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Designing Effective Writing Assignments

Articles & Books

Good Writing Assignments = Good Thinking: A Proven WID Philosophy (Stout, R., 1997). The article, published in Language and Learning Across the Disciplines, reshapes the notion of writing assignments as more accurately "thinking assignments," and discusses how to effectively design them to ensure students think critically about their writing.


Teaching Writing Across the Curriculum (Young, A., 2011). Read Chapter 2, "Writing to Learn" (pp. 5-32), which presents guidelines to design Writing-to-Learn Assignments.


Designing Writing Assignments (Gardner, T., 2008). The book focuses on how to develop assignments and writing tasks that allow students to grow as writers and thinkers. The following chapters are most relevant to designing effective writing assignments:


Chapter 1, The Essentials of an Effective Writing Assignment


Chapter 3, Designing Writing Assignments


Guides & Handouts

Brief Guide to Designing Essay Assignments (Harvard). Selected guide from the Harvard Writing Project’s Guides to Teaching Writing that provides guidance on creating carefully crafted and explicit paper assignments that encourage students to write better papers.


Designing Writing Assignments (Colorado State University). Online teaching guide that assists faculty in designing effective writing assignments.



How Do I Design Effective Writing Assignments? (Carnegie Mellon University). The Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence & Educational Innovation website provides a short discussion of designing effective writing assignments.


How Do I Incorporate Writing Into My Course Without Being Overwhelmed? (Carnegie Mellon University). The Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence & Educational Innovation website discusses incorporating both high-stakes and low-stakes writing to increase the frequency of student writing.


What Makes a Good Writing Assignment? (WAC Clearinghouse). The website discusses the importance of ‘backwards thinking’ in designing writing assignments by asking, ‘What do I want to read at the end of this assignment?’.


How Can I Avoid Getting Lousy Student Writing? (WAC Clearinghouse). The website explains how faculty miss three key opportunities to ensure that they get better writing from students.


Creating Writing Assignments (MIT). The website contains content on creating effective assignments, checking writing assignments, sequencing writing assignments, and selecting an effective writing assignment format.



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