What is MASLOW?

Short for Module-Based and Student-Driven Learning of Writing, MASLOW is an online learning platform, built across Blackboard and Edublog, where (currently) international graduate students can practice foundational writing skills for developing discipline-specific communication abilities based on exploratory and interactive activities in the context of their orientation to US higher education and professional growth.

MASLOW uses brief modules to help students learn about and practice graduate writing.  The platform’s initial development was based on a small grant, and the modules are currently offered for international graduate students. But the platform and materials are designed to help any students with graduate-level writing skills; after the pilot phase, we are also likely to offer for-credit modules that are open for all Stony Brook graduate students through this platform.

The most unique feature of this course is that students can choose and complete the learning module that they need and at their own pace. You also create your own deadlines by emulating suggestion action plans to complete two, four, or six modules for one, two, or three credits respectively. Similarly, you have the option of completing minimum required work to receive a passing grade (the course is graded Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory) or going beyond that to learn more skills and develop a better understanding of writing as a means of academic research and professional development in graduate school (and beyond).

The modules include video lectures and demonstrations that you can watch, with some videos that integrate review quizzes into them. Some videos are also followed up with discussion forum activities or other writing exercises. The writing tasks in earlier modules are usually brief and they involve a set of related skills within the process of writing: reading strategically with writing needs in mind, taking and organizing notes from research for generating ideas to write, using annotation as a means for taking intellectual position in writing; doing literature review as part of developing your research agenda, citing sources in ways that are not just mechanically correct but also rhetorically effective and ethically responsible; writing thesis statements and topic sentences, foregrounding the lead; revising for focus clarity and flow, using reverse outlining techniques for revision; editing for better clarity and correctness; formatting for visual and conventional standards; and so on. The more advanced modules focus on broader objectives of graduate-level writing: learning skills specific to the dissertation and completing it on time; writing materials for the job search (such as the resume, cover letter, research statement, and statement of your teaching philosophy); practicing skills for academic publication process; learning to write a variety of texts for professional communication; and so on.

In conventional, on-site courses, the instructor decides what to teach, you do some reading and writing in preparation for class, complete tasks assigned by the instructor in and outside class, and meet the deadlines set by the instructor. There is no set “course” in MASLOW: there are modules for you to pick and complete within a timeline that you set for yourself. This means that you need a very high level of commitment to follow your timeline, using tools such as calendar alerts and strategies to complete your work on time. You can learn more about “how to succeed in this course” in a separate page here.


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