Saturday, February 12, 2011


I went to a writing thing for instructors yesterday, part of a series for folks on campus who are interested in using writing more effectively in their "content" courses. (Are there really any courses that aren't "content" courses?)

One of the things the facilitator talked about what the difference between "Writing In the Disciplines" and "Writing Across the Curriculum" approaches. I'd always thought they were basically the same thing--everyone should write!--but I was wrong.

It was helpful, because it made me think a bit better about why I give some writing assignments, and how that should help me direct my grading more effectively.

For example, I've been using some journal prompts that StyleyGeek shared with me a while back, about having students pick the most important word from a passage and write about why it's the most important word.

This sort of assignment is, I think, very much a "write so that you think more about something and learn what you think and why" sort of assignment. Yes, it would be lovely if my students had and used all sorts of sophisticated literary terms, but really the assignment doesn't care. It's for students to look more carefully at a passage and think about it, and writing helps their thinking.

So I should grade it more like that, looking for learning and ideas, and focus less on grammar sorts of stuff.

But then, I always get cranky about citing texts, and I think part of that assignment is also to get them in the habit of always citing their texts, because that's an important habit to have in English classes (or college in general). So, it's also a little about writing in my discipline.

It was helpful to have a slightly different framework for thinking about these journals and focusing my grading so it's more efficient.

1 comment:

  1. I work in a WID program now, but didn't choose the name, so I'm curious how the facilitator distinguished WAC from WID. In my own thinking, they end up hopelessly muddled much of the time (which is fine), but it sounds like you found the distinction helpful.