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Maria reminds us that it's the job of every professor to help students write well. In this episode she offers many ideas you can use in your classes to help students become better writers.
This is Dr. Maria Yon at the Center for Teaching and Learning at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Thanks for tuning into this episode on helping your students become better writers.
I know that you might be thinking, “It’s not my job. That’s what English professors do. I expect students to know how to write when they get to my class. I don’t have time to teach writing too.” But, you know that students are not all good writers. You also know from personal experience writing is a process that occurs over time with much practice. Finally, you understand that good writing is required in almost all fields — engineers, historians, artists, and biologists all need to write. So, it’s the job of every professor to help students write well.
So, here are some ideas for helping your students. First of all, stress the importance of good writing. Some students think that good writing is expected only in their English classes. They need to know that you value it and require it. Put it in your syllabus and tell them on the first day.
Remind them with every assignment that writing counts. Explain how they will be penalized for poorly written papers. Back up your statements so that they see that you are serious. Recommend that students work with the college tutoring services to improve their writing skills. And insist on it with those students with serious difficulties.
Explain to students that writing is hard work that requires practice and effort. Tell them that rarely is a first draft a finished product and that revision is part of the process. Help them understand that they can’t wait until the last minute to write a paper. Share your own writing experiences with them about the challenge of writing, revising, and editing, before seeing an article in print — weeks of work.
Make writing a part of your teaching because writing is a way of learning. You will give students the practice they need to improve their skills by giving them opportunities to write a few minutes in class, doing outside writing assignments, and giving exams with open-ended questions.
Help students understand that writing is not always an end in itself. Writing helps us to develop ideas, clarify our understandings, and express what we know. So, besides writing for a grade, they are learning at a deeper level.
Some faculty use commercially available software to help students plan, write, and revise their written work. Giving students reference materials or tip sheets on good writing is helpful as well. Grouping or pairing students either in class or online to give feedback on drafts is a good learning experience.
Finally, give students guidance throughout the writing process. After you make an assignment, walk them through the steps of writing the paper. Check on their progress throughout those steps. By all means, explain plagiarism.
We are seeing a “cut-and-paste” generation who believes that information on the Internet is free for everyone to use just as it is and with no citations. One remedy is to require a draft of the paper to which you will give feedback. Also, request that the draft be turned in with the final paper.
I hope you have found this information helpful. Remember, it is the responsibility of all of us to help our students write better as we prepare them for their chosen professions.
Tune in again and remember “Teaching and Leaning Matters”.
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