What Counts as Writing? The Purposes for Writing

LEGOSWhen we think about assigning writing and writing activities in our courses, we often think about it in terms of the number of words or pages we want students to produce over the course of the semester. In some cases, such as with Writing Intensive courses, we might even have a specific number of words students are expected to produce, or a program or department might require a specific number of written assignments and activities for a specific course. Continue reading

Giving Formative Feedback

In our previous post, we discussed the why, how, and when of giving feedback, and we identified formative feedback as one of our most effective tools for teaching and learning. In this post, we’ll continue this discussion of giving effective feedback by looking at what formative feedback looks like, describing both its characteristics and providing examples of formative feedback statements. Continue reading

Giving Effective Feedback

Effective feedback is context-specific, determined by the purpose of the feedback, the time in which feedback is provided, and the goal for providing the feedback. To make your feedback effective, consider why, how, and when you are giving feedback.

Why Are You Giving Feedback?

Before you set out to provide feedback on student work, consider the contexts governing your feedback.

  • Are you providing feedback on a low-stakes writing-to-learn assignment or are you providing feedback on a high-stakes assignment?
  • Is this feedback being given to facilitate revision, or is the purpose of this feedback intended to be applied to future assignments?
  • In what stage of the assignment is the feedback being offered? Are you providing feedback on a final draft accompanied by a grade, or are you providing feedback on a work-in-progress that can be revised?
  • What is the goal of this feedback? To teach specific disciplinary writing conventions? To assess mastery of the subject? To encourage deeper learning?

Continue reading

What Counts as Writing?

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When we incorporate writing into our courses through writing to learn activities, learning to write assignments, or both, we have made the conscious decision that writing is an important tool for facilitating learning. While we may agree that incorporating writing and writing instruction into our courses is important, how often do we stop to ask ourselves what counts as writing?

How we answer this question shapes the ways we teach with writing in our classrooms; it determines the concepts, strategies, skills, and knowledge we teach when we teach writing; it defines the kinds of activities and products we assign in our courses; and it governs how we provide feedback on and evaluate student writing.

So, what counts as writing? Continue reading

Supporting the Transfer of Student Writing Knowledge

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Faculty who teach with writing in upper-level courses often ask about the prior literacy learning of students in their courses. Many of these faculty are uncertain about what their students have learned and what they need to learn in order to perform well on writing projects. Because they know students have taken writing courses, they want to know how best to leverage that prior learning. In other words, they are curious about how to support the transfer of prior writing knowledge. So, what can faculty who teach with writing do to facilitate that transfer? Continue reading

Small Ways to Integrate Writing into Your Course

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One of the first questions that faculty new to teaching writing across the disciplines ask is: how do I add writing to what I’m already doing in my class? Balancing content and writing instruction is a difficult task, and often we feel like we just can’t fit everything in. And while teaching a writing course might carry extra expectations, faculty are often surprised to learn that small writing-to-learn activities can add a lot of value while not requiring a lot of work. Continue reading

Karyn Kessler Offers 5 Tips for Academic Success

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As teachers, we recognize that academic success isn’t based only on cognitive abilities; it is also significantly impacted by social practices and emotional well-being.  But sometimes, we aren’t always certain how to articulate that for our students.  That is why today we are sharing a video from our friend Karyn Kessler, Interim Academic Director of INTO Mason, in which she talks about her five tips for academic success.  While she directs her advice to students studying in international contexts, much of it also applies to students studying in their hometowns and the faculty who teach them.  We summarize her tips below. Continue reading

Writers of Mason: Hanna Vandergrift

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“I hear a lot of writers and a lot of people worry that they’re not good enough, they’re insecure about their writing, they don’t think that they’re a good writer and that nothing is ever going to come of it. And that’s really sad because probably someone saw their writing at some point and was like ‘oh that’s stupid’ and they don’t ever want to write again. So my mentality now has been ‘fuck it, write it,’ if you want to write it then do it.”

Hanna Vandergrift is an English Major at George Mason University.