Creative Assignment Design Using the Communication Triangle

Creative Assignment Design Using the Communication Triangle


In most of their writing assignments, students play the role of non-experts writing to the teacher-as-examiner and expert. One way to design assignments that engage students and provide a more authentic rhetorical situation is to use the communication triangle of reader, writer, and text. By varying the role students play as writers, the genres of texts they write, and the audience they write to, you can create more interesting, unique writing assignments that discourage plagiarism.
 

 Text

triangle 

Writer                 Reader


Here is an example of some typical school assignment that don't make effective use of the rhetorical triangle: 

Write a 3 page response to the book you've been assigned to read, stating whether you agree or disagree with the author.


As part of a short answer exam, explain the meaning of three key terms from Chapter 3 of the class textbook.


Compare and contrast two of the theorists we've been reading.


Now here are examples of the same three assignments revised using the rhetorical triangle:
 

You are the editor of The Journal of California Public Policy. You are writing a review of the book you've been assigned to read in class.

 

In groups of 3-5 students, create a website that defines key terms from the textbook and provides links to more information about the terms. Your audience is future students of this class, who will use your website as a resource.

 

Pretend that two of the theorists we've been reading are scheduled to appear on Oprah. Write a script of the show in which the theorists compare their positions and debate.