Supplemental Resources: Supporting Student Learning

Supporting Student Writers


Sharing Student Work As Exemplars

Sample student permissions sheets (opens in new tab)Showing students samples of effective work within a genre can lead to more productive and transparent conversations about your course assessments as well as about the forms of communication practiced in your discipline.  Before you share a past student essay or assignment with future students, it is important to ask for that student’s permission to do so. This handout includes examples of two different permissions sheets of varying scopes.

Supporting Multilingual Writers

A two-part article we’d recommend: “How Faculty in All Disciplines Can Help ESL Writers Succeed” in the UW Writing Center’s Another Word blog:

  • In Part 1, Karen Best describes some of the many strengths multilingual writers bring to the table as well as some of the challenges that many English language learners face, anchoring some of these points in statistics about our community here at UW-Madison.
  • In Part 2, Best provides specific guidance about how to support ELL students’ learning

The Writing Across the Curriculum program at the UW-Madison Writing Center also has an excellent list of resources for supporting multilingual writers. Some highlights:


Helping Students Avoid Plagiarism

For Instructors

Jennifer Gonzales’s “Teaching Students to Avoid Plagiarism” highlights five activities instructors can use to help students learn about the ethics of intellectual property and how to summarize effectively.

Similarly, in “A Positive Solution for Plagiarism” (The Chronicle of Higher Education), Jeff Karon discusses some common pitfalls in the ways that instructors discuss plagiarism with students and outlines ways to prevent plagiarism from happening in the first place.

For Students

The UW-Madison Writing Center’s “Quoting and Paraphrasing” resource page/handout provides excellent student-facing language and examples of different kinds of plagiarism, teaching students the difference between legitimate paraphrase on the one hand and wholesale or patchwork plagiarism on the other.

The UW-Madison Libraries have a tutorial on plagiarism that it is possible to embed into Canvas.


Providing Feedback on Student Writing

Constructive Feedback

In his 1989 article, “Learning To Praise,” Donald Daiker outlines some strategies for using praise as a productive teaching tool. MTLE Fellows can access Daiker’s article here. (Opens in new tab – requires UW credentials)

Providing Feedback About Local-Level Issues–(grammar, etc.)

As Brad Hughes of the UW Writing Center reminds us, it’s important to distinguish between global-level issues and local-level issues in student writing. It’s best to focus your feedback on the aspects of student writing that relate to your primary goals for an assignment. (In other words, if your goal is to assess students’ content knowledge or their ability to apply a theoretical principle to a real-world problem, it’s best to provide most of your feedback about those concerns rather than spending much ink correcting how students use commas.)

Sometimes, however, you may find that local-level issues in a student’s writing affect their ability to communicate effectively within your academic context. Some instructors choose to recommend tools like Grammarly to students in such circumstances. Before doing so, we recommend familiarizing yourself with some of the caveats that Dorothy Mayne of the UW-Madison Writing Center considers in her post Revisiting Grammarly: An Imperfect Tool for Final Editing.”

Helping Students Access Paywalled Resources

Navigating Research Materials

In this section, we include student-facing language you can adapt to your own purposes.

Browser PluginsUnPaywall, the Open Access Button, and LazyScholar are internet browser extensions that search for legal, publicly available versions of academic articles. They can’t find every article, but they can often find preprints, post-prints, or articles legally hosted on authors’ institutional repositories.

Library Resources: If you’re having trouble locating a source, our library may be able to help you access it. Our UW-Madison libraries even provide a virtual chat resource that you can use to ask for assistance.

  • If you or someone close to you is ever looking for a way to access scholarly materials without having access to a UW-Madison library login, Jake Orlowitz provides a detailed overview of ways to access public library repositories as well as online databases in his article “You’re a Researcher Without a Library: What Do You Do?

Reaching Out to Academic Journal Authors: Some academic journals don’t allow scholars to host the journal articles they have written outside of the journal’s webpage, but the journals do permit those authors to share their work with people who ask them individually.

If you’re interested in reaching out, it’s a good idea to be polite, direct, and succinct. Aim for a brief email that clearly expresses your reason for contacting them. (Avoid describing the contents of your writing project in so much detail that the author might misinterpret your intention as a request for them to weigh in on your claims.)

Remember that the author might be traveling for a conference or a family responsibility and that it might be a particularly hectic time during their semester. If they don’t reply promptly or at all, it’s likely an unintended slight.

A Sample Contact Letter

Dear Dr. Brontë,

My name is Rosa Budd and I am an undergraduate student at Gradgrind College. I am writing to ask whether you would be willing to share a copy of your paper “Brooding and Rude-ing: Morose Masculinity in Nineteenth-Century Britain” with me.

I am researching for a paper about representations of second marriages in Victorian novels and am especially interested in your article’s discussion of Jane Eyre. However, our library at Gradgrind College does not provide access to the journal Victorian Fiction from 1847 or to databases that hold that journal. In many cases, journals permit scholars to share articles they have written with people who contact them, and I was hoping that you might be willing to do so as well.

I would be happy to answer any questions you may have on the matter, as would Professor Charles Dickens (


Rosa Budd




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MTLE Resources Copyright © by Christian Castro; Naomi Salmon; and Madison Teaching and Learning Excellence is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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