This is a general writing course for Bachelor’s level students (mainly in the field of social sciences). The course provides the student with an opportunity to use various writing strategies and techniques for creative, employment and academic purposes. The focus is on writing as a social practice, which emphasizes the social nature of the writing process and the importance of peer support and feedback. The course encourages students to practice process writing. The course is held completely online (in Moodle) and is independent of time and place, i.e. students do not have to be “present” in the online platform at a certain time.
Upon successful completion of the course, the students should:
1) understand the basic elements of the writing process and employ them in their own writing
2) understand the role of feedback and apply feedback from peers and the teacher to their own writing and give other students constructive feedback
3) be able to demonstrate and apply knowledge of basic essay structure (introduction, body, conclusion)
4) be able to demonstrate an ability to write for different audiences and for different purposes
5) be able to write clear, reasonably fluent texts relatively free from mechanical errors.
Ways of working and activities
The course is divided into sections—one section for each week of the course (week 1, week 2, week 3). The course should be followed chronologically (first week 1, then 2, then 3) as new topics build on what students have previously learned.
Examples of topics covered on the course: the writing process, features of different genres of writing, paraphrasing, transition signals, summarizing, paragraph development, argumentation. There are 3-4 topics covered each week. Leaning is supported by short, 10-15 minute video lectures on each topic complemented by reading and practical exercises/tasks.
To encourage students to work regularly and create a writing habit, deadlines for tasks and exercises are spread throughout the week (so all tasks cannot be completed at the end of each week). The first week(s) of the course are heaviest in terms of workload and the workload eases towards the end of the course, when the focus turns to individualized feedback and guidance (as students have by then produced several more extensive writing tasks). To support the idea that writing is a process, students provide a final version of at least one of the more extensive writing tasks based on the feedback they receive
In order to meet the course requirements, students have to participate actively and regularly in discussions, feedback sessions and other activities and tasks on the online learning platform (Moodle) and complete three more extensive writing assignments (CV, summary of an article, argumentative essay).
For all the three writing assignments, students will be giving each other formal feedback (guidelines for this will be given by the teacher), which also the teacher will see and comment on. In addition to this, students are encouraged to give each other informal feedback and support (they can have informal discussions relating to their thoughts and feelings about writing, sharing tips for writing etc.) and also they will be picking an article together for the summary task (they will use the same article also for the argumentative essay).
How are students supported?
Through different forums (general discussion forum, instant messaging on Moodle and email) students can ask the teacher questions about course content, practical issues or their own development. The course is based on the idea of continuous, reciprocal feedback.
What kind of feedback do students get as their work progresses on their own skills and the development of their skills?
When the course starts, each student is assigned a writing buddy, who (ideally) is from the same field (this is, of course, dependent on the course participants). The writing buddy is each student’s support person through-out the course; the writing buddies will be giving each other both formal and informal feedback and support on each other’s writing.
In addition to this, the teacher will give students feedback on all the tasks they complete on the course. Some smaller tasks will have an automated feedback, to ease the teacher’s workload.
How does it end? What happens next? How is the learning process and experience discussed and reflected upon?
The course emphasizes continuous learning and provides students with resources, which they can continue to use after the course has ended. As part of the course feedback, students also complete a self-evaluation of what they have learned and create a plan outlining how they will keep on developing their skills after the course has ended.