Reframing the Final Paper: Alternative and Creative Assignments

Writing is a central aspect of academic life. As instructors, we regularly assign essays, compositions, proposals, annotated bibliographies, and final papers. There are, however, alternatives or accompaniments to these written assignments that may accomplish similar goals. Podcasts, zines, timelines, and other creative assignments allow students to produce artifacts with broad audiences in mind, and to acquire knowledge and transferable skills that they can use throughout their lives and careers. These approaches also can invigorate the writing that students do in their courses and, by allowing alternative paths to engage with course material, may facilitate deeper connections with our fields.

In this workshop we will explore how we might channel the goals of the traditional writing assignment into more creative projects. We will work together to imagine assignments that combine multiple modalities and skills and/or allow students to create public-facing artifacts. And, we’ll discuss how to assess and evaluate such projects.

Attendees are encouraged to bring a traditional written assignment to workshop with the group that they’d like to modify.

This workshop was offered in Spring 2020 as an in-person workshop at the Graduate Center, CUNY. The workshop and materials were developed by Inés Vañó García.


All materials on this page and in the linked google folder are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike (CC-BY-SA) 4.0 International Public License.

This folder contains outreach materials, workshop plans, slides and accessible assignments as models/examples.

Materials Folder: Reframing the Final Paper: Alternative and Creative Assignments Workshop

Workshop Plan

Introductions (5-10 min.)

  • Name
  • Program
  • Course
  • Goals/Expectations 

Warm-up questions (10-15 min.) 

  • In your experience, what are the advantages and constraints/limitations of traditional writing assignments?
  • What type of alternative and creative assignments do we envision in our courses? What are the  advantages and constraints/limitations of these types of assignments?
  • Do you have a written assignment that you plan on redesign during this workshop? Tell us a little bit more about it.

Exploration Stage (20-25 min.): Presentation of models/examples & discussion

Assignment (20-25min.):

  • Final artifact: podcast, zine, timelines, video, installations, multi-modal essays – (be ready with examples)
  • Assignment (Re)Design:
    • Goal(s) of the assignment (skills)
    • Scaffolding of the assignment
    • Assessment
    • Final product and audience

Puesta en común (15 min.)