These students’ anxiety or sense of fatalism about writing may impede their ability to perform effectively.Give students the opportunity to practice writing in situations where the grading stakes are low.

Use low-stakes writing assignments to build the skills and confidence students will need for more heavily weighted assignments, like formal papers, research projects, etc.

Emphasize to students that low-stakes assignments provide them with the practice and feedback they will need to perform well on higher-stakes assignments.

Further, let’s imagine the opinion is expressed in an at least minimally professional manner (whatever you take that to involve; unprofessional would be, for example, the professor screaming the opinion at a student).

Additionally, let’s assume that we do not want our students to feel intimidated.

For a research paper, for example, you might ask first for a proposal or statement of intention in which the student must articulate the purpose of the paper (who will you try to convince of what? At a slightly later stage, you might ask for a list of relevant bibliographic resources, then for an argument, clearly stated in 1-2 sentences.

Breaking the assignment down into smaller pieces can help demystify it for students.

Structure into your course short assignments that are un-graded (but required) or assignments that have a pass/fail grade or a low overall point value.

Low-stakes assignments give students the opportunity to practice writing skills without the stress of high-stakes assignments.

However, research indicates that detailed margin comments are not always effective for improving student performance.