The Role and Importance of Writing Prompts

This article explains the role of writing prompts, and in what ways this can be applied. If you are a writing teacher, the article below will prove helpful in honing the writing skills of your students.

Should writing prompts be used or not? With the advent of technology and globalization, the idea of writing across the curriculum becomes popular. However, it becomes difficult for teachers to design writing prompts for students in the content-based language instruction.

Writing prompts are guides that stimulate learners to write. It may be an open-ended sentence, a question, a topic, or a scenario that generates writing. It can also be used for children and adult learners.

Writing prompts are used as a tool in order to groom the writing style of students. Prompts are actually the foundation for writing that most students do in their academic career, such as essays and research papers.

The prompt must be authentic. An example of an authentic prompt is RAFTS prompt which aims to make writing more authentic. In this prompt, students are asked to think and write from a real world person’s perspective. It also makes students think at a much deeper level of Bloom’s Taxonomy.

Now, in which respect can writing prompts be used? It can be used for written assignments. According to Nunan (2009), written assignments must be carefully constructed to assure their success and their contribution to promoting the goals of the course.

There are six guidelines for the preparation of successful writing assignments (adapted from Reid and Kroll 1995) that prove helpful in reviewing the efficacy of any given assignment.

6 Guidelines for Successful Writing Assignments

First, a writing assignment should be presented with its context clearly delineated such that the student understands the reasons for the assignment.

Second, the context of the task/topic should be accessible to the writers and allow for multiple approaches.

Third, the language of the prompt or task and the instructions it is embedded in should be un–ambiguous, comprehensible, and transparent.

Fourth, the task should be focused enough to allow for completion in the time or length constraints given and should further students’ knowledge of classroom content and skills.

Next, the rhetorical specifications (cues) should provide a clear direction of likely shape and format of the finished assignment, including appropriate references to an anticipated audience.

And lastly, the evaluation criteria should be identified so that students will know in advance how their output will be judged.

Following the guidelines above can make students more engaged in the completion of their writing tasks. Thus, a great deal of thoughts must go into crafting an authentic writing prompts for the students.

References

Kroll, B. (2006). Teaching english as a second language of foreign language. (3rd ed.) (M.C. Murcia, ed.). Philippines: Cengage Learning Asia Pte Ltd.

Nunan, D. (2009). Second language teaching and learning. Philippines: Cengage Learning Asia Pte Ltd.

McCallister, C. (2004). Writing education practices within the reconceptualized curriculum.

An encyclopedia for parents and teachers, ed. J.L. kincheloe and D. Weil, CT: Greenwood Press.

© 2015 February 13 M. G. Alvior

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