Writing Instruction Ideas

Introduce disciplinary conventions.

Terminology—students might work in groups over time to make glossaries.
Citation style—you might present a model paper or show a video tutorial (for example, learn basic APA at http://flash1r.apa.org/apastyle/basics/index.htm).
Publications—students might dissect your field’s leading journals and/or write a letter describing them to a friend in another major.
Peer review—students might develop criteria for an excellent paper in your field and then review each other’s papers as an academic journal might.

Guide peer review.

Students need direction to develop their ability to critique. Give them tasks to apply to a neighbor’s paper—or to their own. Underline (thesis, main idea of each ¶, evidence, transitions, paraphrase, jargon), summarize (a paper, a paragraph), ask three questions of the writer, etc.

Share writing as a process.

You might brainstorm in class. Or have students make a timeline for completing a paper. Or discuss how you are chipping away at that book.

Require students to reflect on their process.

Compare rituals. Who uses Post-Its to reorganize paragraphs? You might also ask students to turn in a letter with their drafts discussing how they went about their research and writing.

Review fundamentals (in context if possible).

Have very brief but regular “moments” to address problems you see cropping up—its vs. it’s, colons, word choices, etc. If students submit work electronically, copy and paste some anonymous examples to emulate—or to correct.


Invite DISCOVER or the LRC to make a presentation on a specific topic. Or invite a writer in your field to class.

Involve students in designing a grading rubric for the assignment.

Then use it.

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