Published: April 2, 2015

Catherine KunceCatherine Kunce Catherine Kunce’s first year writing students create their own Public Service Announcement videos.  Kunce, a CU Boulder Program for Writing and Rhetoric Senior Instructor, planned this feature of her course with the support of the Fall 2014 ASSETT Teaching with Technology Seminar.

Watch Kunce discuss her project here:

I want the capstone project for my first­ year writing classes to improve in quality.  The assignment has students, working in teams, design a project that supports a concern/s of an “adopted” student organization.  For example, students “adopting” (meaning studying, via texts, interviews, and interactions with organization activities) the student-­run Gay Straight Alliance, can produce a poster, film, or give assistance to a sponsored event.  (Earlier assignments relate to learning about or advocating for the students groups, which are elected by the class members.)

The results sometimes are disappointing.  Students frequently choose to work on the easiest “product,” a poster.  Students that work on more time-­consuming ventures, such as a short film, generally do not have time to produce the high­-quality and rhetorically informed work that I expect.

Using the ideas promoted in our ASSETT readings, I would like to revise the assignment so that students can maximize the opportunities to learn inherent in the assignment.


Excellent final projects (one to two minute Public Service Announcements‐‐PSAs‐‐ posted to YouTube).

Course Details

This assignment is for first‐year writing classes, WRTG 1150, which I teach once a semester, one or two classes, 20 students each.  Their final project is a capstone assignment, used once for the semester.  I want the plan to be implemented for all first‐year writing courses.

The plan will include:

  1. Better temporal planning
  2. Use of D2L-delivered lectures on designing films (by Dave Underwood)
  3. Smaller assignments that build on skills to produce better PSA’s
  4. Model lower stakes assignments by making one myself.

The Plan

I need to start students on producing the capstone PSAs much earlier in the semester.  To that end, I will have them start assessing PSAs on YouTube., even before their own topics for the PSA have been determined.  One assignment will have students view and comment on five PSAs on You Tube‐‐they will deliver their assessments via video.  I will model the assignment by delivering a video instructional guide to the class.

The rubric I have in place for determining the grading of the projects needs to be improved, although only slightly. So, if scores on the assignment improve, this will indicate that their products (Public Service Announcements) have improved.  I also plan to ask a colleague (Petger Schaberg)  to show me his measures of film production excellence.

I am also thinking of having students track the number of hits on YouTube‐‐but I have to think about this a bit.

I will also ask students to critique my “model” PSA‐‐which is  a video that discusses what I want them to do for the “Assessing Public Service Announcements” assignment.  I’m going to try to make this at home on my own.  Then I can have Caroline and/or Amanda critique it before submitting it.

In this project, the proof will be in the pudding.  The goal of the doing changing my approach to  teaching how to produce much more effective PSAs will show up in improved quality.  I will also have students evaluate the other PSA, using the evaluation guides offered throughout the semester.