Crafting Effective Writing Assignments I: The Writing Task
How you articulate a writing task can have a large impact on what your students do and what they learn. Topics for this session include setting expectations, selecting an appropriate form and audience for student writing, helping students identify a meaningful and manageable writing project.
Crafting Effective Writing Assignments II: The Writing Process
Left to their own devices, students will often wait until a writing assignment is nearly due—cheating themselves out of much the learning the assignment was designed to support. This session explores a range of options for staging the writing process in ways that can maximize learning, without overburdening the instructor.
Efficient and Effective Feedback for Student Writing
Time-saving strategies for giving effective feedback on student writing.
Grading Student Writing
Grading student writing can be a frustrating and time consuming affair. This session offers advice on approaches to grading and designing context-appropriate guidelines and rubrics.
Using Peer Feedback Effectively
Peer feedback (often called “peer review” or “peer response”) has become a mainstay of writing pedagogy. Peer feedback can indeed be valuable; but, like all classroom practices, it’s effectiveness depends on how it is implemented. Topics of this workshop include understanding students’ history with peer feedback and social dynamics, choosing and articulating the feedback task, setting expectations, and assigning groups.
Helping Students Learn to Design Visual Displays
Graphs, tables, diagrams, and other visuals are central to writing in some fields. Yet many students don’t know how to craft effective visuals. This session presents ways to help students learn to design meaningful and effective visuals.
Helping Students Learn to Write about Visual Displays
Even if students know how to design figures, tables, and diagrams, they often don't know how to write about these effectively. This session presents an approach to helping students discuss visual elements meaningfully and effectively.
Audio Feedback for Student Writing
While teachers have traditionally given students feedback on their writing, advances in digital technology have made oral feedback a viable option. Giving oral feedback can be more pleasant and efficient than written feedback, and students generally respond positively to the intimacy of their instructor’s spoken voice and the greater nuance of spoken comments. Topics will include benefits and drawbacks of recorded oral feedback, types of oral feedback, and some options for recording and disseminating recorded responses.
Setting Up and Managing Group Writing Assignments
While co-authorship is increasingly common in undergraduate courses, faculty often have little training on how to effectively manage collaborative student work. Topics for this session include forming groups, assigning roles, reducing freeloading, and setting up a peer evaluation protocol.
Supporting Student Writing in Independent Research Projects
Undergraduate research helps students learn how knowledge is created in the discipline, but it also offers a rich opportunity for students to develop as writers. This session will suggest ways to capitalize on the extended and focused writing undergraduates do as part of their independent research projects. Topics will include setting expectations, staging student writing, planning for effective feedback, and anticipating incomplete research.
Rethinking the Undergraduate Science Lab Report
The science lab has been a mainstay of undergraduate science curricula for decades. Unfortunately, traditional approaches to student writing in lab courses rarely take full pedagogical advantage of these contexts. Topics for this session include defining goals for student writing in science labs, crafting lab writing assignments, training TAs, and providing useful feedback.
Student Writing in Senior Design Projects
Senior design projects offer a rich and valuable context for students to practice writing as apprentice engineers. However, because students usually have no experience in doing the kind of writing appropriate for design work, these contexts also present particular challenges. Topics will include helping students understand the conventions and demands of the assigned forms of writing, staging the writing process, and working with clients.
The Duke Reader Project
The Duke Reader Project offers students the opportunity to get feedback on a class writing project from someone outside the classroom who can serve as an authentic member of the target audience for their writing. Students who elect to participate are paired with a Duke alum or Duke employee with the appropriate background who is willing to provide feedback on drafts of the student’s work-in-progress. Writing projects can range from scholarly/research writing in a particular discipline to forms of communication intended for a broader audience. For the former we match students with an experienced professional in the field; for the latter we match them with volunteers who are interested in the topic and regularly read that type of writing outside of their professional work. According to assessment surveys, students who participate tend to be more invested in the assignment, write better papers, and become more critical of their own writing. This session provides an overview of how the project works and describes what’s involved for faculty who enlist a course.
Designing an effective and manageable writing-intensive course
What’s expected in a course coded as “writing intensive”? How can I meet those expectations in your course? This session explores a variety of approaches to teaching a writing-intensive course—from multiple, smaller writing tasks to semester-long research projects. Topics include choosing writing assignments that fit the course structure, helping students learn about writing in your discipline, using peer feedback, deciding whether to assign multiple drafts, balancing course content and attention to writing.
Rethinking the Library Research Paper
Research can be an exciting and important part of the undergraduate experience. Yet the “research papers” we assign in our courses are often intellectually uninteresting tasks without a clear sense of purpose, bearing little resemblance to any of the meaningful kinds of research people do beyond the classroom. This workshop considers ways to intellectually invigorate library research projects by rethinking what we mean by “research” in the classroom context. We will discuss how to frame intellectually and rhetorically meaningful library research projects and consider alternative approaches—including setting up seminar courses as a whole-class, collaborative research project.
Assigning Oral Presentations
Oral presentations can be a meaningful and valuable part of a course, and many students need practice to develop their public speaking skills. Yet students may have misguided ideas about what makes for an effective presentation. This workshop addresses issues such as articulating the presentation task, setting expectations, using models, and helping students prepare appropriately.
Helping Students Write Well-Structured Papers
Many of our student writers struggle to organize their ideas and express them in a coherently structured way. Participants in this workshop will learn (and practice) approaches to helping students review and revise their writing to improve organization and make it easier for readers to see the logical relationships between the parts of their papers.
Plagiarism is a complicated issue. Students plagiarize for a range of reasons—from straightforward cheating to poor planning and note taking to honest ignorance of citation conventions in a particular field or genre. In this session we will consider the different occurrences that might fall under the label of plagiarism and discuss ways instructors can reduce plagiarism.
Working with Sources
Working with source texts is a key element of nearly all scholarly writing. Such work involves many elements including choosing sources, summary, paraphrase, quotation and citation. Students' knowledge of these practices is often rudimentary and their attempts to deploy these skills often lack rhetorical purpose. This session gives an overview of the challenges students face in working with sources and explores strategies for helping students approach sources effectively as writers.
NOTE: To make workshops as relevant as possible, some session are oriented toward humanities and interpretive social science while others are STEM-oriented. All members of the Duke community are welcome at all events.