The Center for Teaching Writing

stock imagine of hands writing

About the Center

The Center for Teaching Writing is committed to enhancing undergraduate education at the University of Oregon. By training undergraduate and graduate students and professors to be better teachers of writing, to use writing technologies effectively, and to incorporate writing as a way of learning, the Center aims to improve both the quality of writing instruction and the quality of student writing at the university. Linking research and pedagogy, the Center also supports the examination of writing pedagogy, both on campus and in dialogue with the greater community.

The Center was founded in the spring of 1996 through the financial generosity of Don and Willie Tykeson and the administrative efforts of Professor James Crosswhite, Director of Composition from 1990 to 1995.

It functions under the auspices of the Composition Program and is housed within the University of Oregon’s English Department. From 1995 to 2000, the Director of the Center was Anne Laskaya. From 2000 to 2003, the Director was Brian Whaley. For 2004-2005, the Director was Ann Ciasullo.

Assistant Directors oversee the Center’s technological innovations and contribute to the Center’s projects.

The Assistant Director for 2019-2020 is Alex Cavanaugh.

Contact Alex Cavanaugh with questions or interests.

Our Mission

The Center for Teaching Writing is committed to enhancing undergraduate education at the University of Oregon. By training undergraduate and graduate students and professors to be better teachers of writing, to use writing technologies effectively, and to incorporate writing as a way of learning, the Center aims to improve both the quality of writing instruction and the quality of student writing at the university. Linking research and pedagogy, the Center also supports the examination of writing pedagogy, both on campus and in dialogue with the greater community.



The Center for Teaching Writing offers tutoring through the WR 195 Writing Tutorial and through the Writing Associates program.

See below for more information on the WR 195 Writing Tutorial.

Students enrolled in composition courses (WR 121WR 122, and  WR 123) may attend tutoring through a one-credit course (WR 195). They may also receive composition tutoring as they choose, at any stage of the writing process.

Here, students can work with a tutor to:

  • Develop ideas
  • Organize an argument
  • Find and support a strong thesis
  • Craft clearer, more effective essays
  • Work on counterarguments
  • Improve essay structure
  • Hone writing style
  • Engage sources
  • Revise a rough draft

Here's how to get started:

  1. For composition tutoring, go to the WR 195 Writing Tutorial site to schedule an appointment.
  2. Click "Create New Account." You'll be asked to create a username and password.
  3. Log in with your new username and password.
  4. Schedule a tutoring session by clicking on "Tutoring Calendar" and choosing an available time.
  5. Meet your tutor in Tykeson 350 at your appointed time. The writing tutorial space is located in the Southwest corner of the building, overlooking the quad and the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art.
  6. Bring a copy of your essay (on paper or a laptop), assignment directions, syllabus, and a pen or pencil.
  7. Sessions last 50 minutes and must be scheduled at least 24 hours in advance.

There is no drop-in tutoring.   For help with scheduling, contact Dr. Kate Myers.


WSCR Minor and Certificate

For more information on the requirements needed to obtain a Minor or the Certificate in Writing, Public Speaking, and Critical Reasoning developed through the Center for Teaching Writing, please click here for the minor and here for the certificate.



Community Literacy Initiative

The University of Oregon Literacy Initiative is a community-based education program of the UO English Department. UOLI was founded in 1998. A college student in a UOLI course completes an internship that dovetails with the course’s curriculum. Practical service in the community enriches academic learning in the classroom. Students can choose from a wide variety of community partners, including K-12 schools, the juvenile detention center, the Boys and Girls Club, the CTL Reading Clinic, Nearby Nature, and Mt. Pisgah Arboretum. Nearly a thousand students have completed the program.  Several have received job offers from their internship sites. Each class requires a minimum of 30 hours’ volunteer work. Alumni of these classes can receive further UO credits for continuing their internships. Currently the UO Literacy Initiative offers two courses: ENG 313, Teen and Children’s Literature, and ENG 413, Theories of Literacy. ENG 313 satisfies the 1789-present requirement for the UO English major, while ENG 413 satisfies the Theory requirement.

For more information please contact Prof. Elizabeth Wheeler.

General Education Project: Writing Connections

In collaboration with the Composition Program and with the support of the CAS General Education Renaissance Initiative, The Center for Teaching Writing works to link special sections of Writing 121, 122, and 123 to clusters of thematically related General Education Group Satisfying and Multicultural courses. The purpose is to enable students in these required Writing courses to make intellectual connections in their writing to the other subjects they are studying. In order to foster these connections, we developed and continue to compile new casebooks with readings relevant to these subjects. We also work on creating themed writing classes that students might take while also enrolled in the linked Group Satisfying or Multicultural courses. For a list of current casebooks, click

Special-Topics Writing Sections

Although the courses which satisfy the University Writing Requirement (WR 121, 122, and 123) already use anthologized readings to provide students with sophisticated content and issues for discussion and written response, some special-topics sections of these courses use readings directly related to issues addressed in courses in the General Education Group Satisfying and Multicultural curriculum. Enabling students to make intellectual connections among their other coursework in their composition classes gives them a deeper investment in the writing process and a firmer knowledge base from which to write more meaningful argumentative and research essays.

Special-topics sections of WR 121, 122, and 123 draw on work already done in the Composition Program to create thematic content for the Writing courses, and advance that work further by offering a wider arrays of themes derived from specific Group Satisfying and Multicultural courses.

To view the thematic topics already developed for Writing sections, click here.

Casebooks and Cross-Curricular Knowledge

The casebook approach seems the most well suited to fostering meaningful cross-curricular connections because it enables us to bring together sophisticated readings that are grouped around “questions-at-issue” that students may then address in argumentative writings.

Casebooks provide students with source material for the development of arguments and counter-arguments, and they enable us to teach a process of inquiry that goes deeply into issues and makes student writers responsible for addressing and incorporating arguments from a spectrum of points of view. We have developed 12 such casebooks specifically representing issues relevant to thematically linked Group Satisfying and Multicultural courses.

Each casebook contains about ten essays representing research and opinion clustered around issues in such thematic areas, as well as an introduction identifying specific questions at issue and ways to address them in writing.

This project benefits the Composition Program and General Education curriculum in numerous pedagogical ways:

  • By creating special-topics sections throughout the entire Writing curriculum , we are also be able to include more focus on research in WR 121 and 122, rather than addressing it exclusively in WR 123, the formal Research Writing class.  Defining the scope and nature of research in these classes is already a project underway in the Composition Program.
  • The pedagogical benefit for students in special-topics WR sections is that class discussion of issues by students with shared interests and knowledge makes more tangible and real the idea of a “discourse community,” a concept already established in the rhetorical pedagogy of the WR classes.
  • The casebook approach also facilitates the students’ critical reading of their peers’ writing and encourages them to engage in more meaningful peer-editing. This in turn creates a greater sense of investment in their writing and an increased sense of responsibility to write well.

Ultimately, casebooks function to provide students with argumentative texts to analyze rhetorically and to respond to thoughtfully and responsibly in their own argumentative writing. Such readings should be challenging, encouraging students to become better critical readers through interpretation and analysis, and enabling students to identify “questions at issue” from which to develop their own stances and arguments.

Why Casebooks Instead of Traditional Anthologies?

Developing our own casebooks rather than relying on commercial anthologies enables the readings to be more strategically grouped so that those issues are clearer: the essays do not all agree and provide counter-arguments for the students to think through logically, in class discussion and in their writing. Ideally, the readings should, therefore, represent diverse and even conflicting approaches to a problem, different ideological perspectives, and perhaps different historical eras in which the topic is salient. Further, since the same issues are addressed by the readings, the writing that students do in the course is able to progress through stages of development that lead to more sophisticated and nuanced argumentative essays.

Within this model, students can explore related issues more rigorously rather than moving from topic to topic in each essay cycle. This process is made even more purposeful and meaningful for students if the issues also connect with their readings and discussions in General Education Groups Satisfying and Multicultural courses.

Project Leaders

Carolyn Bergquist, Senior Instructor of English
Director of Composition

Other Participants

James Crosswhite, Professor of English
Former Director of Composition
Miriam Gershow, Senior Instructor of English
Associate Director of Composition
Anne C. Laskaya, Professor of English
Former Director of Composition
Alex Cavanaugh, Graduate Employee
Assistant Director of the Center for Teaching Writing

If you have questions about the project or would like to be involved, please contact or Carolyn Bergquist (

Conferences and Lectures

The Center for Teaching Writing helps organize and co-sponsors conferences, lectures, and workshops on teaching writing, both on the campus-wide, local level and on the statewide and national levels. These events have included:

  • Inclusive Pedagogy workshops and Anti-Racist Writing Symposium, with Asau Inoue, author of Anti-Racism Writing Assessment Ecologies. Fall 2017.
  • Annual University of Oregon Fall Composition Conference
  • Writing to Learn Across the Disciplines, an all day workshop for University of Oregon faculty, offered in 1999, 2003, and 2013.
  • The Promise of Reason, an international conference of researchers on Chaim Perelman and Lucie Olbrecht-Tyteca’s The New Rhetoric.  2008.
  • Lectures on Writing and Technology by nationally recognized scholars including David Bartholomae. 2003.
  • The Ninth Annual Oregon Conference on Composition & Rhetoric: “Ethics, Writing, and the Nature of Technology.” Wayne C. Booth, University of Chicago, plenary speaker. April 1998.

Writing and Technology

The Center for Teaching Writing is committed to working closely with the Composition Program to implement and support technologies that benefit students and teachers of writing.

The Center developed and helps maintain a Computers and Writing Classroom, which uses computers to facilitate and enhance the teaching of written argumentation. This classroom serves 400 undergraduate students per quarter.

Support of Composition faculty and staff also includes a computer workroom; individual consultation on instructional technologies; the building and maintenance of electronic resources for teachers of writing — such as discussion lists where instructors have access to the larger community of composition teachers and an electronic file cabinet of classroom materials; and workshops on educational technologies such as Canvas, teaching with computers, finding and using web resources, building course websites, and integrating discipline-specific electronic tools into a course. The Center also offers consulting for teaching with technology.


The Center for Teaching Writing offers consultation for writing- and written-argumentation-related instruction and curriculum development in all disciplines. The Center encourages the integration of writing into content courses by offering on-demand, discipline-specific lectures and consultations for individual faculty members or Graduate Teaching Fellows or for teaching teams; interdisciplinary workshops; resource packets; and syllabus and materials reviews.

Contact with questions or to request a consultation.


Writing Across the Curriculum

Writing Across the Disciplines meets two main objectives:

Why introduce more writing into content courses?  First, and most importantly, writing is a way of learning. Writing helps students think through the ideas and concepts in a given course, giving them ownership of the information they are gaining.

Secondly, frequent writing assignments actually help students improve their writing through practice. Though strengthening writing skills is not the primary goal of writing in content courses, it is a desired outcome. Students need more writing practice than one or two composition courses can give them. If they are writing in many classes, they will develop and maintain good written communication skills.

Besides the benefits of Writing across the Disciplines to students, the faculty reaps benefits as well. Faculty teaching writing across the curriculum creates a community that crosses disciplinary boundaries. Teachers from all over campus work together to share ideas and strategies for improving student learning through writing.

Designing Effective Writing Assignments

Before designing any assignment, it is necessary to first assess the course objectives and what is the best way to meet those objectives. There are several important aspects to consider when creating assignments:

  • Teacher’s assignment goals
  • The writer’s purpose
  • The context of the assignment
  • The audience of the assignment
  • Format and method
  • Teacher’s response and evaluation
  • Opportunities for revision
  • Communicating expectations

Teacher’s assignment goals: To make a successful assignment, you must first be clear about what the assignment should accomplish. You may want to use some assignments to generate discussion in class or to give students the opportunity to present their ideas in class. Other goals are to give students the opportunity to express questions and confusion; to demonstrate understanding of course concepts and information; to respond to class readings and discussion; to prepare for other assignments or exams; or to clarify ideas for themselves.

There are two main kinds of writing assignments for content courses:

Writing to Learn assignments are usually short, informal assignments. The audience for such assignments can be the student herself, peers, or the teacher. These assignments can be in-class writing, or out of class writing. The primary purpose of writing to learn assignments is for students to grasp the ideas and concepts presented in the course for themselves.

Other writing assignments are used primarily to demonstrate knowledge. The audience for these assignments is most often the teacher. These are formal assignments written for a grade.

These two types of assignments are not mutually exclusive. An assignment can both aid students in the learning process and demonstrate a student’s knowledge and understanding. However, it is important to determine the primary purpose the assignment must serve in order to decide what kind of writing to assign.

Other things to think about in terms of your goals for the assignment: What part does this assignment play in the rest of the course? Is this assignment part of a sequence of assignments that includes both formal and informal writing? Sequenced assignments are helpful in incorporating informal writing to learn assignments with formal demonstrative assignments. For example, thesis writing, reading responses, and short microthemes or abstracts can lead to a formal essay or term paper.

The writer’s purpose: The writer’s purpose dictates what kind of product the students will end up with. There are a number of different purposes for assignments to fulfill; the purpose dictates the form and content of an assignment. For example, students might be asked to articulate questions they have about course content; compose an article explaining course concepts to peers; respond to course reading or discussion; or argue a position on an issue related to the field of study. Whatever the writer’s purpose, it will determine the context, audience, and format of the assignment as well.

The context of the assignment: Will this be an in-class or out-of-class assignment? Some assignments take place in the field of research. Will the students be working alone, or in groups or pairs? To what is the student responding – one or more readings, discussion, research? Will you assign a particular issue or allow students to identify the issues themselves? Part of determining context is deciding the audience the students are to address.

The audience of the assignment: The implied audience may be the same as or different from the real audience. Both the implied and real audiences influence the shape of the assignment. To whom are the students directing their writing? The implied audience can be the teacher, peers, scholars in the field, or the general public who is unfamiliar with the concepts of the discipline. Specifying the implied audience will help students determine what common ground is available in the form of shared assumptions or theoretical perspectives. Also important is the real audience. Who is actually going to read this assignment? The student only? The teacher only? Peers only? A small group of peers? The teacher and peers? Will there be multiple drafts? Will the student get comments from you or from peers before the final product is graded?

Format and method: What should the completed assignment look like? Is there a particular way students should go about fulfilling the assignment? Is there a particular field protocol? Are students expected to use research?

Teacher’s response and evaluation: Some writing to learn assignments are not graded or receive nontraditional grades. How will this assignment help fulfill course objectives, and how much of the course grade should be determined by this assignment? Will students get your comments before the final grade or after? What should students learn from your comments?

Opportunities for revision: Another important aspect to designing an assignment is deciding whether and how to incorporate revision. There are several ways to allow students to revise their work:

  • Allowing students to revise after an assignment is graded for the possibility of raising their grade.
  • Assigning multiple drafts as part of the final grade. Such an assignment would be graded as a process-based on how the student challenged her own ideas-rather than as a product. The student would receive either teacher comments, peer comments, or both on early drafts that will guide them in revision.
  • Using peer evaluations on early drafts. Reading and commenting on fellow students’ work helps students learn to read critically and be responsible members of the discourse community of the classroom and of the field. If you are using peer response, what is the format? Students can respond to the writing of their peers in writing or orally, in groups or one-on-one. Will you provide detailed instructions and specific protocols for responding to student writing or allow them to develop their own format?

Communicating your expectations: Once you have determined the assignment objectives and how best to meet those objectives, you should give your assignment in writing to the students. Have you designed the assignment so that the students understand your goals and their purpose? Are the terms clear? Have you specified the audience, context, format, and means of evaluation? It is often helpful to get feedback on your assignments from colleagues who can tell you whether or not your expectations are totally clear.

Evaluating and Responding to Student Writing

Part of the test to decide whether or not an assignment is successful lies in how painful is the evaluating process. If your expectations are clear in the assignment, students will have less trouble fulfilling it and you will have an easier time evaluating their efforts. Once you have determined the kind of grades or comments the completed assignment should receive, you will need to develop a hierarchy of concerns to direct your comments and grading.

John C. Bean from Seattle University separates grading concerns into two categories: higher order issues and lower order issues.

Higher order issues consist of problems with ideas, development, organization, and clarity:

  • Does the draft or completed work fulfill the assignment?
  • Does it have a thesis that addresses the appropriate question or problem? What is the quality of the argument?
  • Does is show cohesive organization on a paragraph scale?
  • Are the paragraphs themselves well organized and clear?
  • Does the writer use clear transitions to move from one paragraph or idea to the next?

Lower order issues include sentence correctness, style, mechanics, and spelling:

  • Does the student have particularly annoying recurring style problems?
  • Are there a lot of surface errors or recurring errors?

The priority in evaluating student writing are the higher order issues. When a student is successful on these issues, only then do lower order issues become a priority. That doesn’t mean that you should not comment on mechanical and stylistic problems if you want to or find it necessary. These comments, however, should not be the primary response to student writing. Instead, either summarize mechanical problems and ask the students to correct them on their own, or correct these problems in one or two paragraphs of the draft and indicate that the same types of problems exist throughout the paper.

Do: Describe what is good and the specific problems, ask questions for clarification, make suggestions, and give encouragement

Avoid: overcorrecting, sarcastic comments, and rewriting students’ language

Just as content should be the center of the writing process for students in your classes, content should also be at the center of your evaluations of student writing.

Engaging Ideas: The Professor’s Guide to Integrating Writing, Critical Thinking, and Active Learning in the Classroom. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1996. 243-50.

Ideas for Writing that Work

Most of these assignments are informal writing to learn assignments. This is by no means an exhaustive list of possible assignments. You can assign any of these tasks to individual students or to students as groups or pairs. These writing to learn assignments can be used on their own or as part of more formal assignments such as term papers that argue a position, research papers, or course projects. Many of these can be combined in a sequence as part of a formal, graded assignment.

  • Reading Journal
  • Reading Summary
  • Rhetorical Analysis
  • Synthesis papers
  • Journal of Terms
  • Discussion Starters
  • Position Papers
  • Microthemes
  • Solving Problems
  • Using Cases
  • Letters
  • Dialogues
  • Popular Article
  • Pre-Test Warm-ups
  • Process Analysis
  • Project Notebooks
  • Annotations
  • Abstract

Reading Journal: A reading journal can be either a student-structure or teacherstructured assignment. Students can use journals to reflect on course readings, lectures, and discussions or to respond to prescribed questions on the reading and course material. Another possibility is to create double-entry notebooks in which students respond to content questions on the left side of the page and reflect on the information on the right side. Reading journals allow students to be more conscious of connections between reading and course material and to articulate questions in direct response to the reading. Lower-level students will probably work best with structural questions while higher-level students can move quickly to evaluative statements about the material.

Reading Summary: This assignment asks students to show their understanding of course readings. You can have students give a generic summary of the reading or guide them in their summaries by asking them to identify the thesis, main points, and important terms expressed in the readings.

Rhetorical Analysis: This assignment is a variation of the reading response that asks students to analyze the reading in terms of the rhetorical aspects. Students should note the thesis of the argument being made about an issue, whether the author deals with opposing viewpoints, what appeals the writer uses, how the argument is structured, and what evidence is provided.

Synthesis Papers: This variation on the reading response asks students to work with two or more readings and discuss the commonalities and differences between them. This assignment combines summary and response and helps students understand that writing in the field is part of an ongoing dialogue that works to construct knowledge in the discipline.

Journal of Terms: Another variation of the reading journal, the journal of terms gives students a place to define and clarify course concepts in their own words. This process not only helps them remember important material, but also gives them a resource in addition to course texts and lecture notes.

Discussion Starters: Quick five to ten minute writing in class either in response to a particular question or to material read for class can often help students formulate ideas and articulate questions to bring up in class discussion. Students often have trouble processing concepts and ideas in order to present them verbally. Giving them the opportunity to write them down helps them prepare to participate actively in the class. Asking students to write down any questions they may have about lectures or readings can also be helpful for the teacher because it points out what material should be reiterated.

Position papers: This assignment is a longer and more focused version of the discussion starters. Students should write a paragraph for page before class on a question assigned at the end of the previous class to prepare for discussion. Their writing should address a particular aspect of an issue, problem, or question.

Microthemes: A microtheme is a brief essay arguing a position on a problem or issue. Length is limited to one side of an index card. Microtheme assignments can combine summary with thesis-support by asking students to respond to reading or to discussion and take a position on the issue based on that reading or discussion. Students must be able both to summarize material concisely and to organize their own ideas carefully to make a complete argument as briefly as possible.

Solving Problems: Ask students to analyze a disciplinary problem. Students must describe the problem and then discuss a plausible solution, being specific about how and why such a solution could work. Problems can be real or fictional. Choosing a real problem gleaned from industry reports, journals, or personal experience allows students to connect this writing assignment with field issues being debated outside the academy.

Using Cases: Case scenarios provide students with a complete writing context from which to analyze problems or issues and are therefore useful and engaging assignments. A simple use of the case if to set up a single scenario which notes audience, purpose, and focus of a brief writing task. A more elaborate case can include more details as well as several roles for students to adopt as writers. Case histories involve discusses the aspects of a case after the fact, allowing students to analyze what could have or possibly should have happened.

Letters: You can assign students to write letters to explain concepts, argue a position, ask questions, or solve problems. Letter writing assignments provide students with a context and an implied audience to help guide their ideas. Assignments asking students to write letters to professionals in the field, field journals, or politicians help students practice the language of particular discourse communities and field protocol. Other possibilities include letters asking for funding or project approval.

Dialogues: In this assignment, one or more students write a dialogue in which they express different points-of-view involved in an issue or problem. One possibility with this assignment is to have students play the “believing and doubting game” in which they first write in support of an idea, concept, methodology, or thesis and then write in opposition to it. Basing this assignment on course readings or a controversy in the field allows them to understand the complexity of issues and arguments.

Popular article: The popular article assignment asks students to explain difficult course concepts to a general audience with little specialized knowledge. This writing task is an excellent way to be sure students understand the material well enough to explain it clearly is non-technical language.

Pre-Test Warm-ups: An extension of the problem statement activity is to ask students to generate problems for an upcoming test. Students might work either to generate problems or to draft solutions. Students will cover the course material more fully than they might otherwise do in studying if they are asked to come up with the problems themselves. Another possibility is to give out sample test questions and have students compose answers to them. If students know that some of the problems they have come up with or already worked with will be on the test, they are likely to take the assignment seriously.

Process Analysis: A useful approach to scientific or mathematic processes is to have students trace in writing the steps of a process either during or after they complete each step. Such an approach allows students to understand why certain steps are made, and asks them to explain in their own words how a process works.

Project notebooks: Project notebooks can combine many of these assignments as part of a sequence. Students use these notebooks to record their work on class projects. Such an assignment can include process analysis, problem-solving, definitions of terms, reading responses, and questions about material. This assignment helps students understand their work for the class as a learning process.

Annotations: Annotations ask students to briefly summarize the reading, articulating key points and also to evaluate strengths and weaknesses in an article. In particular, annotations call for students to note the purpose and scope of a reading in relation to a particular course project. Single annotation assignments can be part of the larger assignment of putting together an annotated bibliography in the field in general or on a particular issue. You might also consider limiting the length of the annotations so that students must think carefully about what is most important to express about the reading.

Abstract: This assignment can be used as part of a sequence of assignments. The abstract asks students to describe their work for the class, whether it be a term paper or class project, noting the context to which they respond, the position they are taking, the ideas they will cover, and the terms they will use.


This is a very brief list of essential resources for Writing Across the Curriculum.

Written Resources:

Barry, Lois. The Busy Professor’s Travel Guide to Writing Across the Curriculum. La Grande, OR: Eastern, 1989.

Bean, John L. Engaging Ideas: The Professor’s Guide to Integrating Writing, Critical Thinking, and Active Learning in the Classroom. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1996.

Online Resources:

The WAC Clearinghouse, hosted by Colorado State University, is a complete Writing Across the Curriculum resource. It has a thorough introduction to WAC philosophy, descriptions of assignments, web and written resources, and teacher comments on WAC classes.

Purdue University’s Online Writing Lab is an excellent resource both for teachers and students.

Writing Across the Curriculum at George Mason University contains discipline-specific writing guides.

Ways to Reduce Your Paper Load

One concern that many instructors have is that adding new writing assignments represents a vast commitment of time. Here are some ways to reap the benefits of new writing assignments without greatly increasing the time you spend reading, grading, and commenting on essays:

  1. Before you begin, consider the assignment’s instructional goals (which you have made very clear to your students) and develop a hierarchy of elements that you will respond to. Concentrate on only the top three prioritized elements as you respond.
  2. Set a timer. Determine a reasonable amount of time to spend on each paper, and try to stick to it. It may take several papers for you to find the appropriate pace, and there will always be a few papers that slow you down, but don’t stop setting that timer.
  3. You don’t have to read everything your students write! The idea behind writing-to-learn tasks is that the very act of writing increases student learning. You can save yourself hours by conducting quick checks for student engagement and effort (and possibly scoring the papers on a check minus, check, check plus scale). (Writing-to-learn tasks completed outside of class that you don’t plan on responding to and returning can be submitted electronically via email or Blackboard’s Digital Drop Box. Save time and also save a tree!)
  4. Practice selective grading. If you assign frequent writing-to-learn tasks, read assignments randomly — either by occasional batches or by selecting a few students each time.
  5. Or, at the end of the quarter allow students to select a few of their writingsto be submitted for a grade.
  6. Assign sequences of small assignments that lead to the term paper.
  7. Have students conduct peer reviews of drafts and stepping-stone assignments.
  8. Minimize the commentary on writing that will not be revised, since most of these comments will never be read.



Periodically, the Center for Teaching Writing publishes lectures and guides aimed at improving reading and writing, and the teaching of reading and writing.

Cover of "Clarify your Text"

Clarify Your Vision, Then Write: Reflections on the History of the University of Oregon Composition Program (2010) describes the history of the program within the English department, and explores the evolution of practices and strategies developed around argumentative writing and critical inquiry pedagogy.




Cover of "On Reading"
On Reading Well/On Being Well-Read (2009) is an online guide for students preparing for college. The original 52-page guide, On Reading / Reading On (1998) includes reading and organizational strategies, advice from well known thinkers, writers, and readers, as well as practical suggestions from university professors and students.


Cover for "Enthics and Argumentation"

“Ethics and Argumentation” by James Crosswhite; Keynote Address at the 1999 University of Oregon Fall Composition Conference.


cover of "the five steps to rhetorical heaven"
“Three of the lesser Greek gods came down from Mt. Olympus last night and told me that the Committee up there was trying to decide what the gods can do about education down here.”

Excerpt from “The Five Steps to Rhetorical Heaven” by Wayne C. Booth (Keynote Address at the Ninth Annual Oregon Conference on Composition and Rhetoric [1998]).