Introducing the Assignment
- To allow time for the composing process to work, issue assignments at least ten days (but preferably two weeks) in advance.
- Make your expectations explicit.
- Since we are immersed in our discipline we sometimes forget that for students—especially those new to the field—disciplinary norms and expectations are unknown or unclear.
- Encourage students to consult each other about paper ideas, visit the writing center, or approach you during office hours.
- Have a discussion about organization in class or have students write a small proposal in which they explain their topic and potential method of organizing the paper.
- Explain how you want the students to use source material.
Follow Up (before the due date)
- Discuss with them the codes, conventions, and assumptions of the disciplinary audience.
- Make your criteria for grading explicit to the students and provide it in advance.
- Share rubrics with students before they submit their assignments.
- Consider drafting a rubric with the students (See Harris et al.).
- Share and discuss examples of work in the genre you are assigning.
- Ideal models are not always ideal. Students benefit from seeing professional work, but also student examples and counterexamples.
- Workshopping drafts (in pairs, small groups, or whole class) helps students hone their abilities and learn how to revise their own work.
- Caution: Peer review works best if it is done regularly and if you provide clear guidelines.
- Consider a full class workshop of a student volunteer’s paper to model the process and discuss certain key points relevant to all students.