Writing In A Non-Writing Class.

Grading writing can be really challenging when a student has not yet had English Composition. The following strategy has helped me be fair to my students, as well as honoring the expectations of my course.

When I teach Developmental Psychology I assign three research papers. I use the same basic rubric for all three papers, but the value of the each paper increases as the semester progresses. This allows writing mistakes that I catch early to be pointed out when the amount of points attached is low. Students can learn from their mistakes throughout the semester. If they are struggling with writing, they can go to the Writing Lab and know exactly what they need to work on. By the time the last paper is turned in scores are much higher in this area.


2 thoughts on “Writing In A Non-Writing Class.

  1. I read somewhere that we learn to write by writing along with receiving constructive feedback; and certainly the writing lab can help sharpen your students’ skills and thus their confidence.

    Here are some questions that writers can ask before and while writing that may serve as a “hamburger helper”–

    1. Why am I writing this? What is my purpose? What do I want the reader to understand?
    2. Is there some part of what I have written that I really do not understand or I don’t care because I just want to finish the assignment.
    3. Is what I have written clearly stated or is it vague or ambiguous?
    4. Do I understand the meaning of the words I am using?
    5. Is what I have written accurate? Am I clear about my main idea?
    6. What revisions do I need to make?
    7. And???

    “All truly wise thoughts have been thought (and expressed in writing – parentheses are mine) already thousands of times, but to make them truly ours, we must think them over again honestly, till they take root in our personal experience.” —– Goethe

    Roger J. Vanden Busch

  2. This is an excellent approach to the writing process! Most English instructors use this very same assessment philosophy in English Composition, where writing is critiqued more thoroughly and substantially as the semester progresses. This is also a great opportunity to emphasize the On Course principles of self-responsibility; if students don’t know how to write well or they struggle with a particular facet of writing on the first paper, you give them the chance to set goals, find resources, and improve on the next two. Thanks for sharing!

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