Assignment Scaffolding. Centre for Teaching and Learning (Skene and Fedko)

“Play the Way You Face” (Jones)

“Teaching Students to Write a Case Study” (Lang)



Scaffold an assignment sequence for one of your existing or forthcoming courses, or a workshop. Be sure to include details related to technology use and interpretation.



Example 1

An outline of the scaffolded project in steps:

1. students read the text individually

2. write a reflection on the text – quick free-write activity (Peter Elbow’s looped writing) in class and share with a partner

3. bloom and fade with TEI : a small passage of text to teach them how to close read and tag for markup.

4. have students, in groups, read and assess sections of the text to be encoded – what are the important themes, etc? create a mind map or something.

5. regroup, compare, and collectively create a schema for the TEI – what to encode, what to mark up, what is important

6. students assigned a chapter/section to encode using the schema

7. combine all chapters into one .xml document for student groups to access – each group can manipulate the .xslt

8. each group takes the .xml and does their own version of display using .xslt

9. compare initial free-write to final digitized text – Do the themes align? How did your initial interpretations compare to later ones? To the final product? A meta-reflective piece developed by the group as an introduction to the digitized edition.

10. present findings as group to the class – panel-style. Write-ups published online with the digital edition.

11. because the class is so focused on TEI, maybe it should be a more integral component of course – more than one workshop or day devoted to getting familiar with TEI

12. balance of ‘traditional’ classroom and lab work

13. students will use a template – instructor makes resources readily available

14. the professor is the one who plugs the themes into the schema and does the more complex TEI legwork

15. good times!


Example 2

Resurrecting Perkin Warbeck: A Course in Romantic Women Writing and Digital Text Preservation

Steps of Project:
introduce students to the concepts (textual analysis, reasons for choosing text for digitization, advantages to digitizing, what are attendant developed skills, what are anticipated challenges)
Introduce students to wiki platform (closed) and project blog insight journaling. Establish minimum requirements for wiki entries, for blogs, timeline, evaluation criteria, rules for the road in terms of how to interact with one another
read chapter by chapter as a large group-two week discussion novel. Begin making entries to the
during class periods brainstorm annotation categories and assign groups annotation tasks: character themes setting. These categories can be added to as the semester and project develops
Move forward with chapter by chapter discussion with different groups bringing online their contribution to the digital translation
Students contribute insight journals throughout the process


Example 3

Assignment- history of the book course for librarians

tracing book from papyrus to e-book-
6 week history
6 week public library or academic
what is an ebook?
Prompt- how do you define a book?
first assigment- post a picture of what you think a book is to our class blog and be prepared to describe why you picked it in class (5 minutes)
week two- discuss history- parts of a book- visit rare books and look at illuminated manuscripts
find an online edition of canterbury tales and post a linked image to the blog.

Pick three different online editions and discuss:

1. how does the digitization effect the reader experience

2. does it have images or just text

3. what can we do with each edition

use blog throughout as a place for a “parking lot” for future questions- (licensing, access, etc.)


Example 4

Class: A Micro-History of WWII

Students will use three types of materials: a Canadian teenage soldier’s letters, Anne Frank’s diary, a memoir of an ordinary German. Key questions that will be addressed during this class: What is history? How do we understand history? How do we narrate history?

Learning Outcomes

1. Students bring curatorial practices into their organization and evaluation of the material

2. Students engage with a variety of critical approaches to different historical textual materials

3. Students discover how different genres and reading practices impact and shape the understanding and analysis of certain materials

4. Students learn to effectively manage, organize, and share workload on a large collaborative project

Students will be split into groups, each group working with a different type of material. Within the groups, students will work individually on different pieces of the texts, and collaborate on the larger assignments.

Stages of the Project
– Transcription of the text – Wiki
– Timeline of surrounding historical contexts – Prezi
– Creation of family web using tool of their choice (they evaluate the tool they choose)
– Digital edition of selection from the text containing annotations, explications, illustrations – WordPress site
– Conference-style day where groups present their work to each other – multimedia presentation
– Individuals write a scholarly essay , and a scholarly introduction to the text that situates text in its genre, explains a theoretical approach, and makes a compelling argument about key concerns in the text – WordPress site


Example 5

This is for a course where students ask questions about why we’re in college, where they investigate certain topics about our university and its history, and tie this to larger questions about our societal narratives about the purposes and ends of university education. They are to write a collaborative essay based on research out of the university archives about these questions. At the end of the semester, they present these in a colloquium sponsored by their residential college, in front of both their classmates and peers more generally.

These are the notes we took, the things we would do, things to consider, tools to use:

Pulling together resources lists/references

Deadlines all throughout

Training in using finding aides

Some marriage of group responsibility and individual responsibility

Lit Review–first step

Annotated bibliography–as second or third step

Tie all this to a critical question, that oversees the whole of the scaffolded assignments.

Reflection journal/blog–something off to the side, something that parallels everything else; this is a space that allows them to work through the visceral, feeling part of their reactions–and then move to a critical engagement/reflection.

Peer evaluations; have them self-asses their group product and the contributions of themselves and others. Do this throughout, at several points.

We provide theme (rather than topic):

Build bibliography

Asses the bibliography

Identify the core/most relevant topics–and write something that evaluates these topics

Compare notes between groups–EndNote Refworks

Generate research questions–what do they really want to ask/argue

The three rhetorical essays they’re working on–base them out of this project, have them identity the texts that they’re going to going to analyze.

Mindmap / Bibliographic Utility–RefWorks, etc. / Google Docs / Blackboard for the reflection / Wiki for the collaboration (but not for the reflection)–pbWiki, mediaWiki / Creating something for the public/to be archived/preserved/published


Example 6

Creating a Mini Digital Anthology

This assignment would be built for a literature based DH course. The ambition of this assignment is to understand how works are selected for a critical anthology and to understand the editorial principles that inform the textbooks they have been assigned.

Students will be working both individually and collaboratively. Students will be broken into groups of 3 and assigned an author. Each student will be responsible for the selection of three poems. The anthology will end up including approximately 12 poets with 9 poems from each writer.

1. ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY (independent); select 3 critical resources on your author. Following proper citation style, create a full citation with a short, paragraph long summary of each resource and its relevance to the author or themes you selected for your edition.
2. critical biographical intro
3. footnotes and explication (historicization, definitions, social and legal contexts)
4. Editorial principles and selections (how and why did you pick what you did? what did you leave out?)
5. Peer review of editorial principles carried by the other 2 in group
6. Pick 3 poems as a group based on a shared set of criteria that is collaboratively determined

A wiki is a tool that would support the assignment because it is a shared resource that allows each student access to all editions. The wiki is useful as a study-tool and learning how to create and use a wiki extends past the classroom.


Example 7

II: Close and Distant Reading
NB: This is incomplete because we spent a great deal of time mulling over the fact that we know few tools and platforms and have little sense of how to evaluate their utility.
Goal: Students will use close reading and distant reading strategies intentionally to examine three texts to which Raymond Williams alludes in the first section of his essay, “Ideas of Nature.”
Select close reading and distant reading for the different components of this assignment. Select the strategy that will be most effective at each point in the assignment and be prepared to explain your choice.

Use digital visualization tools like Voyant to search “nature” in Rastell and Medwall

Use Shakespeare concordance for King Lear: try several and compare


Example 8:

concept for scaffold: Gathering primary/field research data

what would define success: Students feel that they create new

knowledge through synthesis of source material (textual, visual, or otherwise)

assignment description: Students will report their findings from primary research, which could include anything such as informal email interviews, brief online surveys, primary textual analysis, and visual sources. By requiring primary research, we will emphasize the value of creating new knowledge beyond that which is “looked up” through library documentation.

Image courtesy of Iestyn Gruffud