THE ART & CRAFT OF THE WRITING WORKSHOP I

Why workshop drafts?

1) Workshops reinforces key concepts of academic writing:

  • drafts are a work in process
  • writing must make sense for an audience beyond the professor
  • revision is not “fixing” but seeing afresh and rethinking from that perspective

2)  Workshopping helps students see each other as resources

  • writers gain valuable feedback
  • giving feedback helps them learn how to talk about papers
  • reading other papers helps them see their own writing in a new way

3) Workshops make professors more effective writing teachers 

  • reduces the amount of time that needs to be spent commenting on each draft
  • allows professors to focus on specific issues and problem areas (such as introductions)
  • provides extra feedback and generally produces stronger paper

Best practices for success

  • Provide structure: Tell the class what you are going to do, then do it, then comment on it
  • Teach first: begin by introducing the topic for review, reference TS/IS or the Owl if relevant
  • Model the process: review a few examples together and talk through what to look for
  • Direct the feedback: provide a feedback sheet or set of very focused questions
  • Step out of the way: the workshops need to be a space for student voices, resist the urge to join each group and take over