Writing Across the Curriculum Tip, AU 09: Collaborating with Colleagues to Improve Student Learning and Writing
Question: How might I fix the kinks in my writing assignments this quarter? What has worked for my colleagues?
Activity Idea: Take some time at the end of this quarter to think about what writing assignments worked well and reflect on some of the challenges you faced teaching writing. Your colleague in the office down the hall might be your best resource for this, and you might be hers as well. In our work in WAC, we have the privilege of talking to Ohio State’s most creative and resourceful teachers every day. For this tip email, we’ve collected a few approaches from three instructors we’ve worked with this quarter that have really inspired us:
• Kimberly Clavin, an instructional supervisor in Mechanical Engineering, has developed a technical writing workshop for students preparing lab reports. The workshop covers a range of topics that introduce students to crucial tasks in report writing, and helps students work through their writing collaboratively. For instance, during one part of the workshop, students write instructions on how to assemble a mechanical system such as a glue gun, and then pass their instructions to another group, which attempts to follow the instructions and provide feedback to the writers. Another component of the workshop has students evaluate different components “dissected” from sample lab reports, while another has them collaboratively edit abstracts. “All three exercises were received well by the students with the report dissection proving to be the most helpful,” Clavin notes. “The implementation of the workshops has resulted in higher quality writing as well as increased student understanding.”
• Manisha Sharma, a Graduate Teaching Assistant in Art Education, has her students grade each other using an assignment rubric. After composing a rough draft, students trade their work and look for key elements in each others’ papers (i.e. thesis statement, key words, supporting literature and concluding thoughts). The goal is for students to go back and review the comments of their peers and make appropriate changes to their final draft. “My interaction with other instructors attending a WAC workshops brought clarification to the different areas of assessment (Evaluation, Grading, Feedback, Testing),” she notes. “Since then, I’ve applied assessment in my teaching practices through the student-to-student reviews and instructor-to-student reviews. This has been helpful to both students and myself in assessing their progress and understanding of course materials.”
• Rather than assign her students a lengthy research paper, Victoria Genetin, Graduate Teaching Assistant in Women’s Studies and WAC Consultant, decided to assign them a 10-entry annotated bibliography. Her goals were to help her students gain a better understanding of the research process, sharpen their organizational skills, and begin to draw connections between theories and arguments made by scholars in Women’s Studies. Recently, she has also asked her students to reflect on their experience completing the assignment: how much time they devoted to the project, what aspects of the assignment they found most challenging, any academic skills they developed or improved upon, and what they learned about themselves as a student and a writer. “Based on their responses,” she explains, “the annotated bibliography assignment introduced many of my students to the services available at The Ohio State library, specifically the online journal databases. Additionally, this assignment provided them with an opportunity to ‘get comfortable’ with the research and writing process and made them more aware of conversations and debates among scholars through academic journals.”
More Ways the WAC Team Can Help You:
See an archive of our past tip e-mails at: http://cstw.org/WAC/?cat=50. If you want to trade ideas about your assignments, contact us to schedule an individual consultation. We also offer workshops with faculty and graduate teaching associates that tackle issues involving the teaching of writing in various academic genres, and can co-facilitate in-class presentations for your students, demonstrating innovative approaches to writing instruction and lending students strategies for overcoming challenges with assignments.
We’ll be leading two upcoming workshops Winter quarter through the University Center for the Advancement of Teaching (UCAT):
•Responding to Student Writing. February 4, 11:30am-1:00pm, 150 Younkin Success Center
•Grading to Learn: Writing and Assessment Across the Curriculum. February 11, 11:30am-1:00pm, 150 Younkin Success Center
For further information, visit the University Center for the Advancement of Teaching’s website (http://ucat.osu.edu/participate/ftad_events/ftad_events.html). We hope you’ll join us.
Let us know how we can help. Contact us by phone (292-9650), e-mail (email@example.com), or through our website (http://cstw.osu.edu/wac).
Have a great quarter,
The WAC Team,
Dr. Chris Manion, WAC Coordinator
Victoria Genetin, Women’s Studies
Tanisha Jackson, Art Education
Katie Linder, Women’s Studies
Kate White, English