We offer several modules that can count as English Literature or Creative Writing. Students are offered the opportunity to submit either a creative piece or a critical essay for the final assignment which is usually the one that carries the most marks.
A potential problem
A snag a can be that English Literature students might select the creative outcome – and they have every right to do so – but they haven’t built up the same creative wring skills as have Creative Writing students.
A possible solution
The module will have certain learning outcomes. We must assess according to those outcomes. Every student has been taught so that they can meet those outcomes.
Some of our mark descriptors anyway address writing generally: Expression, Style, Writing Skills. In any case, on should really expect a graduate in English to be reasonably skilled in these areas. In fact, English Literature students often write very well. This is possibly because they have read so much.
The validity of creative responses
A creative response can and should show a critical understanding of the subject matter on a module such as this. This can sometimes be more effective that a straight forward discussion. On a recent hybrid module I moderated I came across two well written creative pieces. One showed an understanding of the critical argument and issues associated with the module. The other didn’t. The former of course received the higher mark.
Implications for teaching
I’ve started adding twenty minute sessions on general critical and creative skills into my seminars. All students participate in both. Working creatively gives the reader a bigger insight into how a text is constructed. Reading critically helps the writer to understand more about how to construct a text. It’s particularly good for our students as we have no single honours in Creative Writing. It’s win win for everyone.