No matter what type of major writing is assigned, students will write better and learn more if they have the opportunity to complete brief assignments that gradually build to longer writing projects. Here are some examples (John Bean):
Some Ideas for Monitoring and Sequencing Writing Assignments (John Bean):
- One approach is to assign short writing assignments that introduce research skills; for example: summaries or abstracts of articles, microthemes, analyses and comparisons of two different articles, short arguments based on research data.
- Another approach is to devise a structured assignment that breaks a longer research project into stages: explore topics in journal; summarize two journal articles related to topic; complete a prospectus or proposal about research; write an exploratory essay on research topic; complete a rough draft and do peer review workshop; submit a 200-word abstract of research argument; submit final research paper.
- Give problem-focused assignment, or one that asks students to defend and/or refute a proposition, or answer a question.
- Incorporate non-graded exploratory writing.
- Build in time to have students talk about their writing.
- Have students submit (or bring to class) preliminary proposals, focus statements, and drafts.
- Have students submit all drafts and notes with final essays.
- Allow rewrites of essays or parts of essays.
- Hold to high standards and develop criteria for evaluating final essays.
- Provide models of excellent essays by students.
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