by Dr. Jenny Billings, Cengage Faculty Partner and Chair of ACA, DRE, and ENG and English Instructor at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College

Having taught Developmental Reading and English students, I’m deeply aware of the effects self-doubt can have on first-year writing students. Many of them come in feeling behind, lacking the confidence they require to be successful. Some students need their academic foundations built, or rebuilt, while others only need refreshers to get them on their way. I’ve found that Questia can help in either circumstance. It can serve as #JustOneThing to alleviate students’ worries and fears, especially when it comes to writing.

Building Confidence with Just-in-Time Support

When Questia is offered through MindTap, students have access to a fully digital, step-by-step writing process guide and repository for the essays they will work on and submit in class that semester. Here, students have access to tutorials, a full “Writing Center,” and the 9 writing steps in Questia. They can also find ideas for a topic through a provided search engine or the topic idea generator. There are even videos and learning activities provided to help students begin their essay.

The thing that makes teaching writing with Questia so appealing is the fact that all the tools are in one place for students. With just a few clicks, students can find everything they need to produce a successful essay. If they need a full refresher of the writing process and guidance on how to craft an essay from start to finish, the Questia Writing Center is a perfect solution. If they’re ready to jump in and work on their own, they can go to My Papers and “start a new paper” from scratch.

When a new paper is created in the Writing Center, students have to provide three pieces of information: title, topic, and due date. I have found that having students provide this information upfront focuses them from the very beginning. To have a title, they need a topic. They must also be aware of the due date, which, in some cases, is half the battle. Questia helps students plan and think ahead, making the writing and essay submission process less stressful and more attainable.

Jump-Starting the Writing Process

How many times have your students said they just cannot get started? That they stare at the blank page or screen? The Thesis Statement Starter feature helps combat this for students, guiding them through thesis patterns and questions to help them craft a thesis that will dictate the rest of their essay. Students also appreciate the Outline Tool, where they can start their essays with a template or use the Outline Starter to walk them through their outline systematically.

In the third and final essay of the semester, I require my students to use sources in their writing. The Bibliography option in Questia can help students generate references using their saved items in their folders. This means, students can convert anything they’ve read and saved to their essay project folder into an MLA, APA, or Chicago reference. Once students have completed all steps in Questia, they’re able to export their work into a Word document or PDF file to revise, edit, and/or submit. While Questia is #JustOneThing, it’s made all the difference when it comes to making my students writers—and confident ones at that.