For Instructors

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) 

TIP (Task as Intriguing Problem)
 
Writers can make better choices if they know the audience's initial stance toward the subject matter, if they know the specific constraints and possibilities of the textual genre they use, and if they are intrigued by a genuine problem arising out of the course context--a problem that calls for writing to address it. Effective writing assignments help students grapple with complex ideas and make substantive arguments. They are engaging and challenging, yet clear and accessible. They also make grading more fulfilling and less painful. 
 
The Writing Center stands ready to help you. We can help with:
  • 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:

ESL Resources

Plagiarism Resources

  • 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.

  • "Defining and Avoiding Plagiarism: The WPA Statement on Best Practices" from the Council of Writing Program Administrators offers useful definitions and suggestions for setting policies, designing assignments, and working with students to maximize teaching and learning while minimizing misuse of sources.

Responding to Student Writing

Keep in Touch