Teaching and Learning Resources

Writing Skills, Teaching

Writing is a communication skill that is important in all subject areas of the curriculum. Students’ levels of writing skill differ greatly not only upon entering the university but also throughout their academic career. Whatever their level of skill, students are expected to learn writing skills that are unique to a university education.  This includes adopting a style of writing appropriate to the academic field and genre the student is writing in.

There is also an expectation that students’ writing skills will consistently and continuously improve as they progress through their university program. As an instructor there are a number of strategies to support students’ in the writing process. It may be useful to consider the writing of a research paper or assignment as the final product of several acts. If we think about the steps involved in the writing process; note-taking, identifying a central idea, outlining, drafting and editing, these can be a challenge for anyone to learn simultaneously. Including opportunities throughout the course for students to work on some or all of these parts as smaller assignments where they receive feedback before the final writing assignment is due, will permit students to practice and strengthen their skills.

Writing Support Services at McMaster University offers students support in developing and refining their academic writing skills, as well as online resources to improve writing skills.

Peer editing is a useful strategy to promote learning and strengthening of students’ writing skills.
Peer Editing is a resource from The University of Guelph that outlines the peer editing process, offers   suggestions for a workshop to prepare students for a peer editing session and  discusses the pros and cons of this learning strategy.

Instructors at University of Buffalo have shared examples of peer editing worksheets.

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Related Resources

Evidence-based practices for teaching writing presents research based evidence for effectively teaching writing.

Professional Organizations - Writingat the University of Toronto is an extensive list of professional organizations that offer resources for instructors for teaching writing skills to their students. It also includes a number of online readings.

Teaching Writing Skills that Enhance Student Success in Future Employment is an essay in the Collected Essays on Learning and Teaching. It offers a three-step process for teaching pertinent writing skills that will help prepare students for future work.