Service Learning Composition Assignment Writing in the Real World Commitment:

Service Learning Composition Assignment
Writing in the Real World
Commitment: The instructor will query various community agencies providing service to
suggest writing tasks for students. Once an agency has identified a need, the instructor will
commit composition students to meet that need. Some examples are creating or updating a
pamphlet for the agency or researching a topic salient to the agency and providing a summary
report. Perhaps a local service organization doesn’t have a written history and could use help
documenting their contributions to the community. The task can be as large or small as the
agency and instructor agree. The purpose of the task should be clear: good writing relies on
meeting the aim, the purpose of the task.
Action: Students will complete the task via the writing process: pre-writing, writing, revising,
editing and publishing. It is best to seek response along the way from the agency, as that enables
students to understand the importance of audience. Seeking response from the agency also aids
students in seeing that real world writing often has deadlines, budget constraints, and choices to
be made about ink color and paper stock.
Reflection: Rather than have students writing about service work, their writing will be the
service work. Because the writing process is inherently a reflective activity, composition
pedagogy supports the artifact/product as sufficient reflection. Yet, having a discussion about
the challenges and rewards of managing and implementing the task would also serve as
reflection. Another reflection option is ending the project with a “celebration” highlighting both
the process and the product.
In Writing the Community Concepts and Models for Service Learning in Composition (2000:
126) the authors assert that a course should provide opportunities for students to function in the
discipline. The “Writing in the Real World” assignment enables composition students to be
writers as well as see writing’s importance to the community. Depending on the task, this
assignment might span several semesters and several different courses. For example, a freshman
English course might write the document and then technical writing students could complete the
The idea for this example was gleaned from American Association for Higher Education’s Writing the Community,