Hacker and Sommers, A Writer's Reference, 8e

Document created by Digital Support on Jan 25, 2017Last modified by Digital Support on Apr 18, 2018
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Why use LaunchPad?

LaunchPad for A Writer's Reference is designed to engage students in the work of the course and help them sharpen their reading, writing, and critical thinking skills. Some instructors assign the resources in LaunchPad, while others encourage students to work with the material at their own pace. Either way, college writers will find they are building the skills they need to become successful college writers.

Getting Started with LaunchPad

From the LaunchPad for A Writer's Reference home page, users can begin either by entering a search term in the search box at the top left or by scrolling through the table of contents in the left-hand navigation bar.

Or students might begin with an assignment that instructors have created.

How does search work?

The search feature in LaunchPad allows users to search for help using handbook terminology or their own terminology. Users can get results for standard terms such as coordinating conjunction or prewriting or ellipsis mark as well as terms such as fanboys or get unstuck or dots.

After you enter a search term in the search box, search results will replace the table of contents at the left. Search results are arranged in clusters under boldface headings.

Expanding a cluster exposes related results. When you click on any result, you are taken to a page of content.

In the left-hand navigation bar, you can toggle between the search results and the table of contents.

How does the table of contents work?

The table of contents is organized like any book table of contents. Click on an arrow to drill down through sections.

Click on any entry in the table of contents to be taken to a content page.

Navigating LaunchPad

To navigate through pages of content, you can use the table of contents or the right and left arrows at the top right of any page. To move back through pages already viewed, you can use the browser back button or the right and left arrows at the top right of the page.

Many LaunchPad pages contain links to other pages, allowing users to jump from one page to other, related pages with ease and to find connections throughout the e-book.

What other resources are available in LaunchPad?

LaunchPad for A Writer's Reference includes a variety of exercises (diagnostics, LearningCurve, and autoscored quizzes); interactive writing prompts; numerous annotated models of student writing; and writing guides to five typical genres.


Eight diagnostics are available to help students and instructors identify areas of strength and areas for improvement on subtopics related to grammar and reading.

The updated diagnostics have cumulative pre- and post-tests organized for the following topics:

  • Sentence Grammar (34 questions)
  • Punctuation, Style, and Mechanics (34 questions)
  • Reading Skills (20 questions)
  • Readings Strategies (25 questions)

The pre- and post-tests contain the same number of questions per topic; parity between tests means instructors can more easily track improvements from pre to post.


LearningCurve is an online, adaptive, self-quizzing program that quickly learns what students already know and helps them practice what they don’t yet understand.


Writing, Research, and Grammar Exercises

Instructors can assign any of the nearly 300 exercise sets. Students can complete exercises on their own or from an assignment the instructor creates. Most exercises are autoscored. Students’ work reports to the gradebook for any assigned exercises. Work that students do on their own does not report to the gradebook.

Writing Prompts

Writing prompt activities invite students to write brief responses about topics such as organizing an essay, drafting a thesis statement, working with peers, integrating sources, and more. The prompts help students apply the lessons of the course to their own thinking and writing. Many of the prompts provide links to LaunchPad pages for additional guidance, and some promote collaboration.

Sample student writing

LaunchPad for A Writer's Reference contains more than 40 sample student papers in MLA, APA, and Chicago styles in a number of different genres--narrative papers, analytical essays, research papers, and more. Most are annotated to show proper formatting and effective writing. In addition are numerous PDF documents that demonstrate correct formatting of all elements of papers in MLA, APA, and Chicago styles.

Instructors can view the full list of sample papers under “Content by type” in the Resources panel.

Writing guides

LaunchPad for A Writer's Reference provides writing guides within chapters of the book as well as in the Resources tab for five common genres--analysis essay, annotated bibliography, argument essay, literacy narrative, and reflective letter for a portfolio. Each writing guide consists of a definition of the genre; a list of its key features; a step-by-step set of strategies for exploring, drafting, and revising, with space for students to make and save notes for their own project.

What can I do as an instructor in LaunchPad for A Writer's Reference?

You can assign content, view your students’ progress in the gradebook, and upload your own content, including videos for student writing practice.

Easy Assigning

Activities or exercises that are assigned are accessible via the Assignments tab and also receive a “To Do” label and due date in the table of contents, letting students focus on what’s due next. (See the help article How do I create assignments? for details. The instructions are written for Writer's Help, but the process is the same for A Writer's Reference.)

Easy to personalize

LaunchPad for A Writer's Reference is easy to personalize, too: Instructors can add and assign their own materials. (See the help article How do I create assignments? for details. The instructions are written for Writer's Help, but the process is the same for A Writer's Reference.)

LaunchPad for A Writer's Reference extends the handbook with interactive writing activities, scorable exercises, models that instruct, and convenience options for busy teachers.