> Home Resources Effective Writing Assignments

Effective Writing Assignments

General Advice

Deterring Plagiarism

Well-designed writing assignments can help deter plagiarism by giving a new twist to an old topic, providing more explicit guidelines for students, and discouraging last minute panic by building in checkpoints and formative feedback for students. 

Encouraging Critical Thinking

Writing is essential to helping students develop their power of critical thinking. Assignment that ask students to consider course concepts in new ways.

Teaching Students to Develop Arguments

Many students arrive at university unable to develop and support arguments with evidence. Assignments that teach students how to develop arguments and use evidence are essential to helping student master their discipline. 

Group Writing Assignments

Because so much workplace writing is collaborative it is invaluable for students to learn how to work with others on a written assignment. However group writing assignments require a complex array of skills: interpersonal, time management, project management, and technical skills. Instructors considering including group writing assignment into their courses should make sure they prepare their students for the challenges such writing task pose. 

Guidelines for Group Writing

  • Group Writing Tips(PDF) written by Earth Science LWTA Allison Enright.
  • Team Contracts(PDF) or Group charters where students write their own group rules can help students think through in advance how they will address problems that can arise from collaborative assignments.

Sample Peer and Self-Assessment Forms

If you are using group writing assignments, then peer and self assessment are effective way to increase accountability and minimize freeloading (when a student don't do their fair share of the group work).

  • Peer Assessment Form(PDF) Using peer assessment can increase student accountability and minimize freeloading (individuals who don't contribute to the group).
  • Self-Assessment Form(PDF)Asking students to self-assess can also increase accountability and encourage students to reflect on their own role.