Annotated List of Selected Online Resources for Teaching Writing

(From the Websites of other Universities and Writing Programs)

Note: For the sake of clarity, I have organized resources under the following headings: On Crafting Writing Assignments, On Responding to Student Writing, Elements of the Academic Essay, Plagiarism, Guides to Discipline-Specific Writing, Resources for Instructors of Multi-Lingual Students, General Resources, and Additional Teaching Resources. The resources I include are certainly not comprehensive: I would welcome any suggestions of additional resources that could be added.

Kate Thorpe, Teagle Writing Fellow 2011-2013


On Crafting Writing Assignments:

Elements of an Effective Writing Assignment (Kerry Walk, Princeton):

A one-page, concise, nuts-and-bolts description of components to include in writing assignments, with examples to illustrate.


A Brief Guide to Designing Essay Assignments (Gordon Harvey, Harvard):

Less of a nuts-and-bolts approach: offers helpful suggestions for how to incorporate writing assignments in a course, pointing out questions an instructor should consider while developing assignments, strategies for using course time to prepare for writing and advice for how to emphasize writing as a process through assignments.


Syllabus and Assignment Design (Dartmouth):

Approaches the question of assignment design as intricately linked to the process of syllabus and course creation, addressing reasoning and strategies for developing writing and reading assignments simultaneously, as emerging from key learning goals of the course (a method called “backward design”).


On Responding to Student Writing:

Harvard Writing Bulletin on Responding to Student Writing:

Offers clear, readable, and straightforward suggestions for crafting helpful responses to student writing. This guide is especially useful for the variety of viewpoints it includes: faculty from various disciplines (including sciences), students, and teaching fellows of Expository Writing courses. It also includes a selection of short, targeted essays on specific types of problems (problem papers, responding to science writing, final comments, grading rubrics, responding to informal assignments).


Responding to Student Writing (Kerry Walk, Princeton):

A direct, compact, useable guide detailing the different steps of responding clearly to student writing, from strategies for designing an informal rubric and the basic components of final and marginal comments (including samples of final comments), to how to grade after writing final comments.


“Diagnosing and Responding to Student Writing” (Dartmouth)

Offers helpful, detailed advice for three different ways of reading as well as responding to student work, suggesting that “a good diagnostician is, first and foremost, a sensitive and attentive reader, capable of reading a text in multiple and complex ways.” An instructor will understand and respond to student writing most helpfully if he or she reads not only for what’s wrong with student work, but also as a “common reader” and a reader who approaches student writing “empathetically.”


Elements of the Academic Essay (offering a glossary of key terminology):


Gordon Harvey’s Elements of the Academic Essay (brief guide):

This key vocabulary can be used when commenting on student essays (but the tone itself seems oriented towards students).


A Writing Lexicon (Princeton):

This is a slightly different approach, with some overlaps in terminology (it is clearly indebted to Harvey’s guide). In some ways this seems like a more familiar approach, less theoretical and more directly applicable and useable.




Defining and Avoiding Plagiarism: WPA Guidelines to Best Practices (through Princeton):


Addressing Plagiarism (Yale):

Offers a few pages of thoughtful, detailed guides that suggest ways to prevent plagiarism and to discuss plagiarism with students, including strategies for clarifying assignments, encouraging student behavior that is less likely to lead to plagiarism, and modeling proper use of sources for students.


Guidelines for Giving and Receiving Feedback from others (Princeton):

A handout developed for a course at Princeton that could be adapted to other contexts/courses: it details the sorts of feedback that are appropriate for academic writing as well as the importance of acknowledging different sorts of feedback received—a helpful, affirmative approach to clarifying expectations to avoid plagiarism and encourage the student to look for (appropriate forms of) help.


Guides for Discipline-Specific Writing:


Harvard Writing Project Brief Guide Series:

(scroll down until you see this heading)

Includes brief (less detailed) guides to writing Philosophy, English, Psychology, and History papers (it looks like more disciplines should be coming soon)—the English guide, for instance, includes different forms of papers students might be asked to write in this discipline, steps for how to proceed (with examples), pitfalls/tips, and questions to ask oneself while reading (both poetry and prose).


Writing for Specific Fields (University of North Carolina)

A very approachable, user-friendly set of guides for students offered through the Writing Program: guides include in-depth, specific information regarding a wide range of academic disciplines including appropriate citation style(s), and sources to consult for further help. Especially helpful are discipline-specific strategies to approach writing: for instance, the different forms of analysis in the field of art history, specific ways to make one’s writing clearer and more precise in the sciences, and ways to approach different types of assignments in anthropology.


George Mason Subject-Specific Resources:

A compilation of writing guides created at George Mason (often within particular classes/departments, or as separate guides designed through the writing across the curriculum program) in a variety of disciplines (e.g. English, Philosophy, Religion, Biology). Note: a few of the links seem to be broken.


Wineburg, Sam. "Teaching the Mind Good Habits." The Chronicle of Higher Education 13 April 2003.

This is a fascinating article that explores the development of specialized forms of thought and the importance of teaching discipline-specific approaches to thinking itself –in this case in the context of history.



General Resources to Peruse:


Harvard Writing Project Publications:

Includes detailed writing guides for students of various disciplines (it looks like more will be forthcoming), including social anthropology, philosophy, psychology, East Asian Studies, Performance Studies, Art, Religious Studies, the Life Sciences. There’s also a guide (towards the bottom) to writing with Internet sources which looks potentially useful.


Princeton’s Guide to Teaching with Writing (Kerry Walk, Director of Princeton Writing Program): 

A highly-recommended, very useful guide. Addressed to faculty members, the advice is “designed to help you make use of writing as a powerful critical thinking tool and to assist you in providing the guidance that students need to write as novice practitioners in your course or discipline” (2).


The advice often overlaps with Harvard’s; especially unique is the focus on methods for engaging students in the writing process, particularly through working with peers. Walk offers suggestions for assigning cover letters and multiple drafts, and for conducting peer collaboration/workshops. Overall the writing advice is clear, insightful, and intelligent (and optimistic—these seem like doable and reasonable strategies), with helpful examples given as illustration. Some sections are particularly tailored to Princeton, but much of the advice is generally applicable and relevant.


In addition to a multiplicity of suggestions for integrating the teaching of writing into courses across the disciplines, a special chapter on teaching with writing in science and engineering courses (p.47) briefly offers suggestions for assigning and responding to writing in the sciences.

 “Helping Students Write Better 
in All Courses,” Barbara Gross Davis, available on University of California, Berkeley website

A chapter from Davis’ book Tools for Teaching, which offers useful suggestions for teaching writing, especially for instructors of non-English disciplines, as well as helpful further resources to consult.

Online Materials for Faculty (Dartmouth):

A range of materials developed by Karen Gocsik, Executive Director of the Writing and Rhetoric Program at Dartmouth: while some are Dartmouth-specific, most are widely applicable to the teaching of writing more generally. Particularly relevant include materials in the following categories: Pedagogies (teaching issues of argument and research, for instance); Methods (such as assignment development and suggestions for linking reading to writing in courses); and a Teaching Forum for further ideas, handouts, and sample assignments.

Additional Teaching Resources:

Center for Teaching and Learning at Stanford:

Includes a variety of teaching resources on many different aspects of teaching, including course and syllabus design and suggestions for teaching and evaluating students.

Facilitating Discussion (Cornell):

Offers very helpful, thorough suggestions for the do’s and don’ts of leading engaging class discussions (formulated especially in relation to the Cornell FYI program, it seems).