The writing assignment models on this page come from OSU WIC faculty. Although they were created for specific WIC courses, these models can easily be adapted to work in other WIC and non-WIC courses across the disciplines. Each model assignment has a short description and key terms that identify skills it targets and the type of writing it asks students to produce. 

Formative Writing Assignments

Formative (informal) writing includes ungraded or minimally graded assignments. These assignments are usually short, and they may ask students to summarize a concept, reflect on their learning, or ask questions. 

  • Reflective writing prompts from Lauren Dalton (Biochemistry and Biophysics). These 17 reflective writing prompts are divided into three categories: world, discipline, and self. While some of the prompts are specific to biology and science, many of them are applicable to any disciplinary context. The assignment asks students to briefly respond to these prompts and is graded on completion. 
    • Key terms: reflection, science
  • Seminar reflection assignment from Lauren Dalton (Biochemistry and Biophysics). The seminar assignment asks students to attend and reflect on scientific seminars. It includes a list of prompting questions that guide students to analyze the science communication enacted at scientific seminars. These questions could be adapted to ask students to analyze different types of public communication for different disciplines. 
    • Key terms: analysis, reflection, science communication

Summative Writing Assignments

Summative (formal) writing includes graded writing assignments, which students may be asked to revise. 

  • Microtheme assignment from Brian Erickson (Fisheries and Wildlife). This data-based microtheme is a very short (350-500 words) essay that makes a claim about a set of data. This specific microtheme assignment asks students to come up with a strategy for addressing a public audience's concerns about a particular policy. Microthemes like this one can be used in any course to give students practice with summary and supporting claims.
    • Key terms: analysis, argumentation, summary, synthesis
  • Opinion piece assignment from Lauren Dalton (Biochemistry and Biophysics). The opinion piece assignment asks that students formulate an opinion on a topic and support it with evidence from scientific research. It provides guidelines for drafting the piece, from finding and analyzing sources to tailoring the piece to a specific audience. Although the assignment is specific to science, it could be easily modified for different disciplines.
    • Key terms: argumentation, persuasion, source use
  • Press release assignment from Lauren Dalton (Biochemistry and Biophysics). This assignment invites students to write a press release to practice making scientific research accessible to public audiences. It includes a list of research articles for students to choose from and a rubric. This assignment would work particularly well in STEM courses, though it is a useful exercise in audience awareness for any class. 
    • Key terms: audience awareness, public writing
  • Rhetorical precis assignment from Brian Erickson (Fisheries and Wildlife). The rhetorical precis is a short, structured summary and analysis of a text. It asks students to identify the central argument, evidence, purpose, and audience of a piece. Erickson's assignment includes a five-point rubric for grading submissions and can be adapted to any reading. The rhetorical precis can also be used as an informal writing assignment.
    • Key terms: analysis, reading, summary

Sequenced Writing Assignments

Sequenced writing assignments allow students to slowly build up to larger, summative writing assignments. These assignments may ask students to write sections of a paper one at a time, or guide students through different steps of the research process. They are often heavily revised. 

  • Academic journal paper from Ana Ribero (Writing, Literature, and Film). This paper assignment tasks students with writing a paper directed at a scholarly journal in their field. The topic of this particular prompt is literacy studies, but this assignment could be focused on any field in which students could produce original primary research. To complete the assignment, students write a proposal, an annotated bibliography, a first draft, and a revised final draft. 
    • Key terms: argumentation, primary resource, source use
  • Management plan assignment from Claudia Ingham (Animal & Rangeland Sciences). This management plan assignment guides students through the steps necessary to produce a polished plan that addresses a rangeland management problem. Detailed prompts accompany each step of the assignment: proposal, problem identification and objectives, business letters, a plan implementation, and an executive summary. The assignment also includes a self-assessment and a peer assessment. This assignment and its sequencing could be useful in other disciplines in which students may be asked to write management plans or project proposals.
    • Key terms: peer response, professional/business writing, project proposal, self-assessment
  • Research paper and presentation from Andrea Allan (Geography). This set of research guidelines provides step-by-step instructions for writing a sequenced synthesis paper about the climate of a specific region. Students choose a topic, write an annotated outline, write a first draft, write a second draft, present it, and then write a final draft. These stages of the writing process are tied to in-class instruction, so that students write about what they are learning. While this assignment is specific to climatology, the overall sequence may fit in other courses. 
    • Key terms: research paper, source use, synthesis
  • White paper assignment from Jon Souder (Forest Engineering, Resources & Management). This white paper, or policy report, asks students to summarize and analyze a management issue related to government policy. The prompt explains how white papers should discuss different perspectives on their topic, interpret and evaluate evidence for those perspectives, and provide recommendations based on their analysis. It also includes a sequence of scaffolded assignments, including a bibliography, outline, draft, and revised paper. This assignment could be particularly useful for courses that discuss policy or ask students to produce analytical reports.
    • Key terms: analysis, argumentation, source use, summary