by Christopher Thaiss, George Mason University
Assigning Student Writing
Assignments should be given in writing, to allow the teacher to think about criteria, to revise, and to allow for greater understanding by the student. Assignments should be written fully enough to eliminate most guesswork by students about criteria. Perfect clarity is not possible; however, most questions can be answered by the teacher who addresses the following issues when developing the assignment:
- Task and Purpose: Clarify what kind of task is expected: problem/solution, thesis/support, question, summary/evaluation; what should the writer attempt to accomplish? Use as much detail as necessary to clarify. Pay special attention to words such as: describe, analyze, compare, define.
- Format: Include the number of words, directions for typing, documentation style, headings, importance of correct grammar and spelling, organizational pattern
- Audience: What reader is being addressed in the paper? Peers? Teacher? Another group? How knowledgeable is this reader? Does this reader have a particular bias that the student needs to know about?
- Process: Is the project being written in stages? (if so, describe the stages) Is the student to write more than one draft? Will revisions be expected after feedback? If so, how do the criteria for the draft differ from those for the final version? What needs to be handed in notes, works cited, photocopies of source?
- Criteria for Evaluation: What grading standards will be used? checklists? grids?
Commenting and Correcting Drafts
Student Self Evaluation Form
(Thaiss recommends that students answer these questions and staple these answers to their paper when they hand it in)