FASTrack Learning Community

Foundations for Academic Success Track

Harvard’s Nancy Sommers Touts FASTrack

Designing Thoughtful Writing Assignments

During my travels this semester, I came across engaging assignments at the University of Mississippi. . . . These assignments provide opportunities for students to enter public conversations as fellow participants, with something to gain and much to give.

In the University of Mississippi’s Foundations for Academic Success Track (FASTrack) program, students take a research-writing course focused on the theme of community. Each of their assignments asks them to solve community problems and enter debates that demand real, immediate solutions.  The course culminates in the $100 Difference Project, which asks students to research a community problem, investigate organizations which attempt to address that problem, and propose how the organization might use $100 to make a difference.  In completing this assignment, students not only develop their authority as rhetoricians, but also use their research skills to make something happen in their community.

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Nancy Sommers is an adjunct Lecturer on Education at Harvard University.