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Better Writing

American Psychological Association via Coursera


Successful learners are able to communicate what they are learning, both verbally and in written formats. This course will provide a review of the basics of writing so that learners can effectively organize, draft, revise, edit, and finalize written informational documents, including school assignments. The course will instruct learners how to support their ideas with appropriate information, recognize the types of source material they are considering, distinguish fact from misinformation, and summarize material from informational sources, as well as avoid plagiarism by employing paraphrasing and implementing citations correctly. The course will help students avoid biased and offensive language in written documents, and appropriately utilize punctuation and rhetorical techniques such as persuasion. The course also includes techniques for staying motivated when working on written documents and overcoming writer’s block. Writing is a skill that can be improved with practice. Different situations require different types of writing. This course will assist learners to develop various ways to express ideas in writing, so those ideas can be shared with others.


  • Learn With PsycLearn Essentials
    • This module introduces you to your PsycLearn Essentials course. Find out what’s included in this course and how to navigate the modules and lessons. You’ll also learn valuable study tips for successful learning.
  • Module 1: The Writing Process
    • Writing is a skill that can be improved with practice. We will start this course by exploring some of the basic building blocks of writing, including audience, purpose, and tone. We will consider some principles of inclusive language. We will then turn our attention to some of the tools that you can employ to make writing easier, such as built-in grammar checkers. We will also explore some of the uses for AI-generated content. And we will conclude this module with some techniques for getting started with what we call prewriting. At the end of this module, you will have some ideas for how to effectively approach the writing process, and you will be prepared for the next steps of writing.
  • Module 2: Researching
    • Many writing projects require background information to create a context for the material in the document, and some writing projects require supporting information to provide credibility for the material in the document. This module will explain how to find, evaluate, incorporate, and acknowledge sources in your writing project.
  • Module 3: Drafting
    • Writing the first draft is probably the most intimidating aspect of any writing project. This module provides you with the building blocks for getting started and ensuring the first draft will form a strong base that you can build on for the final version of your writing project. First, we examine how to craft strong sentences, then we move to constructing effective paragraphs. Some tips for developing your introduction are presented. Next, methods for structuring and organizing your paper are explained. Essential elements of writing are explored, including the roles of arguing and persuading, and the importance of engagement and flow. The final section suggests some options for creating an impactful conclusion.
  • Module 4: Mechanics of Writing
    • People often say they are not good at grammar, but, in fact, we are all very good at grammar. We have learned almost all the so-called rules of grammar while learning to speak, mostly without being taught them explicitly. Here is a simple example: In English, the adjective (descriptive word) comes before the noun: the cute puppy. In Spanish, many of the common adjectives come after the noun: el perro (dog) precioso (cute). This noun-then-adjective structure is seen in Vietnamese as well. Do you remember learning this rule about the order of the adjective and the noun? Probably not. And you probably do not think about it when you write or speak, because you already know the rule and you apply it automatically. This is true for virtually all the rules of grammar. Writing is a little different from speaking, because there are rules for writing that do not apply to speaking. A good example is where to put commas. We often think of commas as belonging in writing where we pause when speaking. However, everyone pauses in their own way, so pausing is not generally a good way to determine where a comma goes. This module covers some “rules” for the mechanics (or grammar) of writing, based on Standard American English, that you may not know. Remember, the goal of writing is to communicate effectively. Incorporating these “rules” will help to make your writing clearer and easier to understand. It is important to point out that many of these mechanics, such as colons or modifiers, are a matter of style. You can make your own choices about how to use them. It is key, though, to recognize the needs of your audience. Apply rules that help your reader navigate what you have written. Use a style that helps you connect with your audience and helps readers relate to and understand the information you are presenting. Also, remember to be consistent in your choices, in order to produce a polished document.The lessons in this module are about various types of punctuation and about various aspects of using language correctly.
  • Module 5: Revising and Finishing
    • There are several steps in the process of finalizing your document: revising, editing, and proofreading, which is also called polishing. Revising literally means to “see again.” Revising is the process of improving the ideas, organization, and evidence of your paper. The term editing is generally used to refer to checking the mechanics of your document, such as the sentence structure and phrasing, to ensure the meaning is conveyed clearly. Polishing is the term used for the final, detailed appraisal (people are sometimes more familiar with the term proofreading). This process involves a careful examination of the document for errors and typos. The final lesson in this module will present some tips on productivity and overcoming writer’s block.
  • Module 6: Course Summary
    • This final content module unifies all of the previous course material and provides concrete, actionable advice on how to improve your writing. The module is broken down by learning objective, with each lesson containing key takeaways, key vocabulary, and key visuals relevant to that learning objective. Each lesson also contains a check-up assessment to help you determine if you have mastered the material or if further review is required before the cumulative quiz.
  • Module 7: Cumulative Quiz
    • This module contains a quiz covering all of the material in this course. It will count for 30% of your total course grade, so make sure you have reviewed the material before you begin. Good luck!
  • Module 8: Course Resources
    • This module contains a glossary, course references, and a list of contributors to the course.
  • PsycLearn Essentials APA Student Resources
    • This module provides a variety of information and tools from the American Psychological Association (APA) that will help inspire you as you complete your coursework and plan your career goals. Get discounted access to Academic Writer, APA’s online tool for writing effectively, as well as valuable advice that will help you develop and strengthen your skillset for learning success and future employment. Additionally, explore resources on various psychological issues. This module also includes APA resources on scholarly research and writing; a list of sites providing valuable resources on diversity, equity, and inclusion in psychology education and in the professional community; resources on a career in psychology; and links to career opportunities at the APA. You can also view videos that offer tips on dealing with stress.

Taught by

Danielle Masursky


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