Five principles

Writing should meet teaching goals

Working backward from goals

Guidelines for writing assignments

Resource: Checksheets

Resource: Sample assignments

Resource: Sample grading criteria

Teacher commentary

Additional Resources

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Guidelines for Writing Assignments

Successful writing assignments depend on preparation, careful and thorough instructions, and on explicit criteria for evaluation. Although your experience with a given assignment will suggest ways of improving a specific paper in your class, the following guidelines should help you anticipate many potential problems and considerably reduce your grading time.

I. Purpose

  1. Explain the purpose of the writing assignment.
  2. Make the format of the writing assignment fit the purpose (format: research paper, position paper, brief or abstract, lab report, problem-solving paper, etc.).

II. The assignment

  1. Provide complete written instructions.
  2. Provide format models where possible.
  3. Discuss sample strong, average, and weak papers.

III. Revision of written drafts

Where appropriate, peer group workshops on rough drafts of papers may improve the overall quality of papers. For example, have students critique each others' papers one week before the due date for format, organization, or mechanics. For these workshops, outline specific and limited tasks on a checksheet. These workshops also give you an opportunity to make sure that all the students are progressing satisfactorily on the project.

IV. Evaluation

On a grading sheet, indicate the percentage of the grade devoted to content and the percentage devoted to writing skills (expression, punctuation, spelling, mechanics). The grading sheet should indicate the important content features as well as the writing skills you consider significant.