Models and criteria for sequencing writing assignments

Models for sequences of writing assignments:

(N.B.: many of these sequence models overlap or are very similar. Several models may be used in crafting a sequence)

  1. Genres of discourse
  2. . This is a traditional organization followed by many college anthologies. The progression commonly runs: personal essay informational essay expository piece comparison and contrast persuasive essay analysis
  3. Aims of discourse
  4. . This sequence begins with fairly simple, unilateral goals to more complex social goals: express inform explain analyze debate persuade
  5. Types of sources
  6. . Beginning with personal experience, this sequence asks writers to use increasingly more sophisticated sources: personal experience single source popular journalistic writing using two sources interviews, field data synthesis of multiple sources scholarly articles/books
  7. Expanding audience
  8. . This sequence assumes that changing the nature of the stipulated audience will govern the complexity of the writing assignments: writing for self writing for classmates writing for college peers writing for general public writing for scholarly discipline
  9. Intellectual independence
  10. . According to this model, students are initially given very restricted assignments, then are gradually asked to assume more critical independence: theme, purpose, audience, sources stipulated purpose, audience, sources stipulated purpose, audience stipulated purpose only stipulated (students choose sources, type of audience, and topic)
  11. Cognitive complexity
  12. . This model looks very similar to models 1, 2 & 5; the tenet is that assignments should pose increasingly more difficult intellectual tasks: summary comparison & contrast synthesis analysis argument persuasion
  13. Thematic ordering.
  14. Some topic-based courses may lend themselves to themes which build on each other and are increasingly complex, e.g.: family units local community national identities global online communities

SAMPLE SEQUENCE USING MODELS 1, 2, 6 (special thanks to Wes Chapman)

Paper 1: personal position on a text; letter to editor of Argus

Paper 2: compare two authors and take a position of your own for classmates

Paper 3: report on local issue (e.g., housing) for local community

Paper 4: persuasive paper (e.g., an advocacy web site)

Paper 5: short research paper analyzing popular phenomenon

Sources: personal experience, 1 reading

Sources: two readings

Sources: 3-4; some assigned; various kinds of sources

Sources: 5-6; none assigned; various kinds, some stipulated.

Sources: 8-10; none assigned; various kinds, some stipulated

Goals: expression; critical reading; summary; quoting; thesis sentence; claims & support

Goals: critical reading; claims & support; thesis; analyzing tenets & arguments; analyzing evidence

Goals: analyzing evidence; summary; quoting; synthesizing main ideas from multiple sources

Goals: summary; quoting; citing sources; creating effective claims with evidence; shaping a logical chain; using powerful language

Goals: analysis; summary; using sources to back claims; crafting a cohesive argument

Prep work: class discussion with focus questions; summarizing (glossing); freewriting & invention; in-class conferences on thesis statements

Prep work: discussion of texts; role-playing; double-entry glossing or group records; online chat; analyzing syllogisms and assumptions

Prep work: how to organize information; evaluating sources; integrating & citing sources; small group discussion; library tutorial

Prep work: whole- and small-group discussion of persuasive readings; resistant reader role; conferences; collaboration?

Prep work: more evaluation of sources; conferences; one-on-one buddy system; small group review