University Writing

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Below are resources that University Writing has developed to support students and instructors across the disciplines in their writing and writing instruction. We define writing broadly, so you will find resources on ePortfolios, visual design, professional communication, and presentations in addition to traditional writing tasks like reflective writing, literature reviews, peer review, and editing and proofing.

Please use the keywords on the right-hand side of the page or the search bar above to navigate these resources. If you would like to use these resources in your course, please follow the Creative Commons information located at the bottom of each resource. If you plan to use the source in its original format, we ask that you leave the University Writing branding intact.

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Tagged Entries: Critical Thinking

A Storyteller’s Guide to Creative Writing

Taking on a creative work can be daunting. Whether you are gearing up for NaNoWriMo or looking for year-round support, these resources will help you work through the writing process for endeavors such as novels, novellas, and short stories. Specifically, these documents are useful for brainstorming, drafting, and organizing ideas for premise, plot, point of view, characters, worldbuilding, and dialogue. You will also learn scene blocking techniques and tips for finishing and revising your first draft.  

Materials designed by Autumn Frederick and Heesun Yoon 

This worksheet introduces you to premise, provides a breakdown of premise components, and helps you draft your own premise

This worksheet reviews two types of story structure: the Three Act Structure and Freytag’s Pyramid. Space is provided to help you map your story out in both structures to decide which best fits your writing style

This worksheet discusses five points of view found in creative writing, notes tips for helping writers select a point of view, provides resources for writing and reading for diversity, lists questions to consider for character creation, and provides fillable character profiles

This worksheet provides planning resources, an overview and list of decisions, and activity for delving into worldbuilding

This handout breaks down tips for improving your descriptive writing and provides examples and explanations for each suggestion

This brief handout provides an explanation of what dialogue is and how it is formatted and provides space for practice

This brief worksheet defines scene blocking and provides an activity for practice

This brief handout lists good habits for finishing your project and outlines tips and resources to aid you in revising your first draft

Academic Writing

Academic writing is a unique type of writing and can vary across disciplines. Use these materials to better understand the elements of academic writing, such as voice, disciplinary writing, and college-level writing. Reading academic sources is an important part of learning how to write in your discipline. For tips on how to engage with reading these sources, see our section on Reading Difficult Materials 

Materials designed by Christopher Basgier, Amy Cicchino, Megan Haskins, and James Truman

This worksheet is designed to help incoming first-year college students learn a bit about writing at the college level. There are also scenarios where students can consider what they would do in difficult writing situations 

The handout breaks down some implicit expectations related to academic voice, such as when and how to use first-person writing, jargon, style, and sentence variation 

This worksheet invites you to revise a piece of writing by paying attention to its voice within a sample paragraph 

This brief handout provides some examples of academic voice from various disciplines 

This worksheet provides excerpts from disciplinary writing and asks participants to guess the disciplinary context for the writing. By doing this, we hope you will begin to see how different disciplines structure and style their writing 

This worksheet helps you apply reading like a writer to your work by inviting you to examine written artifacts from a writerly perspective by paying attention to features like structure, key terms, signposting, and verb use

This worksheet is meant to help graduate students approach writing their first manuscript by making explicit options for manuscript section organization and looking at examples 

This handout invites readers to compare an excerpt from a dissertation to an excerpt of the same material, rewritten for nonspecialist or "general" audiences

This worksheet invites writers to plan a piece of writing for a general audience by leading them through the elements of the rhetorical situation

Reading

Carefully and critically reading is an important part of being a successful student and professional. Reading can help you understand important information and learn more about how a particular kind of writing is created.  

Materials designed by Christopher Basgier, Katharine Brown, Margaret J. Marshall, and James Truman

This handout guides you through “reading like a writer,” an analysis strategy developed to help you think about the choices the writer made 

This worksheet helps you apply reading like a writer to your work by inviting you to examine written artifacts from a writerly perspective by paying attention to features like structure, key terms, signposting, and verb use

This handout provides you with tools you can use to make sense of difficult reading material by engaging in active reading 

This worksheet will help you make important observations about a text before you begin reading it by previewing 

This handout gives a broad overview of academic scholarship and strategies that you can use to actively read the major parts of an academic research publication 

This worksheet introduces you to a says/does outline, which can help you understand why and how a writer communicates their ideas 

Reflective Writing

Reflective writing helps you critically think about your learning, respond to new knowledge, connect your learning experiences, and consider how new knowledge aligns to your professional and developmental goals. Use the resources below to learn more about reflective writing, including how to design reflective writing prompts.

Materials designed by Amber Simpson, Animal Sciences Academy Team, Christopher Basgier, ePortfolio Project, Heather Stuart, Lindsay Doukopolous, Margaret Marshall, and Parker Wade

This handout provides a brief introduction to reflective writing along with sample questions that can support reflective thinking

This handout introduces you to the six Rs of reflection: reporting, responding, relating, reasoning, reconstructing, and repackaging. Bain, J., Ballantyne, R., Mills, C. & Lester, N. (2002) labeled these levels with the mnemonic “5 Rs of reflection.” We have added a sixth level to this framework to account for the way reflection moves into other genres, such as an ePortfolio or personal narrative

This handout will take you through a heuristic process aimed at developing an effective reflective writing assignment for students keeping in mind the expected learning outcomes

Reflection can take many different forms, and any number of strategies can help you support students’ reflective practices. This handout lists various prompts and questions you can adapt to your specific course context and objectives

This handout is meant to inform you on the benefits of using reflective writing in lab contexts

This worksheet guides you in using expressive writing for self-discovery. You will learn about different types of expressive writing, such as answering prompts or making gratitude lists, and can complete several reflective prompts.

This handout gives three example reflective writing assignments from different disciplines, each fostering a different goal related to reflective practice

This worksheet will help you consider questions that are important as you develop a reflective writing prompt for your course

Once you’ve developed your reflective writing prompt, this peer reviewguide can help you get feedback.

This worksheet provides examples of student reflections in need of feedback and guidance which you can use to practice providing feedback that helps students improve their reflective writing

This rubric was created as part of our ePortfolio Project. However, you can use or adapt it to assess reflective writing in ePortfolios

The Writing Process

This section contains resources for getting started on your writing and revising your writing over time for effective organization, flow, transitions, and editing and proofreading.

Materials designed by Christopher Basgier, Jordan Beckum, Katharine Brown, Amy Cicchino, and James Truman

This worksheet helps you apply reading like a writer to your work by inviting you to examine written artifacts from a writerly perspective by paying attention to features like structure, key terms, signposting, and verb use

This handout offers strategies and techniques for generating and organizing writing ideas

This handout breaks down the writing concept of “flow” at the whole text, paragraph, and sentence level

This handout provides an overview of strategies that different writers have found helpful as they make global changes to their writing

This handout provides an overview of useful strategies for making global revisions to a manuscript and an action plan

This handout invites readers to compare an excerpt from a dissertation to an excerpt of the same material, rewritten for nonspecialist or "general" audiences

This worksheet invites writers to plan a piece of writing for a general audience by leading them through the elements of the rhetorical situation.

This handout provides an easy reference list of common transitional words and phrases

This handout explains the difference between proofing and revision processes

This worksheet will help you apply the paramedic method of editing to improve sentence-level clarity

This worksheet lets you practice applying editing and proofreading strategies to sample text through two activities

Writing-to-Learn

Writing-to-learn activities are low-stakes writing prompts that help students engage with content knowledge, think critically, and practice applying their learning. Use the resources below to learn more about writing-to-learn and how it might play a role in your course.  

Materials designed by Christopher Basgier, Alyssa Pratt, and Djibo Zanzot 

This worksheet is designed to help you understand some of the features of an effective writing-to-learn (WTL) prompt. Remember that these features are not necessarily a checklist: some prompts will include and exclude different features depending on what is appropriate for your course and field 

This handout includes a range of writing assignments and activities you can ask students to complete in your course in order to promote their learning. Many of these assignments can have high stakes or low stakes versions 

This worksheet will help you identify and define a difficult concept, and then map different levels of understanding for that concept. You can use these definitions as a basis for crafting your writing-to-learn assignments 

ePortfolios: Artifacts & Reflection

Artifacts show evidence of your experiences, knowledge, and skills and can be anything: videos, photos, internship experiences, study abroad experiences, research posters, and course projects. You’ll want to contextualize your artifacts with reflective writing, which can connect your specific artifacts to your larger professional goals and personal brand.  

Materials designed by Amber Simpson, Heather Stuart, and Parker Wade.

This handout offers examples of artifacts that you might potentially include in your ePortfolio. Remember, artifacts can be any kind of media  

This worksheet will help you brainstorm artifacts and connect your artifacts to the skills that you are trying to showcase 

Reflective writing allows you to articulate why an experience is important, what you learned during the process, and how you plan to apply your skills to future projects or endeavors. This handout gives you questions that you can use to begin drafting reflective writing for artifacts in your ePortfolio 

This worksheet will guide you in drafting reflective writing for an artifacts in your ePortfolio 

You can see how students at Auburn share and contextualize their artifacts by visiting our ePortfolio gallery