Overview: Designing Effective Assignments

Creative Writing Assignments in African Languages and Literature

Author: 
Linda Hunter
Description: 
The following examples from Professor Linda Hunter's course illustrate how innovative writing assignments can be incorporated into a class.

There will be five exercises in writing, which together will count for 20% of the final grade.

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

Teaching Writing in Multidisciplinary Graduate Courses

Author: 
Kate Vieira

Multidisciplinary graduate courses offer forums for exciting collaboration, as well as a chance for Ph.D. students to fulfill their minor requirement. But when students come to a graduate course from varied departments, questions arise about what kind of writing to assign and how to help students succeed at it.

Short, Informal Writing Assignments in a Literature Course

Author: 
Sherry Reames
Description: 
Professor Sherry Reames offers a great mix of activities and assignments that teach invaluable skills to students learning how to write about literature.

Because there were nearly 200 students in the class this spring, Professor Reames broke students into two groups, each of which were required to turn in responses on different days (usually Wed and Fri of the same week).

Writing Assignments for Non-Majors in a Communication-B Course

Author: 
Shannon Skelton
Description: 
The following assignments engage students in course content in creative ways that play to students’ interests and strengths.

I am under no illusions about why students enroll in my Comm-B section of Introduction to Theatre and Dramatic Literature.

A Sequence of Formal and Informal Assignments

Author: 
Colleen Moore
Description: 
Before and during the time her students begin work on their 10-15 page research papers, Professor Colleen Moore assigns eight shorter papers that encourage students to engage in critical thinking, careful reading, clear summarizing, and in-depth analysis. Moore's sequence initially builds from informal to formal writing and from simpler to more complex rhetorical tasks, enabling her students to practice and build their writing skills. While students are researching and writing their term papers, her assignments push students to stay engaged in the writing process and make it possible for her to give them feedback on their work in progress. Note also her very clear and explicit instructions and goals for students in each assignment.

Course goals:

 

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.

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