The University of Indianapolis’ new applied professional writing course is in its second semester. WriteHounds is a one hour course in the English department aimed at giving students the opportunity to gain experience in professional writing.
Senior English major Kristen Hay hopes to pursue a career in professional writing and decided to take the course for experience and skill refinement.
“From the outside, it looks like just a normal English class,” Hay said. “… This is actually where you’re gaining real-world knowledge.”
The course aims to provide students with knowledge and experience in web writing, grant writing and writing for nonprofit organizations as well as editing and publishing. Students participate in hands-on projects to develop documents and materials for clients.
This semester, WriteHounds has three clients. Indy Public Safety Foundation is committed to reducing crime, according to the Central Indiana Community Foundation website. Second Story is an organization that promotes writing among children. The third is a condominium association, The Timbers. Each of these organizations targets a different audience, and Hay finds the opportunity to create a variety of content beneficial.
“We’re coming up with these plans,” Hay said. “And we’re starting fresh, so we get to be creative … and go with the tone and the voice of the client as well.”
This course allows the students to work on developing content directly. Students manage and work on the projects for the different clients and receive feedback from their instructor Assistant Professor of English Kevin McKelvey.
“The goal here is to get students these professional experiences while they’re still in classes at the university,” McKelvey said.
According to McKelvey, throughout the semester, WriteHounds students will create documents, blog posts and other projects that will enhance their skills as well as add to their resumes. The skills students gain in this course are essential to the professional writing field. Among these skills are creating forms, documentation, gathering and standardizing information, blogging, writing instructions and also writing in the schools, whether it is for teaching or creating prompts.
Hay believes she is also gaining valuable personal skills in addition to the field’s technical skills.
“We’ll actually get to interact with the clients, so we learn how to speak with people, work in groups … and work under pressure, too,” Hay said.
McKelvey said that he finds this aspect to be beneficial as well and looks for the opportunity for these skills to be developed with the clients.
“We look for people who want to partner with us and not just give us an assignment,” McKelvey said.
According to McKelvey, the partnerships with the clients will allow for feedback as well as developing a relationship that will enhance the students’ content development. He feels that these partnerships will be enhanced by the course being offered every semester.
“That allows us to be a little bit more flexible and also connect with nonprofits’ schedules and timelines,” McKelvey said. “It gives us a lot more continuity within courses and within projects and also with relationships we have with nonprofits or businesses around UIndy.”
Overall, McKelvey feels that service learning is valuable to students’ education.
“I really see service learning as a way to offer students professional experience in their field,” McKelvey said.
Having a small class has helped the course evolve, but McKelvey hopes WriteHounds will grow.
“We want to keep growing it and having a variety of students in the course,” McKelvey said.
WriteHounds is open to freshmen through seniors in all majors and was designed for a wide range of students.