Describe a successful classroom teaching tactic that could be replicated by other instructors.
Asynchronous Writing Assignments Using the Writing Rubric
Article first published online: 6 OCT 2010
© 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd
Teaching Theology & Religion
Volume 13, Issue 4, page 371, October 2010
How to Cite
Galle, J. (2010), Asynchronous Writing Assignments Using the Writing Rubric. Teaching Theology & Religion, 13: 371. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9647.2010.00648.x
- Issue published online: 6 OCT 2010
- Article first published online: 6 OCT 2010
The context: Most courses include a strong writing component, and I have found that the writing of my students improves more readily when they write reflectively about particular criteria of the course's writing rubric. Using online, blended learning writing assignments of this sort fosters reflection and focuses students upon the writing criteria which have yielded the most success and the greatest challenge. This strategy can be employed in the writing assignments of any course.
The pedagogical purpose: The purpose is twofold: by having students write in detail about particular criteria of the rubric they acquire a deeper awareness of the criteria, and in having them use the criteria in a private context, they often tend to employ them more readily in class and in peer editing sessions. An added advantage is that in a blended learning situation, out of class, students tend to be more open to self criticism than when in a small group setting in class.
The strategy: The assignments can appear to be deceptively simple: “Please select two criteria from our writing rubric and for each write a three paragraph, thoughtful explanation of how you did or did not apply the criterion in an essay you have written this semester.” Rubric criteria will vary from course to course, but those I use frequently are: Purpose, Audience, Title, Lead, Organizational Pattern(s), Introductory Paragraph(s), Dialogue, Description, Summary, Concluding Paragraph(s), Close, Tone, Grammar Issues, Sentence Variety and Length, and Word Choice. To complete the assignment students select the criteria they want to write about, produce the three paragraph analyses, and submit them through blackboard (or through email for the course).
I read the responses before class, and am frequently surprised by several discoveries: students do think deeply about specific writing components when they are asked to do so; they frequently do not understand what I was asking for in a particular essay relative to particular criteria; and, most happily, their analysis, discussion, and writing improve more readily once they engage in a deeper way with the criteria upon which their writing is evaluated. Class discussion following the online assignments tends to be more on point and in depth.
Why it is effective: Students become editors, critical readers of their own writing, rather than passive receivers of statements from the instructor. Through offline reflection students take ownership of their own writing more readily than they do in class when the rubric is more external to what they do.