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Myth 1:

Most professors don't really care about writing (and they shouldn't!)

Some Students' Reasoning: Some professors devote very little class time to writing; they assign a paper and expect it to be submitted 1-4 weeks later.

Some Professors' Reply: Due to the demands of coverage in a "content" course, very little time can be devoted to writing in class, and as a professor of a "content" area, I received little training in the teaching of writing.

Some Suggestions:

Rather than just preach, demonstrate that the quality of writing does matter through classroom practices. For example, Al DiChiara in Sociology provides specific and regular checkpoints for long-term assignments, such as topic approval, working bibliography and sample notes, and thesis statement and tentative outline. These checkpoints should be graded, at least minimally using a check system (+, -, etc.).

Devote fifteen minutes of class time to some checkpoints. For example, list 8-10+ theses on board when due. In the last fifteen minutes of period, ask random students to read them aloud. Students identify 2-3 strong theses (a clear position on a debatable issue) and 2-3 weak ones by their number. Discuss the 2-3 strong theses (why is it a debatable and defensible thesis? NOT why correct?) Use the prompt "My topic is ____ , and my thesis on this topic is ____" to have the class suggest possible revisions for the weak ones.

Also recommended: a discussion of excerpts from strong and weak papers by former students (with their permission). Do not engage students in endless revisions of graded drafts, especially if only the highest grade is recorded.

Some students may object that the papers should not be graded "like this is an English course" so briefly discuss the importance of writing in your discipline and related careers.

Checkpoints enable a professor to monitor progress and decrease plagiarism and last-minute disasters. There still may be a few inadequate papers because writing is not a skill, once learned and practiced well forever, like the proverbial riding of a bike.

MINIMUM CLASS TIME: 15-30 minutes
MIN. CORRECTING TIME: 1-2 hours