WRITE ON — Fall 2016 — Week 9

Looking Ahead to Your Next UDW Course

This week, we’re taking a quick break from the research-based writing pedagogy tips to reflect on the ground we’ve covered thus far through the fall Write On series, and to think about how these tips might matter for you as you prepare your upper-division writing syllabi for next quarter.

  • Build space in to your class schedule to talk about reading. [Week 1] Students may have anxiety about reading or may have a mental model for reading that is at odds with the sort of reading you want them to do in your course. Showing your students what and how you’d like to them to read over the quarter early on can help them engage sooner, dig into the material deeper, and be more ready to write when the time comes.
  • Consider the messiness of writing when you’re scheduling assignments. [Week 2] Though we have a heuristic of *the* writing process, research has shown that writing is actually a messy and recursive. As you’re designing your assignment sequences, think about how you might accommodate multiple writing processes during the quarter. You might build in smaller draft “checkpoints”; opt for fewer large writing assignments that students can build on throughout larger stretches of the quarter; or offer revision opportunities.
  • Own and announce your style preferences (and those in your discipline). [Week 3] “Good writing” looks dramatically different across disciplines, and even between instructors in the same discipline. Talk to your students about the expectations and possibilities for writing in your course to get them on the right track as soon as possible.
  • Foster a writing community in your class. [Week 4] Building peer review opportunities into your class schedule can help students make sense of the audience for their writing, encourage the development of their self-awareness as writers, and expose them to multiple approaches to a single writing task. When implementing peer review, plan ahead, prep your students by providing a peer response prompt, and model the sorts of commentary you’d like to see them provide one another
  • Diversify feedback opportunities. [Weeks 5 and 6] Commenting on student papers can be burdensome (though the burden can be lightened by using effective response strategies—see the CWC website or attend a workshop for tips!). Mixing up the ways you provide feedback to students can help lighten your load and can help students make better sense of your commentary. In addition to peer review, you might also hold one-on-one or group conferences or even offer audio memos to students.
  • Plan to help students use feedback. [Week 7] One way to “close the loop” of student writing and to help them use the feedback you provide to them in comments, conferences, and more is to build a “revision” memo into your writing assignments. A revision memo encourages metacognitive work and critical awareness and stresses the process component of writing.
  • Assess meaningfully and authentically. [Week 8] The writing process in your class doesn’t have to end with a final draft. Instead, you might design a multimodal project (like a website, a class wiki, a newsletter, or a zine); organize a one-day class conference for students to present their work (perhaps in panels) to peers and other invited guests; or invite students to craft work they can share with the larger disciplinary community (in journals, on blogs, etc.). Alternative assessments help students “place” their work in a bigger context than a discrete, ten-week college course.

If you’d like more information or want to chat with the CWC office while you’re planning your next course, please don’t hesitate to contact us.