I haven't talked about my Writing in Psychology class as much as I thought I might this spring, but I just gave my class an assignment that I hope will turn out interesting.
I told them I wanted them to write a "tip article" directed at a novice writer. In other words, I asked them to write an advice column/essay about writing. Tell someone else what you think is an important thing, or the important thing(s), that someone new to writing should know. I hope this will really make them think about what we've covered so far this semester and about whether it was good advice or not.
I did this last time I taught this class as well, several years ago, and I got some really good pieces. I even edited two of the papers and published them in my Writer's Block column for The Illuminata. Those students were very excited to see their names in print, and those papers deserved to be there once they were given a bit of editing.
I didn't mention this to my current class, but if I get some good articles I might do the same this year. It all depends on what I get. The fact is, writing out one's thoughts remains one of the best ways to truly understand and clarify one's thinking. It also helps you learn the material better. It's why I started writing articles about writing in the first place, so that I could myself understand what was important about the act of writing. And it's why the core of ideas that I first explore here on the blog sometimes get written up more formally later for my column.
I sometimes think I don't really understand anything until I can write about it. How about you?