Writing Assignments: A Checklist for Students

Decorative: Four human shapes, each carrying a box with a check mark in it


A. "Writing Assignments: A Self-Evaluation for Students" (article; dead link but content below remains valid and useful) is a useful metacognitive tool to get students thinking about (and taking responsibility for) their own writing.

  • A potential writing assignment in its own right, it helps to "demystify the writing process [for students] and break it down into individual steps."
  • "By forcing them to slow down the process and focus on each step, we can improve the process and, ultimately, the end product."
  • "[A]dapt the questions [below] to fit the needs of your courses and students."

B. Essay Self-Evaluation (taken entirely from the article listed)

"Instructions: You are asked to fill this out with responses based on your work toward planning, drafting, and revising Essay 1." [Or whichever writing assignment you choose to focus on.]

  • "For the multiple-choice questions, simply highlight your response."
  • "For the long-answer questions, please type your extended responses, offering a direct answer and your justification."

1. Basic Questions

  • "Have you completed all course content posted for Essay 1? Yes No"
  • "What kind of prewriting did you do for Essay 1?"
  • "Did the professor approve your thesis through the [Assignment] Dropbox or by email? Yes No"
  • "Did you read and consider the collective feedback on the class set of drafts? Yes No"
  • "Did you post a completed draft and qualify to participate in peer review? Yes No"
  • "Did you read and review other students’ essays for peer review? Yes No"
  • "Did you use [Grammarly] to get [stylistic] revision suggestions for your essay? Yes No"
  • "Did you get help from the Academic Success Center tutors for this essay? Yes No"
  • "Did you use the professor’s office hours (email, call, visit) for this essay? Yes No"
  • "Does your essay meet the minimum word count requirement? Yes No"
  • "Does your essay contain an original title that is attention-getting and specific? Yes No"
  • "Is your essay a minimum of five paragraphs? Yes No"
  • "Does your essay contain an explicit thesis statement? Yes No"
  • "Does your essay focus on a breakdown of the literature? Yes No"
  • "Is your essay formatted according to MLA style guidelines (see the syllabus)? Yes No" [Or APA or whatever style guide your field demands.]

2. Long-Answer Questions

a. "Describe your writing process for this essay." 

  • "For example, did you go through the conventional steps of prewriting (brainstorming, freewriting, listing, mapping, etc.), planning (whether by an outline or otherwise), drafting, getting feedback from others, and revising, or did you take another approach?"
  • "You might include comments here about how your writing occurred (with pen and paper? on your phone/tablet/other iThing? in a lab?) and also when it occurred (spread out over ten days vs. the night before?)."

b. "Evaluate your writing process for this essay." 

  • "What worked well for you? What is something you might do differently next time? What would possibly be improved by this change?"

c. "On a scale of 1-10 with 1 being the easiest and 10 being the hardest, how difficult was this essay for you to write?"

  • "What aspects of the assignment were easy for you, and what aspects posed challenges?"

d. "Summarize others’ response to the essay." 

  • "What, in their view, were some of its strengths? What areas did they identify for potential improvements?"

e. "What changes did you make to your essay as a result of feedback from others (peers, friends and family, or your professor)?" 

  • "Be specific about which lines or passages were most significantly revised."

f. "Using a scale of 1-10 with 1 being the worst and 10 being the best, evaluate your written product; that is, how well did the essay turn out in your view?" 

  • "Was it successful? Based on your evaluation of the final draft, what are its strong points? Where could it continue to be improved?"

3. See also "Writing Assignments: A Checklist for Instructors"

Price, Deidre. "Writing Assignments: A Self-Evaluation for Students." Faculty Focus Premium 5 October 2017.

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