This week’s WAC-friendly highlighted assignment
Professor: Karen Goodlad
Assignment: Visit and critique a wine retail store
Students were asked to visit a wine store and review specific aspects of the store in a 1½ to 2-page report. The report had to include whether or not the store’s layout was organized in a customer-friendly manner, whether wines were organized by region of origin, the price range of wines on sale, as well whether the store was offering any promotions. Students were also required to provide an evaluation of the store by suggesting some improvements the store could make in the future.
What WAC principle(s) does this assignment exemplify?
This assignment asks students to apply topics and concepts they cover in class and apply them to the real world. It also requires students use their analytical thinking skills by asking students to propose improvements the store could make in order to be more successful. This kind of writing assignment goes beyond asking students to describe the store. It makes them think about how and why the store is set up a certain way, as well as think about the degree to which particular setup is effective. Professor Goodlad’s students took the opportunity to provide the stores they visited with helpful critiques in their essays. Some students suggested that their stores expand because the space felt cramped, while others applauded their stores’ regional and international selections and knowledgeable/friendly staffs. The students presented lucid descriptions as well as helpful and practical evaluations and suggestions.
Students posted their assignments to the course’s OpenLab site, allowing for potential discussion about their assignments further down the road. Such discourse is helpful because it provides potential for meaningful interaction with and clarification/elaboration by the author.
How might this type of assignment be used in other courses across the curriculum?
Applying course concepts to real world situations and subsequently evaluating them can be beneficial in almost any course. Assignments such as this allow students to see how their course content can be useful for them apart from the academy, which is where the majority of them will spend their careers. Such assignments would be particularly useful in more theoretical classes where the course content is ephemeral or abstract. Affording students the opportunity to conduct an assignment similar to Professor Goodlad’s would help students interact substantively with potentially abstract course material.