Entering the Home Stretch

Good morning, ThoughtVectorites!

We’re now entering the final stretch of the semester and so I wanted to take the opportunity to remind you of some helpful resources as you work on your inquiry projects.

Most of your inquiry projects can be broken down into three components: research, writing, and multimodal/digital aspects. There are resources and people who can help you with each component, so if you find yourself struggling or simply needing a boost, don’t suffer alone–contact the following people/departments for assistance:

  1. Research

At this point, most of you have already done a large chunk of your research for your projects. However, as you put together your projects you might find that you need to fill in some research gaps. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: research is not a linear process. Oftentimes, you may be searching for sources and incorporating them into your paper/project until right up to the due date. There’s nothing wrong with that! In fact, it makes total sense–it’s easier to see where the research gaps are when you’ve already put most of your project together.

If you need help with research/finding sources, the library is your friend. More specifically, the librarians who are working with your Clubhouse sections for this class are really, really your friends!

Rachel McCaskill (email: ramccaskill@vcu.edu, Twitter: @RAMLibrarian) is working with Bonnie Boaz and Jon Becker’s sections (respectively, As We Create and Wonderpeople)

Donna Coghill (email: decoghil@vcu.edu; Twitter: @DECoghill) is working with Ryan Cales’ class (Team Pterotype)

Jenny Stout (that’s me!) (email: jastout@vcu.edu; Twitter: @JastoutVCU) is working with Gardner Campbell, Jason Coats, and–starting next week–Enoch Hale’s* classes (their websites: Spirit of ’76, Curiouser and Curiouser, Inquiry 2 Action)

*The lovely Deanna Rasch, who worked with Enoch’s classes this semester, will be starting a new position at Colorado Mesa University in a few weeks. We will miss her!

Please contact your librarian with any questions about finding and evaluating resources! We are happy to help over email or in person!



2. Writing

Part of your Inquiry project for this class involves the basic skill of putting pen to paper (or, more accurately, putting fingers to keyboard). Writing can be one of the most difficult–yet most important–skills you’ll learn during your time at VCU. Luckily, we have an entire department devoted to helping you!

VCU’s Writing Center is ready and waiting for those of you who would like assistance and insight into writing for not only this class, but any and all classes you’ll take at VCU. They encourage students to come in sooner rather than later (asking for help 2 hours before the paper is due is not recommended!), but they can assist you at all stages of the writing process.

You can schedule and in-person consultation or an online consultation–whichever is most convenient for you.

Additionally, the Writing Center has its own blog, which gives tips on writing during college. And they’re on Twitter too! (@VCUWritingCtr)

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3. Multimodal/Digital creativity

One of the unique aspects of the ThoughtVector sections of UNIV 200 is the focus on multimodality, digital literacy, and technology. Whether your section is in person, fully online, or a hybrid, you all are engaging deeply with blogging, Twitter, and other digital platforms. And your final inquiry project will live online.

Many of you might want to include multi-modal components to your final project. Multimodal compositions are defined as “texts that exceed the alphabetic and may include still and moving images, animations, color, words, music and sound” (Selfe and Takayoshi, 2007). So, if you add pictures, GIFs, videos, audio, infographics, etc to your inquiry project, it is officially multimodal.

Many of you may be interested in adding multimodal components to your project but have no idea where to start. The library has an entire department, called Innovative Media, to help you! Currently, Innovative Media resides on the 3rd floor of Cabell Library, but it will be moving to a brand-spanking new space on the Lower Level in the not-too-distant future.

Innovative Media has workstations with video and audio-editing software, 3D printers, and tons of equipment (such as GoPro camera and a portable green screen) for checkout (and it’s all free!).  Here is a comprehensive list of what IM offers. Most importantly, Innovative Media has friendly and knowledgeable staff who can help you with your projects, no matter your skill level.


Good luck on your inquiry projects, everyone!



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