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Dealing with Student Error Instructors teaching writing courses can ...

Dealing with Student Error Instructors teaching writing courses can ...

Dealing with Student Error Instructors teaching writing courses can

Dealing with Student Error Instructors teaching writing courses can sometimes feel daunted by the errors they find in their students' writing. Some introductory notes: Unfortunately, "correcting" final drafts doesn't make the difference most instructors would like. If no revision is required—and students are not asked to think deeply about recurring patterns of error in their work—corrections on a paper tend to be misplaced effort. Many of the language errors students make are rooted in problems with understanding content. Some research has shown that students will make even more errors when processing new information or dealing with highly complex thinking tasks in their writing (see Haswell 1991, for instance). Assignment Design for Exploration and Developing Complexity It's crucial to shape assignments that help student understand content. When students struggle to "find the right words" or their drafts demonstrate lapses/leap of logic or other structural issues, it is often because they don't really understand the content they have been asked to master. Writing tasks that ask students to explore concepts, teach concepts to themselves or each other, think about what they don't understand, come to better understand key terms or think about the differences of language use help them to write with more complexity about that topic. Assignment Design Tips: Include in -class conversation to support your students in developing increasing comfort with appropriate language/word choices. "Scaffold" assignments, breaking the task into smaller pieces that are submitted for comments or discussed in class. (This allows students to keep working on a piece in progress, applying what they have learned as the task unfolds.) Ask students to write informally or to freewrite about their topics in class. This will support them in developing a more complex approach. Discuss difficult readings in class, asking students to respond to the text before the discussion, then to revise their comments after the discussion. Ask Students to Draft and Revise Students who actually rewrite (or let their drafts develop over time) tend to develop more complex thinking and to hone the surface-concerns over the course of the writing task. To support both their content acquisition and their abilities as writers: Offer models (Of strong student responses) for discussion in class. Discuss as a class what sorts of conventions, forms, or other formal structures are necessary for effective writing in your field. (e.g. what does an effective thesis look like? in what ways might an author organize information? what sort of tone is most effective in an assignment of this sort. what will count as appropriate evidence?)

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