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Writing Program

Sequencing Assignments

Dominique Battles, English
Sequencing Assignments for W2 Courses
Here is a basic checklist of Research Writing Skills to cover over the course of term in your W2 course.  Feel free to adapt his list to your own discipline.  Handy exercises for teaching many of these skills can be found under the "Resources" section of this website.  Many of these skills can be taught concurrently, in pairs, through a single exercise.  Hence, I've grouped them into useful pairs:
Finding a good topic           Evaluating scholarly sources        Summarizing a source
Narrowing your topic          Navigating a scholarly source      Annotating a source

Citing sources                      Quoting sources                              Finding sources                  
Responsible source use    Integrating sources into a paper   Creating a Bibliography

Sample Plan A:  This model has students writing a series of short (5-page) research papers.  Each paper targets specific research writing skills while reinforcing skills covered previously.

Research Paper 1:  Professor provides a list of topics, and a set of secondary sources for each topic.  Students focus their energies on Summarizing a scholarly source, Annotating a scholarly source, Quoting sources, and Integrating sources into a paper.  In addition to writing the paper, students produce an annotated bibliography.
Research Paper 2:  Professor provides a list of topics and half the number of scholarly sources for the paper.  The students focus their energies on Evaluating scholarly sources, Finding scholarly sources, Citing sources, Responsible source use, and Creating a Bibliography, while honing the skills targeted under Research Paper 1.

Research Paper 3:  Students choose their own topics, and narrow their topics in consultation with the professor.  Additionally, students find, annotate, and integrate all of the secondary sources required for the paper, further reinforcing skills targeted in the first two papers, producing a research paper with an annotated bibliography.

Some Basic Principles of the plan:

  • Students only get graded on skills covered up to that point. 
  • The papers build in level of complexity.
  • The most essential basic skills are introduced in Paper 1 so they received maximum reinforcement through subsequent papers. 
  • Students grow towards independence, finally removing the training wheels.

Sample Plan B:  This model relies on a single, long culminating research paper produced at the end of term

Stage 1:  Students choose a topic, and narrow the topic in consultation with the professor.  Students then focus their energies on Creating a Bibliography, which may include the following:  Find scholarly sources, Evaluating scholarly sources, Annotating sources, and learning proper citation format for that discipline. 

Stage 2:  Having created a bibliography, students now focus their energies on Navigating scholarly sources, summarizing sources.

Stage 3:  Students now begin writing their research papers, focusing their energies on Quoting sources, Responsible source use, Integrating Sources into a paper, and proper citation of sources.

Teaching Tip:  One way to help students crystallize their ideas for their research paper involves having them do a Formal Presentation of the project prior to the due date for the paper.  The presentation helps students get early feedback on their projects while also better preparing them to write the paper.

Some Basic Principles of the plan:

  • Each stage targets a specific skill set in research paper writing, starting with locating and navigating/evaluating scholarly sources.
  • Since students are doing one long paper, as opposed to several shorter ones, they have time to develop more expertise on that single topic.
  • Since the bibliography comes first, students avoid last-minute scrambling for sources, of potentially dubious quality, during the writing process.  
  • The longer length allows, perhaps, for more in-depth coverage of the topic. 

Questions?:  contact Dominique Battles, English, battlesd@hanover.edu.