R&C courses are distinguished by the fact that the study and practice of the activities of reading and writing are themselves central components of the course. This means that substantial time in class, as well as assignments to be completed outside of class, are devoted to that study and practice. Specific ideas and suggestions for the many forms this work might take can be seen in the teaching resources below.
Course Design/Creating a Syllabus
The key for any syllabus in a writing course is to balance writing instruction with reading and discussion of works. A good R&C syllabus should include “scaffolding,” that is, a series of shorter assignments that lead to a larger paper, as well as ample opportunity for revision. In addition, a strong component of an R&C course will be in-class writing/editing/peer review; a good rule of thumb is that about 30% of class time, or one hour a week for a three hour class, should be spent on these activities.
- Developing an R&C Syllabus, from Handouts from Workshops, GSI Teaching and Resource Center
- Course and Syllabus Design, from the “GSI Teaching Guide,” GSI Teaching and Resource Center
- Syllabus Design, from teaching.berkeley.edu
Developing Writing Assignments
In writing assignments, there is always a tension between being too open (“Write an essay about something that interests you”) and too directive (“Pick three themes and three subthemes in the book, and examine each in terms of the main character, being sure to bring in at least four other things we’ve read this semester”). The following will help you think through your goal with a writing assignment and how to craft those that will produce the best papers.
- Assignment Design Checklist
- Designing Effective Writing Assignments, p. 10 of Encouraging Student Writing
- Creating Assignments, from the “GSI Teaching Guide,”
Teaching Critical Reading
The “reading” part of the Reading and Composition requirement is often taken as a given, when in fact many students are not as effective readers as we expect or as they need to be—especially in their ability to read critically. Instructors often need to practice “close reading” with their classes to give students a sense of “active” reading strategies that lead to engaged, critical reading.
- Digital Reading: Challenges and Opportunities, from Michael Larkin and Donnett Flash (College Writing Programs, Lecturer Teaching Fellows Project 2013-2014)
- Strategies to Promote a Deep Approach to Reading, from Tomorrow’s Professor Listserv, a teaching resource we heartily recommend
- Teaching Students to Read Critically, from GSI Teaching Resource Center
- Choices: The Ingredients of Texts from criticalreading.com
- Critical Reading Towards Critical Writing from the University of Toronto Writing Program
- Logical Fallacies from St. Cloud State Literacy Education Online
- How to do a Close Reading from the Harvard Writing Center
- Guiding Research Papers, from the “GSI Teaching Guide”
- Sample R&C Research Project and Final Product, from teaching.berkeley.edu
- Effective Assignments Using Library and Internet Resources, from The Library
- Critical Evaluation of Resources, from The Library
- Research Instructional Support, from The Library
- Online Library Workshop(link is external), from The Library
Dealing with Plagiarism
Most academic writing involves writing about texts, so the R&C course should teach students how to integrate sources into their own writing appropriately and smoothly. In addition, while we don’t want to downplay the prevalence or seriousness of plagiarism, we can say that writing instructors can go a long way towards preventing it by carefully crafting assignments to be 1) integral to the theme and readings, 2) engaging to students, and 3) contain scaffolding assignments so that you can see the various stages students have gone through. Some instructors ask students to submit a packet of all preparatory materials, the final paper, and a “reflection” piece on the writing of the paper.
- Promoting Academic Integrity, from teaching.berkeley.edu
- Preventing Academic Misconduct, from the GSI Teaching Guide
- What is Plagiarism?, from The Library
Sample Handbooks and Syllabi
- Grammar Grams I and II
- Writing with Power(link is external), Peter Elbow
- Writing Essays: A Guide for Students in English and the Humanities(link is external), Richard Marggraf Turley
- Student's Writing Guide: How to Plan and Write Successful Essays(link is external), Gordon Taylor
- A number of handbooks as well as books on teaching writing are available as e-books (link is external)through the UC Berkeley library