Some examples of low stakes writing:

  • Ask students to draft a summary of a difficult reading passage to ensure they are prepared and to help them acquire disciplinary knowledge.
  • Have students free-write for five minutes in response to a question you've posed to help them think through a difficult issue, and to figure out what they understand and don't.
  • Ask student to draft a letter to another student or to the instructor to change the audience for their written work and to show the relationship between the style and content of writing.
  • Require that students keep a journal to allow for reflection on course materials or discussion, to record field notes or to develop thoughts directed towards a more formal assignment.

It's best to provide minimal feedback on these assignments. If you want to encourage dialogue with students, write a brief, open-ended comment or question. Common problems can be addressed to the entire class.

Examples of low-stakes assignments provided by former faculty participants:

Psychology (PDF)
Urban Sociology (PDF)