In 2009 additional items about the nature of writing assignments faculty collected from students in their selected course sections were administered to over 5,800 faculty members at 46 institutions. Illustrations below highlight ways in which institution can feature items studying college writing assignments by using either the course-based or typical-student data. For reference, a ‘writing assignment’ was broadly defined to include not only written papers, but also lab reports, multimedia projects, web pages, posters, and PowerPoint presentations.
The illustration below suggests what faculty members emphasize in their writing assignments is partly dependent upon the level of students they teach. For example, 5% more faculty who teach upper division courses report they emphasize analyzing or evaluating research in most or all of their writing assignments when compared to their counterparts teaching lower division courses. Moreover, faculty (61%) teaching upper level course require more assignments that asks their students to write in the style or format of a specific field. On the other hand, faculty teaching lower division courses (27%) are more likely to encourage or require their students to visit a campus-based writing or tutoring center for most of their writing assignments.
Bar chart 1: Differences in percentage of faculty who frequently emphasize the following activities in their selected course by course level
Differences by disciplinary areas may also serve as a point of discussion when examining writing assignments among faculty. Using data from the typical-student option, only 28% of faculty from the physical science fields report ‘most’ or ‘all of their assignments’ encourage students to talk with them to develop ideas before drafting the assignment. Faculty teaching in the arts and humanities fields (54%) are the mostly likely group to encourage to students while, surprisingly, less than half of education faculty education report doing so for ‘most’ or ‘all of their assignments.’
Bar chart 2: Differences in percentage of faculty who encourage or require students to talk with them to develop ideas before drafting the assignment by general academic area of their selected course