Friday, November 12, 2010

Workshop on Writing to Learn (WtL) in the STEM Disciplines

by Chris Thiess, at the Reinvention Center conference

Designing WtL activities ( minimize work for instructors)

  • Limit the need for grades
  • Make writing integral, not an add-on.
  • Use peer response/review
  • Use digital tools (e.g. blog posts) to multiply real audiences, expose students to writing by other students, to speed feedback.
Some ideas:

Writing as a tool that helps students achieve their own goals.
  • Regular, in-class activities, one-minute task, writing about an idea from the class.
  • Help students learn to take better notes.
  • Prompts that build-in assessment criteria - think about how the assignment can prompt students to do the things you will want to assess.
  • Make draft/feedback/revision the norm for important writing.  Could we do this in presenting the assignment to them???  (i.e. we revise the poorly explained assignment in response to their feedback???)  Ask him.
Measuring WtL:  (He is addressing both how we assess the students' writing and how we assess the effectiveness/payoff of the WtL activity.)

Tools for assessment of activity effectiveness:  surveys, focus groups, discourse analysis, student portfolios and reflective essays.

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