Implementing Quality Writing Assignments in General Education Courses

Under the direction of the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, the Office of Instruction and Assessment and the UA Writing Program have partnered to provide instructional support workshops for faculty instructors and graduate teaching assistants (GTAs) in implementing quality writing assignments into their general education courses.

For more information and resources for General Education Writing support at UA, please visit http://genedwriting.oia.arizona.edu/.

Workshop 1-Incorporating Informal Writing Opportunities

Workshop 2-Reading Strategies to Support Student Leaning

Workshop 3-Designing Engaging  Writing Assignments

Workshop 4-Developing Rubrics for Fair, Consistent, Efficient Grading

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Incorporating Informal Writing Opportunities

When: Wednesday, September 14, 2016 10:00-11:30 am, ILC 136

Facilitators: Lindsay Hansen (Asst. Prof. of Practice) and Brad Jacobson (Writing Support Specialist)

Description:  Informal or “low-stakes” writing assignments offer students opportunities to use writing as a tool for thinking, to clarify their ideas, and to engage with course content in a context that encourages risk-taking and exploration. They also provide instructors with an opportunity to see how students are responding to materials before they are evaluated on a big test or research paper. When strategically assigned, informal writing can be used as scaffolding toward a formal or “high-stakes” assignment.

This workshop introduces general education instructors to the theory and practice of informal class writing. Workshop participants will engage in a number of informal writing exercises, reflect on the informal writing experience, and discuss how incorporating these or similar exercises could work in their class. Participants will leave with specific strategies for incorporating and assessing low-stakes writing.

Workshop Outcomes

By the end of the workshop participants will be able to…

  1. identify informal writing opportunities that complement course learning goals.
  2. explore strategies for using informal writing to gauge student learning and support formal writing assignments.

 

Reading Strategies to Support Student Learning

When: Thursday, October 6, 2016 10-11:30 am, ILC 136

Facilitators: Lindsay Hansen (Asst. Prof. of Practice) and Brad Jacobson (Writing Support Specialist)

Description: Academic reading poses unique challenges: students are expected to question, compare, and use new information while also working with discipline-specific vocabulary and writing styles. Especially when writing assignments emerge from course texts, these reading challenges can compound to create poor grades and a negative attitude about learning.

This interactive workshop introduces instructors to research-based strategies for helping students build their academic reading skills and engage more deeply with course texts. Workshop participants will explore a number of reading-to-write exercises and discuss how incorporating these or similar exercises could work in their class to support a positive learning environment. Participants will leave with specific strategies for incorporating reading assignments in their classes.

Workshop Outcomes:

By the end of this workshop, participants will be able to employ a variety of strategies to engage students with class texts and gauge student learning.

 

Designing Engaging Writing Assignments

When: Friday, October 28, 2016 9:00-10:30 am, ILC 136

Facilitators: Lindsay Hansen (Asst. Prof. of Practice) and Brad Jacobson (Writing Support Specialist)

Description:  Writing provides means for exploring disciplinary knowledge and building scholarly communication skills. A well-designed writing assignment sets students up for writing success by communicating both of these means, as well as the expectations and criteria for the assignment.

This workshop introduces general education instructors to approaches for designing engaging and effective formal writing assignments. In workshopping their own writing assignment(s), participants will have the opportunity to (re)define objectives and priorities for a writing assignment, explore alternative assignment ideas to maximize student engagement, and explore the ways making disciplinary expectations visible can support student and instructor success. Participants will leave the workshop with a revised version of their writing assignment and new strategies for approaching writing assignment design.

To maximize the benefit of this workshop, please bring a copy of an assignment you use for one of your courses.

Workshop Outcomes

By the end of the workshop, participants will be able to:

  1. align a writing assignment with learning goals.
  2. design engaging writing assignments considering the role of purpose, audience, and genre.
  3. revise writing assignment instructions and description for clarity and purpose.

 

 

Developing Rubrics for Fair, Consistent, Efficient Grading

When: Monday, November 7, 2016 3:00-4:30 pm, ILC 136

Facilitators: Lindsay Hansen (Asst. Prof. of Practice) and Brad Jacobson (Writing Support Specialist)

Description: Using effective grading rubrics for writing assignments is one way to facilitate student learning and make assessment more fair, consistent, and efficient (White and Wright, 2016). This workshop offers instructors an introduction to the practical considerations of using rubrics for assessing writing in general education and disciplinary courses. Participants will have an opportunity to discuss research-based practices for designing effective rubrics, analyze and evaluate sample rubrics, and begin to develop or revise a rubric for a writing assignment in their course. 

To maximize the benefit of this workshop, please bring a copy of an assignment you use for one of your courses.

Workshop Outcomes:

By the end of this workshop, participants will be able to:

  1. align rubric criteria with assignment goals and priorities
  2. evaluate rubric design to serve different purposes
  3. revise rubric criteria for clarity and purpose