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Eric Dayton, Philosophy Faculty

Writing Exercises

What types of writing exercises do you ask your Philosophy students to do?

There are lots of different ways that you can have writing exercises. One way is to do small precis, or summaries of articles just to get people writing and to get people to read the articles (read closely). One thing I do in my more advanced classes is I have ... a participation requirement, where I get reading notes from them, where they have to give me ten reading notes over the term to get any marks at all. There's a certain number of marks that are dedicated to class participation, and to get any marks they have to do at least ten of these, and it guarantees that they've read at least ten of the articles or the chapters that we've read. I do it just to make them do the reading, but it also is really beneficial to them, because they can try to summarize what was said, and then raise the problems, and then they give them to me, and I see what students object to in what was said or their worries and that informs my teaching. That's one thing I do. Some people have one big paper at the end of the year that they ask the student to devote a lot of attention to. In my 110 class this year, I've got six very small writing things all through the year, more like an English class (Are they summaries or are they analyses?) They're tests. They have the questions in advance, some of them, and then they write in class so they can't ... cheat. But they're really writing exercises. They're not...From my point of view, they're... it's to make them read the text, to understand the text, and to write about it.