Social Sciences

Informal Writing Assignments

Author: 
Brad Hughes, Martin Nystrand, Paige Byam, and Tom Curtis
Description: 
The assignments below are generally short, informal, perhaps ungraded writing assignments that instructors might consider adapting to their classes. Students often appreciate the opportunity to explore their thoughts on paper in such a way that relieves the pressure of a longer, more formal writing assignment.

The Question Box

Responding to Student Drafts Using Audio

Author: 
Annette Vee, English Department, UW-Madison
Description: 
TA Annette Vee offers an alternative to written feedback on student drafts. She advocates recording audio feedback to achieve a conversational, engaged, and still-thoughtful exchange with students.

It's relatively easy to record an audio file and send that to your students as an attachment to an email, to post that file to your course management software or course website.

Directing Peer Review Toward Global Writing Concerns

Author: 
Professor Colleen Moore, Psychology Department, UW-Madison
Description: 
Professor Colleen Moore directs students to answer questions that are listed in order from global to local concerns, modeling for students a smart method for responding to writing.
Peer Review Instructions<

Organization Issues

Author: 
Professor Robert Hawkins, School of Journalism and Mass Communication, UW-Madison
Description: 
Professor Robert Hawkins’ handout offers specific advice to students on organizing paragraphs and making transitions. 
Paragraph unity.
Ideally, every sentence in a paragraph should contribute to developing some central idea.

Making a Sociological Argument: Orienting Students to a New Field

Author: 
Greta Krippner, Sociology Department, UW-Madison
Description: 
Greta Krippner offers explicit advice for introducing students to the discipline of sociology. Specifically, Krippner offers guidance for coaching students to make a sociological argument, find a sociological research question, and read quantitative journals.

Of course the method of presentation must differ in form from that of inquiry.”   (Karl Marx, 1867)

Introduction

From Topic to Thesis

Author: 
Tisha Turk, Gender and Women's Studies, UW-Madison
Description: 
Students may do a good job of coming up with a suitable thesis or argument, but how can instructors help students to move beyond the obvious or the ordinary? In this handout, instructor Tisha Turk shows her students what she’s thinking as she reads their ideas to help them understand reader expectations

A well-constructed thesis statement helps hold an essay together by showing the reader where the paper is going to go.

Motivating Students to Grow as Writers

Author: 
Sara Lindberg, Psychology Department, UW-Madison
Description: 
How do you increase student motivation to write and give tough critical feedback on writing? Instructor Sara Lindberg gives concrete tips based on her experience teaching in Psychology 225.

There are several things you can do to help your students cope with critical feedback—a necessary evil in the writing process.

Helping Your Students Improve Their Writing and Their Learning

Author: 
Brad Hughes, UW-Madison WAC Program
Description: 
Here are some suggestions, based on research and experience, for improving your students' writing--and for improving the experience you have assigning, reading, and responding to it.

While many of these principles and techniques take time to implement, and some may be logistically impossible in large classes, they have proven successful here and at many other schools in courses

Weekly Assignments in Theatre and Drama and History of Science

Author: 
Karen Ryker, Michael Shank
Description: 
Professor Karen Ryker and Professor Michael Shank use weekly writing assignments to encourage student engagement and to stimulate class discussions. "The Journal" and "The Weekly One Pager" are two examples of these types of assignments.     

The Journal  

A Collaborative Term Project and Oral Presentation in Consumer Science

Author: 
Irena Vida
Description: 
Professor Irena Vida explain the requirements of a group term paper and presentation. Note that although she gives no explicit directions regarding how the group should divide responsibilities, she does ask students to report back on the contribution of each group member to the final project.

This team project assignment consists of a descriptive and historical account of a major U.S. retail chain with store branches in at least 10 different states.

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