What I learned from WID
I applied to participate in the Writing in the Discipline workshop with the impression that I would acquire new tools to teach students how to express themselves through writing. I left with a few fresh ideas about how to groom students to be better writers and, more significantly, a changed opinion about the role of writing in education. WID advocates that students can learn more and better through the practice of writing. I’ve been converted to that philosophy. With my WID colleagues I discovered the wonder of the small stakes assignment—a neat means for the student to exercise the knowledge they’ve acquired through readings and lectures byway of quick and informal responses and for me to follow the student’s progress in a relatively informal way. I also spent time during the WID workshop developing marking grids in more detail. Although I have always provided marking criteria for assignments, typically these have sketched general frames of reference for students to follow rather than given detailed explanations of the skills the exercise is meant to develop and measure.
My ‘blogfolio,’ accessible by the menu at the top of the page, features a number of informal and formal assignments developed during my tenure with the WID group, all of which include evaluation grids that give a quantified account of the steps to be taken in the assignment’s execution. The assignments include a series of small stakes writing exercises meant to teach students about film history and introduce them to the language used to talk about film, and a reversed engineered program of exercises that train students how to conduct and present research and to write informatively about cinema and communications.