For the first time, Sweetland offered Dissertation Writing Groups for the 2021 spring/summer terms. From anecdotal evidence, Sweetland faculty learned graduate students appreciated the flexibility of remote learning; we also surmised that some students were location-bound across the world due to COVID travel restrictions, family care, and research initiatives. We supposed that even “post pandemic,” many graduate students would appreciate the accountability of a writing group while they travelled for research, family, work, or leisure during the summer.
There was a high application turnout, though we also saw attrition. We were unable to survey participants who dropped out to learn why, but a couple students received funding later than expected, some students likely realized they needed a break from remote work, and, as during the academic school year, others prioritized different responsibilities.
Nonetheless, we learned a lot from the spring/summer DWG, and we had several success stories, including groups that reapplied to work together during Fall 2021 and leaders who reapplied to lead new groups. We also revised the application to accommodate students who wanted to meet remotely or only in-person. There were enough students seeking to reconnect face-to-face that we created three such groups for Fall 2021.
Lecturer, Sweetland Center for Writing