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Improving Student Writing: U-M Faculty Using Online Collaboration Tools
There's no question that students' writing improves most when they have frequent opportunities for practice and feedback. But instructors sometimes struggle to find ways to provide those opportunities, especially in large courses. One method that many U-M instructors use to good effect is structured peer review. These three faculty members--featured in CRLT's recent Occasional Paper about Online Collaboration Tools (OCTs)--have made creative use of OCTs to facilitate collaborative writing as well as timely, frequent, low-stakes peer feedback:
- George Hoffman, Romance Languages and Literatures: In his undergraduate course on literature about the Algerian War, Hoffmann uses Google Sites to create a collaborative course website featuring students' capstone projects. During development, student peers review web pages using the commenting feature. Read more and connect to a short video of Hoffman discussing this teaching strategy on this page.
- Anne McNeil, Chemistry: McNeil leverages a wiki in her graduate-level chemistry course to improve students' scientific communication skills. Small groups collaborate on creating or revising public Wikipedia pages to communicate complex concepts to both laypersons and experts. Read more and access both a short video and student example on this page.
- Brandon Respress, Nursing: Respress instructs upper-level undergraduates in writing grant proposals, refining both their scientific inquiry and disciplinary writing skills. The students use the Google Doc commenting feature to share substantive feedback on each other's drafts. Read more and connect to a short video of Respress discussing this teaching strategy here.
The complete Occasional Paper highlights examples of U-M instructors using OCTs for a range of instructional purposes-- and outlines recommendations for integrating such tools effectively and efficiently. Read the whole paper here. For additional blog posts highlighting U-M instructors successfully utilizing OCTs in their teaching, click on the "OCTs" tag below.