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Designing and Using Writing-to-Learn Assignments

May 7, 2020

pretty female college student

This virtual workshop was offered on May 7th, 2020 by the AWAC Mentoring Committee and was led by Marty Townsend (University of Missouri Emerita) and Chris Anson (North Carolina State University).

The relationship between writing and learning has been a fundamental part of the WAC movement from its beginnings. When students write frequently and informally about the material of their courses, they experience deeper learning—stronger analysis, synthesis, and integration of ideas—and enhanced reading processes (Graham & Hebert, 2010). And when this low-stakes writing is woven into the fabric of their courses, class sessions can be more engaging and socially dynamic.

In this interactive workshop, Marty Townsend and Chris Anson explained the theoretical orientation of writing to learn, including distinctions between writing to learn and more formal, higher-stakes writing, and then engaged participants in methods for designing and evaluating effective, learning-based writing assignments and integrating them into their courses to enhance student engagement.

Please note that video includes example WTL assignments shared in PowerPoints that can only be shared with the permission of the authors of the assignments. If you wish to share any material from the PowerPoints, please contact Marty or Chris for permission (see AWAC Board of Consultants for their contact information).

Presenter Bios

Marty Townsend is Professor Emerita of English at the University of Missouri (MU) and former Director of MU’s award-winning Campus Writing Program (from 1991-2006). Marty has spoken, consulted, and led faculty workshops at over 100 colleges and universities in the U.S. and in dozens of international settings. She has taught a variety of undergraduate and graduate courses on writing. Her research interests include WAC, WID, writing assessment, and writing program administration. She is a passionate advocate for teaching writing in all disciplines.

Chris Anson is Distinguished University Professor, Alumni Association Distinguished Graduate Professor, and Director of the Campus Writing and Speaking Program at North Carolina State University, where he works with faculty across the disciplines to enhance writing and speaking instruction. He has published 19 books and 140 articles and book chapters relating to writing, WAC, and WID, and has spoken and led faculty workshops across the U.S. and in 33 other countries. He is Past Chair of the Conference on College Composition and Communication and Past President of the Council of Writing Program Administrators, and is co-chair of AWAC’s International Collaborations Committee. He is currently co-editing a new collection on the writing-enriched (WEC) approach to writing across the curriculum. His full c.v. is at www.ansonica.net