The guides in these pages (linked in the right sidebar) were designed by writing specialists to help provide instructors across departments and disciplines with strategies for teaching writing in their courses. Now, before you run screaming from what might sound like yet another request for you to do more with less (less compensation, less support, more students), let us reassure you that, while teaching with writing involves an investment, it is a one-time investment. After some initial outlays of time, you will be repaid with:

  • increased ease and speed in developing meaningful assignments
  • greater efficiency and fairness in assessing student writing
  • improved student learning and autonomy

In short, teaching writing to improve learning and equity is not a zero-sum game for instructors. Believe it or not, better writing instruction can lead to less effort in the long run.

These guides suggest starting points for improving your efficiency and effectiveness in teaching writing. If you would like to go even further in depth, please look out for our forthcoming Canvas course, Strategies for Teaching Writing at UW. 

Writing to Learn and Learning to Write

Writing is an incredibly important teaching tool because it serves a dual purpose.

On the one hand, it can help students think through and reinforce course concepts that you are already trying to get them to learn. This is called “writing to learn”.

On the other hand, writing can serve as an outcome in itself, like when learning field-specific forms of communication, whether that is a lab report or historiography or a business memo. This is called “learning to write.”

Most instructors want their students to do both: write to learn and learn to write, though some place greater emphasis on writing to learn at earlier stages of learning, and on learning to write as the student is in more advanced stages of their major. In any case, this site is designed to help you think through implementing both approaches, specifically through assignment design, academic integrity, strategies for grading equitably, and approaches for faculty working with TAs.

Before you begin to explore these topics, we strongly encourage you to explore the Principles for Writing, a framework that describes what writing is and can do for our students. These principles were drafted by the UW Task Force on Writing, and present for a broad audience some of the key theoretical foundations from writing studies scholars at UW and beyond.

The Guides

We invite you to work through the guides linked in the sidebar. The guides are divided into four topics that address many instructors’ main concerns with teaching writing:

  • How to design successful writing assignments

  • Supporting academic integrity

  • On grading student writing

  • For faculty working with TAs

Within each module, which will take 20-40 minutes to read and digest depending on your level of confidence and energy, you will encounter questions instructors often have about this topic, followed by suggestions for practice, occasional further reading and resources, and a final (optional!) quiz to assess your understanding.

Questions or Feedback?

These guides were built by a group of writing specialists from the Center for Teaching and Learning, Odegaard Writing and Research Center, and Department of English. Please feel free to get in touch directly with any questions or feedback on these guides.

Megan Callow, Director and Associate Teaching Professor - Interdisciplinary Writing Program (Dept. of English). mcallow@uw.edu

Katie Malcolm, Associate Director - Center for Teaching and Learning. kmalc@uw.edu