Students are oftentimes not aware of their writing strategies, whether they are effective or ineffective. They perceive writing as a class assignment they need to complete to earn a grade but not as a skill they need to develop as a college student and a life-long writer. Therefore, communicating to students that writing is a skill that they develop over several semesters, through repeated practice and the guidance of the instructor, might be the missing link for students to become more successful writers.
When students are asked they most likely admit: yes, they should have started the writing assignment earlier, they should have proofread it more thoroughly, visited the instructor’s office hours, or seen a coach in the Language and Writing Studio. Nevertheless, students will also admit that they put off the writing assignment because they feel that the task is overwhelming because they do not really know how to approach it and because they do not see any improvement. They feel that some people are good writers and others are bad writers and there is nothing one can do about it.
Many students feel validated if they hear that other students or even their instructors faced challenges when they learned to write in their second language. Validation of the students’ experience might turn into motivation to put more effort into writing.
- Discuss with students that learning to write is a process and explain the writing curriculum of the department: how classes build on one another.
- Discuss with students the challenges of writing, including effective and less effective habits. Assign one of the video interviews as homework and follow up with a discussion asking students to explain which advise they found most helpful. (These are the points brought up in the videos: Advice from Students, Advice from Professors, Advice form Language Coaches about pre-writing strategies)