Writing assignments, particularly for first- and second-year college students, are probably one of those items in the syllabus that some professors dread almost as much as their students do. Yet despite the fact that essays, research papers, and other types of writing assignments are time consuming and, at times, frustrating to grade, they also are vital to furthering student learning.
Of course part of the frustration comes when professors believe that students should arrive on campus knowing how to write research papers. Many do not. With as much content as professors have to cover, many feel they simply can’t take time to teach the research skills required to write a quality, college-level term paper. But as teaching professors who support the writing across the curriculum movement would tell you, improving students’ writing skills is everyone’s business, and carries with it many short- and long-term benefits for teachers and students alike. Further, many instructors are finding ways to add relevance to writing assignments by aligning them with the type of writing required in a specific profession as an alternative to the traditional, semester-long research paper.
This special report was created to provide instructors with fresh perspectives and proven strategies for designing more effective writing assignments. It features 11 articles from The Teaching Professor, including:
• Revising the Freshman Research Assignment
• Writing an Analytical Paper in Chunks
• Designing Assignments to Minimize Cyber-Cheating
• Chapter Essays as a Teaching Tool
• Writing (Even a Little Bit) Facilitates Learning
• How to Conduct a ‘Paper Slam’
While not every approach discussed in this special report will work for every course, every time, I invite you to identify a few that look appropriate for your courses, and implement them next semester. You just might be surprised by the results.