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Students encounter new perspectives and competing ideas with each new reading, and thus must evaluate and balance various views and adopt a position that considers the various points of view. In this approach, students’ assignments move from less complex to more complex modes of discourse (e.g., from expressive to analytic to argumentative; or from lab report to position paper to research article). In this approach, students create drafts for different audiences, moving from personal to public (e.g., from self-reflection to an audience of peers to an audience of specialists).Each change would require different tasks and more extensive knowledge. In this approach, students might write a statement of their understanding of a subject or issue at the beginning of a course and then return at the end of the semester to write an analysis of that original stance in the light of the experiences and knowledge gained in the course. A different approach to sequencing is to create a series of assignments culminating in a final writing project.When students write only to the instructor, they may assume that little, if anything, requires explanation. For example, a very effective role for student writers is that of a “professional in training” who uses the assumptions, the perspective, and the conceptual tools of the discipline. If possible, explain the relative weight in grading assigned to the quality of writing and the assignment’s content: Checking the Assignment Here’s a checklist for writing assignments: 1. Have you presented the assignment in a manageable form?
Instructors can often help students write more effective papers by giving students written instructions about that assignment.
Explicit descriptions of assignments on the syllabus or on an “assignment sheet” tend to produce the best results.
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This page contains four specific areas: Creating Effective Assignments Checking the Assignment Sequencing Writing Assignments Selecting an Effective Writing Assignment Format Creating Effective Assignments Research has shown that the more detailed a writing assignment is, the better the student papers are in response to that assignment.
For humanities and social science courses, students might write a proposal requesting approval of a particular topic, then hand in an annotated bibliography, and then a draft, and then the final version of the paper. A variation of the previous approach is to have students submit various sections of their final document throughout the semester (e.g., their bibliography, review of the literature, methods section).
Selecting an Effective Writing Assignment Format In addition to the standard essay and report formats, several other formats exist that might give students a different slant on the course material or allow them to use slightly different writing skills. Journals have become a popular format in recent years for courses that require some writing.
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The students do not need to be writing on the same topic. Have students consult with someone in the Writing and Communication Center about their prewriting and/or drafts.
The Center has yellow forms that we can give to students to inform you that such a visit was made. A series of reading and writing assignments may be linked by the same subject matter or topic.