Summative Feedback: Focusing on Learning and Grading

Research in teaching with writing consistently emphasizes the importance of early, formative feedback on writing as critical for students' growth as writers. Formative comments on works in progress can affirm effective writing choices, correct misconceptions and misunderstandings, and coach students on various improvements they can make to their written work. The labor of revising and extending their writing based on expert feedback provides some of the most engaging and practical lessons for developing writers.

Conceptual Ladders: Steps to Understanding through Writing

When students recall the definition of a concept or apply a formula or principle to a problem, we are presented with a challenge. While their answers may be correct, how do we know whether they have a developed sense of the concept or can simply provide solutions in clearly defined contexts? Similarly, while students may recall learning about a concept, method, or tool in a prior course, is remembering a topic the same as conceptual understanding?

Freshest Fruits: Getting the most from peer response

The Writing Across the Curriculum program offers many resources on peer response as an effective strategy for improving student writing. Students become more effective readers and writers when they can engage each other with formative feedback. At the same time, instructors may be challenged to find time to assign and implement peer response activities in their courses, especially if those courses have large enrollments.

Writing with Sources: Early-Semester Activities to Promote Synthesis

While students in nearly every upper-division course will be asked to analyze and synthesize information, the meaning of these terms changes with instructional contexts. They may analyze scholarly arguments to make an assertion about the state of knowledge or create a new research question. Students may also analyze results from experimental tests to draw accurate conclusions from measurement, while in another course, they may be tasked with analyzing multiple policies or practices and then designing their own.

Designing and Assessing Reflective Writing Assignments

Many instructors know the benefits of reflective writing for promoting students’ conceptual understanding, encouraging student agency, and helping students transfer what they have learned to new contexts. At the same time, grading students' reflections can be challenging: when students report their personal, subjective reflections, doesn’t it make all grading subjective? How can we grade reflective work fairly?

Rubrics 2.0: Descriptive Criteria Enable Student Success

Faculty and instructors tend to be divided over the use of rubrics and scoring sheets to assess writing. Some instructors appreciate the sense of consistency that rubrics provide and how they simplify grading. Others find scoring rubrics artificial and confining, and worry that splitting hairs between categories increases assessment challenges. In this blog post, we’ll look at the question of scoring rubrics from the perspective of student performance and recent research on how scoring rubrics can help students learn.

Reply All: Using Online Discussion Forums to Support and Engage Students

One month into the Fall Semester with a round of exams, essay cycles, lab reports, problem sets and other core assignments completed, students may be experiencing fatigue and dips in their engagement. Whether you teach in person, a blended course, or fully online, the discussion forum available through Canvas can be an effective space to (re)engage students in their learning and to support them as they transition into new units of study. This post offers five suggestions for how to use the online discussion forums effectively.