How to engage students with writing—a toolkit

The purpose of this toolkit is to help McGill instructors to integrate more writing in their courses, regardless of discipline or class size. It includes guidelines on how to design assignments that are more interesting for you and your students and ideas on how to assess student work and provide comments in efficient ways.

It also contains a section with example assignments from McGill professors together with some ideas on how these assignments could be adjusted to different contexts.

A Note from the Director of the McGill Writing Centre

Why would I want to integrate writing in my courses?

Design of Writing Assignments

What are the characteristics of engaging assignments? What should I consider when designing an assignment?

Commenting on Student Work

How can I improve the feedback process? What makes feedback effective?


How can I grade more efficiently? Should I be using a rubric? If so, how do I design a rubric that works for me?

McGill Examples

View sample assignments from McGill professors, complete with comments from the professors and some ideas on how to adapt the assignments to different contexts (different disciplines, class size, etc.).


Bean, J. C. (2011). Engaging ideas: The Professor's Guide to Integrating Writing, Critical thinking, and Active Learning in the Classroom. (2nd ed.) San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Graff , G., Birkenstein, C., & Durst, R. (2011). They Say/I Say: The Moves that Matter in Academic Writing with Readings. (2nd ed.) New York: Norton.

McGill University is on land which has long served as a site of meeting and exchange amongst Indigenous peoples, including the Haudenosaunee and Anishinabeg nations. We acknowledge and thank the diverse Indigenous people whose footsteps have marked this territory on which peoples of the world now gather.

L'Université McGill est sur un emplacement qui a longtemps servi de lieu de rencontre et d'échange entre les peuples autochtones, y compris les nations Haudenosaunee et Anishinabeg. Nous reconnaissons et remercions les divers peuples autochtones dont les pas ont marqué ce territoire sur lequel les peuples du monde entier se réunissent maintenant.