How Instructors Shape DSP

How Instructors Shape DSP

Because Sweetland believes that good assessment is always connected to instruction, we are eager to have instructors from WRITING 100, WRITING 120 and a wide range of FYWR courses involved in the ongoing development and improvement of the DSP process. Since the University of Michigan’s DSP procedures were revamped in 2009, instructors have helped shape the DSP in the following ways:

  • Nominating and voting on the article that students will read for that year’s DSP.
  • Providing ideas for and feedback on drafts of the prompt for the DSP essay.
  • Contributing activities and assignments to our growing list of ways to use the DSP essays in the classroom.
  • Providing feedback on the DSP process through instructor surveys and during trainings.
  • Serving on the DSP Committee, which convenes each winter to review and improve the DSP process for the coming year.

Although the emphasis in any writing course should be on writing, instructor input increases the likelihood that the DSP article selection will be of broad relevance to students in a variety of courses. Additionally, feedback from instructors has led to the development of prompts that ask students to engage with texts and to formulate arguments in ways valued by instructors at U-M. To see our archive of past prompts, click the grey links below. To become involved in shaping the DSP, contact Sweetland Director Anne Gere at

Archive of Past DSP Articles & Prompts

Fall 2012

by Jonah Lehrer

Summarize and analyze Jonah Lehrer’s article “Groupthink.” Present your analysis as a persuasive essay, using evidence from the article to support your claims about the information and ideas that Lehrer lays out.

Fall 2011

“Mind vs. Machine”
by Brian Christian
The Atlantic
March, 2011

In “Mind vs. Machine,” Brian Christian surveys several perspectives on what it means to be human. For instance, at one point he writes that “being human (and being oneself) is about more than simply showing up,” and at another that the ability to be “zany, a jokester, [is] a much more ‘human’ personality type.” Read the article carefully, and pay close attention to the many perspectives it presents on what it means to be human. Then, select one of these perspectives and — drawing on evidence from the article, as well as your own experience and/or other texts you have read — take a position on it. Do you agree with it or not, and why? How does other evidence from the article complicate your position?

Fall 2010

“Robots that Care"
by Jerome Groopman
The New Yorker
November 2, 2009

In 2010, we rely on machines for many of our daily activities. Some argue that this reliance on machines can enhance our lives. Others argue that it may diminish human interactions. Both views are expressed in the article you’ve read, “Robots That Care.” Based on evidence from the article and your own views, write an argument that addresses the question: “What role should machines play in our lives?”

Fall 2009

“Most Likely to Succeed”
by Malcolm Gladwell
The New Yorker
December 15, 2008

Analyze Gladwell's proposal on how to select and retain teachers in the United States, and argue for or against his proposal using evidence from the article.