Structuring Reading/Writing Assignments to Improve Critical Thinking Skills

  • Sharon Doetsch-Kidder George Mason University
  • Aimee Weinstein George Mason University
  • Laurie Miller George Mason University

Abstract

BRIEF SESSION DESCRIPTION:

Conscious attention to reading improves all students’ comprehension of complex content and provides a strong basis for effective writing. Strategies developed at INTO Mason can be used to prepare students for more advanced summary and synthesis writing and to teach students to write for different audiences by developing genre awareness and critical thinking skills and by teaching them to use common rhetorical elements in their own writing.  These strategies can be used across a range of disciplines.  After attending the session, participants will be able to identify common rhetorical elements in written texts and to use rhetorical elements to structure reading and writing assignments in order to help students improve their understanding of course content and expectations and become more effective writers.

**Participants should bring an assignment (on paper) they want to revise/change and a reading (PDF) that can be connected to the assignment (as a source or a sample). 

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FULL ABSTRACT:

Research on multilingual learners has found that receptive skills (reading and listening) are the foundation of successful production (writing and speaking) (Haan and Mallett 2016). Conscious attention to reading improves all students’ comprehension of complex content and provides a strong basis for effective writing. In this workshop, participants will practice identifying common rhetorical elements in written texts, analyzing those elements, and using those elements to begin shaping a writing project for undergraduate or graduate students in any discipline. Participants should bring an assignment (on paper) they want to revise/change and a reading (PDF) that can be connected to the assignment (as a source or a sample).

After attending the session, participants will have identified at least one research-supported strategy (small change) that they can incorporate in their teaching to address a challenge or need in their course. Participants will also be aware of resources (books, websites, video series) to help them continue the process of identifying and implementing small changes. Finally, they will be connected to colleagues who are also interested in making small changes and can provide support and accountability moving forward. (We'd be thrilled if new teaching development groups emerged from the session.)

Author Biographies

Sharon Doetsch-Kidder, George Mason University

Sharon Doetsch-Kidder teaches academic research and writing with INTO Mason and serves as Assistant Program Coordinator for their International Pathways Programs.  She completed her PhD in English and Feminist Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), and her BA and MA at Georgetown University.

Doetsch-Kidder's book, Social Change and Intersectional Activism: The Spirit of Social Movement, argues for the centrality of spirit to the work of antiracist feminist scholarship and social change.  Her areas of interest include social movements, race and ethnic studies, theories of genders and sexualities, pedagogy, mindfulness education, and the globalization of liberal arts education.  She also teaches meditation, mindfulness, and aikido in the local community.
Aimee Weinstein, George Mason University
Dr. Aimee Ledewitz Weinstein is a half-time professor and half-time academic advisor with INTO Mason, where she works with International Graduate students on their research writing, transition management and other assorted aspects that characterize a move to a new culture and American university life. She received her doctorate from the Department of Higher Education at George Mason University where she focused on teaching writing to second language learners via a hybrid classroom. Dr. Weinstein lived for more than ten years in Tokyo, Japan where she taught writing at Temple University, Japan. Her publications are mostly from Japan and include English-language travel and food journals as well as both print and online news sources.
Laurie Miller, George Mason University
Laurie Miller teaches academic writing with INTO Mason and serves as the Co-Course Coordinator of undergraduate composition classes for their International Pathways Program. Prior to this, she was a faculty member in Mason’s English Language Institute (ELI) and the Center for International Student Access (CISA).  While her primary focus has been on working with multilingual writers to develop academic writing skills, she has also worked with writers who first language is English in both academic and business settings. Ms. Miller has contributed to World Bank writing style guides, consulted on an individual basis with professionals at United Airlines, and worked as an abstractor of medical papers. With degrees in biology, English literature and linguistics, she understands the needs placed on writers in diverse genres and writing situations. She is also a PhD student in Mason’s Writing and Rhetoric program.
Published
2018-08-08