A writing process approach is based on the principle that if students receive formative feedback during the process of writing then their final products will improve. A focus on process allows students to better understand how they write, makes them better at critiquing their own and others’ writing, and reinforces an awareness of audience. There are a number of different strategies in course and assignment design that allow teachers and students to focus on the writing process:

Multiple drafting

Having students turn in successive drafts that receive teacher or peer comments results in more  developed writing. Note, though, that not all the drafts need to have the same purpose or length. A first draft might be written and evaluated mainly for its ideas, a second for its structure or rhetorical effectiveness, and a third for usage and grammar. This provides a focus for both writing the draft and commenting on it. The nature and number of drafts you require will depend on the structure of your course and the purpose of your assignment.

Scaffolded assignments (PDF)

Assignments that are scaffolded progress in a graduated, interrelated series, becoming more demanding and complex until they culminate in a final assignment.  For instance, a research paper might be preceded by a series of assignments that includes a proposal, an annotated bibliography, and a critical review essay. See also the CTE’s Assignment design: sequencing assignments.

Peer feedback

Providing peer feedback benefits both writers and the students who are giving the feedback. To be most effective, peer feedback should be structured and focused, and the processes associated with it should be taught to students.

Writing Portfolios (PDF)

A writing portfolio is a collection of all or some of the assignments a student has submitted during a course, along with all the drafts and other documents related to each assignment. A portfolio also usually includes reflections by the student on how his or her writing has progressed during the assignments and throughout the course. Some instructors delay giving final marks to individual assignments until they are submitted in the portfolio, and the portfolio as a whole can also be given a mark.