The Office of Faculty Development

Developing Meaningful Writing Assignments

This teaching guide looks at some of the strategies and tips faculty can use to develop meaningful writing projects for our students, and offers materials for both general classroom writing as well as for writing intensive (W) courses. Developing meaningful writing assignments can be a challenge, but putting the time into developing well designed writing assignments with a clear structure and connections to the overall class learning objectives can be more time consuming than many faculty realize, but also more rewarding for students in the long run.

The latest university research on student writing suggests there are three key elements that can help make for successful and meaningful student writings assignments, which include giving students a say in what they write about, creating engaging and iterative writing processes (e.g., using peer review, multiple revision), and creating writing assignments that allow students to bring in prior skills while also developing new skills they can use in the future, or what scholars refer to as "transfer out" skills, such as developing deeper research, writing, and editing skills that can be used post-graduation. This teaching guide touches on these issues and more.

Expand All | Collapse All






Explore the Writing Commons (WC)(opens in new window) for more writing resources & ideas.

Explore the WAC Clearinghouse(opens in new window) for resources on writing across the curriculum.

Explore The Meaningful Writing Project(opens in new window): Learning, Teaching and Writing in Higher Education.

Check out this Writing Excuses podcast(opens in new window) for short, witty discussions about writing.

Listen to The Writing University podcast(opens in new window) drawn from conversations at the University of Iowa's Summer Writing Fest.

Texas A&M Univ's Writing Center on designing writing assignments(opens in new window).

Watch Writing to Learn(opens in new window) assignments video from Auburn Writers.

Watch Designing Formal Writing Assignments for Intensive Classes(opens in new window) by Bates College.

Designing Writing Assignments(opens in new window) by Traci Gardner (2008).

The Meaningful Writing Project: Learning, Teaching and Writing in Higher Education(opens in new window) by Michele Eodice, Anne Geller, and Neal Lerner (2017).