Generating faculty enthusiasm for a writing-across-the-curriculum effort is not an easy task. As long as content areas instructor think of writing instruction as doctoring up the grammar of term papers, there can be little hope of progress.
Ways to Reduce Your Paper Load Designing Effective Writing Assignments Before designing any assignment, it is necessary to first assess the course objectives and what is the best way to meet those objectives.
There are several important aspects to consider when creating assignments: To make a successful assignment, you must first be clear about what the assignment should accomplish. You may want to use some assignments to generate discussion in class or to give students the opportunity to present their ideas in class.
Other goals are to give students the opportunity to express questions and confusion; to demonstrate understanding of course concepts and information; to respond to class readings and discussion; to prepare for other assignments or exams; or to clarify ideas for themselves.
There are two main kinds of writing assignments for content courses: Writing to Learn assignments are usually short, informal assignments.
The audience for such assignments can be the student herself, peers, or the teacher. These assignments can be in-class writing, or out of class writing. The primary purpose of writing to learn assignments is for students to grasp the ideas and concepts presented in the course for themselves.
Other writing assignments are used primarily to demonstrate knowledge. The audience for these assignments is most often the teacher. These are formal assignments written for a grade. These two types of assignments are not mutually exclusive.
However, it is important to determine the primary purpose the assignment must serve in order to decide what kind of writing to assign. Other things to think about in terms of your goals for the assignment: What part does this assignment play in the rest of the course? Is this assignment part of a sequence of assignments that includes both formal and informal writing?
Sequenced assignments are helpful in incorporating informal writing to learn assignments with formal demonstrative assignments. For example, thesis writing, reading responses, and short microthemes or abstracts can lead to a formal essay or term paper. There are a number of different purposes for assignments to fulfill; the purpose dictates the form and content of an assignment.
For example, students might be asked to articulate questions they have about course content; compose an article explaining course concepts to peers; respond to course reading or discussion; or argue a position on an issue related to the field of study.
The context of the assignment: Will this be an in-class or out-of-class assignment? Some assignments take place in the field of research. Will the students be working alone, or in groups or pairs? To what is the student responding — one or more readings, discussion, research?
Will you assign a particular issue or allow students to identify the issues themselves? Part of determining context is deciding the audience the students are to address. The audience of the assignment: The implied audience may be the same as or different from the real audience.
Both the implied and real audiences influence the shape of the assignment.
To whom are the students directing their writing? The implied audience can be the teacher, peers, scholars in the field, or the general public who is unfamiliar with the concepts of the discipline.
Specifying the implied audience will help students determine what common ground is available in the form of shared assumptions or theoretical perspectives. Also important is the real audience.
Who is actually going to read this assignment? A small group of peers? The teacher and peers?
Will there be multiple drafts? Will the student get comments from you or from peers before the final product is graded? What should the completed assignment look like?
Is there a particular way students should go about fulfilling the assignment? Is there a particular field protocol?Such assignments almost invariably tend to have significant time demands.
This article presents a method of incorporating WAC activities in a syllabus without over-stretching the evaluation burden. The approach employs microthemes and a “holistic” grading regime. An Efficient Approach to Writing across the Curriculum: Microthemes in Accounting Classes Article in The Journal of Education for Business 69(4) · April with 3 Reads DOI: A successful writing-across-the-curriculum program therefore demands some conceptual blockbusting.
One of the best blockbusters we have discovered is the microtheme--an essay so short that it can be typed on a single five-by-eight inch note card (Work, ).
Microthemes will be graded on a rubric of one to five: five is awarded as the highest grade for a submission of error-free quality and one, for the least satisfactory submission (e.g., for lack of coherence, flawed grammar, and/or failure to comply with APA formatting).
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