National Collegiate Honors Council


Date of this Version



Honors in Practice, 2021, Vol. 17:119–29


Copyright © 2021 National Collegiate Honors Council


This study presents a scaffold approach to building critical academic writing skills among honors students. Faced with limited instructional time, a reading-intensive curriculum, and students in need of rigorous writing instruction, a scaffold model was developed to include a series of condensed writing assignments called “Close Reading Responses.” Coupled with rubrics and guided peer review, these assignments allow for repetitive critical practice at various stages along a trajectory toward the final paper. Results indicate that this incremental, explicit form of writing instruction allows students to hone critical-thinking skills in a condensed manner without demanding that they produce (and instructors read) excessive volumes of writing. The author suggests that this method of writing instruction may prove useful for educators looking to empower and retain student writers (particularly those from educationally disadvantaged backgrounds) while keeping pace with content-rich curricula.