How can we help students utilize writing outside of the classroom that will benefit their in-class learning?
Although we don't often think about it, much of our students' learning occurs outside of the classroom and when we are not present. All year, and especially in the spring when students want to enjoy the beautiful weather, writing assignments outside the classroom can help students stay engaged in their learning while also helping them to gain more awareness of writing contexts and audiences.
Activity Idea: Ask your students to conduct fieldwork outside of the classroom.
Fieldwork can be a great way to encourage students' learning in active contexts, to have them collect data in "live" contexts as well as to struggle with how to interpret and represent that data. Fieldwork can be made into both low-stakes and high-stakes assignments as well as individual activities or small group endeavors, so the possibilities for incorporating this concept into your course are numerous. Consider the following out-of-class exercises:
Today: Ask students to find and write informally about an example of a course term or idea within some social event or context.
Later this Quarter: Have students expand on this small assignment by writing a paper that reflects on the methodologies they use in their fieldwork, for example the particular ethnographic perspectives they bring to their analysis.
Long-term: Incorporate fieldwork into a future syllabus as a foundational component of your course. Possible assignments could include an interview component, descriptive writing that encourages attention to detail, or an exploration of ethnographic methods more broadly. Also, try having students use logs or journals in their fieldwork experiences in order to facilitate their note-taking and observational writing skills.
OSU Community Example:
A professor of landscape architecture asks his students to walk up the Olentangy bike path and to ride the bus up High Street, recording their observations. In class, he asks them to briefly write about how what they observed connects to concepts they've discussed. "There are some content related reasons for this that go to the lecture component of the course about landscape forces and policies," he says, "but it's also just an experiential base to get them writing from something that's direct and personal rather than library-based research that would be in the larger papers."
Last year we recorded a conversation about engaging students using community-based writing, including field research, service-learning, and work-world writing. This conversation, entitled "Motivating Students to Write", is available as a podcast on our website under "Writing Instructor Podcasts": http://cstw.osu.edu/podcasts/
More Ways the WAC Team Can Help You:
See an archive of our past tip e-mails at: http://cstw.org/WAC/?cat=50
For more ideas about how you might implement writing to learn activities please contact us to schedule an individual consultation. To further our aim of facilitating dialogue about teaching writing, we offer workshops with faculty and graduate teaching associates that tackle issues involving the teaching of writing in various academic genres. We also can co-facilitate in-class presentations for your students, demonstrating innovative approaches to writing instruction and lending students strategies for overcoming challenges with assignments.
We'll be leading two workshops this quarter through Faculty and TA Development:
Grading Student Writing: Wednesday, April 22 from 11:30-1:00 @ 150 Younkin
Writing Across Borders: Helping International Students with Writing: Wednesday, April 29 from 3:30-5:00 @ 300 Younkin
For further information, visit Faculty and TA Development's website: http://ftad.osu.edu/participate/ftad_events/ftad_events.html
. We hope you'll join us.
Let us know how we can help. Contact us by phone (292-9650), e-mail (email@example.com), or through our website (http://cstw.osu.edu/wac
Have a great quarter,
The WAC Team,
Dr. Chris Manion, WAC Coordinator
Katie Linder, Women's Studies
Lindsay DiCuirci, English
Vicki Daiello, Art Education
Julie Fox, Dance