Specific Product Goals

Audrey Fuller & product goals »
Audrey Fuller uses product goals in her classroom
  • Product goals are most effective either before drafting or during revision. It might depend on the students’ familiarity with the genre. Consider timing as an important aspect of developing product goals.
  • Product goals are most effective either before drafting or during revision. It might depend on the students’ familiarity with the genre. Consider timing as an important aspect of developing product goals.

Further Reading:

Helping students create and work through their own product goals
The second part of this book gives detailed information about twenty-two genres and how to teach them.  It offers teachers a place to start when devising product goals or simply reviewing a specific genre

Supplemental Materials:

Story of an Hour

Reflecting on Using Product Goals »
Kristen Ludwig and Audrey Fuller reflect and discuss their experience with teaching product goals.


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The first time I was asked to write a vita, I had no idea what I was doing. I reasoned that “vita” meant “life,” so I wrote a narrative about my life. I thought that my audience would most like to know about my professional life, but, still, I began with “I was born in Anchorage, Alaska.” When the reader responded to my submission by saying that I had submitted a “non-traditional vita” and included his own for me to see a more “traditional” expectation, I realized how far I had been outside the genre’s boundaries. His example helped me craft a more acceptable vita.

  • When you have had to write something that you’ve never written before, how do you come to envision what it is you are supposed to write?
  • When you ask students to write a genre, how do you help them envision what the final product should be?

“The decision about who sets goals may depend on each situation and what students need in that situation.” It can be really hard for a teacher who wants her students to succeed to allow the risk of failure by letting the student select product goals. It’s hard to balance two important concerns: providing guidelines that help writers but that don’t close down possibilities for writers to do what would best aid their communication goals. Some teachers worry that if they don’t provide VERY specific product goals, students will not produce good writing. On the contrary, writers don’t develop if they don’t learn now to make the most effective choices–and following specific requirements takes choice (and the opportunity either to succeed and fail) from them.

  • What are some examples you might think of to exemplify both –specific and flexible; too specific and inflexible? Contrast these and consider the pros and cons of both with your own students.

Understanding genre is important to creating effective product goals. Contrast two different genres you assign students and the product goals associated with them.

  • How much do the product goals align to the genres and not just to general good writing?

Sometimes in my teaching, I have been guilty of teaching a concept and then thinking that students should just be able to do it now. Thesis statements? I’ve been there: Here’s a good example, see how it looks? Now you write your own. And then I am surprised by the weak thesis statements I read. There is a gap between product goals and the actions writers need to take to achieve them. After students have developed product goals, we also have to ensure that they have ways to meet those goals.

  • Looking back at your list from question 2, for each product goal, think of what strategy or instruction might bridge the gap between the goal and the students’ accomplishment of that goal.
  • What writing tasks do you currently assign that could benefit from providing product goals for students–or improved ones, if some already are provided to students? Considering the ideas in the chapter, collect several effective samples of the product students will be expected to write. After multiple readings, list the characteristics that mark these effective texts. Use this list to draft product goals for your students’ writing task or to revise the one you’ve used in the past. Consider the characteristics of effective product goals: specific without being too narrow, close, and attainable (neither too hard nor too easy).
  • What product goals on your list will be new to your students? What instruction should you plan to help them understand these goals and be able to meet them?