The memo is a standard genre for communicating information internally or externally to a group. While its format is fairly simple, the content can be used to teach critical thinking. A memo can be used to:

  • Gather and summarize initial research.
  • Address an issue or problem the student will face in class or in a given project.
  • Draw attention to some point or issue the student wishes to write about in a paper.
  • Identify potential responses the student will write about in a paper.

And, in turn, this work can be used as an in class document (rather than pretending to write to an imaginary audience) relevant to broader work occurring throughout the semester:

  • Memos to instructors can outline problems or projects students will address.
  • Memos can be written to classmates or instructors regarding the completion of a project (with summary, outline of issue, and recommendation).
  • Memos to classmates can be used for peer review in lieu of students marking each other’s work.