A research paper — or any formal paper for that matter — is a complex task that assumes a wealth of knowledge on the side of the student. What is an appropriate source? How to use evidence?
Syllabus and Assignment Design Designing your Syllabus: Backward Design When you design a syllabus for any course, you begin with the outcomes that you intend for your students to achieve, and you work backwards from these to particular readings and writing assignments.
This method, formalized, is called the method of backward design. Backward design is a useful method for any professor in that it ensures that all assignments, readings, and activities will connect students with the outcomes that the professor deems essential to the course. At the first stage of backward design, writing instructors should consider two issues: Put another way, instructors need to think both about their focusing questions and their course outcomes.
Indeed, this distinction is significant in a writing class, where course content while important does not drive the course. What are the roots of violence?
What is the nature of the self? These are the kinds of questions that can focus course readings and class discussions. They are also the kinds of questions that students can engage with outside of the context of the writing classroom.
Finally, they are the kinds of questions around which professors can build a course that is intellectually coherent. Even more important the the course questions, however, are the course outcomes—in other words, what students should be able to do when the course comes to an end.
Take some time to review these outcomes, and to consider how every assignment and classroom activity might work to help students achieve them.
If your aim is to ensure, for instance, that students learn how to shape good academic questions, you might ask them to compose, share, and then revise their questions. If you want them to develop their research capabilities, have them take these questions to the library databases in order to look for appropriate sources.
If you want to ensure that students learn how to work with sources, ask them to compose a summary and synthesis document, in which they nutshell their sources and show how these sources are in conversation with one another.
Finally, if you want to ensure that they learn how to compose and revise, assign drafts and give them feedback.
Have their peers offer feedback as well. Whatever you decide to assign, use the outcomes to guide you. Students work on one step in the process and get feedback on it from the instructor or their peers before moving on to the next challenge. By scaffolding, instructors can be sure that students know how to successfully complete the final assignment.Clearly link each assignment to the course goals and learning outcomes.
Break large, high-stakes assignments into multiple, low-stakes assignments. Identify the purpose, audience, and genre (e.g.
book review, reflection letter) for the assignment. Design assignments around real-world issues and events to engage and motivate students. Designing Assignments Making a few revisions to your writing assignments can make a big difference in the writing your students will produce.
The most effective changes involve specifying what you would like students to do in the assignment and suggesting concrete steps students can take to achieve that goal. Explain how the assignment is connected with writing issues that you want to get across.
Are you teaching students how to analyze, support arguments, or handle factual material?
Use the assignment to teach students about research. Designing Assignments Making a few revisions to your writing assignments can make a big difference in the writing your students will produce.
The most effective changes involve specifying what you would like students to do in the assignment and suggesting concrete steps students can take to achieve that goal.
Design assignments that isolate specific skills. Many people find it helpful to “scaffold” writing assignments; that is, sequence assignments that break reading, analysis, and writing into component parts and give students practice developing mastery in each area, building gradually towards more complex, comprehensive writing tasks.
Writing Assignments and Presentations for Senior Design. Posted on August 15, by Gabe Parmer Senior design enables you to focus on your own .