Help for Your Students
Please recommend us to students who would benefit from additional help in meeting the intellectual goals of your writing assignments. Many students come in on their own, but often your recommendation will convince reluctant students to seek our help.
We will send you written feedback when your students visit us. If you ask a student to visit the writing center, please also require the student to prepare specific written goals for the session.
To ensure that every Writing Center session is maximally useful, please encourage your students to bring their assignments with them.
In past semesters, instructors have incorporated the Writing Center into their courses in various other ways, such as:
- by showing, during class, the video provided on the Writing Center home page;
- by suggesting a visit to the Center by some or all of their students during the process of writing and revising course papers; or
- by having a Writing Center tutor come to class to discuss the Center (for about 10 minutes).
Help for You: Assignments
Effective writing assignments increase the chance of meaningful intellectual growth for students. What seems clear to teachers in their assignments may not be clear to students. If your students seem not to "get it," if they seem not to write or think deeply, and grading their papers is more painful than fulfilling, we can help.
John C. Bean, Professor of English at Seattle University, describes effective, "meaning-constructing" writing assignments as those that give students a RAFT and a TIP:
RAFT (Role [or purpose], Audience, Format [or genre], Task)
- Assignment design
- Sequencing and scaffolding of writing tasks (especially important for research papers)
- Design of activities that support learning through writing (e.g., peer review of substantive drafts, self-evaluations, editing activities)
- Design of revision policies and evaluation rubrics
Here are some useful links with advice, tips, and examples of good writing assignments:
- "Assignments from Hell: the View from the Writing Center" by Muriel Harris (link downloads .doc file MS of chapter later published in What is College-Level Writing? Vol. 2: Assignments, Readings, and Student Writing Samples)
- Auburn University Writing Center: Digital Symposia on Writing Assignments (includes annotated assignments)
- Colorado State University: Designing Writing Assignments
- Duke Writing Program: Genre Features
- E. Shelley Reid: 20 (Student) Questions About Writing Assignments
- Grand Valley State University: Best Practices for Designing Writing Assignments (as usable documents)
- University of Hawaii, Manoa: How Students "Read" Writing Assignments
- Princeton Writing Program: Elements of an Effective Writing Assignment
- The WAC Clearinghouse: What Makes a Good Writing Assignment?
- Our Resources page links to useful information, tips, and strategies for you and your students who are not native English speakers.
WAC and Second-Language Writers: Research Towards Linguistically and Culturally Inclusive Programs and Practices (Free book in .pdf format; chapters include topics such as helping ESL students with taking a stance in argumentative writing, writing summaries, and errors).
The Citation Project studied actual source use in papers by 174 students at 16 institutions. Its findings and ongoing research help teachers and students understand the various kinds of students' uses and misuses of source material. Its findings also suggest a need for writing assignments to require deeper reading and engagement with source material.
Responding to Student Writing
- Doug Hesse offers 13 Ways of Looking at Responding to Student Writing and provides practical advice for managing this complex task in ways that enhance teaching and learning.
- Laura Brady gives additional practical advice in Responding to Student Writing.
- The WAC Clearinghouse offers several pages of tips for responding to student writing.