Thinking and writing in the disciplines

A short list of texts that we in Thinking Writing have found to be a useful starting point for learning about the theory and practice of thinking and writing in the disciplines and in education more generally.

  • John C. Bean (1996). Engaging Ideas: The Professor’s Guide to Integrating Writing, Critical Thinking, and Active Learning in the Classroom. San Franscisco: Jossey-Bass

Engaging ideas, extremely practical and easy to read; deals with a wide range of writing goals, types of text and styles of writing from formal to informal, exams to one minute brainstorms and is laid out around suggestions for short activities that can be used with any kind of text. Accessible theoretical underpinning.

  • John Biggs (1999). Teaching for Quality Learning at University. SHRE/OUP

Accessible book which focuses on practical application of theory to teaching. The theoretical framework Biggs presents is constructive alignment, the notion that for learning to be most effective, teaching and learning activities, curriculum objectives and assessments need to be considered together both within and between courses. The focus on university level teaching, addresses challenges like very large classes, lack of time and increased student diversity; gives suggestions for staff to reflect on current practice and adapt what they do to maximise its benefit.

  • Wayne Booth et al. (1995). The Craft of Research. Chicago: University of Chicago Press

A detailed guide to working with research writing across disciplines, including refining a research question, making arguments and drafting and refining a text. The intended audience of the book is those who are conducting and writing up research themselves but it is also useful for lecturers who wish to deal with elements of the writing process in their teaching and course planning.

  • Caroline Coffin et al. (2003). Teaching Academic Writing: A Toolkit for Academic Writing. London: Routledge

Covers a range of issues connected to academic writing including writing in different disciplines, writing in an online environment, assessment and feedback, and writing processes. It includes examples of genuine student writing and activities for both students and teachers to try.

  • Jeffrey Kovac and Donna W. Sherwood (2001). Writing Across the Chemistry Curriculum. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall

A quick read which deals with the roles of writing within individual courses as well as with the larger curriculum. Focused on chemistry and sciences in general but their theoretical approach is applicable to all other disciplines; they give examples of activities for setting goals where writing supports disciplinary learning, and for setting and marking assignments.

  • Jonathan Monroe (ed.) (2002). Writing and Revising the Disciplines. Ithaca: Cornell University


  • Jeff Mason and Peter Washington (1992). The Future of Thinking. London: Routledge

Cogent description of how education came to be split into the binaries of skill vs. knowledge and tradition vs. innovation; they argue for a return to a pedagogy of rhetoric and argument where the ability to use language (and to write) and the development of knowledge are integrally connected. Their discussion derives mainly from literature and philosophy but their argument is relevant across disciplines.

  • Rob Pope (1995). Textual Intervention. London: Routledge

Strong focus on literature, aimed at courses that make meaning primarily through interpretation of texts, although could be useful for any teaching. There is a useful profile of ‘what the book is about and how to use it', and this together with the chapter aims and end of section summaries are good entry points into Pope's ideas. He also gives examples of activities with descriptions of how they worked in practice.