“Why are teachers afraid of sentences that begin with ‘I feel’ or that draw on personal experience?” Margaret Mott asks, repeating a question she read in an essay early in her career.
HIGHER ED TEACHING STRATEGIES FROM MAGNA PUBLICATIONS
writing assignment strategies
Most academics consider Wikipedia the enemy and so forbid their students from using Wikipedia for research. But here’s a secret that they don’t want you to know—we all use Wikipedia, including those academics.
In one of my favorite A Midsummer Night’s Dream passages by William Shakespeare, Theseus comments on the creation of poetry. Informing us that the “poet’s eye” in a “fine frenzy rolling” glances from “heaven to earth, from earth to heaven,” we learn about the process of making sense of the world and composing something about it.
Before embarking on a writing assignment, I challenge my students to imagine a skeptical reader who expects them to answer five important questions. Answering these questions demands critical writing and thinking, and helps the students develop thoughtful content, efficient structure, and clear sentences.
How often does this happen to you? You pore over students’ writing assignments, adding what you feel are insightful and encouraging comments throughout each paper. Comments you hope your students will take to heart and use to improve their writing next time around. Then you return the papers and the students quickly look at the grade and stuff the paper into their backpacks … perhaps mumbling something under their breath as they do.
Professors often believe students should arrive on campus knowing how to write research papers. Unfortunately, many do not. Download this free report for proven assignment strategies that are easy to implement.
At the end of English composition, I ask students how what they’ve just learned in my class might be useful in their other classes. They’re often bemused and surprised to learn that professors in other courses care about their writing. To encourage them to take responsibility for succeeding in their future writing assignments, I hand out a list of 20 questions that they might ask to better understand “what the professor wants,” and thus continue to apply what we’ve been practicing.