Workshops: Improving Student Writing, Spring 2016

Workshops: Improving Student Writing

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
Workshop 1: Incorporating Informal Writing Opportunities
Workshop 2: Designing Effective Writing Assignments

Incorporating Informal Writing Opportunities
When: Tuesday, January 19th, 1:00-2:30pm, ILC 136 OR
    Monday, March 7th, 10:00-11:30am, 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 a big test or research paper. When strategically assigned, informal writing assignments 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 participate 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.


Designing Effective Writing Assignments
When: Thursday, February 4th, 1:00-2:30pm, ILC 136 OR
    Friday, February 19th, 9:30-11:00am, 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, analyze the disciplinary expectations of writing relevant to their course, and explore the ways writing assignment instructions and descriptions can support students and instructors in addressing the assignment. Participants will leave the workshop with a revised version of their writing assignment and new strategies for approaching writing assignment design.

Workshop Outcomes
By the end of the workshop, participants will be able to:
1.    align a writing assignment with student learning outcomes.
2.    analyze assignment criteria for disciplinary expectations of writing.
3.    revise writing assignment instructions and description for clarity and purpose.