Elon Library of Model Writing Assignments

During summer 2013, 46 Elon faculty from 19 departments used research-based principles to create writing assignments that enhance students’ writing and mastery of course content. Below, you will find:

  • The research-based qualities of effective assignments that the faculty applied
  • A gallery of the assignments they created.

Research-based qualities of effective writing assignments

By taking the following 16 actions, faculty can increase the effectiveness of the writing assignments they give their students, according to a study involving over 70,000 students at 80 four-year colleges. The 16 actions comprise three themes (statistically validated “constructs”), which suggests that other actions consistent with these themes can have similarly beneficial result.

Theme 1: Engage students in meaning-constructing writing tasks, such as the following:

  1. summarize something they read
  2. analyze or evaluate something they read, researched, or observed
  3. argue a position with evidence and reasoning
  4. describe their methods or findings related to data collected in lab, field work, a survey, etc.
  5. Explain in writing the meaning of numerical or statistical data
  6. use the style of a specific discipline
  7. address a real or imagined audience such as their classmates, a politician, non-experts, etc.

Theme 2: Encourage students to engage in interactive writing processes, by doing such things as the following:

  1. talking with your students about their assignments before they begin drafting
  2. providing your students with feedback on their drafts
  3. having students talk about their assignment with classmates, friends, and family members before they begin drafting
  4. having students obtain feedback from a classmate, friend, or family member about their drafts before turning in their final assignments
  5. having students give feedback to classmates on their drafts
  6. having students visit a campus-based writing or tutoring center

Theme 3: Explain their writing expectations clearly to students, such as by doing the following:

  1. giving clear instructions in advance about what you want your students to do
  2. describing in advance what you want students to learn through their work on the assignment
  3. explaining in advance the criteria you will use to grade students’ work

Gallery of effective assignments created by Elon faculty

Use the links below to view the assignments Elon faculty created. These colleagues hope that you will them useful as models and for inspiration.

  • Short assignments Projects that students would complete by the next class or the next week.
  • Long assignments Project that would take a substantial portion of a semester for students to complete.

Make an Appointment

Events