Principles and Practices of Writing Instruction

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Writing instruction will emphasize process. Formal high stakes assignments will generally undergo multiple drafts and receive both formal and informal feedback before final drafts are submitted. Good writing takes time, and often comes from humble beginnings. Students will learn to develop and trust their own process. Instructors will encourage revision and allow sufficient time for students to revise drafts.


Feedback is more than providing a letter grade on the final draft of a paper. Instructors will provide students with timely, enriching instructional feedback throughout the writing process, using any variety of methods including comments on evolving drafts and individual conferences. Feedback on early drafts will focus on matters related to content, purpose and organization; proofreading concerns should be reserved for later stages in the writing process.


Evaluative criteria should reflect assignment specific goals and requirements. There is no single way to write an academic paper. Students will be instructed in a variety of writing techniques and conventions and will learn that writing is a dynamic, evolving process. Generic assignment and evaluation sheets can restrict student output, or make them too reliant on a particular format or structure. However, rubrics may be used but should be explained in detail and not used simply as a method to streamline the evaluation process or serve solely as a tool for grade justification. Writing is a complex skill that is more than the sum of its parts—rubrics can be used to help identify particular areas of focus but should not ignore the holistic nature of the writing process. Instructors are encouraged to develop and implement their own evaluative criteria, as long as that criteria is provided to students in writing and reflects best practices.

Active Engagement

Students will develop critical reading skills and analyze texts for technical and stylistic elements, in addition to critical interpretations of content. Good writing instruction rarely involves lecture. Instructors will facilitate discussion on diverse reading selections and seek opportunities to engage with students through a variety of instructional techniques. Peer review is an important part of the writing process and is a recommended strategy to help students engage as both readers and writers.

Digital Literacy

As students move toward becoming writers in the 21st century, they will become part of the future of writing, a future that will be based on a global, collaborative text where much writing has the potential to become public. This future of writing creates a digital imperative that calls for the College to reshape its pedagogy with an awareness of the new technologies that are changing personal and professional lives. The College welcomes the digital rhetoric at the heart of this profound shift from a book culture to an online culture and is committed to preparing students for the future.

The Student

Good writing instruction is geared to the individual. Aptitudes and experiences vary greatly; as such, instruction must filter to the level of students and their particular challenges and places of promise. Writing intensive courses will be capped at 22 students and instructors will be expected to make use of class time to work with students on the level of the individual. Grammar instruction is not a focal point of composition courses, though many students will require effort in the area of mechanics. Diagnostic testing will be used to provide students with an assessment, and the corresponding exercises for challenged areas. Pre- and Post- diagnostics do not need to be evaluated beyond a credit/no-credit participation grade but will be facilitated by the instructor to ensure students develop an awareness of specific problem areas. Additionally, instructors will be encouraged to work closely with The Academic Skills Center to put students in touch with the resources that can help them.