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Teaching Philosophy

Volume 25, Issue 4, December 2002

Mark Richardson
Pages 291-309

Student Papers and Professional Papers
Writing to Learn and Writing to Teach in Undergraduate Philosophy Courses

Writing typically forms a crucial part of the evaluation of students in undergraduate philosophy courses. However, philosophy instructors tend to adopt only two types of writing assignments: the essay test and the professional paper. There are, however, a number of problems with the professional paper and this essay argues that at least some undergraduate papers should treat writing not as a way of demonstrating competence to the teacher but as an act of communicating to readers. After briefly exploring why writing assignments in the disciplines have evolved the way that they have, the paper explains how insights from assignment design in the field of writing theory can aid philosophy teachers develop writing assignments that serve different purposes and achieve unique learning outcomes.

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