University of Vermont

Writing in the Disciplines Program

UVM WID: Connections Between Writing and Learning

Connections Between Writing and Learning

One of the leading tools for surveying students’ views of their collegiate curricular experiences, the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), included questions focusing on writing for the first time in its 2007-2008 survey. The resulting report presented clear links between best practices in writing instruction and measures of deep learning.

Full Report
Report Excerpt on Writing

Important elements of the NSSE report:

Writing is linked to deep learning

“. . . [W]hen institutions provided extensive, intellectually challenging writing activities, the students engaged in more deep learning activities such as analysis, synthesis, and integration of ideas from various sources, and grappled more with course ideas both in and out of the classroom.” Furthermore, students who had the chance to work on challenging writing projects “reported greater personal, social, practical and academic development.”

Processes of writing enhance learning

The more importance a faculty member placed on preparing multiple drafts of a paper, the more likely they were to emphasize deep approaches to learning. The NSSE analysis of seniors’ deep learning and gains indicated that pre-writing activities (feedback from peers and instructors) and good instructor practices (staging of assignments and classroom activities) is linked to growth in practical competence and integrative learning. That is, more expert writing instruction helps students become better thinkers and learners as well as better writers.

Writing promotes student engagement

Additionally, some evidence from a 2007 NSSE report suggested that students who are more engaged in their learning may be more likely to stay at their college than drop out or transfer. NSSE found that “effective educational practices” such as regular and intellectually challenging writing activities play a significant role in retention and academic success.

Writing in the Disciplines Program • 302 Bailey/Howe Library • Burlington, VT 05405

Last modified December 14 2011 12:27 PM

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