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Transforming Readers to Writers: Three Steps to Creating Effective Writing Assignments . May 2011 Spring Modules Writing Across the Curriculum Beth Hedengren.
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Writing Across the Curriculum
“The writing prompt functions to transform its writer (the teacher) and its readers (the students) into a reader (the teacher) and writers (the students)”
Anis S. Bawarshi. Genre and the Invention of the Writer: Reconsidering the Place of Invention in Composition. Logan, Utah: Utah State University Press, 2003, p. 130.Readers to Writers
“I never understood one assignment in high school—not one.”
A few weeks ago, one of my roommates asked if I could help him get started on a paper for his humanities class.
The writing assignment prompt was, “Analyze how the form and meaning of the architecture work together and are interconnected.”
I was baffled. “So what does she want you to do?” I asked him.
“I wish I knew,” he replied.
(Jared Fronk, February 20, 2008)
Are your students ever “bewildered” by your written instructions?
Best practices [in teaching writing] are positively associated with outcomes.
As the capstone project of this course, you will conduct research and write an 8-10 page paper on a topic related to the course.
“Teachers are always implicated in the writing their students produce.
In our assignments we construct occasions for writing, purposes, time frames, and guidelines.”
Katherine Gottschalk and Keith Hjortshoj,
The Elements of Teaching Writing: A Resource for Instructors in All Disciplines,
Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2004.Our responsibility
“Say something about why [you] felt the need to give the assignment in the first place.”
-- A StudentPUrpose
Anne Beaufort, College Writing and Beyond: A New Framework for University Writing Instruction, 2007.
Writing Process Knowledge
Subject Matter Knowledge
Genre KnowledgeExpert Writers Draw on Five Knowledge Domains
“We need to help students see the connection between being a good engineer and being a good writer.” Students must write about “something they’ve done, to a real customer, practical, realistic assignments of the kind they would use.”
Mechanical Engineering ProfessorConnect with Real Purpose
What do you want to accomplish with this assignment, in terms of your course goals?
“There is nothing more frustrating than to write an entire paper according to your interpretation of the prompt only to have it handed back with a poor grade reflecting the teachers (or TAs) interpretation of your interpretation.”
“I bring examples of professional writing to TA meetings. I say, ‘Look at this paper, this is professional tone.’ They get to recognize it.” (Biology professor)
“To prepare them to write their annotated bibliography, I showed them my annotated bibliography.” (Sociology professor)Share Examples
An 8-page writing prompt was divided into 3 short, sequenced assignments, allowing feedback at each step on professional skills.
“The original rubric detailed complete instructions for each section of the report.
The revised version requires communication that is “persuasively, professionally, clearly, concisely and completely conveyed and/or documented,” emphasizing how well the document serves the rhetorical needs of the situation it responds to.”
Mechanical Engineering ProfessorNot Too Much!
Look at the models. How does the format enhance readability? Are they as concise as possible while providing sufficient information?