Suggestions for Managing the Paper Load

One of the main reasons faculty decide to reduce or remove the writing assignments in their classes is time: the class time of teaching and assigning writing and the office time of responding to it.  Fortunately, pedagogical research has identified effective practices that are both sensible and time-efficient in assigning and responding to writing.

What you see below are a selection of useful suggestions for managing the papers you assign.  These tips embody some basic principles guiding the use of writing in content classes. First, sequence writing assignments as part of a larger project so that students build on concepts gradually over the semester.  Second, model in class the kinds of thinking and writing styles you want students to adopt. Third, assign "low-stakes"writing that encourages engagement with future writing topics instead of solely research papers and other "high-stakes" assignments.  Fourth, use rubrics and other response forms to speed the process of giving feedback.  Finally, practice minimal commentary so that students can prioritize your feedback.

The suggestions below a reorganized along the continuum of a semester and are supported by a significant body of research in rhetoric and composition, situated learning and activity theory, and effective practices in general education courses.