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Queen Mary Academy

Developing critical thinking and writing

Short writing tasks

Ideas to help students write for 3-5 minutes on a specific topic, without stopping and without talking. The main goal is to get students used to doing writing and thinking; they can be really helpful in getting them to think before they speak, to reflect on what has been said and to pay attention to their language (*Thinking Writing, QMUL)

Short writing tasks [PDF 40KB]


Unpacking an essay topic and making a statement (with guidelines for teachers)

Activity to introduce students to a way of thinking about what an assignment might be asking them to do; it aims to help them develop a sense of what possible evaluative statements or ‘claims’ they might make in a piece of writing (*Thinking Writing, QMUL)

Unpacking a question and making a statement [PDF 299KB] 


Beyond 'for and against' in argumentative writing:

Ideas to help students move from reporting arguments to showing a process of arguing in writing. They involve students in integrating different argumentative positions and simultaneously evaluating them (*Thinking Writing, QMUL, 2015)

Beyond for and against in argumentative writing [PDF 66KB]


Writing convincingly (with guidelines for teachers)

Activity to make students think about how the language they use (particularly the verbs and modifiers) can make their writing more or less convincing and credible (*Thinking Writing, QMUL)

Writing convincingly with guidelines [PDF 326KB]


Considering tone and style (with guidelines for teachers).

Activity to encourage students to think about the tone and style of a piece of writing and how that is connected to the audience and context (*Thinking Writing, QMUL)

Considering tone and style [PDF 219KB] 


Developing criticality

Presentation with ideas to help students develop criticality (*Thinking Writing, 2015)

Developing criticality [PDF 905KB]


Writing and Assessment (*Thinking Writing, QMUL)

Writing and assessment [PDF 123KB] 


Writing for Learning (*Thinking Writing, QMUL)

Writing for learning [PDF 118KB]


Integrating writing Toolkit (*Thinking Writing, QMUL)

Practical ideas, resources and case studies to help you develop your practice, whether you're designing a whole course or planning a class. It draws on some key claims about how writing can be used as part of the way you teach and help students learn in your discipline:

  1. Developing reasoning and argument
  2. Encouraging clarity
  3. Provoking critical engagement
  4. Clarifying assessments
  5. Making feedback productive
  6. Countering plagiarism
  7. Reading into writing
  8. Extended writing
  9. Time/space for writing
  10. Writing and employability

Integrating writing toolkit [PDF 427KB]


*Thinking Writing ( was part of Learning Development which in turn was part of Academic Development within Student and Academic Services at Queen Mary, University of London (2000-2019). Thinking Writing worked with academic colleagues and students around thinking and writing: thinking, writing, and thinking about writing.


Peer Assessment for Writing Skills: a case study from the School of Engineering and Materials Science (videos)

(Resource created byJens Mueller for the ADEPT website - 15/12/2015)

In this series of videos Dr Jens Mueller discusses his development of a peer assessment for writing skills, including the challenges involved, motivations for developing it and the students’ response.


Video: Technical Writing Guide. Prof Norman Fenton discusses the issue of good technical writing, the difficulties that people have, and the guide that he has written to help.


Video: Skeletal handouts. Dr Mark Carroll discusses the demand for handouts and explains why and how he uses skeletal handouts in lectures.


Video: Blogging. Dr Dominc Hurst talks about his use of blogging as a tool to engage and share with his students outside of the classroom.