Learning to write and how to do so effectively is an important part of a college education. Writing assignments can be easily incorporated into upper level classes, but sometimes it can be a challenge to integrate writing in lower level courses. When I had the opportunity to teach intro, I wanted to try to incorporate low-stakes writing assignments to get the students feet wet and also get an idea of what my student’s writing abilities are. I tried to do this in a couple different ways.
One of my favorite low-stakes writing assignments is what I call “3-2-1.” When I do this in class, I ask student to write about 3 things they learned that day, 2 things they want to know more about, and 1 question they still have about the material. I don’t this every day, but I like to incorporate this assignment on days where I think the material will be especially difficult. Doing this will allow students to ask questions without having to address the whole class, which can take the pressure off. Then I do make time the next day to address some of those questions, which is a nice way to quickly review the previous class.
In the past, I’ve also asked students to respond to a question or prompt. Formulating an answer may require some reflection or critical thinking. Depending on the size of the class, you could have students respond individually or as a small group (2-3 students). This type of assignment can be fairly flexible; they can be used in a wide variety of courses and can be tailored to just about any topic as long as you can think of a question that can evoke reflection or critical thinking in your students.
For both of these assignments, I typically have students work on them at the end of lecture, and as time allows, I give them 5-10 minutes to work on it. I give them a small amount of points for each assignment, which also makes grading them less time intensive. In the past, these points went towards their attendance/participation grades, but I’m considering changing this up in the future.
These are 2 examples of how I integrate low-stakes writing in my lower-level courses. How do you like to incorporate writing?
written by Jen Blush