Literature and Language

Sequenced Graded And Ungraded Writing Assignments In A Writing-Intensive Literature Syllabus

Lynn Keller, English, UW-Madison
This sample syllabus shows how Professor Lynn Keller assigns ungraded, low-stakes journal writing in her writing-intensive literature course to let her students develop their ideas before they turn them into a high-stakes, graded essay.  

Modern American Literature Since 1914


Time and Place: 2:30‑3:45 110 Noland
Office hours: Tuesday 1:00‑3:00 and by appointment
7131 Helen C. White Hall, 263‑3794


Course Description:

Sample Student Self-Critique (Cover Sheet) for a Paper

Professor Deborah Brandt, English Department, UW-Madison
To encourage students to think critically about their writing and to encourage students to develop as writers over the semester, some instructors find it very effective to ask students to write a cover sheet (or memo or letter) for each paper, responding to questions like these.  You can, of course, adapt the questions you ask to reinforce the key elements of a particular assignment or genre.  You can use students' self-critiques as a starting point for personalizing your feedback on their work.

Self-Evaluation Cover Sheet


Sample Feedback (End Comment) on a Research Paper in an Introductory Writing Course

Anne Clark, English Department, UW-Madison
In this end comment on a student's revised draft of a research paper, notice how effectively the instructor addresses the student-writer personally, acknowledges improvement from the previous draft, reinforces important general principles about effective writing, poses questions to guide further revisions and to deepen thinking, and offers encouragement.  After the sample comment, the instructor explains her approach to commenting.


Student-Generated Evaluation Criteria

Beth Godbee, WAC Program, UW-Madison
Some instructors are very successful having students work collaboratively to develop evaluation criteria for papers--an alternative to instructos giving students rubrics or criteria.  Beth Godbee offers a persuasive argument about how much students learn from developing evaluation criteria and offers detailed advice about how to do this.

Student-Generated Evaluation Criteria


Sample Rubric for a Research Proposal: Intermediate Composition

Matthew Pearson, English Department, UW-Madison
This rubric reinforces the key components of an effective research proposal, starting with larger rhetorical concerns and moving to language, editing, and proofreading.

English 201—Section Eight

Instructor: Matthew Pearson


Final Paper Grading Rubric—Research Proposal in a Writing Course



Student Guidelines for Peer Review: Intermediate Composition

Janelle Schwartz, English Department, UW-Madison
Especially in introductory and intermediate courses, students do more effective peer reviews when instructors give them explicit guidelines for what to focus on when they read and comment on a draft.  One of the key goals here is to help students internalize these expectations for their own papers.

This is to give you an idea of the type of things you should be looking for and accomplishing in both your own paper and that of your peer(s). Use what follows as a kind of checklist for determining what is working effectively in a paper and what is not.



Putting Together Peer Review Groups

Most instructors agree that it pays off to put some thought into grouping students for peer review.  There's no magic number of students per group, but most instructors make groups of three or four students--large enough to have some variety in the feedback but small enough so that no one student has too many drafts to read and critique.  Here's some advice about setting up groups, writtten for instructors in English 100, a first-year writing course.

There's little consensus among instructors as to what kind of student combinations make for the best peer workshop groups. Some instructors have found it helpful not to place two or more men and one woman in a group, or one student of color in an all‑white group.

Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Reverse Outlining . . . But Didn't Know to Ask

Rebecca Nowacek, WAC Program, UW-Madison
To help students improve the organization of their papers, it's helpful to have them outline the draft they've written (a "reverse" or "after-the-fact" outline, done not before writing a draft but after)--so they can get an aerial view of the sequence of topics in their draft.  In this handout for students in an introductory literature course, the instructor, Rebecca Nowacek, explains how to create a reverse outline and how to use it while revising.

What is a reverse outline?

If a regular outline is something you write before you draft out your paper, a reverse outline is something you do after you write a draft.

Why should I reverse outline?

In-Class Writing Lessons

Molly Peeney, Slavic Languages and Literature, UW-Madison
Step-by-step instructions for designing and leading in-class discussions of student writing, developed for a Slavic literature-in-translation course.

Using student writing samples as the basis of your in-class discussions about writing is an effective method to teach writing and it saves you time. Why?


Three Innovative Writing Assignments in an African Languages and Literature Course

Linda Hunter
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. They are to be typed, double spaced, using no smaller than 12 point font size, on one side of one sheet of paper with one inch margins all around (approximately 250 words). Exercises must be no longer than one page. They must be turned in on the due date.

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