5 collaborative writing roles that make sense — and some that don’t

Photo by JJ Ying on Unsplash


As you reflect on learning objectives in your course, what counts as critical thinking about assigned readings, classroom activities, and course projects? What tasks do you imply when you ask students to think critically about sources, problems, solutions, or analyses? How can you make them explicit in your assignments?

Outline a set of tasks that expose students to discipline-specific practices for devising research questions, hypotheses, and methods; for discussing human impact, cause and effect or other modes of inquiry. What qualitative or quantitative data-gathering tasks should students perform?

Most genres include an orientation function, providing genre-specific introductory information; a key-idea function in the form of a thesis, purpose statement, or other means of indicating a primary focus; an evaluative function that emphasizes the importance or value of the topic; and a conclusion function for drawing to a close. What tasks can you assign to the genre/structure role to draw attention to specific expectations about the function of content in collaborative writing projects?

What counts as synthesis in your course? What does it look like? For example, does it look like a claim-support-conclusion sequence? Does it look like integrating visuals to illustrate an analytical strategy? How can you assign tasks that enable students to use course-specific tools for evaluating and interpreting readings, sources, and other course content?

Could preparing a checklist of 10 review/editing tasks that represent the most common issues you see in student writing help make some of your expectations explicit? A teammate in the review/editing role can quickly highlight collaboratively written content to indicate the need for review of checklist items.

Redundancy on purpose



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