Pedagogical and Theoretical Practices

Students in the libraryOn this page, there are mini-lessons on a pedagogical practice, or short explanations of  practices that are flexible for a variety of courses, like responding to a particular kind of writing assignment, or conducting a workshop that focuses students on producing feedback just on the use of evidence. These documents provide a brief description and explanation of the practice.

Writing to Learn Activities

Writing to learn activities are those that use writing for inquiry and learning in a classroom or course. These are often ungraded and allow students the opportunity to explore, ask questions, make mistakes, and figure things out. The WAC Clearinghouse offers several kinds of writing to learn activities worth trying.

Assessment Rubrics for Writing Assignments

Rubrics can be created with students (see handout on inductive and deductive ways to create rubrics), used to articulate assignment expectations, reshaped to help students revise or provide feedback to peers, or used to grade student writing (see examples of several grading rubrics). One interesting example is a rubric for expository writing developed by William Irmscher in Teaching Expository Writing (1979). These materials offer some ideas, a few sample rubrics from various disciplines, and Fresno State’s own General Education Scoring Guide for Writing. Fresno State has also developed an upper division writing rubric, used recently (2013-14) in our WASC accreditation review, which can be used for W-courses or writing in upper division courses. 

Small Genres

Consider using short or "small" writing assignments in stages or at various times in your course. Not all need to be graded, and each can ask students to practice very different kinds of intellectual and writing practices. Richard E. Young published 155 different descriptions of small genre writing assignments. The entire book, Toward a Taxonomy of "Small" Genres and Writing Techniques for Use in Writing Across the Curriculum, is open source and available to download.


In a workshop on teaching away plagiarism, Nick Carbone (Bedford / St. Martin's Press) offered this digital handout. It's a blog that structured the workshop. Part of the workshop helped teachers find sections related to plagiarism in A Writer's Reference, the writing handbook that all First Year Writing students use in their writing classrooms here at Fresno State. There are also lots of teacher resources for helping students avoid plagiarism. Additionally, Nick offered this blog on plagiarism as well, which offers articles and research on plagiarism. 

From Ryerson University, this site offers helpful information for students wanting to learn about and avoid plagiarism. The guide includes a definition of plagiarism, strategies for avoiding it whether the student is working alone or collaboratively, as well as tips for conducting online research.

Thinking about and Teaching How to Cite Sources

This site, Internet Resources on Citing: The Trademark of A Good Writer, has many handouts that explains why citing sources in academic resource is important, how to avoid plagiarism, how to cite sources in APA and MLA. It offers several useful resources for students who need help citing sources and creating Bibliographies and Works Cited lists. This resource was suggested by a conscientious student from Colorado Tutors,  Cheryl, and her tutor, Alice Peterson. 

Transitioning from High School to College

Written by Joseph M. Williams and Lawrence McEnerney, this guide from the University of Chicago is intended to help incoming freshman navigate the differences between college writing and high school writing. It covers everything from helping students interpret teacher assignments to planning, drafting, and revising essays.