Friday, February 1, 2013

Teaching & Learning 2013: Writing in the Religion Classroom Series

Have you ever been daunted by a stack of student essays, frustrated with assigning grades or struggled with giving feedback in a way that helps students but doesn’t hurt your hand? Or have you been disappointed, dejected and disheartened when students fail to follow what seem like basic directions, miss obvious points and major arguments, or seem to amble aimlessly from point to point? As RA’s, TA’s, preceptors and new and aspiring teachers, student writing has often been at the core of our classroom experience. This spring, the Teaching and Learning sessions will examine the vital and often underexamined role of writing in Religion classrooms and beyond in a four-part series organized together with the Thompson Writing Program. Join us as we discuss the role of writing in the classroom, crafting writing assignments, grading and feedback, and the role of the TA.

Session #1 - Writing in the Religion classroom - The Big Picture (Panel Discussion)
Panel discussion with GPR faculty and Dr. Cary Moskovitz, director of Duke’s Writing in the Disciplines program. Panelists will discuss the role student writing plays in their teaching—its effectiveness for student learning, the goals they have for students’ writing skills, and the course goals that writing helps students meet, with a particular emphasis on writing as a pedagogical tool in the Religion classroom. This session will feature extra time for Q&A and discussion with and among members of the panel.

Session #2 - Crafting Effective Assignments for Student Writing (Workshop)
Research on the teaching of writing has shown that how instructors articulate writing tasks can have a large impact on what students do and what they learn. Topics for this session include describing expectations, specifying an audience and genre, helping students select a meaningful writing project, and staging the writing process. Syllabi and assignments from Religion courses will be examined and discussed by the group; contact Julie or Sean if you have a document you’d like to incorporate into the workshop.

Session #3 - Grading Student Writing/Efficient and Effective Feedback for Student Writing (Workshop)
Grading student writing can be a frustrating and time consuming affair. This session offers advice on approaches to grading and designing context-appropriate guidelines and rubrics as ways to make giving feedback more efficient for you and more likely to help students do better writing in the future. Again, student papers from Duke Religion courses will be used for group examination and discussion; contact us if you would like to include a student text from one of your courses.

Session #4 -Student Writing and the Role of the T.A. (Panel Discussion)
As RA/TA/Preceptors, we are often asked to grade and provide feedback on writing assignments that we have never completed ourselves, have not designed, and have never used in a classroom before. This session will be devoted to navigating this unique role, including how to clarify expectations and implement best practices for the Professor/T.A./Student triangle. GPR faculty will share their perspectives on the purposes and roles served by GPR students in the classroom with an emphasis on facilitating, grading and providing feedback on student writing. 

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