When writing in the field of education, whether for your courses or in your career, your writing should always:
1. Be tailored for the audience of the educational community
Like all writing, it is important that structure, language, and tone are informed by the sensibilities and capabilities of the intended audience (who you expect to be reading your writing). Carefully consider how the organization and word choice of your writing will be received by readers and adjust based on your purpose.
When writing to students, you might use a more conversational tone and style and language that is more simplified depending on the level of students you teach. When writing to administrators, parents, or colleagues, you’ll need a more formal and polished approach.
2. Be tailored for the type or purpose of writing in education
The type of writing and purpose (what you hope to accomplish with) your writing, will influence the way you write. The writing you do for a fun, engaging, and interactive video tutorial will sound and feel different than the writing you do for your Philosophy of Education statement. And academic writing has a different set of expectations than some of the writing you’ll do on the job. Take the time to understand the expectations for the various types of writing you’ll do within the field of education. You’ll find more of this in the materials found in this guide.
3. Use formal, specific, and precise language
- Use more formal language when writing for an academic or professional audience. This does not mean using stuffy or overly-complicated language, but it does mean that you should not use slang, idioms, conversational phrases such as, “well, you know,” or foul language.
- Using specific vocabulary means using the language that is specific to your field of study. For example, if you are studying education, it is appropriate for you to use the terms that educators use.
Instead of stating: “Teachers are adapting their methods to meet the needs of each student.” Include specific vocabulary from the field of study by stating: “Teachers are differentiating instruction.”
- Using precise words means stating specifically what you mean and avoiding vague or subjective language. For example, “a lot” means different things to different people. State precisely how much you mean by “a lot.”
Instead of stating: “Researchers had a really good response to the survey.”
State precisely what you mean: “Researchers had a 75% response rate to the survey.”
4. Be credibly sourced and free of plagiarism
- Most academic writing in education requires some use of outside sources. When using outside sources as evidence, be sure to reference them in the correct format. The field of education utilizes APA citation and reference formatting style. Give credit to the source of any information you use that is not considered “common knowledge.”
- Plagiarism includes copying the words of another writer verbatim, but it also extends into borrowing the ideas or organization from other texts. Be sure that all written work in the field of education is original and in your own words. In referencing the work of others, see the above bullet and cite it correctly.
- As you move into writing for your career, continue to cite any use of information that is not originally yours.
5. Convey clear, complete, and organized communication
- Writing is always about communicating. Your reader should be able to clearly understand the ideas you are presenting.
- Your writing should be complete without adding unnecessary information. Imagine what questions your reader might have and address those. Your reader should be fully informed without the need of clarification.
- Your writing should be easy to follow for your reader. Be sure to use transitions when moving from one point to the next. Next, be sure that each section or paragraph focuses on a single point and fully develop that point before moving on to the next. Lastly, be sure that any writing you do has a beginning, middle, and end.
6. Use correct English language conventions
If your writing contains errors in spelling, grammar, or punctuation, this will distract your reader from your ideas and may even lead your reader to make assumptions about your attention to detail or your abilities. All writing needs to be free of language errors so your reader can focus on your ideas rather than your writing.
7. Be correctly formatted and styled
This is what your document looks like. For example, academic essays often require APA, Chicago, or MLA format. This means that you would need to follow the instructions carefully so that your indentation, font size, pagination, etc. appear correctly. However, there are also formats for documents such as syllabi, newsletters, and many more.
When writing academic papers, you’ll consider your purpose and audience, and you’ll use academic writing conventions, language, style, and format.
What is the assignment purpose?
When writing academic papers, the purpose may be to exhibit, apply, or reflect on what you’ve learned, add another perspective to a research topic, or respond to others’ arguments in your field of study.
Who is the audience?
Consider your audience to be professionals and scholars in the field of education.
What is the appropriate language?
You will always use an academic voice when writing academic papers.
Since you are writing to professionals and scholars in your field, adopt the language of the field when writing. Use the terms that educators or educational theorists use.
What is the appropriate style & format?
APA is the preferred academic style and format for the field of Education.
Most, if not all, of the assignments you do will need to include full APA style and formatting. This includes using active voice, unbiased language, headings, and correctly formatted title page, citations, and references.
Guides and samples for the most common academic writing assignments:
(You may be asked to do these types of writing in courses too)
Writing on the job includes various types of writing. You may also be asked to do some of these types of writing in your courses. Your purpose or reason for writing and your audience will determine the type of writing you create, and the type of writing will determine the conventions, language, style, and format.
What is the purpose?
Your purpose for writing may be to get a job, to provide instruction, or to communicate a need, among other reasons. The purpose for writing will determine the type of writing you do.
Who is the audience?
Your audience may be your students, parents of your students, or other education professionals. The audience you are writing to will dictate the language you use and how you need to adjust your writing.
What is the appropriate language and format?
Each type of writing has its own expectations of language and format. Your audience will largely determine the language style you use.
Review the expectations, style, and format along with samples for the most common types of writing you’ll do as an education professional:
Research is a big part of writing in the field of education. The information below can help you when doing research in your courses and beyond.
When researching in the field of education, your greatest resource is the information available in the University Library. Some education specific databases include:
- EBSCOhost (Education-related content)
- ProQuest (Education-related content)
When performing research within one of these databases, it is best to start with an Advanced Search option to enter the Keywords or Search Terms related to your topic. Use only one term per box. Some common keywords relating to education include:
- Adult Education
- Child Development
- Elementary Education
- Educational Psychology
- Secondary Education
- Higher Education
- Classroom Management
- Early Childhood
- Exceptional Learners
- Lesson Planning
- Special Education
Once you have retrieved your results you may want to refine them. You can limit your results to scholarly (peer reviewed) articles or to articles that fall within a specific date range.
The Internet is another great resource when doing research in the field of education. However, when searching for web resources be cautious since anyone with Internet access can post anything online. To better assist you with evaluating web resources, consult the following tutorials:
There are techniques you can use when searching the Internet to find the information you need. For example, putting site:edu after your search terms will limit your results to only online resources published by educational institutions. For more techniques you can use see the library’s Advanced Internet Search Techniques infographic.