10 tips for Incorporating Writing in to the Nursing Classroom
10 TIPS FORINCORPORATINGWRITING IN TO YOURNURSING CLASSROOMDr. Robert E. CummingsCenter for Writing and RhetoricUniversity of Mississippi
Who said this ?“Those of us who have been doomed to readmanuscripts written in an examination room –whether at a grammar school, a high school, or acollege – have found the work of even goodscholars disfigured by bad spelling, confusingpunctuation, ungrammatical, obscure, ambiguous,or inelegant expressions. Everyone who has hadmuch to do with the graduating classes of our bestcolleges, has known [students] who could not writea letter describing their own commencementwithout making blunders which would disgrace aboy twelve years old.”
Who said this ?Dr. Adams HillHarvard UniversityCreator of Harvard’s writing program(and,by extension, the Compositionrequirement in all of American highereducation)Speaking of Harvard’s studentsIn 1879!
3 main problems I don’t have time to assess writing. I don’t have the training (or authority) to assess writing. I don’t have the room for writing in my curriculum.
Main Problem 1: I don’t have thetime to assess writing. I have too many students in my course. Some sections of our core courses have more than 200 students. If it takes the fastest, most accurate, and experienced rater of freshman essays a minimum of 20 minutes to grade a three-page essay, how can I possibly spend a minimum of 67 hours (and more likely 130 hours) reading and responding to one student essay?
Tip #1You don’t have to read and respond to allstudent writing.
Tip #1 You can collect writing andgrade it only for completion.In truth, there is a range of responding to student writing (Gottschalk): 1. Writing you do not collect. 2. Writing you read briefly but do not grade. 3. Writing you collect, read briefly, and acknowledge for credit. 4. Writing you read, with a few comments, and grade with an alternative system (check minus, check, check plus) 5. Writing you read with comments, but do not grade. 6. Finished papers you evaluate with comments and grades.Don’t assume all writing means level six of response!
Tip #1 You don’t have to read andrespond to all student writing. Employ “Writing to Learn” Writing to learn is different. We write to ourselves as well as talk with others to objectify our perceptions of reality; the primary function of this "expressive" language is not to communicate, but to order and represent experience to our own understanding. In this sense language provides us with a unique way of knowing and becomes a tool for discovering, for shaping meaning, and for reaching understanding. -- Fulwiler and Young
Tip #1 You don’t have to read andrespond to all student writing. What do some writing to learn assignments which you will not read look like? Writing you do not read: Informal writing students can do in class. Ask students to create study questions which they will share with one another. Reserve the last five minutes of a class for summative writing. Create six prompts which you rotate throughout the semester. These could be questions such as “What is the most interesting idea you have heard today?” and “What concept in this discussion is most difficult for you to understand”? And “What do you want to learn more about?”
Tip #2You can collect writing and grade it only forcompletion.
Tip #2 You can collect writing andgrade it only for completion. Writing to learn you might collect and grade for completion: Examples. You might ask students to create a learning journal, which is dedicated to their thoughts about their learning experience. It could simply be a collection of those summative questions you ask at the end of each class, i.e., “What is the most interesting idea you have heard in class today”? If you make it worth a small portion of the grade, you could collect it twice a semester and simply count pages.
Tip #2 You can collect writing andgrade it only for completion. Writing to learn you might collect and grade for completion: Alternatively, you could ask students to post their learning journal entries (1/2 page in length) to an online format. Then at specific points, you can instead of writing more learning journals, ask students to read the class’s postings and nominate ideas they want you to focus on in the next lecture.
Tip #3 You can adopt peerreview Any of the assignments already mentioned can be collected and read by students themselves. Peer review sessions need not be done in class, though they can be. Successful peer review assignments demand that you think through two key elements:1. the mechanics of how students exchange and respond to writing; and2. design specific, tactical, questions for students to answer which refer to the learning goals of the assignment and/or course.
Tip #3 You can adopt peerreview Example Initial writing assignment: Ask students to develop a research proposal (1-2 pages) where they identify a research question and develop methods for answering these questions. Out of class peer review: students bring a copy of a research proposal to class, and give it to another student. They also take home two questions to answer about the proposal, perhaps (1) is the question proposed one that can be answered with the methods proposed? And (2) is the question one which our field studies?
Tip #3 You can adopt peerreview In class peer review: Collect six student research questions, anonymize them, then sort them in three categories: “High,” “Medium,” and “Low” in terms of how they answer the assignment criteria. Share them in class, without your ratings, by projecting them or handing them out. Ask students to determine which are “High,” “Medium,” and “Low.” Vote on each sample, and discuss ratings.
Tip #4 You can adopt CalibratedPeer Review Originally developed for chemistry courses at UCLA, this system poses tightly defined writing assignments/problems to students. Students the rate each other’s responses. Grading can be shifted to develop the ability to read others’ work accurately. I can get more information to you on this topic.
Main Problem 2 I don’t have the training or authority to assess writing in my classroom. (What are you people teaching them in Freshman Composition anyway?)
Tip # 5You can limit your responses to grammarand/or the form of student writing.
Tip #5 Limit your responses towardgrammar and/or form. Simply circle grammatical problems. Our handbook for all courses in Freshman English, A Writer’s Reference, includes content for Nursing. The handbook introduces typical Nursing writing assignments, such as: statements of philosophy, nursing practice papers, case studies, research papers, literature reviews, experiential or reflective narratives, and position papers. Students will be trained in the use of the handbook; they can refer to it themselves.
Tip #6When responding to student writing, choosea lesson to teach.
Tip #6 Choose a lesson to teachwhen responding to student writing Dr. Nancy Sommers encourages us to consider responding to student writing as a chance to teach a lesson. Avoid the “deficit model.” You cannot mark every problem. Focus instead on your end comments. Put your response in the form of a short letter. Begin with the general, and move to the specific.
Tip # 7 Incorporate the WritingCenter We are expanding the Oxford Writing Center services to offer remote video conferencing for the School of Health Related Professions at UMMC. The WC can help students at any stage of the writing process: invention, research, revision, response. You set the tone for students’ use of the WC. If you see it as valuable, so will they. If you see it as remedial, so will they.
Main Problem 3 I don’t have room for writing in my curriculum.
Tip #8Develop writing assignments to supportyour existing curricular goals.
Tip #8 Develop writingassignments to support yourexisting curricular goals.Writing Assignment Development Sequence1. Decide on the main idea of the project for the writer (specifically in terms of course outcomes). Describe what the final writing product does.2. Break the final product into distinct cognitive tasks. (e.g., summarize, describe, analyze, evaluate, propose)3. Sequence those tasks into assignment stages.4. Relate the tasks, and final product, to the course outcomes.5. Provide examples of student writing on this project.6. Provide assessment criteria.
Tip # 9Design writing assignments for inquiry.
Tip # 9 Design writing assignmentsfor Inquiry Design writing assignments for inquiry. Invite students to participate in your field as you do. Avoid “writing as a container for knowledge” Reinforce the value of writing in your discipline. How do the leaders in your field communicate their results? Define the basic goals of the assignment at the top (e.g., What were we investigating and why? How did we pursue this investigation? What did we find out? What do these results mean?)
Tip # 9 Design writing assignmentsfor Inquiry Design writing assignments with a clear definition of the rhetorical situation:1. Who is the audience?2. What is the message/purpose?3. What is the medium? Remember: your students don’t know the rhetorical assumptions of your field (i.e., the conventions of a lab report). You do. You can’t explain it to them enough.
Tip # 10 Incorporate Reflection. Students write a short essay near the end of the semester. This essay asks them to choose one learning outcome from the syllabus and reflect on how well they feel they have achieved this outcome, pointing to various class activities as evidence, and evaluating the significance of the overall experience. The content of the essay is assessed by the instructor of record. The instructor decides what credit to assign the essay within the context of the course. The essay, with student and course identification removed, is assessed by a team of instructors specially trained by the CWR for this purpose. They employ a rubric which assesses the writing for its cognitive development, unity, arrangement, presentation, and how well it answers the question.
Tip # 10 Incorporate Reflection. Faculty receive genuine insight in to students’ learning, since students will articulate course outcomes in their own language and attempt to persuade readers of the depth, accuracy, and worth of their learning experience. Since students select the outcome, faculty also understand which outcomes students have engaged. Since students reflect upon the course learning outcomes and synthesize disparate strands of course learning, they are more likely to transfer knowledge from the course sooner. In other words, students have greater meta-cognition. They also have another occasion to “write to learn.” The essay, with student and course identification removed, is assessed by a team of instructors specially trained by the CWR for this purpose. They employ a rubric which assesses the writing for its cognitive development, unity, arrangement, presentation, and how well it answers the question.
Tip # 10 Incorporate Reflection. University of Mississippi Outcomes Writing PromptAfter reviewing the learning outcomes listed in the syllabus for this course, and reflecting on theassignments you have completed for this class, please write a short essay of approximately 750words to answer the following questions: Which course learning outcome would you identify as being the most significant in your personal learning experience this semester? What one assignment, completed for this course, would you point to as significant work toward fulfilling this outcome?•As you compose your response, be sure to:•Identify or reproduce the learning outcome;•Interpret the outcome in your own language;•Describe the work you completed for one assignment which is significant in light of fulfilling thisoutcome;•Apply the work of that one assignment to the learning outcome, explaining how your work is evidenceof having made progress toward fulfilling the outcome;•Analyze why your work toward this outcome is significant to your class learning experience,explaining what makes this work valuable to you;•Evaluate or assess the overall significance of this experience.You might consider what this learning experience means to you now, or what it might it mean to youin the future. You might consider if this experience has made a difference in your life as a student of
Works Cited Fulwiler, Toby and Art Young. Language Connections: Writing and Reading Across the Curriculum. Urbana, IL:NCTE,1982. Gottschalk, Katherine and Keith Hortshoj. The Elements of Teaching Writing: A Resource for Instructors in All Disciplines. Boston: Bedford St. Martin’s P, 2004.