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Module Nine: Student Writing Enhancement
There are many sources to supplement instruction on writing.  This module includes a variety of  useful material with a number of options to assure your students have the academic resources they need to be successful at written communication. This module gives you some concrete examples and resources that you can implement right away to improve the writing of your students. The information and many of the resources below have been provided by the University of Houston-Clear Lake Writing Center. Student Writing Enhancement
Specifically you will find:
  1. PowerPoint Resources
    1. Creating Effective Writing Assignments
    2. Giving Effective Feedback on Writing Assignments
  2. Suggestions on using writing in the classroom
  3. Examples of  integrating ‘Writing Center’ resources into the classroom.
  4. Samples of student services to enhance writing
  5. Web-based clearinghouse for improved writing communication
  6. A list of common Non-Native and Bilingual Speaker Errors
    --a list of the ten most common grammar errors committed by non-native speakers, ranked from most to least serious. Useful for responding to and assessing non-native student writing.
  7. Writing Interview Form (Sample)
    --suggested for use at the beginning of any course to discover the language, writing, and academic backgrounds of your students, especially non-native and bilingual speakers.
Using Writing in the Classroom
  1. Using a Writing Interview
    One way to get a general idea of your students’ writing abilities up front is to use an interview form during the first week of class. The Writing Center at the University of Houston-Clear Lake uses one for non-native speakers, but professors could use a similar format for all students. Introduce students to the form by explaining that you want to know how to best help them become better writers. The sample form asks questions about linguistic background, past writing experiences, and personal writing habits / processes. Students’ responses could reveal quite a bit; maybe that Vietnamese student taught himself English by watching television; maybe the straight-A student suffers from paralyzing writer’s block; maybe that quiet woman in the back has published her own book of poetry; maybe the bilingual student loves writing in Spanish but has never written a research paper in English. What do you do with this information once you get it?

    “Sounds very interesting,” you may say, "but what then?" Obviously you can’t tailor every assignment to each individual student’s needs. But you can get a picture of the varying levels of experience and how much writing support may be required from you or your writing center. Here are some accommodations or alterations you may consider making after you’ve assessed your class’s responses.

  2. Creating Assignments
    1. Include more detail in your syllabus regarding your expectations of student writing and your grading system.
    2. Distribute a set of guidelines for each major writing assignment.
    3. Provide more model essays. Feel free to put them “on reserve” in the Writing Center.
    4. Be very clear about your requirements for documentation. If you prefer a certain style (MLA, APA, or other), list it in the syllabus or on the assignment sheet. If students have options, list those as well. If you require students to adapt a traditional style to your own specifications, create a document explaining those anomalies. The Writing Center can also keep copies of these course documents for the convenience of the students and our tutors.
    5. Be sensitive to students from different cultural/ethnic backgrounds, especially when assigning topics about religion, politics, gender, etc. Offer more than one option, or encourage students to speak with you if they’re uncomfortable writing on a certain subject. In addition, be careful of asking international students to analyze or evaluate aspects of American culture / life that they may have never encountered (e.g. the public school system, dating practices, medical care, etc.). Imagine yourself in a foreign country receiving a similar assignment.
    6. Create assignments with your discourse community in mind; very little good writing occurs in a purely “academic vacuum.” Give students opportunities to write for real-life contexts common in the field or profession. Students and future employers will thank you for it.
    7. Read “Assignments from Hell” for more ideas about what NOT to do when assigning topics and writing prompts. (Hopefully you’ll laugh out loud at some of these!)
    8. View our PowerPoint presentation or consult with Dr. Chloé Diepenbrock in the Writing Center if you’d like help with the design or working of writing assignments.

  3. Giving Feedback
    1. Allow students to submit early drafts and then revise before turning in papers for a grade.
    2. Personally “intervene” and respond at several points in the writing process.
    3. Consider giving students some sort of credit, motivation, or accountability for starting early and seeking feedback. The Writing Center is happy to serve them.
    4. Train students to revise content before editing or proofreading. To model this, when reading early drafts, ask questions and give direction rather than picking out mechanical errors.
    5. Make sure your comments are readable, and provide a “key” for any abbreviations you use.
    6. Avoid making broad comments in margins (e.g. “vague” or “needs support”) without drawing the student’s attention to the specific section of sentence which needs work. Use arrows, brackets, or underlining.
    7. Don’t use sarcasm or other language that shows exasperation or negative emotion (even though you may feel it!). If necessary, project that negative reaction onto the assigned audience (e.g. “Your readers may be personally offended by this example” or “Will your audience buy this generalization?”).
    8. Avoid appropriation of the text, or trying to get students to say what you think should be said; in other words, don’t read for or grade to an “ideal text” in your head. The student should always retain ownership of a paper’s content and voice.
    9. Always find something to praise in the paper and begin your evaluative comments with that.
    10. Use the following set of questions to guide your responses to texts (from Reid, 1994):
      1. When and how frequently during the writing process should I respond?
      2. Who is the student, and in what ways can I best respond to this student?
      3. How can I respond to the student’s writing so that he/she can process the comments and apply the specifics of my response?
      4. Which role(s) should I play in this response: responder, consultant, describer, coach, evaluator?
      5. Where should I respond: in conference, in class? Directly on the paper or in a written memo at the end of the paper?
      6. Who else should be responding to the student’s text?
      7. What form(s) of response (written, oral, individual, group, formal or informal) would be most successful for the student?
      8. When should my response be global (i.e. focusing mainly on the major strengths and/or weaknesses) or discrete (i.e. focusing on local concerns—single items) in the discourse?
      9. What are my objectives for this writing task? That is, what do I want the students to learn?
Integrating Writing Center Resources into the Classroom
Classroom Presentations and Material Request
Writing Center tutors are available to make classroom presentations. When you schedule a tutor to visit your class, you can expect a brief introduction to the Writing Center outlining the services, procedures, and general policies, followed by a time for questions and answers.

Writing Advisors Program

The writing advisors program brings a tutor to the classroom. A Writing Advisor is a trained Writing Center tutor scheduled to work a certain number of hours per week with your students in a particular course on their writing assignments. The tutor can attend certain class meetings and work with groups or individuals on the writing tasks that are assigned. Using a Writing Advisor allows you to communicate to him or her very clearly what expectations you have for your students’ writing, which in turn allows the tutor to work more effectively with the students. Writing tutors will not attempt to teach your course material or help students master the concepts of your discipline; they are trained to focus on writing tasks, and you determine what kind of writing help you want the tutor to offer. In the past, Writing Advisors have arranged group sessions, conducted workshops, set up email discussion groups for writers, and led peer reviews or writing workshops during class time.
Student Support Services
Ask Susie Queue
1.	Ask Susie Queue

The Capstone Support Network is an array of services designed to help students succeed at one of the most important writing tasks of their career: the capstone text that will finalize the coursework for their master's or doctoral degree.

Screen Shot Except
Screen Shot Except Susie Queue is available during our regular business hours. If she doesn't answer immediately, she may be helping someone else.
Capstone Support Network

The Capstone Support Network is an array of services designed to help students succeed at one of the most important writing tasks of your career: the capstone text that will finalize the coursework for your master's or doctoral degree.

What services are offered through the CSN?

  • Workshops on topics specific to the type of work required for completing a capstone text.
  • On-line discussion board that allows students to talk about common issues as they work.
  • Special sections on our website and WebCT that offer resources for graduate students
  • Peer response groups that can meet face-to-face in the Center and/or electronically over WebCT to provide writing feedback.
  • Tutor support/facilitation of groups upon request
What Is a Writing Support Group?

A writing support group helps writers to see outside their writing contexts. By providing a supportive and academically critical audience, a writing support group can help writers succeed.

Useful Clearinghouse
The WAC Clearinghouse provides a number of resources for improving written communication.

The WAC Clearinghouse, in partnership with the International Network of Writing Across the Curriculum Programs, publishes journals, books, and other resources for teachers who use writing in their courses.

 
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