Teaching students to write, not ‘fill-in-the-blanks’

Jeremy Shermak, an Assistant Professor of Communications at a community college in Chicago, writes an inspirational story about academic writing and consultations with students. Shermak shares his perspective of using education to “light a fire” instead of “filling a bucket” when advising students.

The Unwritten Syllabus

Last week, when a major research essay was due in my composition courses, more students visited my office on campus than the previous two semesters combined.  I always encourage my students to stop in. I answered every question very diligently and expeditiously, offering the best I had in terms of advice and direction.

Student questions varied greatly.  Many were concerned about their introductions, which for many is one of the more difficult parts of any essay, while others wanted to know about MLA formatting. However, a striking number of students asked some variation of the following question: “What do you want me to write?”

Let’s set the table here: the essay in production has been on their plates for weeks now. We went through a very deliberate, calculated writing process to demonstrate the benefits of planning, forethought, time management, pre-writing, research, revision, etc. It was a tactical approach inspired…

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2 responses to “Teaching students to write, not ‘fill-in-the-blanks’

  1. Thank you so much for the post! Great site!

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