Outside the box

Incorporating high stakes creative writing assignments into non-major literature courses, a case study


  • Suzanne Cope St. John's University, 8000 Utopia Parkway, Queens, NY 11439




Assessment, High Stakes Creative Writing Assignment, Creative Writing, Literature Studies, Pedagogical Case Study


There has been little scholarly work looking at the use of creative writing pedagogy within non-creative writing courses. However, ‘Outside the box: Incorporating high stakes creative writing assignments into non-major literature courses, a case study’ demonstrates promising findings when incorporating high stakes creative writing assignments into the curriculum for core English literature courses. This article gives an overview of the Progressive history of ‘creative’ writing in the academy and then outlines contemporary sources that reference the burgeoning field of Creative Writing Studies and how creative writing pedagogy may be used more broadly in classrooms in a variety of disciplines. Then the case study details the assignments and experience of teaching a high stakes creative assignment in a non-major literature course at an undergraduate liberal arts institution. Using 25 representative student responses from among 50 total students over multiple semesters, the article concludes by asserting the findings that the inclusion of a high stakes creative assignment – in this case an original short story that is workshopped by peers and then revised – results in students who note increased confidence and creativity, and who state making connections between the relevance of writing instruction and workshopping to their lives outside of the classroom. While further, more formalized study would be beneficial on this topic, this study provides a useful perspective not just to teachers within the English department but also has ramifications for interdisciplinary scholarship.

Author Biography

Suzanne Cope, St. John's University, 8000 Utopia Parkway, Queens, NY 11439

Suzanne Cope earned a Ph.D. in Adult Learning and an MFA in Creative Nonfiction, both from Lesley University. Recent and upcoming publications include articles in New Direction for Teaching and Learning, Italian American Review, and Modern Language Studies with recent presentations on writing studies at Northeast Modern Language Association (NEMLA), Aesthetics Society of America Rocky Mountains (ASARM), and Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP). Her work has also appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic, Washington Post, Women in Higher Education, among other publications. She is the author of the book Small Batch: Pickles, Cheese, Chocolate, Spirits and the Return of Artisanal Food (Rowman & Littlefield, 2014) and is also active in food studies scholarship. She teaches writing at St John’s University.


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How to Cite

Cope, S. (2017). Outside the box: Incorporating high stakes creative writing assignments into non-major literature courses, a case study. Writing and Pedagogy, 9(2), 353-367. https://doi.org/10.1558/wap.29618



Reflections on Practice