In almost any field, there is a need for writing that is not easily funded by existing sources. For example, if I'm teaching a human development course I might know of a family services agency that needs someone to write a grant proposal or an informational booklet for clients. If I teach an environmental science course, I might know of an activist group that needs support in a letter-writing campaign. If an issue related to my course has been misrepresented in the media, I might see a need for editorial letters offering a more accurate representation. If I have noted the lack of a general reference site related to my subject on the Internet, I might recognize the need for a comprehensive website. Any of these real needs can translate into a real audience for student writing, while enhancing students' respect for the significance of course content.
Caveats in Assigning Writing for Real Audiences