Managing the Writing Process
When students think about writing assignments, they tend to think only in terms of the final product rather than the processes they must go through to complete the assignment (and therefore grow as thinkers and writers). As a result, teachers may receive sloppy work from students who rushed to complete the work just before the deadline. While teachers cannot force students to follow a writing process, they can enact practices that encourage students to develop the habits of good writers.
Practices that Encourage Students to Develop Habits of Good Writers
- Build the writing process into your course schedule.
Incorporate due dates or benchmarks into the course schedule, and consider grading components of the assignments (e.g., outline, annotated bibliography, peer review).
- Hold mid-project conferences to discuss writing progress.
Talking with students about their ongoing projects encourages them to complete a certain amount of work before the meeting. It also gives you a chance to intervene to help students get (and stay) on track with their topics, arguments, evidence, etc. If your class is large, consider holding conferences with groups of students instead of individually. Consider including a question on an exam that asks where students are in their writing process for an upcoming assignment, or asks for the paragraph version of the argument.
- Make scheduling a concrete task or in-class activity.
Having students create an action plan gets them to think about what needs to happen before the assignment is complete. Provide students with a sample schedule for the writing project that shows planning, drafting, and revising, or give them a template to make their own schedule.
- Develop course content that reinforces writing as a process.
Help students develop good habits of mind by demonstrating writing as a process or showing them the development of your own writing projects.