Lorri Birkholz, DNP Writing Tutorial

Crafting a Brightspace Writing Tutor course to augment writing support.

Project Overview

Since the approval for implementing an escape room was unpredictable, I instead used a pilot program as my project. I developed a DNP Writing Tutor course in Brightspace to augment a writing support project that is being piloted this semester in the School of Nursing for the doctoral students. Students are referred to me by one or more of their faculty for writing support. In addition to one-on-one individual work, I developed a Brightspace course where I enroll the students. On this course site, students have access to resources targeting 4 areas: 1) Why good writing matters, 2) Mechanics of writing, 3) Plagiarism prevention, and 4) APA 7th ed. specific formatting.

A picture of the Brightspace writing course

Planning Process

Once I knew I was selected to lead the pilot, I met with Becky, and she provided me with a Brightspace shell. Since this is a new pilot program, it was necessary to develop all aspects of the program content and build the course. While teaching DNP students is my area of faculty expertise, I had little knowledge on developing the writing skills of adult learners. An important first step was to determine the skills, knowledge, and attitudes that were desired. Fink’s Taxonomy of Significant Learning was used in the design of the content.

Student Learning Outcomes:
At the conclusion of this course the student will:

  1. Demonstrate knowledge of foundational grammar and punctuation use.
  2. Describe the value of good writing skills in academic and professional settings.
  3. Demonstrate the ability to properly paraphrase.
  4. Apply correct APA formatting to academic assignments.
  5. Describe effective methods to enhance time management.
  6. Demonstrate strengthened writing skills.
  7. Utilize the available tools to improve writing and speaking.

UDL and equity were considered throughout the content build. PowerPoint slides provide a visual method of “seeing” the information, narration using VoiceThread allows for “hearing” the information, and students can select various communication methods for asking questions or offering comments (phone, audio, video, written, or webcam). Quizzes were provided so that students could assess their knowledge on the various topics. Module content included instructor-led presentations, website links, and uploaded resources.


The project rolled out in January with the bulk of that month being used to develop the Brightspace course (~40 hrs.). Student referrals started coming in at the end of January. As I am contacted by a referred student, I complete an entry into the pilot spreadsheet and then enroll the student into the Brightspace course. They are encouraged to use the content within the tutorial course to supplement our 1:1 sessions which are done using Zoom.

FTF De-identified Tracking Log_Birkholz
FTF De-identified Tracking Log_Birkholz 4.11.22 v2


Near the close of the semester, I asked the students to complete a Qualtrics survey evaluating the pilot program and its value to their academic success. Qualtrics survey evaluating the pilot program and its value to their academic success. To date, six of the eight (one student dropped) enrolled students have completed the evaluation and the findings are reported here.

Survey results
  • Free-text comments (2)
    • “Dr. Birkholz is very dedicated to the success of her students. I am grateful to have been part of the writing center pilot program”
    • “One on one time with Dr. B was incredible”

Reflections and Next Steps

The project was successful and should be continued. The hours needed to set up the course were extensive but should be less in the future. Since the first major writing assignments are not due until the end of the first month, the referrals were slow to start. Also, our program is fully online and for students living in the Pacific time zone, it necessitated many late-night sessions. There is still some content that I would like to develop if the program is continued. The pilot was taught initially as a 3-credit course which may need to be adjusted going forward. One credit will not be enough. As of this writing, I have devoted 60 hours of time to students combining the 1:1 hours and time spent reviewing and editing student writings.

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