Overview: Designing Effective Assignments

Sequenced Assignments with Different Forms of Media

Author: 
Greg Downey, Library and Information Studies
Description: 
Taught by Professor Greg Downey, this hybrid in-person/online course gives students the chance to experiment with personal publishing tools such as weblogs and video podcasts.

The Information Society: Hybrid In-person/Online Course Syllabus

Why Learning to Write Well in College Is Difficult

Author: 
Bill Cerbin, Assistant to the Provost, UW-La Crosse, and Terry Beck, Department of English, UW-La Crosse
Description: 
In this list, Cerbin and Beck offer insightful explanations for why students struggle when they move from high school to college writing and when they write in different disciplines. Cerbin and Beck offer instructors explicit issues to consider when designing writing assignments, working with students on writing, and evaluating written work.

The following list is not, of course, meant to rationalize sub-par writing by college students. Nor can one course instructor address all the challenges listed below.

Why Should I Use Writing Assignments in My Teaching?

Author: 
Brad Hughes, UW-Madison WAC Program
Description: 
The premise of this WAC website--and of the WAC movement overall--is that effectively designed writing assignments enhance our teaching and our students' learning.  While acknowleding that assigning and evaluating writing is time consuming, this page offers a number of persuasive arguments why writing assignments are part of effective teaching and learning.

That's a good question, actually. Let's be honest–-there are, after all, many reasons why we might not want to assign writing in our courses. And many of those reasons have to do with the limited time we all can devote to teaching. Designing writing assignments and responding to student writing take valuable time—lots of time if we do them carefully.

The Fifty-Word Assignment

Author: 
Professor Charles L. Cohen
Description: 
Professor Charles L. Cohen introduces and explains goals for his 50-word “Minor Writing assignments.” For these assignments, students write a single sentence, no more than 50 words, in response to challenging questions the professor poses.

Seeking the holy grail of an exercise that teaches writing, advances critical skills, adds only a modicum of time to students’ weekly work load, and requires even less time/student to evaluat

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  

Reinventing the Intermediate Organic Chemistry Laboratory

How does one go about updating a curricular classic? And what role do writing assignments play? These are the questions we asked Assistant Professor Helen Blackwell, recent winner of a prestigious university teaching award. We were interested in how she and colleagues reinvented the Intermediate Organic Chemistry Laboratory (Chemistry 346).

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.

Burning Questions--Why Your Students Should Have Them

Author: 
Matthew Pearson
Description: 
Encouraging your students to write about issues that genuinely interest them is one of the best ways to help students to learn new things in your course and to write high-quality papers.

One of the challenges facing any instructor is trying to pinpoint why some papers are compelling and pleasurable to read, while others are difficult to get through, or simply not that exciting to read. Often, a central reason for less-than-stellar writing is that a few students do not have a genuine interest in their topics and a desire to know more about it.

Writing Assignments in Anthropology 490

Author: 
Karen Strier
Description: 
Focusing on the point, structure, audience, topic, and format for course papers, anthropologist Karen Strier advises her students about writing the one and five-page papers for her writing-intensive senior seminar.

This is a writing intensive course, which means frequent writing assignments, lots of feedback, opportunities to work on both the content of your papers and how you communicate your knowledge and i

Astronomy 236 Writing Assignments

Author: 
Eric Wilcots

Professor Eric Wilcots teaches a Communication-B course titled "The History of Matter in the Universe." His course Web site includes details about the four writing assignments.

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