Composition and Rhetoric
Material Type:
Community College / Lower Division, College / Upper Division
Ohio Open Ed Collaborative
  • Academia
  • Writing
    Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial
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    Education Standards

    Writing in Academia: Course Map & Recommended Resources


    How to Use This Guide

    This document is intended to highlight resources that can be used to address the topic of Writing in Academia in a First-Year Writing Course. All resources are Open Access and can be downloaded to a Course Management System via hyperlink.


    Often students enroll in a college-writing course with the common misconception that they will be doing more of what they did in high school English. This portion of the course is simply to introduce students to college writing, specifically how it differs from that of high school, the myths and expectations of writing for higher education, as well as types of assignments instructors may ask students to do. This module does not include many activities, for its intent is not to hone the writing skills of students. This introductory guide is intended to help students transition into new ways of approaching writing, and can be utilized regardless of the types of writing assignments chosen for the course.  

        Learning Objectives

        This module is designed to address the following learning objectives:

        1. Distinguish between high school and academic writing
        2. Understand the expectations for writing assignments in college
        3. Overcome the myths about academic writing
        4. Recognize common types of college writing assignments

        Class Activities

        Class activities are limited in these open resources, due to the nature of the subject. Each text provides at least one exercise allowing the students to engage in the reading and apply what they learn.

        1. The chapter “Really? Writing? Again?” from Writing in College: From Competence to Excellence includes two exercises. The first asking students to interview a professor about his or her work and their expectations of students. The second inviting students to learn good study practices through viewing a video titled “Beliefs that Make You Fail . . . or Succeed” (Learning Objectives 2 and possibly 4).

        2. “What is ‘Academic’ Writing?” in Writing Spaces: Volume 1 concludes with discussion questions prompting students to reflect on their writing experiences in high school and to make a prediction on what kind of writing assignments they will be assigned in college (Learning Objectives 1 and 4).

        3. Because the first chapter of Writing for Success primarily focuses on reading in college, the majority of the activities in “Reading and Writing in College” ask students to apply what they have learned to readings they have been assigned. There is one exercise, however, that encourages them to contemplate their future academic career and how it will change their lives (Learning Objectives 1, 2, and 3).

        Recommended Resources

        Writing in College: From Competence to Excellence by Amy Guptill

        • This is an Open SUNY Textbook. Open SUNY Textbooks is an open access textbook publishing initiative established by the State University of New York libraries and supported by SUNY Innovative Instruction Technology Grants. “Really? Writing? Again?” is the first chapter of this text. It explains why students are required (and need) to take so much writing, it shares a brief history on the origins of higher education and how this has evolved into the more student-centered focus today, and this then leads into a profile of who might be teaching their writing courses. It ends with the expectations for writing assignments in college and how they are different from high school.  

        Writing Spaces: Volume 1 edited by Charles Lowe and Pavel Zemliansky

        • This is a Web-based collaborative collection with two volumes, whose individual chapters can be accessed online or downloaded as PDFs, but the chapter to pay attention to here is in volume 1. “What is ‘Academic’ Writing?” by L. Lennie Irvin begins by dispelling myths that students might have about academic writing, and then provides a survey introducing how to look more closely at the codes and conventions of college writing.

        Writing for Success

        • This is adapted from a work produced by a publisher who has requested that the original author not receive attribution. This adapted edition is produced by the University of Minnesota Libraries Publishing through the eLearning Support Initiative. Chapter 1.1, titled “Reading and Writing in College,” primarily focuses on how to approach reading in college. It includes succinct tables distinguishing the difference between high school and college writing, as well as common types of college writing assignments students may be asked to do. This chapter also introduces students to the idea of college being like “work,” thus written communication with their instructors should be professional.