November 7, 2006

Workshop Extension: Effective Writing Assignments

On November 2, 2006, Barb Toth from the BGSU Writing Center facilitated a workshop on "Constructing Effective Writing Assignments."

• What types of writing assignments do you use for your courses to solicit student understanding?

• What kind(s) of assessment strategies to you employ - rubrics, checklists, peer evaluations, etc.?

Visit the Writing Center's website for many online resources, including student and instructor resources. Some samples resources and handouts include: MLA, APA, and other stlye guides, consultant tips, plagiarism prevention, resume tips, and much, much more.


Mark Earley said...

I use a "Letter Writing" assessment in my introductory statistics courses to capture how students are organizing course concepts and whether they can apply those concepts to an example they create. I have a "checklist" rubric to evaluate whether students covered the required content and did so appropriately.

Students comment they are very time consuming "because [they] had to go back to, like, their notes and the book and stuff!". I can only smile and think that, yes, that was the point. They can be time-consuming to score, particularly when students are way, way off base in their descriptions. Usually they're not that far off the mark, and many students get creative (e.g., writing their letter to Santa or George Bush or their mom) so it can get fun for both me and them.

Bethany Snyder-Morse said...

One assignment that is a great way to introduce students to the Curriculum Resource Center at the library is to offer an "evaluate a text" assignment using children's books. The assignment asks students to consider audience and evaluate the ways in which the book is effective. This assignment allows students with various interests to choose a book they like, and the topic is fairly open. Given that the text is a children's book, the assignment is often quite fun for students, especially education majors.
Bethany Snyder-Morse

Karen Craigo said...

One of my favorite assignments is to assign a profile of a person that the student knows and admires. I do this as an introductory assignment in a writing course, but I could envision this in many other types of courses -- like, say, an education course, where students could profile a favorite teacher.

I teach first-year students, and in general, I find that they are focused on themselves and their own experiences (normal enough, since the first year is a time of such personal growth and change). It strikes me as healthy to broaden their perspectives a bit. The profile does this; it reminds them that other people have something to contribute, and that's a great lesson in the first year.

Frequently, we have students offer personal reflections on readings or lessons, through journals and similar assignments. The profile allows them to get personal, but not to focus solely on themselves and what they think and feel.

An added bonus is that there is built-in but subtle argumentation in this paper: Students need to prove that their subject is worthy of profiling, and this is done through the details that they choose to include.

Anyhow, I recommend it for those of you who are looking for a little something different from your students. They tend to love the assignment, and I always enjoy reading them.