Designing and Teaching an Effective WID Course

In designing and teaching a course that fulfills the WID guidelines, it is important to remember that the effectiveness of a writing course depends on a number of factors. These include:

  • the types of assignments students are given (and the way they are written)
  • the opportunities students are given to rethink and revise their work
  • the quality of response students get on their drafts--both from instructors and from other students
  • the integration of the writing assignments with the purpose of the course.

So here are some things you will want to keep in mind as you plan your course:

Making writing central to the work of the course

Writing assignments should be integral to the course, rather than "extras." The course should be set up so that students write frequently throughout the course, providing occasions to develop their understanding of key ideas and terms of the course (as opposed to being assigned a single "term paper" that is invisible until it is turned in at the end of the semester).

Crafting effective writing assignments

Students will produce better work (and learn more) if their assignments accurately and precisely describe what students are to write about and to what extent they are to determine the topic, who they are writing for and to what end, and the form the writing is to take.

Giving feedback on drafts

Individual instructors vary as to how and whether they address "surface features" in student writing (such as sentence-level errors and style) and in how they allocate attention to matters of content, form, rhetorical practices, etc.--but all instructors should give students thoughtful responses to their work in a way that will enable the students to make use of the instructor comments in developing subsequent drafts.

Arranging for students to read and respond to each other's work

Whether students consider each other's writing as part of class discussion or in small groups, whether orally, on paper or electronically, students should spend time discussing each other's work as an integral part of the course.

If you would like to learn more about any of these aspects of teaching a WID course, please contact Cary Moskovitz to set up an individual meeting or a workshop for your department.