Prompt Analysis for Genre Awareness*
To the students: As you prepare to write, revise, and edit, consider these questions, particularly if you are given a writing task in your academic classroom:
[Note: If you cannot answer these questions from the task you have been given, how do you find out the answers?]
- GENRE NAME: What is this text called (its genre name)? What do you already think you know about what a text from this genre looks and ‘sounds’ like? For example, how should the text be organized? What kind of language do you need to use?
- PURPOSE: What are you supposed to DO as a writer when completing this task? Are you asked to make an argument? To inform? To describe or list?
- CONTEXT: If you are writing this task in, or for, a classroom, what do you know about the context? What does the discipline require for a text? Under what conditions will you be writing? For example, are you writing a timed, in-class response?
- WRITER’S ROLE: Who are you supposed to BE in this prompt? A knowledgeable student? Someone else?
- AUDIENCE: Is your audience specified? If it is your instructor, what are his or her expectations and interests? What goals for students does the instructor have?
- CONTENT: What are you supposed to write about? Where do you find this content? In your textbook? In lectures? Are you supposed to relate what you have heard or read in some way?
- SOURCES: What, and how many, sources are you supposed to draw from to write your text? Have the sources been provided in the class? Are you supposed to look elsewhere? Are the sources primary or secondary?
- OTHER SPECIFICATIONS: What else do you know about the requirements for this text? How long should it be? What referencing style (MLA, APA) should you use? What font type?
- ASSESSMENT: How will your paper be graded? What does the instructor believe is central to a good response? How do you know? If you don’t know, how can you find out?
- MAKING THE TEXT YOUR OWN: What about the paper you write can be negotiated with the instructor? Can you negotiate the topic? The types of sources used? The text structure? If you can negotiate your assignment, it might be much more interesting to you.
* Created and published in Johns, A. M. (2008). Genre awareness for the novice academic student: An on-going quest. Language Teaching, 41(2), 237-252.