Writing as Process

Our work is grounded in the process pedagogy model from writing studies, which explores the ways that writers can better reflect on and improve their writing practices, not just the individual products they produce. In the field of writing studies, the shift to process pedagogy led to incorporation of revision throughout writing curricula, as well as emphasis on practices such as reflection, peer review, and instructor feedback throughout the writing process. In STEM classrooms, writing as process can lead to conversations about moving between lab documentation and write-ups, as well as strategies for breaking down the different components of scientific texts (data visualization, analysis, citations, etc.) so that students can steadily build on effective strategies.

Starting Points:

  • A potential starting point to begin incorporating writing-as-process into a STEM course would be to incorporate low-stakes writing into class sessions. This writing could be ungraded or just checked for completion, as the central focus would be to guide students in breaking down the writing process into smaller chunks, and leaving space for them to reflect on their progress as the semester progresses. For instance, you could present an example of an effective lab report introduction to the class, then invite students to draft the first few sentences of their introduction in class, and exchange with a peer for initial feedback.
  • Consider how you might break down a larger writing assignment to allow more time for topic generation, feedback, and revision. This could range from having students turn in an informal proposal or outline of the writing assignment, which allows space to answer initial questions and guide the writing process. Or you might have students submit a draft of a term paper or lab report, and list a few of the most pressing suggestions that they should address when revising for the final submission.
  • Another common strategy linked to writing-as-process is the use of reflective statements that accompany student writing. The goal of these texts is to prompt students to consider their writing process more explicitly. Reflective writing might range from a few sentences that students add to the end of a written document outlining their thoughts on the strengths and weaknesses of their draft, to a more extensive paper where students give an overview of the writing process and justify the changes they made throughout revision.
  • National Council of Teachers of English Statement on Writing is a Process
    • This webpage gives an overview of NCTE’s stance on writing-as-process, and includes links to additional resources and lesson plans based on process pedagogy.
  • Writing Across the Curriculum Clearinghouse: How Can I Get the Most Out of Peer Review?
    • This resource from the WAC Clearinghouse outlines strategies and suggestions for implementing peer review in the classroom, or the practice of having students read, give feedback on, and potentially evaluate other students’ work as a part of the revision process.


Additional Resources:

Anson, C. M. (2001). Process pedagogy and its legacy. In G. Tate, A. Rupiper, & K. Schick (Eds.), A guide to composition pedagogies (pp. 212-226.). Oxford University Press.

Anson, I. G., & Anson, C. M. (2017). Assessing peer and instructor response to writing: A corpus analysis from an expert survey. Assessing Writing33, 12-24.

Artemeva, N., & Logie, S. (2002). Introducing engineering students to intellectual teamwork: The teaching and practice of peer feedback in the professional communication classroom. Language and Learning Across the Disciplines6(1), 62-85. 

Bardine, B.A. & Fulton, A. (2008). Analyzing the benefits of revision memos during the writing and revision process. The Clearing House, 81(4), 149–154.

Crowley, S. (1998). Around 1971: The emergence of process pedagogy. In Composition in the university: Historical and polemical essays (pp. 187–214). University of Pittsburgh Press.

Donnell, J. (2001). Technical communication in a large course: Practical guidelines for instructors. ASEE Annual Conference Proceedings, 9711–9721.

Herrington, A.J. (1992). Assignment and response: Teaching with writing across the disciplines. In J. L. Kinneavy, S. P. Witte, N. Nakadate, & R. D. Cherry (Eds.), A Rhetoric of doing: essays on written discourse in honor of James L. Kinneavy (pp. 244-260). Southern Illinois University Press.

Sommers, N. (1982). Responding to student writing. College Composition and Communication, 33(2), 148–156.

Sommers, J. (1989). The writer’s memo: Collaboration, response, and development. In C. Anson (Ed.), Writing and response: Theory, practice, and research (pp. 174-185). National Council of Teachers of English.

Timmerman, B. and Strickland, D. (2013). Faculty should consider peer review as a means of improving students’ scientific reasoning skills.  Journal of the South Carolina Academy of Science, 7(1), 1–7.