Designing Effective Writing
What is the purpose of the assignment? How will it be
- Writing can be used to help students learn subject
- Writing can be used to demonstrate a student's knowledge
- Any writing assignment can help improve students' writing
Is the assignment written in-class or out-of-class?
What kind of writing will students do?
- In-class writing requires a more tightly focused writing
- Out-of-class writing can demand more preparation and revision
- Less grading time is required for in-class writing
What level are the students?
- Personal/expressive writing lets students discover their
opinions without the risk of failing to produce a formal,
structured, "correct product. Its audience can be oneself,
peers and/or the teacher.
- Academic writing/writing from sources teaches students to
make and support claims using the conventions of writing in
higher education. Its audience is usually the teacher.
- Workplace writing like proposals, reports and abstracts
teaches students the writing of their professions. Its
audience may vary.
Will the students write alone or in groups?
- Lover-division students are less committed to college and to
a career choice and typically know less.
- Upper-division students are more committed and knowledgeable
about both college and career.
Who will evaluate the writing, and when?
- Collaborative writing is the pattern in the American
workplace, but collaborative assignments require structure to
avoid problems of "pooled ignorance," uneven levels of commitment
by students, and immaturity.
Is revision of the assignment permitted?
- Out-of-class writing permits individual paper conferences and
peer editing in addition to instructor evaluation.
- Allowing revision can make more work for the instructor, but
it can improve student learning. Discourage revision that
is mere exercise of the fingers.
- Specify your criteria
for evaluation as part of the assignment.
- Check sheets can be useful for clarifying an assignment. So
can trying to write the assignment yourself, if you have
- Consider building up to complex assignments and goals through
simpler ones. For example, have students rewrite an assignment
that simply reports observations into one that generalizes from
- Try to provide a specific audience for the writing.
- Try to make every assignment count. That doesn't necessarily
mean all must be graded or collected, but using them in some way
can help students see the worth of the assignments.
- Any assignment help writing ability if students write in
complete sentences, using their own words.
- Not all assignments need to be long, major papers. In fact,
shorter assignments serve some purposes better.
- Most importantly,
shape the assignment to fit your purpose. Before
making an assignment, know what content and skills you want your
students to practice or demonstrate by writing. Also know what
tasks the students must perform to achieve your specific