I was talking with one of our writing tutors about how difficult it is sometimes for our students (and tutors!) to decipher “what professors want” on writing assignments. Sometimes the writing prompt is too general or vague and sometimes the prompt is so detailed that it leaves students paralyzed that they might mis-step outside of the parameters provided by the instructor.
This got me thinking about my own prompts for writing assignments. I think they’re brilliant of course, but I wonder if I am expecting my students to read my mind or if I am being so prescriptive that I eliminate a student’s ability to think and write creatively. I have spent many weekends grading writing assignments with my chin on the floor, so I’ve clearly got room for improvement in this department.
Have you ever just asked your students to “write a paper on…”? The attached article talks about striking the Goldilocks balance between ambiguity and a pre-flight style checklist of paper requirements. Continue reading