Writing II — Guidelines for Integrating Writing into Your Syllabus
SECTION 1a: Start with the End
Use the table below to identify the overall course content and writing objectives. From there, translate those overall course objectives into essential questions in order to promote an inquiry-based approach to student learning.
|Course Content Objectives That Could Integrate Writing||Course Content Essential Question(s)|
|By the end of the course, students will have an understanding of…||Throughout the course, students will discuss the following essential questions:|
|Potential Writing Assignments — Useful assignments might help students apply or extend course content by: 1) introducing typical writing genres in your field OR 2) engaging students in practicing an important critical thinking skill.|
|The following writing assignment(s) can help students answer the essential questions and/or support students in achieving course content objectives.|
SECTION 1b: Types of Field-Based Writing Genres
If you decide to create writing assignments that will introduce students to typical writing genres in your field, it might be helpful to make a list of those typical genres. What kinds of writing are typical in your field? What kinds of writing activities will help support the overall course objectives? Use the chart below to identify the formal writing assignments you might use in your course. This is not a prescriptive list with stagnant categories, so feel free to add assignment types. Once you’ve decided on assignment types, use the space below to begin writing an assignment that might work for your course. .
|Field-based Genres or Typical Types of Published Writing|
Op-Ed or Letter to the Editor
Scientific (IMRD) Research Paper
Rhetorical Analysis Paper
|Write-In Your Own Assignment:__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________|
SECTION 1c: Skills-Based Writing Assignments
Below is a list of skill-based writing assignments for you to consider if you decide to create writing assignments that will engage students in practicing an important critical thinking skill. What kinds of writing will aid students in thinking critically about the course material? What kinds of writing activities will help support the overall course objectives related to critical thinking? Use the chart below to identify the writing assignments you might use in your course. This is not a prescriptive list with stagnant categories, so feel free to add assignment types. Once you’ve decided on assignment types, use the space below to begin writing an assignment that might work for your course.
|Skills-Based Writing Assignments|
|Summary or Precis
|Write-In Your Own Assignment: ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________|
Use the following table to identify the one writing assignment from the list above that will engage the students in the previously identified course content objectives and essential questions. This assignment should be a focal point for your course and should be representative of the content learned as students complete your course.
|Writing Assignment Title/Type||Main Purpose, Goals, & Essential Questions||Intended Audience||Writing Prompt/Assignment Details/Description|
SECTION 2: Writing Clear Prompts
According to Brad Hughes, “Feedback on student writing actually begins LONG before you receive a stack of student papers; it begins with how you design writing assignments and how*you integrate them into your course.” Starting with the design of the essay question itself, a well-designed essay prompt goes a long way in helping students write effectively because the prompt itself makes clear to students exactly what is expected of them. The sample prompt below begins with a succinct statement of the writing assignment. It then explains what the paper should contain and how it will be graded. This clear articulation of the assignment not only helps students know what they are expected to accomplish, but will also help the instructor provide feedback.
Writing Project #1 – Evaluation of a Writer’s Argument
Assignment Guidelines: Choose one of the following pieces we have considered in class and write a 3-page essay that evaluates the author’s ideas about the influence of social media and communication via mobile devices.
Hiding Behind the Screen – Roger Scruton
Your essay should contain the following:
1. Some part of your essay must summarize the author’s argument. You may think that this part is not necessary because, after all, everyone in class has read the essay. Nonetheless, it is an important component because your summary will show how you have understood and interpreted the author’s ideas. Make sure to include the author’s main claim. Also explain the reasoning the author used and assumptions s/he made to support the argument.
2. The rest of your essay should answer the following question: Do you agree or disagree with the author’s ideas? (If you focus on the author’s reasoning, do you find his/her ideas reasonable and convincing? If you focus on assumptions, what are they and do you agree with them?)
SECTION 3a: Scaffolding & Sequencing Writing Assignments
Another key to effective assignments is how they are integrated into the course. Helping students succeed in a larger writing assignment involves scaffolding or supporting students as they write by identifying smaller, targeted assignments that will help students complete the larger writing task. “Scaffolding” is an instructional strategy that gives students support for a specific challenging task, then moves on to another challenging task, and so on until the entire project is completed. It is helpful, for example, to segment a complex paper into smaller, manageable phases. Do this by breaking down the process by asking students to turn in a series of smaller assignments.That is, are there sub-writing assignments or exercises that will prepare the students for the larger writing task? There are several ways to build the sub-writing assignments or tasks into your course. The first is to consider assigning informal writing assignments that will aid the student in writing some part of the larger writing assignment.
SECTION 3b: Scaffolding with Writing to Learn Assignments
A good way to scaffold a writing assignment is to assign informal writing tasks (usually not formally graded) that allow students to complete some part of the larger writing assignment. For example, if students are writing a literature review, you might have them write summaries or abstracts of individual articles they will use in the literature review. Below is a list of assignments that use writing as a tool for learning. As you consider using informal writing to scaffold the final writing assignment, identify informal writing assignments from the list below that you might have students do as pre-writing for the major writing assignment(s).
Informal Writing Assignments
|Write-In Your Own “Writing to Learn” Assignments: ___________________________________________________________________________________________________|
|How Will These Support Student Learning or Prepare Students to Write the Major Assignments: _________________________________________________________________________________________________|