5 Things Profs Want to See from Student Writing 

You may have never learned how to write a research paper in high school. That all changes when you get to college because papers are the best way for a professor to gauge how much you’ve learned in a course.

Because of this, it’s going to be important for you to understand what your professor wants to see from your paper.

Professors aren’t often asked what they’d like to see from student writing, but that changes today.

Here are the top five things your professor wants to see in your paper, but be forewarned: this is not an exhaustive list, so take the time to pay attention to your professor to ensure you give them the best paper they’ve ever written.

1. Examine the Rubric

Professors want all students to understand the assignment; that’s why rubrics are handed out for each assignment. They are the guidelines for everything from lab assignments to research papers, so take the time to read over the rubric.

These are given to you to help you, not your professor.

If you do have questions about the rubric, don’t hesitate to ask your professor. Chances are, they’ll appreciate that you asked about an assignment before turning it in. It can even lead them to clarify the assignment for the entire class.

And, in the end, you will have saved yourself some confusion and stress when trying to complete the assignment.

2. Pay attention to Grammar, Usage, and Mechanics

You’re not in high school anymore, so learn to take grammar and usage seriously. This goes for mechanics as well, because all of these aspects of your papers are important, especially to your professor who has the task of reading it.

Take the time to proofread and edit your paper before turning it in. Make sure you’re using grammar correctly and are using terms and concepts correctly.

If you need extra help, head to your college’s writing center and ask for a peer edit of your paper; this way, you can get help understanding mechanics and usage without having your professor point it out to you when your paper is graded.

3. Demonstrate You’ve Been Reading and Paying Attention

If you haven’t been reading or paying attention in class, this will become abundantly clear to your professor as they read your paper. There’s no running away from the fact that you haven’t been paying attention when you’re writing a research paper based on what you learned in class, so pay attention.

This doesn’t mean that you should memorize facts and input them into your research paper; it means actually read and understand the material, ask questions, and then write a paper that showcases you’ve been paying attention.

This will garner you a better grade and respect from your professor, not to mention help you out in more advanced courses that touch on the same material.

4. Show Intentional Thought About the Subject Matter Related to the Class

Professors are not interested in students repeating what they’ve learned in class; it’s important to input your own ideas and perspective about concepts. This shows that you’ve internalized the lessons and have come up with your own ideas around what you’ve learned.

Take the time to do additional research on your own perspective. Add it to your paper with supporting ideas that you learned in class. This shows initiative, something that your professor is always glad to see.

5. Use Correct Formatting for the Paper

Formatting is the one guideline that students seem to forget most often; it is also a source of frustration with professors. In fact, many professors at some of the best online colleges make it a point to tell their students at the beginning of every course that if the correct format is not used for papers, it can lead to a failing grade.

Students should be mindful of formatting guidelines for this reason alone.

There are reasons why formatting guidelines exist: first, professors want to ensure that all papers are formatted the same way to save them time when grading.

Second, college formatting guidelines are generally universal and therefore taking the time to look them over will make it much easier for students who must write a lot of papers for their courses. Third, and lastly, these guidelines make papers to read.

Take the time to read the guidelines before and after you write your paper. It will save you and your professor a lot of aggravation, especially considering that most professors use guidelines as part of the grading rubric.

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