Designing Assignments

To address the collective concern about students’ writing abilities across the disciplines, the Writing Program has provided some resources and readings to help teach, assign, and grade student writing. These readings range in length and depth, so summaries are provided for quick access.


Shelley’s Quick Guide for Writing Teachers: Designing & Teaching a Class Session
Shelley Reid

  • A quick 10 step guide on how to design a new class session, with explanation of each step
  • Gives some concrete ways to mix up tired classroom strategies:
  • Ex. Instead of having one person from each group share their discussion with the rest of the class, mix up the groups from ABCD, ABCD, ABCD, ABCD to AAAA, BBBB, CCCC, DDDD, and have all the A’s share their previous group discussions with each other, etc.
  • Good read for: writing classes, TA’s, writing intensive courses

Sequencing Writing Assignments
WAC Clearing House

  • Quick guide to sequencing writing
  • Covers the benefits of sequencing writing, ways to sequence writing, and how to scaffold assignments
  • Good read for: writing classes, classes with research papers

Composition 2.0: Toward a Multilingual and Multimodal Framework
Steven Fraiberg

  • A guide to what multimodal projects are, their uses, and how to create and manage a multimodal project
  • Student populations are becoming increasingly heterogenous, with 1.5 generation students that are facing  different linguistic and cultural identities than previous generations of students
  • Teaching ELS, writing, and composition has to change in order to effectively teach a new generation and population of students
  • Some recommendations are:
  • “Code-mashing” – blending multimodal and multilingual texts and literary practices in teaching and research
  • “Knot-tying” – looking at the tying and untying of genres, texts, language, and people
  • Re-Articulating Composition – returning to the study of the writing process as a complex cultural process where the writer is involved in the knot-working of languages, tropes, narratives, ideologies, images, etc.
  • Good read for: all instructors

Keys to Designing Effective Writing and Research Assignments
Faculty Focus

  • A compilation of 11 one page articles written by faculty with their best advice on:

20 Questions About Writing Assignments

  •  20 questions students can ask their instructors for non-writing classes to better understand their assignments
  • This list helps instructors assist students in transferring their writing skills from a writing composition class to another discipline or field

Revising the Freshman Research Assignment

  • Instead of assigning a 10 page research paper that can be easily fluffed up, this teacher assigns 5 four-page papers
  • All of the papers are on the same topic, but each paper requires different sources (ie. first using only a primary source, then encyclopedias and other references, then only sources written before 1899, then books written since 1900, and finally, internet resources.

Chapter Essays as a Teaching Tool

  •  Having students write a brief 2 page paper for every chapter covered in the class, and the essay focuses on what they believe is the most important concept from the unit (in lecture or the reading), as well as how it relates to their own life
  • Incentivizes the reading as well as causes students to become personally invested in the class and understand why the information is important to learn

A ”Write” That Can’t Go Wrong

  •  A brief exercise to show students the importance of abandoning “mallspeak” in the academic setting, be more eloquent in their writing, and professional in their presentation

Writing an Analytical Paper in Chunks

  •  Help students grasp each part of an analytical paper by separating them into four chunks, one per week, with different questions per chunk
  • Ex. The first chunk is an intro to the topic, the second is about the conceptual framework, the third discusses opinions on the topic, and the fourth explains how the student’s findings make a difference in the world

Designing Assignments to Minimize Cyber-Cheating

  • Tips and explanations on how to prevent plagiarism in research papers:
  • Break up the research paper into smaller pieces
  • Require the students to write about course-specific topics
  • Chose some required source material
  • Incorporate assignments into class discussions and texts
  • Meet with students to discuss their papers
  • Require students to turn in printouts of source material

Making a Case for Writing Research Papers

  •  Presenting the analogy to students that writing a research paper is like being a lawyer defending a case results in better student work

Writing (Even A Little Bit) Facilitates Learning

  •  5 minutes of writing a week produces much higher test scores on the material than 5 minutes of thinking on the subject.
  • An easy way to incorporate this practice into already busy classes is to have students write for 5 minutes on a topic, then discuss it for 10 minutes, which can be done in class or section

Empowering Students Through Choice

  •  Giving students a choice in their writing can yield infinitely better results. A few ways to incorporate choice into the writing process include:
  • Giving length options – ex. Give students a choice of writing three 5 page essays, two 7-8 page essays, or one 15 page paper.
  • Allowing students to choose their own research topics, as long as the instructor approves them
  • Giving a “two out of three” option, where they have an element of choice in the process – ex. Pick two out of three assignments: 1) line by line sonnet explanation, 2) a creative/research assignment, 3) traditional literary analysis

How to Conduct a Paper Slam

  • A Paper Slam is an in class event where the students get to present their research findings to the rest of the class so that their hard work is validated, and they can learn from those around them
  • How to:
  • Towards the due date, ask each student to prepare one slide and a 60-90 second oral presentation that sums up their work to their peers
  • Organize the slides alphabetically, and create a handout that lists everyone in order and their topic names so students can take notes
  • On the due date, assemble all students in order, assign a timer, and let each present while holding the students to their time limit

A Global Perspective on Responding to Student Writing

  • Ways to make writing an enriching part of a larger course in terms of course design and working with drafts

 

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