WID Gallery Rationale and Description

The WID Gallery is an annotated and edited set of writing-in-the-disciplines assignments curated to make it as easy as possible for instructors to adopt best practices for student writing into their courses. Assignments in the gallery are formatted using a common template and may be adopted in whole or part under a Creative Commons license. Users are asked to follow guidelines for use and to include attribution of materials where appropriate.

Template Rationale

We know that writing assignments vary tremendously–across disciplines and courses and even by instructor. Different kinds of writing tasks require different kinds of instructions and information. While we want to encourage such diversity, some of the variation in how writing assignments are presented results from instructors not knowing how best to communicate writing tasks to their students and the lack of a common format that highlights similarities and differences between assignments.

For that reason, we have edited all assignments in the WID Gallery to match a common template. We have not added information that was not included originally in assignments, but instead re-formatted aspects of individual assignments to highlight best practices. Not every assignment includes all elements of the template.

The template is designed with four goals in mind:

  1. Facilitate instructors in adopting whatever best suits their needs–whether using the entire assignment with minor changes or adopting only specific parts. To do this, the template is designed to make it easy for users to quickly understand the purpose and rationale for the assignment and to highlight key features users might want to adopt for their own assignments.
  2. Help students negotiate the wide variety of writing assignments they are given by standardizing the location of key details from due dates to information on how the writing will be graded.
  3. Promote best practices for writing assignments such as stating learning objective, specifying the audience, and including grading guidelines;
  4. Retain the individual style and sensibilities of each assignment. To do this, the template only applies to the beginning and end of the assignment.

Layout

A box at the top of each page contains meta-information about the assignment: a brief general description, key features, and tags. This material is not part of the assignment itself.

The assignment proper begins with three short sections:

  • Overview: a brief overview of the task
  • Learning objectives: a short statement or list of objectives intended to help students understand what they should learn from doing the assignment and how this fits into the arc of the course
  • Audience: a short description of the target audience for the writing, intended to help students make appropriate choices about content, vocabulary, voice, etc.

The assignment ends with these sections:

  • Due Dates: a stand-alone list of key dates for completion of products or steps described above
  • Formatting: guidelines for fonts, pagination, and so on
  • Grading: information about how papers will be evaluated, whether as guidelines or rubrics

For more information on crafting effective writing assignments, click here.