There are two major benefits to understanding a writing assignment as a series of stages that enhance larger course goals while moving students toward a final product that demonstrates progress toward some of those goals: 1) Greater appreciation of the relationship between course and assignment goals and 2) Closer attention to specific assignment details and their combined role in advancing goals.
The following steps will guide you in positioning assignments within your class.
Reviewing assignment goals articulated in the previous step, note how assignment goals contribute to overall course goals. If the connection is unclear, assignment goals may need to be revised.
Having identified the final product (e.g., research paper, reading summary, report) that best supports assignment goals, consider how the assignment might be broken into stages. For example, observation notes, reading outlines, proposals, and preliminary drafts might all represent stages on the way toward the final product.
Supplement the assignment with resources and activities that will contribute to studentsâ€™ progress toward assignment goals. For example, provide format models and samples of strong, average, and weak papers. Schedule peer review sessions, when students can exchange drafts and assist one another in the writing process.
Recognizing that writing is a process rather than a product, allow opportunities for revision. These opportunities are best scheduled before a final draft is due. However, thoughtfully assigned revision of graded papers supports an understanding of writing as a process and might ease studentsâ€™ frustration over sincere but unsuccessful attempts to master that process.
Consult the course syllabus to schedule due dates of all notes, outlines, proposals, and drafts, as well as the final product. Make sure due dates are preceded by necessary skills instruction and classroom discussions.