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MOTIVATING AND COLLABORATING

Offer Chances for Revision

Students being graded on their only attempt at a writing project often become anxious about any uncertainty they have about their writing. This leads to a natural desire to hide weaknesses or avoid complexity. If allowed a chance to receive feedback and then revise, however, students will often dig into the complexity of the material and work on the skills they need to practice, which is exactly what we want student writers to do.

Let Students Use Their Own Language

Acquiring the conventions of different types of academic writing takes years—in many disciplines, it is only graduate students that begin to take on the task of writing according to the conventions of their discipline. If undergraduate students are just starting to engage with the content in your field, it can often help to allow them to write about that content in whatever voice they like. If there is something in your area of study they can't name or describe in their own voice, then that is the moment in which they will naturally begin to discover the reasons for discipline-specific terms or conventions.

Collaborate on Evaluation

If students are clear on what the goals are for a piece of writing, they are often quite competent at evaluating themselves. Similarly, evaluation doesn't always need to mean grades. Students who receive full credit for completing an assignment but are also able to point out what they did well and what they need to work on are learning and growing as writers. When students experience the satisfaction of completing a writing project and having reflective insights about it, they strengthen their sense of autonomy and confidence as writers.