SSW draws on extensive research on strategy instruction to understand how to help students develop self-regulated strategies. Students actively construct their understanding of strategies through the activities in the curriculum. For students to understand the purpose and value of the strategies in the current class, in future courses, and in work experiences, it is critical that the writing tasks be meaningful writing assignments, not exercises. At the same time, students need clear instruction, and we do not assume that they understand the requirements of college writing. Instruction is provided through a carefully planned combination of discussion, explanation, modeling, collaborative writing, peer review, and reflection in journals.
Instruction in a new genre begins with discussion of the purposes of the genre in varied social contexts and collaborative evaluation of good and weak examples. The examples represent good and weak student writing, not professional texts; students are introduced to the genre-specific rubric through this activity. Next, the instructor briefly explains and then models the strategy using think-aloud modeling – working at the board or computer applying the strategy to plan and write an essay while verbalizing the thought processes. After that, the instructor and students collaboratively apply the strategy, with the students supplying all the content, and the instruction supporting use of the strategy. Students then write their own essays with guided support from the instructor as needed. The instructor then prepares students for peer review with collaborative evaluation of essays by unknown peers; students then conduct peer reviews and revise their essays. Instructors provide an editing lesson and students do further editing. See Key Pedagogical Methods.