Advice for Designing Writing Assignments
The assignment has a clear purpose. Connect the assignment explicitly to course objectives, the students' goals, and disciplinary and professional writing and thinking.
The assignment has a sense of audience. Most school writing is to the teacher as audience. Consider creating hypothetical audiences (for example, having students write a memo to the CEO of a company or an article for a psychology journal), real audiences (for example, having students write opinion pieces for the Bee or publish blogs), or audiences that the students choose themselves.
The grading criteria of the assignment are clear. Consider using grading rubrics (see the CSUS rubric for writing in the undergraduate major), listing evaluation criteria in the assignment description, and providing students with examples. Match grading criteria with the purpose of the assignment.
The assignment accounts for the writing process. Consider using peer response, responding to drafts, and encouraging students to visit The Writing Center. Break large and complex assignments into smaller, more manageable stages.
The course assignments ask for
a variety of levels of thinking and disciplinary genres.
to write at all levels of Bloom's Taxonomy (see below), and not just
levels. Give students practice in a breadth of assignment types:
disciplinary genres, "real-world" genres, etc.
Knowledge level genres: quizzes, short answer exams, lecture notes, outlines
Comprehension level genres: abstracts, literature reviews, annotated bibliographies, reports, mission statements, résumés, interviews, surveys, briefing papers, memos
Application level genres: problem sets, lab reports, market forecasts
Analysis level genres: market analyses, feasibility studies, analytical essays
Synthesis level genre: scientific reports, ethnographies, case studies, "write-to-learn" journals, policy statements, grant proposals
Evaluation level genres: book reviews, executive summaries, editorials, research papers