Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Teaching Writing: No Page Limits

This semester I've decided not to assign page numbers to any student writing assignments.

Pretty scary, right?

Will students take the lazy route and hand in 1-page (or, gasp, shorter) essays?  Or will they succumb to wordy and unfocused writing, leaving me to read and assess tangled webs of 10+ pagers?

Obviously, I hope they'll fall somewhere in between the two extremes.

In the past I've asked students what they like/dislike about writing, and every semester one of the top answers for what they dislike about writing is page requirements/limitations.   So, I'm getting rid of that negative aspect.

Instead, I'll let students choose how much they'd like to write while teaching about clear, concise, focused, and well-supported writing.  I give them opportunities to submit drafts for feedback before submitting their final essays. So during their drafting period I can provide feedback about the content and quality of their essays, which is, in my opinion, much more important than page requirements.

What will be the outcome of this experiment?  Have you tried anything like it? Or do you have any words of wisdom/caution about it?

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