctoral candidates worry about the dissertation process, but Concordia University-Portland’s doctoral program provides a wealth of support and resources to set you up for success. One shining example is Graduate Writing Center Chair Maureen Morasch, MLIS. We reached out to Morasch to find out more about her background and expertise, the type of support she provides, and her advice for doctoral candidates.
What led you to work in higher education?
I’ve always enjoyed the level of thinking, writing, and research involved in higher education. When I earned my BA in Humanities, I didn’t want to be a college teacher, but I knew I wanted to be involved in the research and writing process at the college level. This led me to earn my Master of Library and Information Science degree and become a college librarian; as a librarian, I could help students learn to be better researchers and writers. After over 15 years as an academic librarian, I’m excited to transition to a new role providing research writing support to our graduate students.
As the new Graduate Writing Center Chair, what type of support do you provide and what are your goals in this role?
As the Graduate Writing Center Chair, I provide writing support for all of Concordia’s graduate students both on campus and online. The GWC’s website will provide self-help supports such as tutorials, handouts, guides, and answers to frequently asked writing and APA questions. Once we officially open in January, the peer writing consultants and I will also be able to work one-on-one with students as they develop ideas or revise their texts. My goal is for students to become confident, capable scholarly writers.
What advice can you give to those who aren’t sure where to begin with their dissertation research?
Early in the process (before beginning the literature review), make an appointment with a librarian to talk about your research topic. Librarians are great at understanding the ways that topics and issues overlap between disciplines, so they can help you think of many places to search for information and the terms to use.
As a writing instructor, what is a common mistake that students often make and what advice do you give?
I would say the most common mistake by far is not proofreading before turning in an assignment. And yes, instructors can always tell! My number one piece of advice is to read the text aloud to yourself as you proofread — multiple times if necessary. This will help you catch most, if not all, of the mistakes.
Are there any resources that you recommend for doctoral candidates working on their dissertation?
Two of my favorite resources are actually blogs on dissertation writing and all that is involved in it: technical and emotional. The “Doctoral Writing SIG” blog comes from a group of Australian university faculty, and it focuses on various aspects of doctoral program writing and how to support students with their writing. “Patter” is a blog written by Pat Thomson, a British faculty member and dissertation supervisor. Her purpose for the blog is to provide doctoral students with advice as they write their dissertations.
What qualities do you think doctoral candidates need to possess in order to be successful?
Patience, perseverance and the willingness to ask for help are key to successfully completing a doctorate.
What advice can you give for those who may struggle with receiving feedback on their work?
The language we use for academic writing — what I like to call academic English — isn’t anyone’s first language. We all are required to learn it. Instead of seeing feedback as a negative commentary on your abilities as a thinker and scholar, try to remember that your peers and your instructors are helping you learn a new language and way of writing.
What do you enjoy most about working with Concordia’s doctoral candidates?
Our candidates are such a diverse, passionate group of people. I love hearing their stories and helping them in their journey to improve the world for the people they serve.
What do you think is unique about Concordia’s doctoral program?
The most unique aspect of Concordia’s doctoral program is our philosophy of democratic participation in education. Our EdD is not an elite degree but, instead, it is intended to prepare as many practitioners as possible to create change in their communities.
What are some interesting dissertation topics that you’ve seen?
There are so many interesting topics, but I’m drawn to the ones that are focused on the researcher’s local community. One of our candidates focused on the experiences of LGBTQ teachers in local public schools. Another candidate looked at how local schools supported homeless students’ academic success.
One of Concordia’s goals is to prepare leaders for the transformation of society. How do you think that is accomplished through doctoral candidates’ dissertation work?
Many of our candidates use their professional communities as the site for their dissertation research; they are able to enact and study changes in these communities in real time and work toward positive transformation in the lives of the people within those communities.