The reading you assign in class might provide a model for the writing you ask students to complete. Additionally, it will give students a better understanding of the complexities and implications of course content and can itself provide the focus for a writing assignment—writing about reading. Probably the most common type of academic writing assignment, writing about reading can enhance students' understanding of course concepts, can promote critical reading skills, and can prepare students for assignments that will require them to select their own topics. When assigning writing about reading, however, be careful to communicate the purpose of the assignment. Are they to summarize the reading? Respond to its content by agreeing or disagreeing? Compare the author's perspective to other perspectives discussed in the course? Also, don't neglect to communicate the rhetorical context of even such a traditional assignment. Consider asking students to summarize the reading for a future group of students or a campus publication. If they are responding to a reading, have them write a letter to the author or to another reviewer who has commented on the reading. For further advice on assigning writing about reading, see the Writing Center's guide to helping students summarize and respond to texts.
Challenging the Dichotomy Between Academic and "Real World" Writing