Myths and Realties

When Not to Respond

Designing Writing Assignments

Commenting: Margins and End

Commenting on Drafts


Helping Students Learn Editing

Helping Students Learn to Fix Errors

Overview of Rhetorical Context

Discipline Specific Resources

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Authors & Contributors

Designing Writing Assignments

Good (or at least readable) student writing starts with a good assignment. Walking into class and announcing that a 10-page research paper is due at the final class won't get you good student writing. Any time you spend preparing a good writing assignment will save you time when you start to respond to the final products.

Start by thinking about your goals for the assignment. What do you want students to learn by doing the task? Will they engage an idea you've raised, explore a connection between the theoretical and practical, report on field research, summarize professional readings on the topic? Or is your goal to determine how much students have learned about the concepts you've presented in lectures? Or perhaps you have one of many other possible goals in mind. Be as specific as you can be about what you want this writing task to do for you and for your students as the first step in your process. (To see more about examining goals as the starting point for designing writing assignments, see

Specifically, think in more detail about these issues:

Then you'll be ready to let the assignment context and goals determine what you comment on.