Using Collaborative Writing activities to facilitate the development of strong writing skills
|Student Activity Time||Medium|
|Instructor Prep Time||High|
|Instructor Response Time||High|
|Complexity of Activity||High|
|Classroom Considerations||Movable tables and chairs / extra support staff|
Collaborative Writing has student pairs or triads write a formal paper together. Each student contributes at each stage of the writing process: brainstorming ideas, gathering and organizing information, and drafting, revising, and editing the writing.
Use it when you want...
- To have students work together to learn and perform the stages of writing more effectively,
- To help students write better and take more pride in their writing when they are writing for an audience, or
- To prepare students for tasks they will encounter in their careers.
What students will need
- No special requirements for this approach
The following workflow is meant as guidance for how you can facilitate a Collaborative Writing learning activity within a classroom.
- Decide when the activity will take place (before, during, or after a relevant lesson). Use the results to gauge the best starting point, make midpoint corrections, or measure the class’s progress in learning one specific element of the course content.
- Establish interim due dates to help teams structure the writing process and learn from each step.
- Develop a process for assessing the quality of group work and final paper.
- Students form pairs or triads. They generate ideas by brainstorming together or conducting preliminary research. During brainstorming, visit each group and review their progress.
- Together, students organize their ideas and create an outline.
- Students divide up the outline and select or assign sections for each student to write initial drafts individually.
- Teams read first drafts and discuss and resolve any significant disparities in voice, content, and style.
- Teams combine individual sections into a single document.
- Teams revise and edit their work. Check for content, clarity, as well as grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
- After the final edit, teams submit their papers to the professor for assessment and evaluation.
Accessibility and Room Considerations
An Introduction to Zoology professor decides to implement Collaborative Writing assignments to encourage students to connect course content with the real world. For each assignment, she forms pairs and asks all students to write together a significant essay responding to the same prompt. For example, on the topic of the evolution of biological diversity, she asks students to write an essay responding to a written argument. She sets aside about one hour of class two weeks before each assignment’s deadline for student pairs to discuss the topic using their textbook and lecture notes to brainstorm ideas for the essay. Students then organize their thoughts into outlines and divide up sections for each partner to write initial drafts. They also work on a schedule for completion and agree upon a system of communication, such as email, informal meetings, or telephone calls (Barkley 313-314).
In Comparative World Religions, students student the origin, history, and significant ideas of the world’s major Western religions. To help students apply course content, he asks them to work on a Collaborative Writing assignment in which they select two Western religions and find examples where these religions had justified slavery, racism, genocide, torture, or terrorism. Next, they investigate how current religious leaders have covered up or explained those beliefs. Finally, they are to work together to write up their findings in a collaborative term paper (Barkley 314-315).
Barkley, Elizabeth F. et al. Collaborative Learning Techniques A Handbook For College Faculty. Wiley, 2014. pp. 312-317.