Rhetoric and Composition
Department Chair:
Laurie McMillin

Phone: (440) 775-6601
Fax: (440) 775-8619

Rice 116
10 N. Professor St.
Oberlin, OH, 44074

Tips on Teaching Writing

Tips on Teaching Writing
1. Encourage the view that writing is a tool for learning and inquiry, not solely a vehicle for presenting a performance to be evaluated.

2. Assign informal writing exercises, such as journal entries on weekly readings and in-class written responses to discussion questions. In most cases you should not grade these, and in some cases you should not even attempt to read them. Rather, students can read and discuss each other's responses on occasion.

3. When designing formal paper assignments, try to base them on a thorough and careful assessment of the nature and function of writing in your discipline. As a writer in this discipline, try to share the tricks of the trade with students.

4. Avoid paper writing assignments that are essentially tests of information recall disguised as more discursive exercises.

5. Assign sequences of short drafts and revisions throughout the semester rather than the more traditional 20 page term paper due at the end of the course.

6. Make assignment sheets clear, specific, and detailed. Try to demystify academic terminologies, such as "critique," "review," or "analysis." Try to clarify general terms, such as "discuss," "elaborate," or "compare," by explaining in more detail what you mean by them in the context of the specific assignment.

7. Think of yourself at times as a writing coach, not an evaluator or judge. Try to guide students' early attempts at composing and their ongoing efforts to revise.

8. Try to point out strengths (not just problems) in students' drafts, so as to encourage them in their work and to help them identify a solid basis upon which they can build.

9. Don't overemphasize correctness and grammar, especially during early drafting.

10. Don't overwhelm students by commenting on all their weaknesses at once. Focus on the main problem first.