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English professor redefines assignment-writing in article series

English professor redefines assignment-writing in article series

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John P. Graham Teaching Professor Gary R. Hafer, Ph.D, takes teaching to the next level with his theories on assignment writing. In collaboration with his colleague Maryellen Weimer, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Teaching and Learning at Pennsylvania State University, Hafer wrote a series of articles to be published bimonthly in The Teaching Professor through May 2019.

His articles tackle the subject of clarifying assignment goals for both students and faculty members. This concept first caught Hafer’s attention due to the importance of assignments as a vehicle for course content. When approached by Weimer, who he knew from serving on the editorial board for The Teaching Professor, Hafer jumped at the opportunity to create a template for faculty members to follow when writing assignments.

Rather than writing these pieces as formal journal articles, Hafer and Weimer approached assignment-writing from a dialogue-driven perspective. In their dialogue, Hafer discusses his interdisciplinary template as a tool to assist professors in writing clear assignments and to bridge the communication gap between students and their teachers

“When faculty don’t specify the context, students (often incorrectly) supply it,” Hafer explained. “Writing is already hard enough, and when students have to guess at the context — what the teacher wants — that adds another layer of difficulty.”

Hafer completed both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree at Kutztown University of Pennsylvania before pursuing his doctoral degree at Purdue University. In his current position at Lycoming College, he teaches writing to students of all disciplines and has had research regarding writing instruction appear in College English, Journal of Developmental Education, The Teaching Professor, and Computer and Composition. He has also published multiple books, his most recent titled “Embracing Writing: Ways to Teach Reluctant Writers in All Disciplines.”

For more information, visit The Teaching Professor online at

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