One Product for Multiple Classes?

Grant Wiggins recently shared a post from the New York Times “Can I Use the Same Paper for Multiple College Courses?” that speaks to the complexity that is academia. The essence of the article is addressing this question:

When I was in college, I’d sometimes write a single paper that would satisfy assignments in more than one course. For instance, I once wrote a paper on how “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” expressed satire; I submitted it for assignments in both my poetry course as well as my completely separate satire course. I did not disclose this to either professor. When I share this with people, half call the practice cheating, and the other half call it genius. My niece told me it would certainly be grounds for expulsion at her college. In my mind, I was adding a level of intellectual complexity to my studies. Was this an ethical practice, or was I cheating? JOE, CONNECTICUT

This topic resonates with me from the perspective of blogfolios and a question I raised with our teachers: if a student decides to write a single blog post for both English III and US History, what would your reaction be to the student having one post for two assignments?

The initial reactions and subsequent topics vary, but there is an overwhelming excitement about student showing this level of transfer. Just think, for decades, we’ve tried to structure cross-discipline thinking and here students are doing it on their own. Is it for efficiency more than for cross-disciplinary views? Perhaps… okay, probably. However, this doesn’t dismiss the fact that it is happening.

So what say you about one product for multiple classes?




  1. Jeff11-19-2013

    Great question– I think I have two answers:
    1) Do these two classes have separate prompts/rubrics/evaluation methods/whatever which are specific, rigorous and grounded in the course content? If so, and a student created a post which addressed the ideas in both, bravo! I’d absolutely accept it. Saying “you have to write something different just because you need to do more work” is a waste of my time and the student’s.
    2) Were the prompts so generic or the rubrics so vague that there’s no root in the content, or the big ideas, or the essential understandings? If it was “write a blog post about Abraham Lincoln,” then there’s no interdisciplinary thinking, only laziness on the part of the teacher in creating a bar so low that it can be satisfied with somebody else’s assessment. I guess I’d still have to accept it, but with great shame brought upon my own head for wasting an opportunity to create a quality assessment.

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