Composition and Rhetoric
Material Type:
Community College / Lower Division, College / Upper Division
Ohio Open Ed Collaborative
  • Collaboration
  • Tme0012
    Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial
    Media Formats:

    Education Standards

    Collaboration: 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 Collaboration in a First-Year Writing Course. All resources are Open Access and can be downloaded or added to a Course Management System via hyperlink.

    Course Map

    Application of the following resources address the learning objectives above. Many of the resources have complete chapters that apply to these Collaboration objectives as a whole, with examples and exercises provided. The exercises and lessons can be used to demonstrate many of the collaborative activities accessible in a first-year writing course.

    Introduction & Learning Objectives


    This description is intended to apply to a range of first-year writing courses, from highly conceptual to more traditional presentations, in regards to Collaboration. This guide will cover several collaboration activities (the topic of plagiarism is covered in the Quick Adoption Guide “Conducting Research”) that can be used in a seated classroom, electronically with the course’s Learning Management System (LMS), or with various Web 2.0 applications. These descriptions and exercises can be integrated regardless of the types of readings chosen for the course, the genres a course may focus on, or the types of written assignments used. This guide is intended to demonstrate items that can be incorporated into both an online or seated section of a first-year writing course.  

    Learning Objectives

    This module is designed to address the following learning objectives:

    1. Utilize peer edits and peer review activities for revising papers
    2. Demonstrate group workshopping techniques for composing, editing, and revising group essays
    3. Illustrate collaboration techniques via Learning Management Systems (ex. Canvas)
    4. Demonstrate techniques on using student groupings for collaborative assignments through file sharing, Google Docs, and other Web 2.0 applications.

    Recommended Resources

    The Process of Research Writing (Version 1.0, Spring 2007) by Steven D. Krause

    • This source is a web-based research writing textbook suitable for teachers and students in research oriented composition classes. The text has a detailed collaboration chapter (Chapter 4) that takes both students and instructors through the basics of why to collaborate and provides several activities for collaboration in a writing course.  

    Successful College Composition by Georgia State University Faculty Members

    • The textbook is a transformation text of Writing for Success, a text adapted by The Saylor Foundation under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-ShareAlike 3.0 License without attribution as requested by the work’s original creator or licensee. Successful College Composition covers many student collaboration activities in Chapter 2, section 4, titled “Revising and Editing.” It provides a basic sample of a peer review sheet, along with many peer exercises for revising and editing on the student’s own papers, as well as sample essays provided in the textbook.

    University of Connecticut Writing Center provided/maintained by Stacie Renfro Powers, Courtenay Dunn-Lewis, and Gordon Fraser

    • This source is a collaborative writing project. The resources include ideas, research, and worksheets to help instructors integrate collaborative writing projects (CWPs) into their curriculum. Some techniques will be more practical for larger projects or projects of extended length. Many of the class resources are available in Microsoft Word and are intended to be customized to the specific needs of each project.

    Writing Spaces: Readings on Writing, Volume 1, chapter by Anthony T. Atkins   

    • Volume 1 is an open textbook project for college-level writing courses. Each volume in the Writing Spaces: Readings on Writing series contains peer-reviewed collections of essays about writing—all composed by teachers for students—with each book available for a free download under a Creative Commons license. The specific chapter referenced here is “Collaborating Online: Digital Strategies for Group Work,” which covers a sample assignment using Web 2.0 applications, specifically Google Docs. There are slides and directions provided for an instructor to put together a similar assignment or to use the one provided.

    Writing Spaces: Readings on Writing, Volume 2, chapter by Rebecca Ingalls                                                      

    • Volume 2 is an open textbook project for college-level writing courses. Each volume in the Writing Spaces: Readings on Writing series contains peer-reviewed collections of essays about writing—all composed by teachers for students—with each book available for a free download under a Creative Commons license. The chapter “Writing ‘Eyeball To Eyeball’: Building A Successful Collaboration” by Ingalls is a real world based chapter implementing the collaborative writing process of The Beatles.

    Supplemental Content

    Canvas Learning Management System

    • This resource document for instructors shows complete directions and illustrations on how to implement a collaborative writing assignment for a Canvas Learning Management System (LMS) based course.

    Writing Spaces: Readings on Writing, Volume 2, chapter by Matt Barton and Karl Klint 

    • This is another volume from a collection of Creative Commons licensed essays for use in the first-year writing classroom, where each volume in the Writing Spaces: Readings on Writing series contains peer-reviewed collections of essays about writing—all composed by teachers for students—with each book available for free download under a Creative Commons license. This chapter called “A Student’s Guide to Collaborative Writing Technologies” is a specific chapter based on a collaborative writing exercise using various Web 2.0 applications.  

    Class Activities

    There is a basic range of class activities from these open resources.  Most of the resources have a section of explanation followed by complementary exercises for students to apply what they learn or for instructors to incorporate into their own collaborative project objectives. (Links to these activities are listed above in sections “Recommended Resources” and “Supplemental Content.”)

    1. Chapter 2, section 4, of Successful College Composition provides the easiest collaboration for peer review activities to incorporate into a class. There is a basic point by point peer edit sheet that can be used as is or can be modified by the instructor to add more specific details if necessary. Exercise 15 gives instructions on using the peer edit and is written with the student as the audience. Also, there is a sample student paper used to demonstrate the peer revision techniques and how to use feedback provided by a peer reviewer. The last part of the section briefly covers “Writing at Work” and how collaborative writing is common in businesses – this could be expanded into a larger discussion by looking at the students’ fields of study and explaining how collaborative writing is evident in many fields (Learning Objectives 1 and 2).

    2. Chapter 4 of The Process of Research Writing has background information for instructors on the importance of collaboration in a composition course. It discusses the advantages and disadvantages of collaboration, offering sound advice on how instructors can avoid some of the problems that may occur with peer collaboration projects. There is also a clear section directed towards students on how peer reviews work and the commitment it takes for all involved to provide and accept feedback – an exercise is provided along with these notes. Another section discusses the importance and advantages of using technology for peer group work and gives a list of rules for working successfully on large group projects.  While much of this chapter centers on advice and ideas for the instructor, it provides an excellent start to brainstorm ideas for group activities while heeding the advice. The rules and suggestions can be especially helpful in keeping group work centered and focused (Learning Objectives 1, 2, and 4).

    3. The University of Connecticut Writing Center provides an activity that can be used in a class for nearly any essay assignment an instructor would like to make collaborative from beginning to end. While the activity does use peer edits, this is a group assignment from the start. The Writing Center has an outline of the process that an instructor can incorporate into any writing assignment. The outline starts with general considerations for the instructor to make note of, and then goes into the implementation process for the project. This is a nice, basic outline for an instructor to “fill in the blanks” in regards to how they will cater it to their course. Details are given about the size and scope a project can take, and also some pitfalls to keep in mind with both the implementation and completion of a collaborative writing project. It is very detailed and takes the instructor through a step-by-step modeling of the assignment. This would work well for an instructor looking to take some time away from lecturing, while instead working more with small groups providing feedback. This project would also work very well in a flipped classroom setting, with a culturally themed assignment, or as a collaborative research paper (Learning Objectives 1, 2, and 4).

    4. In Writing Spaces: Readings on Writing, Volume 1, Atkins starts with a basic introduction to collaborating in a classroom, covering the common advantages and disadvantages discussed in many of these sources. More importantly, he gives an example of a project that had problems and discusses how to fix them – this is very helpful for an instructor in preparing a collaborative group project. He continues with an actual project, which is very accessible for instructors to use for their class because it shows the importance of using technology in making the assignment applicable to the modern student. There are useful discussions about Web 2.0 technologies, showing how instructors can make these part of a group project. All of his suggestions can be assimilated by an instructor in any Learning Management System (LMS). There are clear slides displayed that can be used directly in a classroom/online setting, and he closes with review and discussion questions that can also be applied directly to a lesson plan. The project would work very well in a flipped classroom, in a regular seated class, or for an online class. Any class size would work well with this also. The advanced part of this project is that it lets the students use Web 2.0 technology to work together on a writing assignment (Learning Objectives 1 through 4).

    5. Writing Spaces, Readings on Writing, Volume 2 is an exciting piece that covers the famous Beatles writing team of Paul McCartney and John Lennon, explaining how these two writers collaborated on some of the best lyrics of all time, while at the same time encouraging students and instructors to do the same in their classes. The beginning explains some of the Beatles’ process – all of which can be used for class discussion.  Tying in music also helps an instructor use writing across the curriculum ideas and to try something new besides a typical professional article to prompt student responses. The article helps convince an instructor to move forward with collaborative writing assignments and why they are worthwhile. Since she uses the Beatles and examples of many contemporary writing teams, from rappers to screen writers, this makes it very accessible for most students. There are a series of questions for the instructor to answer as far as the project’s goals (as well as for the students), which is very helpful in getting the project off the ground with a clear purpose in mind. The second half of the article explains the importance of collaboration to the students and how they can get started and complete the project successfully. This is a long piece because it is very detailed and helpful to both student and instructor. Ingalls has used this technique in her own courses and shows instructors how they can use it positively as well. The step-by-step directions are applicable to the inexperienced instructor and student, as well as experienced ones. And again, this can work well in all classroom settings and class enrollment sizes (Learning Objectives 1 through 4).

    6. The Barton and Klint article in Writing Spaces: Readings on Writing, Volume 2  discusses an exciting project using Web 2.0 technologies that is heavy on technology, but explained well to make it accessible for course use. This project would work for a technologically advanced instructor looking for a high-tech project for student collaboration.  Since it is a ‘student’s guide,’ it directs even the student with little technology experience to take chances with all the technology advances available to them. The authors go through a sample research paper scenario and break down the tools used in the sample – all of which are classroom accessible with slides provided. They discuss and explain Google Reader, Google Docs, Google Scholar, Google Talk, Twitter, Facebook, Instant Messenger, Zotero, Skype, Doodle, Mindomo, Etherpad, and many more technologies that are included in the sample research paper. The authors show how the students used them, give links to the websites, and define the capabilities of each technology. This is a very all-inclusive technology example implementing many tools that students may already use, or could adopt to use on a collaborative project and for personal use. This project example gives credence to students exploring these technologies on their own for use outside the classroom – making it highly applicable for all types of majors and classroom settings  (Learning Objectives 1 through 4).


    Assessments provided by the sources include various peer edit sheets for student feedback and revision. Many of the sources also have feedback and directions regarding collaboration projects/activities assessment and evaluations to use in a writing course.  Many review activities are discussed in regards to technology applications, sample collaboration projects, and advice on how to proceed with a group project. Furthermore, these sources offer definitions, notes, source annotations, and website links to aid instructors in assessing what collaboration activities will work in a writing course and how to implement them successfully.  

    1. Successful College Composition provides a basic peer review worksheet and other revision techniques. There also are suggestions on how to use peer feedback successfully (Learning Objectives 1 and 2).

    2. The Process of Research Writing includes more in-depth rules about using technology for group projects, as well as collaboration peer review sheets. Advice is also given on some problem areas that may occur with group work, as well as how to assess those areas before assigning a project and after its completion (Learning Objectives 1, 2, and 4).

    3. The University of Connecticut Writing Center writing project is presented with a start to finish list of ways to make the project successful. There is a very accessible outline to follow for the instructor to assess his/her own goals for the project, as well as those of the students (Learning Objectives 1, 2, and 4).

    4. Writing Spaces: Readings on Writing, Volume 1 provides another assessment to help an instructor assess the objectives and particulars of a class collaboration project. It also has an assessment on the advantages and disadvantages of a project, as well as how to assess and fix the problems associated with it. Definitions of the technologies and the associated problems that can come with using technology are included (Learning Objectives 1 through 4).

    5. Writing Spaces: Readings on Writing, Volume 2 provides an assessment of a sample collaborative writing project that uses various technologies and Web 2.0 applications. All information can be used in assessing an actual group project in a writing class. There are definitions and websites listed for further information on the applications used, and how an instructor can see what would work best for their course (Learning Objectives 1 through 4).