1. Assign writing that encourages students to create something new or to consider the real world applications of course ideas and issues.  Nationwide surveys suggest that students are more likely to enjoy writing, and thus apply themselves to it more, when they are asked to think creatively across the content of the semester and to bring themselves and their experiences into sharp relief as part of it.  For example, you might ask the student to analyze a particular concept or issue in a course and ask them to apply it to an aspect of their own lives or a contemporary public controversy.
  2. Assign writing that matches or approximates the skills and habits of thought that you know they will use beyond your class: in more advanced classes, in graduate school, work environments, or other post-college contexts.  Tying writing assignments to contexts beyond your class opens opportunities to collaborate with other teachers in your discipline or GE pathway, and because students see those connections, generally results in writing that is more motivated.
  3. Assign "public writing."  Consider what might be gained from specifying an audience other than "the teacher" and a purpose other than "demonstrating their knowledge of course content."  While students will know that the teacher is ultimately responsible for grading and responding to the writing, specifying an audience outside of the class—readers of a particular blog or newspaper, or in some specialized group—generally changes students' disposition to the writing, and starts pedagogically useful conversations about what students would need to know about an audience in order to address them effectively.  Research in the field generally shows that when students write to audiences other than just the teacher, their motivation goes up, the papers get longer and more complex, they think more deeply about alternative points of view and how to frame their arguments, and the papers are ranked as stronger.