I implement a project management approach in my classes in order emphasize a number of tenets within Composition and Rhetoric, including writing as process, transparency, collaboration, and building transferable skills, while placing students in the driver seat of the learning process.
In this approach students, I use project management software (Trello) to position students as managers in charge of their assignments. Moreover, I use the software to structure daily lesson plans and assignments and facilitate collaborative work and communication. Using this digital tool to facilitate project management, students are able to break down larger research and writing projects into smaller, manageable tasks.
As pictured above, students see the topic of each day’s class, the in-class activities, the discussion topics, and the homework in one single view. Seeing the pieces built next to each other breaks the research and writing process down into concrete steps that require specific tasks, while simultaneously keeping the larger writing goal in view. Moreover, students learn this process alongside their peers as they can always view what others in the class have written. By instantly seeing each other’s work, the writing process becomes more transparent.
This platform also allows for reflective exercises to be seamlessly integrated. For example, in the image to the left students write short blogs to express their thoughts, frustrations, and successes in regards to their task of writing survey questions as a necessary genre in quantitative social science research. Again, students see that their own successes and struggles are similar to their classmates, helping them to combat feelings of isolation in the writing process.
Lastly, this project management approach allows students to collaborate in and outside of the classroom. Students create their own lists of task that need to be accomplished in group work, encouraging them to take ownership over the process and designate tasks to each other. With this group work, students use the software to become their own project managers. By taking a process oriented approach to writing and research through the use of project management tools, students are able to transfer this wide skill set to any number of disciplines. In fact, one of my students just used my writing course and his mastery of the Trello platform to demonstrate that he had the necessary skills to succeed as a project manager during a job interview.
Below are links to course material via my trello sites.
- Writing in the Social Sciences (First Year Composition Course)
- Writing the Digital Humanities (First Year Composition Course)