Writing Resources for
Departments, Teachers, & Students

Low Stakes Writing

Low stakes writing is any writing students do in or out of class that is either not graded at all or graded only minimally (e.g., plus, check, minus, or done, not done).

What can low stakes writing do for you and for your students?

Types of low stakes writing

Engagement writing improves engagement with readings by activating prior knowledge and can bridge the academic-personal experience gap by encouraging personal stakes. Examples include:

Exploration writing deepens students' initial understanding of material and sets the stage for strong group work and class discussion. Examples include:

Trial-run writing gives students practice in transferring general writing skills to disciplinary contexts. It allow students to gain experience in new forms without fear of failure and assures instructors that students are not plagiarizing. Examples include:

Metacognitive writing provides feedback to the instructor on what students are (or are not) learning while also building students' self-assessment skills. It promotes stronger learning by making students conscious of their strengths and weaknesses. Examples include:

Whatever else, all written work you assign should be authentic, well-motivated, and classroom-validated. Authentic assignments are those which serve a recognizable purpose that students can understand and accept. While you don't have to read through all the low stakes writing assignments students generate during the course, you can validate them by having students share their writing in groups as a way to start class discussion, summarize a few points made in some of the assignments to the whole class, or establish a portfolio system to credit students for all the writing they've done at the end of the course.