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This study uses student reflections of previous success in academic writing to guide instructors as they design writing assignments. Seventy-one students in five classes responded to a questionnaire designed to help them identify particularly successful writing experiences and reflect on the circumstances, strategies, and methods they believed impacted their success. Student responses to these questions were analyzed to identify broad categories or themes. This process produced an "emic" or insider's view of what constitutes successful writing assignments and writing process. The findings suggest that students self report their writing as successful when the writing assignment engenders engagement, commitment, collaboration, a systematic approach, and opportunities for external confirmation. Instructors can include these considerations as they plan the writing assignments for their courses. Discovering what student writers believe constitutes good writing and what strategies most effectively help them produce high quality writing provides an opportunity to design writing assignments that empower students to join the conversation in their discourse community. If faculty are aware of student perceptions of writing assignments and use those perceptions in assignment design, the products may be more satisfying for both student writers and faculty readers.


This article was originally published in Across the Disciplines, volume 4, in 2007.


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Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.



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