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Below are several resources on best practices for online writing instruction (OWI).  Many of these resources address writing instruction in traditional, in-person classrooms, but these practices can easily be adapted for online courses.  Consider reviewing the Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC) position statement before progressing to the other resources.  

  • CCCC Position Statement on Effective Online Writing Instruction and Practices
    • In 2013, several leading scholars in writing studies and online learning composed a best practices statement for online writing instruction (OWI).  This statement is considered by the field of writing studies to be the standard statement of such practices.  Click here for the statement:
    • Click here for additional advice on how to teach online for the first time, including information about writing instruction.   
  • The Nature of Hybrid Courses -- Particularly Writing 
    • Doug Hesse, Executive Director of Writing at the University of Denver, wrote an overview of practices to consider when teaching writing in hybrid, online, and f2f settings.    
  • ​​​​​​Assessing Written Work
    • Asking students to submit writing assignments online allows instructors to provide more effective feedback to their writing.  Consider asking students to upload drafts to Canvas.  Then, write a letter to the writer in the “Assignment Comments” box, under “SpeedGrader” in which you provide formative comments for revision.  Once a student has submitted a revised version of the paper, you can then enter a summative assessment in the “Assignment Comments” box. 
    • Click here for best practices in providing formative comments on student drafts:  
    • For additional material and resources on how to address online material and plagiarism when providing feedback to your student writing, as well as best practices for responding to student writing, consult the following:
  • Peer Review
    • Most students are digital natives and come to our classes with much experience using various online programs.  They usually already know how to use Google Docs and other similar online tools to share drafts and provide peer feedback.  Once students are placed in peer review groups, ask them to create a group account on Google Docs or a similar platform in order for them to share their drafts.  Consider asking each student to write a 1-2 page reflection on the feedback they received from their peers.  Students can then upload these reflections to Canvas for your access, so you can review the kind of feedback they are receiving.  For additional information and resources on conducting peer review online, click here.   Zoom makes it convenient to break students into peer review groups to read and respond to one another’s drafts.  For information on how to create break-out groups in Zoom, click here.  Additional Resources for Conducting Peer Review:  
  • Daily or Weekly Assignments
    • Short, informal writing assignments are also useful strategies for students practicing their writing, learning course material, or showing comprehension of course readings.  These short assignments can be easily uploaded to Canvas for quick assessment (Check +, Check, and Check - grades tend to work best.) 
      • Click here for resources on developing informal writing assignments across the curriculum.  
  • Scaffolding Assignments
    • Teaching writing online makes it easier for faculty to scaffold writing assignments and to break the assignment down into manageable chunks.  Research in writing assignments and assessment shows that students tend to produce stronger writing when faculty sequence and scaffold the assignment, allowing for drafts and other means of formative assessment leading to turning in the final version.  Click below for additional materials and resources on how to sequence assignments more effectively online:
  • Use Portfolios
    • Portfolio assessment aligns well with online writing instruction.  Portfolios are based on both formative and summative assessment and allow students to show what they have learned about course material, about their writing, and about writing in the discipline over the course of the semester. Portfolios are also considered bestpractices for writing-based classrooms for helping students improve writing skills over an extended period of time, such as a full semester.   Click below for additional resources on how to adapt portfolios to the online course: