University Writing

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How to Use this Page

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: Grading Writing

Effective Writing Assignments

Whether they’re high stakes or low stakes, writing assignments are more effective when faculty articulate clear expectations, explain necessary steps, detail the rhetorical situation (i.e., audience, purpose, and genre), and name criteria for evaluation. Such assignments set students up for success by leaving the guesswork out of assignment basics so they can focus on more substantive matters such as analysis, evidence, and working with sources. Use the resources below to design writing assignments with these features in mind. After you’ve designed your writing assignment, check out our section on scaffolding assignments and writing-to-learn assignments 

Materials designed by Christopher Basgier, Amy Cicchino, and Amber Simpson 

Faculty who want to integrate writing into their courses can use high stakes assignments, low stakes assignments, or some combination of each. This handout defines each kind of writing and explains how you might integrate it into your course 

This handout introduces you to effective writing assignment design using principles from transparent assignment design and The Meaningful Writing Project 

Once you have a draft of your assignment sheet, you can use this self-assessment worksheet to reflect on how well your assignment is achieving the principles in the handout above 

Once you have a draft of your assignment sheet, you can work with a colleague in your department or institution and use this peer assignment worksheet to get feedback on how well your assignment is achieving the principles in the handout above 

Refresh your writing assignment by asking students to address a new audience, purpose, genre, or medium of communication as they explain their knowledge of content. This handout will explain what it means to create a new rhetorical situation for your assignment 

This worksheet will help you compare the existing and redesigned assignment across elements of the rhetorical situation, like audience, purpose, genre, language, organization, and content. While not every rhetorical element needs to change in your redesign process, you should reflect on how changes need to influence scaffolding activities and evaluation criteria 

This handout will help you think through the process of converting an online multiple choice test into a writing assignment 

This handout provides an overview of different kinds of rubrics you might want to use, as well as ways of describing performance levels. It also includes advice for developing a successful rubric 

Feedback: Responding to Student Writing

Research shows that students benefit from timely feedback on their learning based on the specific learning goals that guide a writing assignment. Use these resources to learn strategies for writing feedback, tips for rubric development, and how to manage the labor of writing response.  

Materials designed by Amy Cicchino, Christopher Basgier, and Margaret Marshall

Research shows that students benefit from timely feedback on their learning based on the specific learning goals that guide a writing assignment. Use these resources to learn strategies for writing feedback, tips for rubric development, and how to manage the labor of writing response 

This handout provides an overview of different kinds of rubrics you might want to use, as well as ways of describing performance levels. It also includes advice for developing a successful rubric 

This handout details a range of strategies that you can use when working with students’ writing, whether you're providing feedback, grading final drafts, or staring at a large stack of papers 

This handout will help you think through the process of converting an online multiple choice test into a writing assignment 

Scaffolding Writing Instruction

Scaffolding is a means of breaking down assignments or tasks into manageable chunks in order to promote student learning and success. A well-scaffolded writing assignment should help students understand your expectations, learn course content, communicate with audiences, and write with a purpose in mind. These resources will help you develop scaffolding writing assignments in your course. 

Materials designed by Travis Adams, Christopher Basgier, Margaret Marshall, Alyssa Pratt, and Djibo Zanzot 

This handout details three approaches to scaffolding you might use in your course: checkpoints, parts of the whole, and upping the ante 

This handout presents two example assignments aimed at evaluating students’ prior knowledge in a particular area. By determining prior knowledge, you can get a better idea of the support students will need as they complete future assignments related to content knowledge and writing in your course 

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 effective assignments 

This handout presents two activities that would help students in scaffolding a research paper. The first one focuses on breaking down the big goal in a series of small tasks so as to provide students with direction. The second one will help you map the syllabus timeline according to the learning required for assignment completion 

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 

Writing-to-learn prompts can help you design writing prompts to reinforce content learning in your course. Be sure to check out our section on writing-to-learn. 

ePortfolios: Using ePortfolios in your Course

Faculty interested in learning more about ePortfolios and learning should reach out to universitywriting@auburn.edu in addition to exploring the resources below. These resources can either be moved directly into your course as instructional material or will discuss teaching and feedback strategies for ePortfolios. In addition to these resources, we encourage you to visit AAEEBL’s Digital Ethics Principles for ePortfolios, which University Writing was active in creating. 

Materials designed by Christopher Basgier, Amy Cicchino, Megan Haskins, Margaret Marshall, and Heather Stuart

This sample curriculum for a 15-week course introduces students to ePortfolios and Professional Brand. It includes a syllabus, course calendar, and ePortfolio assignment sheet

This handout will introduce your students to ePortfolios 

This handout answers Frequently Asked Questions about ePortfolios your students might have 

Use this quiz and analysis activity to help your students test and apply their growing knowledge of ePortfolios 

This handout has a list of low-stakes activities that can help you develop ePortfolio thinking in your courses  

This worksheet will help you as a teacher reflect on what students are and are not doing in their ePortfolio reflective writing and identify appropriate next steps in adapting your pedagogy  

This scavenger hunt activity will take students through exploring an example ePortfolio and analyzing the choices the ePortfolio creator has made 

This worksheet is designed to draw your students’ attention to the ways in which an ePortfolio is designed and arranged to tell a particular story to a specific audience 

This worksheet can guide students in a peer review activity as they offer each other feedback on their ePortfolios

This checklist guides your students in evaluating the accessibility of their ePortfolio sites by reviewing content and digital design.

This worksheet helps ePortfolio creators move from peer review feedback to revision plans

This formative ePortfolio rubric can be used to help students self-assess where they are in the ePortfolio process as they create and refine their ePortfolios. You can also use this rubric to give them in-process feedback 

This summative ePortfolio rubric can be used or adapted to evaluate student ePortfolios at the end of the ePortfolio creation process. We encourage you consider which competency level best fits your context for teaching and learning 

We encourage you to respect your students as creators and authors by not using their ePortfolios in your teaching, marketing, or assessment procedures without their explicit permission. This is the form we’ve developed to retrieve and track student permission. This is not the same as IRB approval through your institution, which you will need to conduct research on students ePortfolios. This form can be personalized to include information about your department or program and completed by students for a record of ePortfolio permission