WIC Winter Workshop Revisited: “Improve Your Writing Assignments in Real Time– Five Easy Steps”

By Lindsay Schwehr, WIC GTA

On Monday, February 4, the WIC Winter Workshop titled, “Improve Your Writing Assignments in Real Time—Five Easy Steps” drew participants from across the university. Participants represented disciplines such as Applied Economics, Human Development and Family Sciences, Biochemistry and Biophysics, and the Department of Animal and Rangeland Sciences. Faculty participants are teaching anywhere from 20 to 300 students this academic year.

Participants brought writing assignments from their courses—these assignments covered both those that do and do not have a WIC designation. For those that did not have a WIC designation, discussion centered on how to apply WIC pedagogy to any assignment.  Design elements include the use of scaffolding, the incorporation of peer review, choosing a descriptive assignment title, and using timelines for student deadlines to get the best out of student revision based on both peer and instructor feedback. Many ideas were mentioned surrounding the assignment handout itself, especially around the intended audiences for students to consider and the order of information conveyed in the handout.

Participants noted that they found the workshop helpful. Having the ability to see what their colleagues were doing and incorporating in their assignments across the disciplines provided sufficient time for collaboration and fresh eyes for their assignments. By getting an outside look on their assignments, participants were able to better organize and develop their course assignments, allowing for extra feedback and new perspectives.

Faculty who participated in this workshop were provided with several assignment review guides: “A Heuristic for Designing Writing Assignments,” from Erika Lindemann’s book, A Rhetoric for Writing Teachers; “Questions for Collegial Peer Review of an Assignment Handout,” from John C. Bean’s book, Engaging Ideas: The Professor’s Guide to Integrating Writing, Critical Thinking, and Active Learning in the Classroom; as well as the WIC Learning Outcomes Matrix.

Thank you to our participants for providing invigorating discussion, and the WIC Team hopes to see you all at our spring lunch series.

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