Maroon and Write

Faculty Information

To accomplish its goal of improving student writing, Maroon and Write must develop faculty who adopt writing instruction and writing-to-learn (WTL) strategies into their classes. All faculty are encouraged to participate in any of the Maroon and Write training opportunities.

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Strategies to Improve the Quality of Writing

Maroon and Write identifies a quality document as having the following five components:

  1. Explanation of the problem or introduction of the issue to be addressed, which situates the writing artifact into a context to which the audience can relate
  2. A clear thesis to describe the purpose of the document
  3. Content that supports and provides credible evidence in defense of the thesis
  4. Word choice and sentence structure that are logical and demonstrate an appropriate tone and formality for the intended audience
  5. Correctness in syntax, grammar, and usage

The institution recognizes that specific disciplines will have additional requirements and style manuals relevant to their professions; however, the intent of the MSU’s Maroon and Write is to improve students’ writing quality in these five areas that are similar across all disciplines and fields. Formal writing strategies will demonstrate students’ mastery in these five areas.

Not all classes can be redesigned to become writing classes; however, virtually any class can embed writing-to-learn (WTL) strategies that help students practice writing skills without the time and instruction required in composing a formal writing assignment. WTL is based on the premise that students learn through the act of writing, particularly when the writing assignments are short, informal, and designed to promote reflection, analysis, synthesis, and deeper understanding of course material. Furthermore, these strategies can be utilized even in classes with large enrollments.

Formal Writing

Formal writing assignments focus on the quality of student writing. Characteristics of formal writing include

  • Classroom instruction on composition techniques, including evaluation of writing models from professional and student writers
  • Development of the document through pre-writing activities and multiple drafts
  • Feedback on each draft through peer review and/or instructor evaluation
  • A final draft that is a minimum of two pages of content
  • A final draft that emphasizes format and correctness in addition to content
  • A final draft that is graded

Informal Writing

Informal writing assignments reinforce course content and help students practice writing. Characteristics of informal writing include

  • Frequent, short writing assignments such as free-writing, journaling, summarizing class notes or content, and discussion posts
  • Single-draft documents that focus exclusively on content, not format or correctness
  • Low-stakes writing assignments that may or may not be graded
  • Documents that may serve as scaffolding for formal writing assignments
  • Documents that may serve as preparation for class discussion and examinations

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