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SASS provides graduate summer support

Student Academic Success Services (SASS) is turning to online platforms to provide support to graduate students working on articles, theses, and dissertations this spring and summer.

SASS recognizes that many graduate students may be balancing writing and research with many other responsibilities, or may be looking for extra motivation. As a result, SASS is offering a virtual Dissertation Boot Camp, which provides students with structured time to write and helps them build skills and habits they can use to finish their projects successfully.

Dissertation Boot Camp, a collaboration between the School of Graduate Studies (SGS) and SASS, is now entering its second decade. Usually, SASS’s writing, academic skills, and English as an additional language staff support approximately 40 graduate students working on dissertation-writing for an intense four-day in-person program of workshops and one-on-one sessions each May. This year, SASS and SGS staff have teamed up to create a collaborative online space to run the Boot Camp and ensure students keep moving forward with their writing. Staff from the Centre for Teaching & Learning were instrumental in navigating the pivot to an online format.

Using Microsoft Teams, features built into onQ, and SASS’s online appointment platform, graduate students will be able to work on their drafts in a productive and mutually supportive atmosphere over five days in the first week of June.

Recognizing that students with non-academic commitments and those logging in from different time zones may face barriers to participation, staff plan to share a series of short videos and written resources that participants can use at their convenience.  SASS and SGS will also offer individual support at staggered times throughout the day.

Alyssa Foerstner, Academic Skills Support Coordinator (EAL) at SASS, believes that the online format offers an opportunity to provide more support to more students than in previous years. “We're hoping that the online option will mean that we can offer similar events throughout the year, in addition to the in-person ones we will continue to run when we're back on campus,” says Foerstner.

SGS Manager of Recruitment & Events Colette Steer concurs: “This approach opens up so many more opportunities for our graduate students to be able to participate and find the version - online or in-person - that best fits their circumstances. We can’t wait to start.”

Leading up to Boot Camp, SASS’s staff are releasing a series of online video tutorials in graduate writing topics. The videos series introduces important summer writing topics: disciplinary writing skills for students looking to learn how best to meet journal and program requirements; self-editing for those who wish to polish writing ready for submission for degree requirements or publications; and, in partnership with the Queen’s Library, an introduction to the latest search and citation management tools. These videos, released over a three-week period in May, are available on SASS’s YouTube channel.

Enrollment for Boot Camp is still open; master's and PhD students who wish to take part can register online. Students who wish to access support with their writing are still able to book individual appointments with SASS through the reservation website.