OWL Success Stories: Excelsior Instructor ‘Raves’ About the Awesome OWL

In this series of articles, the OWL team interview students and instructors about the Excelsior Online Writing Lab and finds out more about how this unique platform provides an invaluable resource to help improve writing, assignments, or presentations, and many more things besides. And how the OWL features as an indispensable and free resource to help both students and instructors alike.

Catherine Neset has been an instructor at Excelsior University since summer 2016 and she has made extensive use of the Excelsior Online Writing Lab (OWL) during that time. She teaches the BUS 323 Business Ethics course in the School of Business and Technology and is a native of the Twin Cities in Minnesota, a place which she loves and where she is proud to call her home.

The Awesome OWL!

Neset explained to the OWL team that the best thing about teaching is seeing the improvement of her students during the 8 weeks of the term.  When she started at Excelsior, she claims that her good friend and fellow instructor, Amy Erickson, ‘raved’ about the benefits of the OWL, “and so the OWL was one of the first things I checked out when I was hired by Excelsior.  Amy was right; the OWL is rich with easily accessible information.  It’s truly awesome,” she added.

The OWL and APA

Of the features of the OWL that she feels most benefit her students, Neset is very forthright in her views: “The APA information!  Has anyone ever read the APA manual?  That will put you to sleep in seconds.” She goes on to say, “nobody wants to read it, and few people really have an interest in mastering format and citation style.  Why ask your students, most already busy with work and family, to master APA?  There are quick answers to nearly every format and citation question.  Sometimes I will copy and paste examples into their feedback, sometimes I will fix the cite.  I always include a link to the relevant OWL page for students to find more information.”

Improved Student Assignments Thanks to the OWL

Neset is also very clear about the way in which the OWL has helped her students improve their writing and assignments.  “One assignment requires an outline for a paper,” she says.  “But what is required in the assignment is vastly different from the way that I was taught to outline, and I suspect that may be true for students in the course.” She goes on to explain how the OWL has helped her students in this case, “so the OWL not only provides an example of the type of outline required by an assignment, but also details on how to go about the process if you were never taught to outline. This is invaluable and I can see the benefits in the way in which my students are writing.”

The OWL and Life-long Learning

Finally, as a life-long learner herself, Neset believes that the OWL helps her to increase her own knowledge, which also benefits her students. “Every quarter I click on a new section in the OWL so I can increase my own knowledge about this valuable resource,” she adds.  “It can be overwhelming for instructors to know everything in the OWL.  The same is true for students.  However, if we can gradually increase our knowledge of the resources, we can share the items that will be most helpful for success in the classes we teach.”

It’s great to hear how the OWL is benefiting students and improving their writing, but also to find out how it is providing instructors with a free available resource that they can direct their students for the help that they need.

Do you use the OWL on a regular basis, whether as a student or an instructor? If you would like us to feature your story about how you use and benefit from the OWL, please email us at: owl@excelsior.edu.