ERIC Number: ED280085
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1987-Mar
Reference Count: 0
Writing Assignments: What We Know We Don't Know.
Questions raised by the misinterpretations evidenced in the final examination essays of a freshman English class should lead teachers to a new understanding of how the phrasing of writing assignments influences what students write. Some of the questions included: (1) How detailed must an assignment be to communicate its goals? (2) What type of detail is needed? (3) To which sections of assignments do students pay the most attention? (4) How much difference does audience, purpose, or mode make on students' writing? and (5) How can teachers be sure that they, themselves, fully recognize the purpose of a particular writing assignment? Researchers have found that assignments asking for less challenging modes of discourse, such as relating ideas, did not produce better or worse essays than did assignments asking for more challenging modes of discourse, such as evaluating ideas. Students have been known to center their attention on phrases or sentences in a writing assignment that teachers may have provided as background information, rather than on salient parts of the assignment. Researchers have also noted that people learned to write because they had to: when they had something to write about, when the need for writing was immediate, and when they had an audience they knew needed the communication. This observation may lay the foundation for further research into improving the clarity of writing assignments. (A list of works on writing assignments is included.) (AEW)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Conference on College Composition and Communication (38th, Atlanta, GA, March 19-21, 1987).