Landing : Athabascau University

Helping Students Discover What They Can Do

This Faculty Focus article deals with the topic of helping students to discover for themselves what they are capable of, specifically in the area of written communication. Many students feel that they just don't have the 'gift of writing'. As the author points out writing is not a 'gift', it is a skill that students need to develop. The author feels that the best way to do this is to provide opportunities (through assignments, feedback, meetings or discussions with students about their performance on assessments) for students to discover what they can do. Once students discover they can write an essay or narrative they may feel confident and/or inspired enough to tackle other types of writing (e.g. technical writing, poetry). This process of discovery helps to teach students to read their own work with a critical ear and develop the ability to identify effective writing.


  • Mary Pringle April 26, 2017 - 3:52pm

    As a first-year writing teacher, I started to believe that students were better off learning to do the kind of writing they needed for their other classes, so we would work on discipline-specific papers, which went pretty well.

    This was the best thing that I learned as a teaching assistant, though, and I liked to pass it on to my students: A study was done showing that when grappling with new ideas, learners' writing tended to get considerably worse before making a quantum leap to better. So poor writing can be a sign of growth. Part of the discovery process.