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.
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 (+, -,
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: