Why Written Coursework Is Important
Written coursework usually makes most students uncomfortable and apprehensive. Given the amount of emphasis typically placed on writing well and scoring good grades, the constant fear of failure and judgment is enough to make any student dread the submission of written work. However, when assignments are created meaningfully by teachers and grading rubrics clearly explained in advance, writing coursework can be an enjoyable learning experience. It cannot be doubted that coursework is a form of independent learning that enables a student to cater to their own interests and styles of writing, helping them to create an identity and a voice of their own.
Imagine this situation: you are a student who has been assigned a writing task on a topic that you aren’t really familiar with. Typically, you might despair at how you can possibly accomplish the task by the deadline in a way that your teacher appreciates enough to give you a good grade. However, one significant thing to keep in mind is that teachers, especially those who are open-minded and seeking their students’ meaningful growth, usually welcome fresh, innovative, and personal takes on any topic. It’s important to remember that even if the conventions of standard academic writing are usually the same for everyone, truly meaningful ideas cannot really be ‘standardized’ or understood from a one-size-fits-all approach. Chances are high that your teacher will appreciate an honest attempt at giving your perspectives (with evidence of research, of course) more than a submission that sounds just like everyone else’s, with tired and hackneyed ideas. Also, as Jeffrey (2015) has demonstrated, comprehensive feedback that is given by teachers as well as meticulously followed by learners makes for better learning processes (59). As a way of encouraging autonomous learning and making teaching-learning processes more student-centric, written coursework can therefore serve immensely useful functions for learners. Such encouraging practices can be especially beneficial to students who lean more toward self-study and other independent forms of learning.
Further, it’s also important to remember that written coursework is one of the ways in which students can truly engage personally with learning tools and experiences. If the topic assigned is not one that a student is familiar with, then books, articles, and websites are sure to be informative: the key to meaningful writing is to pick and choose ideas that suit one’s mindset and personality the best. For instance, if the topic assigned can be looked at through multiple perspectives or arguments, such as capital punishment, it’s important that students examine their own thoughts on the given issue and create their individual arguments accordingly. Subscribing to others’ perspectives when one personally doesn’t agree with them, however ‘scholarly’ the approach may seem, doesn’t do students any good in terms of how meaningful their learning experience is. Schwebke and Medway (2001) observe in their study that what is often dismissively called “everyday writing” actually has a significant impact on how we construct our sense of self: what begins as “a conventional academic undertaking” can lead to meaningful dialogue, discussions, and learning (355).
In sum, while there are definitely some ‘standardized’ approaches to the writing process, truly meaningful written coursework is almost always focused on the student’s personal development and learnings rather than on summarizing or rehashing conventional ideas. An assignment that sparks genuine interest in the student can be a genuinely enjoyable and meaningful learning experience.
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