Informal Assignments

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

A Sequence of Informal and Formal Writing Assignments in a Psychology of Religion Syllabus

Author: 
Colleen Moore, Psychology of Religion, UW-Madison
Description: 
As her students work toward a 10-15 page research paper, Professor Colleen Moore assigns 8 shorter papers that build from informal to formal writing and simple to complex rhetorical tasks, enabling her students to practice and build their writing skills.

Psychology of Religion 411

This course examines religions and religious phenomena from the point of view of empirical psychology. This is a Level III (Advanced) Psychology course that assumes some sophisticated background in either psychology or religious studies.

 

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

Author: 
Lynn Keller, English, UW-Madison
Description: 
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
e‑mail: rlkeller@facstaff.wisc.edu

 

Course Description:

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).

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  

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