September 02, 2016
6 Ways To Improve Students' Academic Writing Skills
Writing is a complex skill which most students actually need in order to successfully go through college. Because everything is based on writing during academic years, a student who possesses good writing skills will automatically do better at everything. Exams, essays, assignments, and so on.
As a teacher, your role is to help each and every student improve themselves, acquire new skills, and become a better individual by the end of their time spent in college. What most teachers don’t actually realize is that they should be carrying way more responsibility when it comes to helping students improve their writing skills.
Even though one cannot improve their skills without working hard and having a desire to make progress, a teacher can definitely get involved and make huge differences concerning this matter. In today’s article, we’ll talk about some important tips on how to motivate and instruct your students. If you follow these tips, you’ll soon notice great improvements in your students' writing skills.
1. Encourage Good Writing & Penalize Poor Writing
If you want performance, you must ask for it. Some teachers expect good results, but they never do anything in order to motivate their students. Stress the fact that good, thoughtful, and clear writing will be greatly rewarded. Let your students know that bonus points will be available for those who make greater efforts to express themselves better on paper.
On the other hand, let them understand that poor quality writing will bring the exact opposite results: penalizations. So if an essay has good points and ideas, but the writing shows little effort, the grade will be lower. Another thing you can do, is let them know that it’s perfectly fine if they start improving themselves using online sources. To make it better, you can also recommend good quality resources such as essay writing guides or guides to grammar and writing.
2. Work On Your Student’s Mindset
Sometimes, stating clear rules and expectations is just not enough. It may not work for every student of yours. That’s why you should also take a “lighter” path. What does that mean? It means that you can use non-intrusive motivation techniques that will inspire your students instead of scaring them.
For example, one way you can make them understand that writing is extremely important in their lives, and not only during college. Give a few examples of individuals who have missed great life and career opportunities because of their poor writing skills. You could also make them understand that writing will help them think better, connect things easier, and ultimately make their life easier in so many aspects.
3. A Lot of Practice Equals Better Performance
Every human skill gets better with constant, repetitive practice. In your case, you could easily make a small change in your classroom routine, and organize brief writing sessions each and every day. Ask your students to write a relatively small amount of words on a specific subject every day. It may be painful for them at first, but the more they write, the better their writing will get.
These brief writing sessions, combined with their home assignments and exams (most of which will require essay writing skills), will assure you that their writing is always practiced. In this way, they will find it much easier to pull off better words, ideas, and content.
Another good thing you can do is to diversify the writing topics and genres. For example, during one class your students can write a non-fiction piece of content. During another class, they can put their imaginations to work and do some novel writing.
4. Provide Instructions Throughout the Writing Process
The moment you provide your students with a specific assignment, take a few moments and explain to them how they should go about it. I’m talking about general and specific tips and tricks on how to approach a specific type of essay. For example, you can emphasize the importance of creating clear and concise outlines before they start writing.
Another thing you can do is give them a starting point. Show them some techniques that will save them time and energy. By approaching them in this manner, and giving them more than enough in order to complete their assignments, they will just do better. With time, they will significantly improve their writing skills.
5. Provide Helpful Feedback
When it comes to improving writing skills—for everybody, not just for students—feedback plays a huge role during the process. As a teacher, you have a great deal of knowledge compared to your fellow students. They see you as a role model, especially if you’re the one who’s training them.
Your role as a teacher, besides the teaching, is to offer your students quality feedback. Your feedback should contain specific tips and corrections for each and every student separately. This way you’ll prove to them that you really care about them, and you’ll also let them know where they’ve specifically gone wrong.
6. Have Your Students Read a Lot
Most successful writers are also keen readers. Try to make your students understand the importance of everyday reading, and the link between reading and writing. A good way to make it easier for them is to give them clear instructions and reading material.
For example, you can give them a list of books/articles/essays, and offer them specific and clear indications of where to look when they start the reading process, how to study the sentences, the style, and so on. In doing so, they will see great improvements when it comes to their word choice, sentences structure, and how the whole content will sound.
Writing isn’t rocket science. It’s a basic skill that can be practiced over and over again. With your help, your students can become better and better as the time passes. As mentioned earlier, you play a huge role in their education and in their skills development process.
The moment you decide that you want to take a bigger responsibility concerning your student’s writing aptitudes, you will be one step closer to what you want to achieve with them. Try different types of motivation techniques and instructions, and observe what’s working best for your students. You CAN truly make a difference, and you should!
Karen Dikson is a college instructor and writer from New Jersey. She writes for several education resources, including Huffington Post. Karen loves teaching, writing, and helping her students to reach their goals. Connect with her on Twitter.