A few years ago, a colleague told me she was having students write papers in groups. I was fascinated, because I’d never thought of that–I’d always assumed papers should be written by an individual. However, this past summer I collaborated on a publication with a former student and was reminded how useful it is to work on writing collaboratively.
I’ve discovered having students write group papers can be productive for them, can save time in the classroom, and can save you time in terms of grading. Generally, the group will work together to generate a thesis and an introduction, and then each student is responsible for one body paragraph. They list their names at the top in the order of their paragraphs, which can help me pinpoint if a student struggles with some element of the writing process. They also collaborate on the conclusion.
What it means for them to collaborate on the intro/thesis/conclusion, is essentially a detailed discussion about the topic, about wording, and about connotation/denotation. I have found this assignment to be particularly useful when researching, as each student can research a different point of the argument. It can also be useful for literary analysis, too. Groups of three seem to work best for this assignment.
So if you’re trying to find a way to save yourself time and still focus on student writing, consider the group paper. If a student can write one paragraph beautifully, integrating sources seamlessly, it would stand to reason they could do it for a whole paper–so why not let them just focus on that one paragraph, and save yourself some time, too?