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Writing Across the Curriculum

WAC Faculty Workshop

Engaging Inquiry:

Designing Problem-Posing Assignments


Wednesday, March 9, 2005

"Only by wrestling with the conditions of the problem at first hand, seeking and finding his own way out, does [the student] think." -John Dewey


12:00-12:05 Introduction and Welcome

Dr. William Burgos

WAC Director

12:05-12:15 Defining Problem-Posing Assignments

        Traditional Assignments

"There will be a term paper due at the end of the semester. The term paper can be on any aspect of the course that interests you, but I have to approve your topic in advance."

        Connection to Freire

"[W]hereas banking education anesthetizes and inhibits creative power, problem-posing education involves a constant unveiling of reality" (355).

        What is a Problem-Posing Assignment?


12:15-12:25 Designing Problem-Posing Assignments

        Consider your teaching goals of the assignment & entire course as the first step to designing assignments

        Communicate expectations clearly.

        Use handouts explaining the assignment.

        Make the assignment concise. Don't overload with confusing language.

        Consider class size


12:25-12:40 Formal Assignments (finished-product writing)

        Short Assignments-the Microtheme

        Longer Assignments

        Top-Down, Thesis-Governed Writing

1.      Present a proposition (thesis) that students are supposed to defend or refute

2.      Give students a problem or question that demands a thesis

3.      Ask students to follow an organizational structure that requires a Problem-Thesis pattern


12:40-12:55 Informal Assignments (unfinished, exploratory writing)

Active Learning Assignments

12:55-2:00 Collaborative Group-Work (design in practice)



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