Writing to Communicate

DSW courses require at least one Writing to Communicate (WTC) assignment, a formal writing assignment appropriate to the discipline. The instructor determines both the appropriateness of the subject and establishes the draft submission policy. He or she also offers constructive comments that lead to a high-quality finished product. The paper should be evaluated based on content, form, grammar, and spelling. It should also represent a sustained effort on the part of the student.

Writing to Learn

Instructors of DSW courses may choose to assign one or more Writing to Learn (WTL) activities. In completing these assignments, students gain practice in the sort of single-draft writing expected of them in exam situations or quick-draft career writing projects. Whether or not instructors evaluate every assignment, WTL exercises will help students realize the idea-generating potential of writing and its value even when it is not graded. Ideally, these WTL strategies help students focus their ideas as they prepare to write formal essays or reports.

Informal and Formal WTL Exercises

  • A. Journal/Notebook Writing
  • B. Informal Writing Activities
  • C. Discipline-Specific Technical Writing
  • A. Journal/Notebook Writing
    • Laboratory notebooks (in narrative style)
    • Reflective journals—on lectures, readings, etc.
    • Recording journals
    • Dialogue journals to be shared
    • Scientific log
  • B. Informal Writing Activities
    • Argumentative writing/essays
    • Expressive papers
    • Timed in-class writing
    • Short-answer/essay exams
    • Case studies
    • Student letter exchanges
    • Class listserv/e-mail exchanges
    • In-class response writing
    • Peer writing exercises, including reading out loud
    • Peer evaluation
    • Creative writing such as poetry, playwriting, etc.
    • Microthemes or mini-essays
    • Group brainstorming
    • Quick-writes or focused free-writing
    • Exit questions or pre-discussion reading responses
  • C. Discipline-Specific Technical Writing
    • Abstracts
    • Documentation
    • Lab reports
    • Literature explication or analyses
    • Book reviews
    • Translations
    • Project proposals