Write Here, Right Now

Seven Compelling Reasons for Using Writing in Your Courses

1. Writing is a "way of learning." Writing entails high-order, domain-spanning thinking processes that are integral to learning.

2. Writing encourages "active learning." From brainstorming to e-mail to formal papers and essay exams, writing provides a way for students to "see what they think" and to elaborate on it. Writing not only reinforces but also permits learning.

3. Some kinds of thought, especially the kinds we hope teaching moments inspire, emerge only when we try to communicate them to ourselves and others. Writing fosters the ability to explore and articulate relationships, to wrestle with "why" and "how," to learn what counts as support in a discipline, and to refine thinking.

4. Many disciplines evaluate student performance in terms of writing ability. By incorporating writing activities into your courses and making effective writing important, you give students vital practice in the skills on which their performances in many academic fields will be assessed.

5. Giving students more opportunities to write and more responses to their work makes improved writing quality more likely. Writing is learnable. Providing students with help with the processes of writing and with opportunities to write will improve idea fluency and flexibility, develop meta-cognitive abilities required to engage in complex decision-making tasks, and introduce students to the ways of communicating ideas that are specific to your discipline. What it means to think like a scientist is inextricably linked to what it means to write like a scientist.

6. Writing is important to achievement not only in academic disciplines but also in other workplace settings.

7. Emphasizing the uses and benefits of writing in your courses helps improve students' attitudes toward their own abilities and invites them to use writing in new ways. Moreover, using writing to enhance learning makes you more aware of what constitutes writing effectiveness and stands to improve the quality of your own work.

Michelle Ballif, Teaching at UGA, University of Georgia, Vol. 17 (2), Spring 1999

Revised 6/2012


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Meet the writer: Rute Muniz. KU undergrad, majoring in social work with a minor in public policy. First-year student from Brazil. Long-term goal: work to end child trafficking, both by helping single individuals and by making a difference on a global scale in terms of policy. Office Assistant at the KU Writing Center. “Writing is one of my basic needs. Not that I will physically die if I don’t write, but I will lose my glow, part of my personality. I write everywhere, anytime I feel inspired: at my classes, in the hallways, at my room, in my mind. I write to express how I feel, what I want to feel, and what I need to feel. I write to release forgiveness. I write to question, to argue, but also to think over things. I write to define who I am and distort what I once defined. Even if it is a paper for a class, I am always trying to make sense of it in my life. I write for many or for a few, for the called sane and the called crazy, because I have a little bit of both of them in me.” Want to hear more from Rute? Follow her on Twitter @callherute and Instagram @rutecmuniz. #writersofku #thisiswhatawriterlookslike (Photo credit: Katie Elliott)
"Writing is one of my basic needs. I write to define who I am."--Rute Muniz, KU 1st-year #thisiswhatawriterlookslike http://t.co/TzNBqvbMmZ

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