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MIT Comparative Media Studies/Writing

Resources for Teachers: Creating Writing Assignments

This page contains four specific areas:

Creating Effective Assignments

Checking the assignment, sequencing writing assignments, selecting an effective writing assignment format.

Research has shown that the more detailed a writing assignment is, the better the student papers are in response to that assignment. Instructors can often help students write more effective papers by giving students written instructions about that assignment. Explicit descriptions of assignments on the syllabus or on an “assignment sheet” tend to produce the best results. These instructions might make explicit the process or steps necessary to complete the assignment. Assignment sheets should detail:

  • the kind of writing expected
  • the scope of acceptable subject matter
  • the length requirements
  • formatting requirements
  • documentation format
  • the amount and type of research expected (if any)
  • the writer’s role
  • deadlines for the first draft and its revision

Providing questions or needed data in the assignment helps students get started. For instance, some questions can suggest a mode of organization to the students. Other questions might suggest a procedure to follow. The questions posed should require that students assert a thesis.

The following areas should help you create effective writing assignments.

Examining your goals for the assignment

  • How exactly does this assignment fit with the objectives of your course?
  • Should this assignment relate only to the class and the texts for the class, or should it also relate to the world beyond the classroom?
  • What do you want the students to learn or experience from this writing assignment?
  • Should this assignment be an individual or a collaborative effort?
  • What do you want students to show you in this assignment? To demonstrate mastery of concepts or texts? To demonstrate logical and critical thinking? To develop an original idea? To learn and demonstrate the procedures, practices, and tools of your field of study?

Defining the writing task

  • Is the assignment sequenced so that students: (1) write a draft, (2) receive feedback (from you, fellow students, or staff members at the Writing and Communication Center), and (3) then revise it? Such a procedure has been proven to accomplish at least two goals: it improves the student’s writing and it discourages plagiarism.
  • Does the assignment include so many sub-questions that students will be confused about the major issue they should examine? Can you give more guidance about what the paper’s main focus should be? Can you reduce the number of sub-questions?
  • What is the purpose of the assignment (e.g., review knowledge already learned, find additional information, synthesize research, examine a new hypothesis)? Making the purpose(s) of the assignment explicit helps students write the kind of paper you want.
  • What is the required form (e.g., expository essay, lab report, memo, business report)?
  • What mode is required for the assignment (e.g., description, narration, analysis, persuasion, a combination of two or more of these)?

Defining the audience for the paper

  • Can you define a hypothetical audience to help students determine which concepts to define and explain? When students write only to the instructor, they may assume that little, if anything, requires explanation. Defining the whole class as the intended audience will clarify this issue for students.
  • What is the probable attitude of the intended readers toward the topic itself? Toward the student writer’s thesis? Toward the student writer?
  • What is the probable educational and economic background of the intended readers?

Defining the writer’s role

  • Can you make explicit what persona you wish the students to assume? For example, a very effective role for student writers is that of a “professional in training” who uses the assumptions, the perspective, and the conceptual tools of the discipline.

Defining your evaluative criteria

1. If possible, explain the relative weight in grading assigned to the quality of writing and the assignment’s content:

  • depth of coverage
  • organization
  • critical thinking
  • original thinking
  • use of research
  • logical demonstration
  • appropriate mode of structure and analysis (e.g., comparison, argument)
  • correct use of sources
  • grammar and mechanics
  • professional tone
  • correct use of course-specific concepts and terms.

Here’s a checklist for writing assignments:

  • Have you used explicit command words in your instructions (e.g., “compare and contrast” and “explain” are more explicit than “explore” or “consider”)? The more explicit the command words, the better chance the students will write the type of paper you wish.
  • Does the assignment suggest a topic, thesis, and format? Should it?
  • Have you told students the kind of audience they are addressing — the level of knowledge they can assume the readers have and your particular preferences (e.g., “avoid slang, use the first-person sparingly”)?
  • If the assignment has several stages of completion, have you made the various deadlines clear? Is your policy on due dates clear?
  • Have you presented the assignment in a manageable form? For instance, a 5-page assignment sheet for a 1-page paper may overwhelm students. Similarly, a 1-sentence assignment for a 25-page paper may offer insufficient guidance.

There are several benefits of sequencing writing assignments:

  • Sequencing provides a sense of coherence for the course.
  • This approach helps students see progress and purpose in their work rather than seeing the writing assignments as separate exercises.
  • It encourages complexity through sustained attention, revision, and consideration of multiple perspectives.
  • If you have only one large paper due near the end of the course, you might create a sequence of smaller assignments leading up to and providing a foundation for that larger paper (e.g., proposal of the topic, an annotated bibliography, a progress report, a summary of the paper’s key argument, a first draft of the paper itself). This approach allows you to give students guidance and also discourages plagiarism.
  • It mirrors the approach to written work in many professions.

The concept of sequencing writing assignments also allows for a wide range of options in creating the assignment. It is often beneficial to have students submit the components suggested below to your course’s STELLAR web site.

Use the writing process itself. In its simplest form, “sequencing an assignment” can mean establishing some sort of “official” check of the prewriting and drafting steps in the writing process. This step guarantees that students will not write the whole paper in one sitting and also gives students more time to let their ideas develop. This check might be something as informal as having students work on their prewriting or draft for a few minutes at the end of class. Or it might be something more formal such as collecting the prewriting and giving a few suggestions and comments.

Have students submit drafts. You might ask students to submit a first draft in order to receive your quick responses to its content, or have them submit written questions about the content and scope of their projects after they have completed their first draft.

Establish small groups. Set up small writing groups of three-five students from the class. Allow them to meet for a few minutes in class or have them arrange a meeting outside of class to comment constructively on each other’s drafts. The students do not need to be writing on the same topic.

Require consultations. Have students consult with someone in the Writing and Communication Center about their prewriting and/or drafts. The Center has yellow forms that we can give to students to inform you that such a visit was made.

Explore a subject in increasingly complex ways. A series of reading and writing assignments may be linked by the same subject matter or topic. Students encounter new perspectives and competing ideas with each new reading, and thus must evaluate and balance various views and adopt a position that considers the various points of view.

Change modes of discourse. In this approach, students’ assignments move from less complex to more complex modes of discourse (e.g., from expressive to analytic to argumentative; or from lab report to position paper to research article).

Change audiences. In this approach, students create drafts for different audiences, moving from personal to public (e.g., from self-reflection to an audience of peers to an audience of specialists). Each change would require different tasks and more extensive knowledge.

Change perspective through time. In this approach, students might write a statement of their understanding of a subject or issue at the beginning of a course and then return at the end of the semester to write an analysis of that original stance in the light of the experiences and knowledge gained in the course.

Use a natural sequence. A different approach to sequencing is to create a series of assignments culminating in a final writing project. In scientific and technical writing, for example, students could write a proposal requesting approval of a particular topic. The next assignment might be a progress report (or a series of progress reports), and the final assignment could be the report or document itself. For humanities and social science courses, students might write a proposal requesting approval of a particular topic, then hand in an annotated bibliography, and then a draft, and then the final version of the paper.

Have students submit sections. A variation of the previous approach is to have students submit various sections of their final document throughout the semester (e.g., their bibliography, review of the literature, methods section).

In addition to the standard essay and report formats, several other formats exist that might give students a different slant on the course material or allow them to use slightly different writing skills. Here are some suggestions:

Journals. Journals have become a popular format in recent years for courses that require some writing. In-class journal entries can spark discussions and reveal gaps in students’ understanding of the material. Having students write an in-class entry summarizing the material covered that day can aid the learning process and also reveal concepts that require more elaboration. Out-of-class entries involve short summaries or analyses of texts, or are a testing ground for ideas for student papers and reports. Although journals may seem to add a huge burden for instructors to correct, in fact many instructors either spot-check journals (looking at a few particular key entries) or grade them based on the number of entries completed. Journals are usually not graded for their prose style. STELLAR forums work well for out-of-class entries.

Letters. Students can define and defend a position on an issue in a letter written to someone in authority. They can also explain a concept or a process to someone in need of that particular information. They can write a letter to a friend explaining their concerns about an upcoming paper assignment or explaining their ideas for an upcoming paper assignment. If you wish to add a creative element to the writing assignment, you might have students adopt the persona of an important person discussed in your course (e.g., an historical figure) and write a letter explaining his/her actions, process, or theory to an interested person (e.g., “pretend that you are John Wilkes Booth and write a letter to the Congress justifying your assassination of Abraham Lincoln,” or “pretend you are Henry VIII writing to Thomas More explaining your break from the Catholic Church”).

Editorials . Students can define and defend a position on a controversial issue in the format of an editorial for the campus or local newspaper or for a national journal.

Cases . Students might create a case study particular to the course’s subject matter.

Position Papers . Students can define and defend a position, perhaps as a preliminary step in the creation of a formal research paper or essay.

Imitation of a Text . Students can create a new document “in the style of” a particular writer (e.g., “Create a government document the way Woody Allen might write it” or “Write your own ‘Modest Proposal’ about a modern issue”).

Instruction Manuals . Students write a step-by-step explanation of a process.

Dialogues . Students create a dialogue between two major figures studied in which they not only reveal those people’s theories or thoughts but also explore areas of possible disagreement (e.g., “Write a dialogue between Claude Monet and Jackson Pollock about the nature and uses of art”).

Collaborative projects . Students work together to create such works as reports, questions, and critiques.

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Course Design

Communicating assignment instructions.

Updated on October 30, 2023

Once you know what a particular assignment is assessing, you can focus on how to convey this information to your students. An assignment prompt can take many forms, including a narrative description, a checklist, and/or a rubric. 

Clear assignment instructions will help students understand the purpose of the assignment, the steps students will need to take to successfully complete it, and how the assignment will be graded. Lack of clarity in any of these components can lead to student confusion, which can result in them not knowing how to start, spending time on tasks that are not essential to the assignment, or a final product that does not meet your expectations and perhaps does not accurately represent their learning. Alternatively, when the assignment instructions are written with transparency and clarity in mind, students know what they are supposed to be learning and can better engage in intentional practice, study, and reflection that supports deep learning. This page draws on research into transparent assignment design to surface strategies for more clearly communicating assignment expectations. 

Just as the process of determining assignment-level learning goals is iterative, you may find yourself revising your assignment instructions every time you reuse them. When designing a new assignment, you may need to be a bit vaguer than you would like, since you still need to figure out exactly what you’re looking for. Some instructors find it helpful to create an internal fleshed out rubric they can use as they grade, and a briefer version of the assignment expectations for their students. Over time, as you have a better sense of how students perform on the assignment and what your expectations are, you can work towards having just one rubric that is both shared with students and used by you when you sit down to grade the final product.

Transparent Assignment Design

The research generated by the Transparency in Learning and Teaching (TILT) project has shown that increasing transparency of assignments can improve student learning, motivation, and persistence, particularly among traditionally underrepresented populations ( Winkelmes et al 2016 ). Below are questions to reflect on as you design an assignment and consider how to convey this information to your students.

What is the purpose of the assignment?

Students may not immediately understand how an assignment connects to the content they have been studying or the learning goals of the course. Or, they may know the content an assignment is assessing but not how they are expected to engage with that content. 

For example, if a student is learning new formulas, knowing whether they need to memorize the formulas, identify which formula to use in which situation, and/or explain when each formula should be used and its limitations will change how they study the material. Or, if you ask students to write an essay, you may want to clarify the kinds of evidence they should incorporate, including whether or not connecting course content to personal experiences is appropriate.

Questions about assignment purpose:

  • In what way(s) do you want students to engage with the course content? Consider the Revised Bloom’s Taxonomy to help you answer this question.
  • How is this assignment relevant to the larger goals of the course? Of the curriculum? Of your students? How can you motivate students by helping them recognize the alignment between the assignment and the relevant goals?

When deciding whether or not the purpose of the assignment is transparent, it is important to consider the title of the assignment, which can help convey what you are looking for. Calling an assignment a “book review” may prompt your students to provide a summary of a text, while calling it a “reading response” could encourage students to draw connections between a text and their own lives. Take a moment to check that the title of your assignment accurately communicates your expectations.

 What is the task the assignment demands of students?

Students may find it difficult to “unpack” an assignment into smaller components or know how to get started and the key steps towards completing an assignment successfully. Rather than just telling students to study for an exam or write a paper, a breakdown of the tasks can benefit even the students in an upper level course. The questions below ask you to unpack your assignment and use that information to help you discover potential challenging parts of an assignment and, therefore, moments when students might need some guidance  in order to do the work you most want them to engage through the assignment. 

Unpacking the task of the assignment gives you an opportunity to plan for students to have opportunities to practice and receive feedback on the task before they will have to do it in a high-stakes environment, like an exam or major paper. Having the assignment’s purpose in mind when articulating the task also gives you another chance to check for alignment. Do the tasks you are assigning to students correspond with the assignment’s purpose? 

Questions about the task of the assignment:

  • What are the steps you imagine most students would need to take in order to complete the assignment?
  • What steps are they likely to skip? What unnecessary detours might they take?
  • What elements of the task are important for students to figure out for themselves? Where would students’ benefit from explicit guidance (e.g. so they don’t waste their time/energy on less essential components)?
  • How will you scaffold the assignment, or break down the assignment into smaller component parts, to give students opportunities to practice necessary skills before submitting the assignment? (More information on scaffolding is available on our Providing Opportunities to Practice  page.)

What criteria will you use to evaluate the assignment?

The same assignment can be graded in numerous ways. Thus, explicitly telling students how they will be evaluated will clarify your expectations and impact how they prepare and what they submit. Students find it most helpful to know these criteria as they are getting started, and they will better understand them if they can practice assessing an example assignment. Sometimes, seeing a less proficient example of an assignment can clarify what not to do, especially if there are common pitfalls you want students to avoid.

For example, when grading a word problem, how much weight will you give to having a correct answer and how much to students showing the steps they took to get that answer? How much will you take off for a minor miscalculation? When grading an essay, what components will you be looking at more closely? How important are correct grammar and citation style?

Questions about evaluation criteria

  • What evidence will you be looking for as you evaluate whether a student has successfully met the criteria?
  • How will you communicate those criteria to students (a checklist, a rubric)?
  • Will students be able to use those criteria to help them self-assess how well they’re meeting the assignment expectations? Could you build in opportunities for students to apply the criteria by providing feedback to their peers?
  • Can you provide students with examples of good work, or examples of what not to do?

For more resources related to Transparency in Learning and Teaching (TILT), see the TILT Website . Here is an assignment template you are welcome to adapt for your own purposes and a checklist for designing transparent assignments if it is useful to you.

The Writing Center • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Understanding Assignments

What this handout is about.

The first step in any successful college writing venture is reading the assignment. While this sounds like a simple task, it can be a tough one. This handout will help you unravel your assignment and begin to craft an effective response. Much of the following advice will involve translating typical assignment terms and practices into meaningful clues to the type of writing your instructor expects. See our short video for more tips.

Basic beginnings

Regardless of the assignment, department, or instructor, adopting these two habits will serve you well :

  • Read the assignment carefully as soon as you receive it. Do not put this task off—reading the assignment at the beginning will save you time, stress, and problems later. An assignment can look pretty straightforward at first, particularly if the instructor has provided lots of information. That does not mean it will not take time and effort to complete; you may even have to learn a new skill to complete the assignment.
  • Ask the instructor about anything you do not understand. Do not hesitate to approach your instructor. Instructors would prefer to set you straight before you hand the paper in. That’s also when you will find their feedback most useful.

Assignment formats

Many assignments follow a basic format. Assignments often begin with an overview of the topic, include a central verb or verbs that describe the task, and offer some additional suggestions, questions, or prompts to get you started.

An Overview of Some Kind

The instructor might set the stage with some general discussion of the subject of the assignment, introduce the topic, or remind you of something pertinent that you have discussed in class. For example:

“Throughout history, gerbils have played a key role in politics,” or “In the last few weeks of class, we have focused on the evening wear of the housefly …”

The Task of the Assignment

Pay attention; this part tells you what to do when you write the paper. Look for the key verb or verbs in the sentence. Words like analyze, summarize, or compare direct you to think about your topic in a certain way. Also pay attention to words such as how, what, when, where, and why; these words guide your attention toward specific information. (See the section in this handout titled “Key Terms” for more information.)

“Analyze the effect that gerbils had on the Russian Revolution”, or “Suggest an interpretation of housefly undergarments that differs from Darwin’s.”

Additional Material to Think about

Here you will find some questions to use as springboards as you begin to think about the topic. Instructors usually include these questions as suggestions rather than requirements. Do not feel compelled to answer every question unless the instructor asks you to do so. Pay attention to the order of the questions. Sometimes they suggest the thinking process your instructor imagines you will need to follow to begin thinking about the topic.

“You may wish to consider the differing views held by Communist gerbils vs. Monarchist gerbils, or Can there be such a thing as ‘the housefly garment industry’ or is it just a home-based craft?”

These are the instructor’s comments about writing expectations:

“Be concise”, “Write effectively”, or “Argue furiously.”

Technical Details

These instructions usually indicate format rules or guidelines.

“Your paper must be typed in Palatino font on gray paper and must not exceed 600 pages. It is due on the anniversary of Mao Tse-tung’s death.”

The assignment’s parts may not appear in exactly this order, and each part may be very long or really short. Nonetheless, being aware of this standard pattern can help you understand what your instructor wants you to do.

Interpreting the assignment

Ask yourself a few basic questions as you read and jot down the answers on the assignment sheet:

Why did your instructor ask you to do this particular task?

Who is your audience.

  • What kind of evidence do you need to support your ideas?

What kind of writing style is acceptable?

  • What are the absolute rules of the paper?

Try to look at the question from the point of view of the instructor. Recognize that your instructor has a reason for giving you this assignment and for giving it to you at a particular point in the semester. In every assignment, the instructor has a challenge for you. This challenge could be anything from demonstrating an ability to think clearly to demonstrating an ability to use the library. See the assignment not as a vague suggestion of what to do but as an opportunity to show that you can handle the course material as directed. Paper assignments give you more than a topic to discuss—they ask you to do something with the topic. Keep reminding yourself of that. Be careful to avoid the other extreme as well: do not read more into the assignment than what is there.

Of course, your instructor has given you an assignment so that he or she will be able to assess your understanding of the course material and give you an appropriate grade. But there is more to it than that. Your instructor has tried to design a learning experience of some kind. Your instructor wants you to think about something in a particular way for a particular reason. If you read the course description at the beginning of your syllabus, review the assigned readings, and consider the assignment itself, you may begin to see the plan, purpose, or approach to the subject matter that your instructor has created for you. If you still aren’t sure of the assignment’s goals, try asking the instructor. For help with this, see our handout on getting feedback .

Given your instructor’s efforts, it helps to answer the question: What is my purpose in completing this assignment? Is it to gather research from a variety of outside sources and present a coherent picture? Is it to take material I have been learning in class and apply it to a new situation? Is it to prove a point one way or another? Key words from the assignment can help you figure this out. Look for key terms in the form of active verbs that tell you what to do.

Key Terms: Finding Those Active Verbs

Here are some common key words and definitions to help you think about assignment terms:

Information words Ask you to demonstrate what you know about the subject, such as who, what, when, where, how, and why.

  • define —give the subject’s meaning (according to someone or something). Sometimes you have to give more than one view on the subject’s meaning
  • describe —provide details about the subject by answering question words (such as who, what, when, where, how, and why); you might also give details related to the five senses (what you see, hear, feel, taste, and smell)
  • explain —give reasons why or examples of how something happened
  • illustrate —give descriptive examples of the subject and show how each is connected with the subject
  • summarize —briefly list the important ideas you learned about the subject
  • trace —outline how something has changed or developed from an earlier time to its current form
  • research —gather material from outside sources about the subject, often with the implication or requirement that you will analyze what you have found

Relation words Ask you to demonstrate how things are connected.

  • compare —show how two or more things are similar (and, sometimes, different)
  • contrast —show how two or more things are dissimilar
  • apply—use details that you’ve been given to demonstrate how an idea, theory, or concept works in a particular situation
  • cause —show how one event or series of events made something else happen
  • relate —show or describe the connections between things

Interpretation words Ask you to defend ideas of your own about the subject. Do not see these words as requesting opinion alone (unless the assignment specifically says so), but as requiring opinion that is supported by concrete evidence. Remember examples, principles, definitions, or concepts from class or research and use them in your interpretation.

  • assess —summarize your opinion of the subject and measure it against something
  • prove, justify —give reasons or examples to demonstrate how or why something is the truth
  • evaluate, respond —state your opinion of the subject as good, bad, or some combination of the two, with examples and reasons
  • support —give reasons or evidence for something you believe (be sure to state clearly what it is that you believe)
  • synthesize —put two or more things together that have not been put together in class or in your readings before; do not just summarize one and then the other and say that they are similar or different—you must provide a reason for putting them together that runs all the way through the paper
  • analyze —determine how individual parts create or relate to the whole, figure out how something works, what it might mean, or why it is important
  • argue —take a side and defend it with evidence against the other side

More Clues to Your Purpose As you read the assignment, think about what the teacher does in class:

  • What kinds of textbooks or coursepack did your instructor choose for the course—ones that provide background information, explain theories or perspectives, or argue a point of view?
  • In lecture, does your instructor ask your opinion, try to prove her point of view, or use keywords that show up again in the assignment?
  • What kinds of assignments are typical in this discipline? Social science classes often expect more research. Humanities classes thrive on interpretation and analysis.
  • How do the assignments, readings, and lectures work together in the course? Instructors spend time designing courses, sometimes even arguing with their peers about the most effective course materials. Figuring out the overall design to the course will help you understand what each assignment is meant to achieve.

Now, what about your reader? Most undergraduates think of their audience as the instructor. True, your instructor is a good person to keep in mind as you write. But for the purposes of a good paper, think of your audience as someone like your roommate: smart enough to understand a clear, logical argument, but not someone who already knows exactly what is going on in your particular paper. Remember, even if the instructor knows everything there is to know about your paper topic, he or she still has to read your paper and assess your understanding. In other words, teach the material to your reader.

Aiming a paper at your audience happens in two ways: you make decisions about the tone and the level of information you want to convey.

  • Tone means the “voice” of your paper. Should you be chatty, formal, or objective? Usually you will find some happy medium—you do not want to alienate your reader by sounding condescending or superior, but you do not want to, um, like, totally wig on the man, you know? Eschew ostentatious erudition: some students think the way to sound academic is to use big words. Be careful—you can sound ridiculous, especially if you use the wrong big words.
  • The level of information you use depends on who you think your audience is. If you imagine your audience as your instructor and she already knows everything you have to say, you may find yourself leaving out key information that can cause your argument to be unconvincing and illogical. But you do not have to explain every single word or issue. If you are telling your roommate what happened on your favorite science fiction TV show last night, you do not say, “First a dark-haired white man of average height, wearing a suit and carrying a flashlight, walked into the room. Then a purple alien with fifteen arms and at least three eyes turned around. Then the man smiled slightly. In the background, you could hear a clock ticking. The room was fairly dark and had at least two windows that I saw.” You also do not say, “This guy found some aliens. The end.” Find some balance of useful details that support your main point.

You’ll find a much more detailed discussion of these concepts in our handout on audience .

The Grim Truth

With a few exceptions (including some lab and ethnography reports), you are probably being asked to make an argument. You must convince your audience. It is easy to forget this aim when you are researching and writing; as you become involved in your subject matter, you may become enmeshed in the details and focus on learning or simply telling the information you have found. You need to do more than just repeat what you have read. Your writing should have a point, and you should be able to say it in a sentence. Sometimes instructors call this sentence a “thesis” or a “claim.”

So, if your instructor tells you to write about some aspect of oral hygiene, you do not want to just list: “First, you brush your teeth with a soft brush and some peanut butter. Then, you floss with unwaxed, bologna-flavored string. Finally, gargle with bourbon.” Instead, you could say, “Of all the oral cleaning methods, sandblasting removes the most plaque. Therefore it should be recommended by the American Dental Association.” Or, “From an aesthetic perspective, moldy teeth can be quite charming. However, their joys are short-lived.”

Convincing the reader of your argument is the goal of academic writing. It doesn’t have to say “argument” anywhere in the assignment for you to need one. Look at the assignment and think about what kind of argument you could make about it instead of just seeing it as a checklist of information you have to present. For help with understanding the role of argument in academic writing, see our handout on argument .

What kind of evidence do you need?

There are many kinds of evidence, and what type of evidence will work for your assignment can depend on several factors–the discipline, the parameters of the assignment, and your instructor’s preference. Should you use statistics? Historical examples? Do you need to conduct your own experiment? Can you rely on personal experience? See our handout on evidence for suggestions on how to use evidence appropriately.

Make sure you are clear about this part of the assignment, because your use of evidence will be crucial in writing a successful paper. You are not just learning how to argue; you are learning how to argue with specific types of materials and ideas. Ask your instructor what counts as acceptable evidence. You can also ask a librarian for help. No matter what kind of evidence you use, be sure to cite it correctly—see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial .

You cannot always tell from the assignment just what sort of writing style your instructor expects. The instructor may be really laid back in class but still expect you to sound formal in writing. Or the instructor may be fairly formal in class and ask you to write a reflection paper where you need to use “I” and speak from your own experience.

Try to avoid false associations of a particular field with a style (“art historians like wacky creativity,” or “political scientists are boring and just give facts”) and look instead to the types of readings you have been given in class. No one expects you to write like Plato—just use the readings as a guide for what is standard or preferable to your instructor. When in doubt, ask your instructor about the level of formality she or he expects.

No matter what field you are writing for or what facts you are including, if you do not write so that your reader can understand your main idea, you have wasted your time. So make clarity your main goal. For specific help with style, see our handout on style .

Technical details about the assignment

The technical information you are given in an assignment always seems like the easy part. This section can actually give you lots of little hints about approaching the task. Find out if elements such as page length and citation format (see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial ) are negotiable. Some professors do not have strong preferences as long as you are consistent and fully answer the assignment. Some professors are very specific and will deduct big points for deviations.

Usually, the page length tells you something important: The instructor thinks the size of the paper is appropriate to the assignment’s parameters. In plain English, your instructor is telling you how many pages it should take for you to answer the question as fully as you are expected to. So if an assignment is two pages long, you cannot pad your paper with examples or reword your main idea several times. Hit your one point early, defend it with the clearest example, and finish quickly. If an assignment is ten pages long, you can be more complex in your main points and examples—and if you can only produce five pages for that assignment, you need to see someone for help—as soon as possible.

Tricks that don’t work

Your instructors are not fooled when you:

  • spend more time on the cover page than the essay —graphics, cool binders, and cute titles are no replacement for a well-written paper.
  • use huge fonts, wide margins, or extra spacing to pad the page length —these tricks are immediately obvious to the eye. Most instructors use the same word processor you do. They know what’s possible. Such tactics are especially damning when the instructor has a stack of 60 papers to grade and yours is the only one that low-flying airplane pilots could read.
  • use a paper from another class that covered “sort of similar” material . Again, the instructor has a particular task for you to fulfill in the assignment that usually relates to course material and lectures. Your other paper may not cover this material, and turning in the same paper for more than one course may constitute an Honor Code violation . Ask the instructor—it can’t hurt.
  • get all wacky and “creative” before you answer the question . Showing that you are able to think beyond the boundaries of a simple assignment can be good, but you must do what the assignment calls for first. Again, check with your instructor. A humorous tone can be refreshing for someone grading a stack of papers, but it will not get you a good grade if you have not fulfilled the task.

Critical reading of assignments leads to skills in other types of reading and writing. If you get good at figuring out what the real goals of assignments are, you are going to be better at understanding the goals of all of your classes and fields of study.

You may reproduce it for non-commercial use if you use the entire handout and attribute the source: The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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4 Tips for Writing Good Online Assignment Instructions

Crafting Online Assignments

Audrey Wick is an English professor at Blinn College in central Texas.

Instructors in higher education classrooms want students to rise to their expectations. They also want students to be academically successful because effective completion of a college course is a win-win for both the student and the instructor.

To help students meet the challenges of their college-level assignments, instructors should take care to craft assignment instructions that are clear, concise, and attainable. As you get started, here’s what to consider:

Itemize the Minimum Assignment Requirements

There are many approaches to writing assignments, but don’t bury information. Front the most important requirements, especially those that are minimum standards for an assignment to be accepted. For instance, in a writing assignment, instructors may want to specify requirements, for example:

  • 500 words minimum
  • At least 2 sources
  • Modern Language Association (MLA) style
  • Due to digital dropbox in Blackboard by Thursday, September 24 at 5:00 p.m. (ET)

For an exam, instructors may include things like:

  • 50 multiple-choice questions
  • 60-minute time limit
  • Closed-note/closed-book exam
  • Proctored through Honorlock in the eCampus digital classroom
  • Deadline = Wednesday, September 30 by 7:00 p.m. (ET)

Avoid acronyms, confusing abbreviations or other ambiguous information in directions. Identifying exact hourly deadlines and avoiding confusion of midnight versus midday 12:00 p.m. noon references may be necessary, especially if students are enrolled in the class from various time zones.

Do Not Overwhelm Students with “Don’ts”

It may be tempting to list items students should avoid—whether topic choices or style considerations or instructional pet peeves—in assignment directions. But listing too many “don’ts” can strike a note of discord with students who may otherwise be eager to please.

Try to find a balance of including what you want students to do, as well as what you want them to avoid, on the assignment directions. You can always direct them to other locations for more information to augment the directions, such as a list of policies on the course syllabus, examples students can use as models or even a rubric for grading to help students manage instructional expectations.

End with Positivity

Show students you’re rooting for their success . Adding a cheerful or encouraging message to the end of the assignment directions will remind students you want them to be successful. And, isn’t it always nice to see reassuring words? A few examples:

  • “I look forward to seeing your projects!”
  • “Have fun with this assignment—and be creative.”
  • “This reflection essay is going to be a great way to end the week!”
  • “Good luck as you work on this.”

Students, especially those first-semester college students and those returning after a hiatus, often appreciate that extra bit of encouragement.

Consider Additional Accessibility Concerns

If your institution has certain requirements for your student population related to online standards or digital accessibility, be sure to take those into account before publishing online assignment instructions.

Font styles, color choices and text effects (like bolding, underlining, CAPS, etc.) as well as the use of images and multimedia files can be problematic for some screen readers .

Additionally, certain adjustments may need to be made for compliance in the case of students who have special accommodations for the class. Be sure to visit with leadership and staff members at your institution if this is the case for you.

For more strategies for creating an effective online course, download our free ebook .

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How Do I Create Meaningful and Effective Assignments?

Prepared by allison boye, ph.d. teaching, learning, and professional development center.

Assessment is a necessary part of the teaching and learning process, helping us measure whether our students have really learned what we want them to learn. While exams and quizzes are certainly favorite and useful methods of assessment, out of class assignments (written or otherwise) can offer similar insights into our students' learning.  And just as creating a reliable test takes thoughtfulness and skill, so does creating meaningful and effective assignments. Undoubtedly, many instructors have been on the receiving end of disappointing student work, left wondering what went wrong… and often, those problems can be remedied in the future by some simple fine-tuning of the original assignment.  This paper will take a look at some important elements to consider when developing assignments, and offer some easy approaches to creating a valuable assessment experience for all involved.

First Things First…

Before assigning any major tasks to students, it is imperative that you first define a few things for yourself as the instructor:

  • Your goals for the assignment . Why are you assigning this project, and what do you hope your students will gain from completing it? What knowledge, skills, and abilities do you aim to measure with this assignment?  Creating assignments is a major part of overall course design, and every project you assign should clearly align with your goals for the course in general.  For instance, if you want your students to demonstrate critical thinking, perhaps asking them to simply summarize an article is not the best match for that goal; a more appropriate option might be to ask for an analysis of a controversial issue in the discipline. Ultimately, the connection between the assignment and its purpose should be clear to both you and your students to ensure that it is fulfilling the desired goals and doesn't seem like “busy work.” For some ideas about what kinds of assignments match certain learning goals, take a look at this page from DePaul University's Teaching Commons.
  • Have they experienced “socialization” in the culture of your discipline (Flaxman, 2005)? Are they familiar with any conventions you might want them to know? In other words, do they know the “language” of your discipline, generally accepted style guidelines, or research protocols?
  • Do they know how to conduct research?  Do they know the proper style format, documentation style, acceptable resources, etc.? Do they know how to use the library (Fitzpatrick, 1989) or evaluate resources?
  • What kinds of writing or work have they previously engaged in?  For instance, have they completed long, formal writing assignments or research projects before? Have they ever engaged in analysis, reflection, or argumentation? Have they completed group assignments before?  Do they know how to write a literature review or scientific report?

In his book Engaging Ideas (1996), John Bean provides a great list of questions to help instructors focus on their main teaching goals when creating an assignment (p.78):

1. What are the main units/modules in my course?

2. What are my main learning objectives for each module and for the course?

3. What thinking skills am I trying to develop within each unit and throughout the course?

4. What are the most difficult aspects of my course for students?

5. If I could change my students' study habits, what would I most like to change?

6. What difference do I want my course to make in my students' lives?

What your students need to know

Once you have determined your own goals for the assignment and the levels of your students, you can begin creating your assignment.  However, when introducing your assignment to your students, there are several things you will need to clearly outline for them in order to ensure the most successful assignments possible.

  • First, you will need to articulate the purpose of the assignment . Even though you know why the assignment is important and what it is meant to accomplish, you cannot assume that your students will intuit that purpose. Your students will appreciate an understanding of how the assignment fits into the larger goals of the course and what they will learn from the process (Hass & Osborn, 2007). Being transparent with your students and explaining why you are asking them to complete a given assignment can ultimately help motivate them to complete the assignment more thoughtfully.
  • If you are asking your students to complete a writing assignment, you should define for them the “rhetorical or cognitive mode/s” you want them to employ in their writing (Flaxman, 2005). In other words, use precise verbs that communicate whether you are asking them to analyze, argue, describe, inform, etc.  (Verbs like “explore” or “comment on” can be too vague and cause confusion.) Provide them with a specific task to complete, such as a problem to solve, a question to answer, or an argument to support.  For those who want assignments to lead to top-down, thesis-driven writing, John Bean (1996) suggests presenting a proposition that students must defend or refute, or a problem that demands a thesis answer.
  • It is also a good idea to define the audience you want your students to address with their assignment, if possible – especially with writing assignments.  Otherwise, students will address only the instructor, often assuming little requires explanation or development (Hedengren, 2004; MIT, 1999). Further, asking students to address the instructor, who typically knows more about the topic than the student, places the student in an unnatural rhetorical position.  Instead, you might consider asking your students to prepare their assignments for alternative audiences such as other students who missed last week's classes, a group that opposes their position, or people reading a popular magazine or newspaper.  In fact, a study by Bean (1996) indicated the students often appreciate and enjoy assignments that vary elements such as audience or rhetorical context, so don't be afraid to get creative!
  • Obviously, you will also need to articulate clearly the logistics or “business aspects” of the assignment . In other words, be explicit with your students about required elements such as the format, length, documentation style, writing style (formal or informal?), and deadlines.  One caveat, however: do not allow the logistics of the paper take precedence over the content in your assignment description; if you spend all of your time describing these things, students might suspect that is all you care about in their execution of the assignment.
  • Finally, you should clarify your evaluation criteria for the assignment. What elements of content are most important? Will you grade holistically or weight features separately? How much weight will be given to individual elements, etc?  Another precaution to take when defining requirements for your students is to take care that your instructions and rubric also do not overshadow the content; prescribing too rigidly each element of an assignment can limit students' freedom to explore and discover. According to Beth Finch Hedengren, “A good assignment provides the purpose and guidelines… without dictating exactly what to say” (2004, p. 27).  If you decide to utilize a grading rubric, be sure to provide that to the students along with the assignment description, prior to their completion of the assignment.

A great way to get students engaged with an assignment and build buy-in is to encourage their collaboration on its design and/or on the grading criteria (Hudd, 2003). In his article “Conducting Writing Assignments,” Richard Leahy (2002) offers a few ideas for building in said collaboration:

• Ask the students to develop the grading scale themselves from scratch, starting with choosing the categories.

• Set the grading categories yourself, but ask the students to help write the descriptions.

• Draft the complete grading scale yourself, then give it to your students for review and suggestions.

A Few Do's and Don'ts…

Determining your goals for the assignment and its essential logistics is a good start to creating an effective assignment. However, there are a few more simple factors to consider in your final design. First, here are a few things you should do :

  • Do provide detail in your assignment description . Research has shown that students frequently prefer some guiding constraints when completing assignments (Bean, 1996), and that more detail (within reason) can lead to more successful student responses.  One idea is to provide students with physical assignment handouts , in addition to or instead of a simple description in a syllabus.  This can meet the needs of concrete learners and give them something tangible to refer to.  Likewise, it is often beneficial to make explicit for students the process or steps necessary to complete an assignment, given that students – especially younger ones – might need guidance in planning and time management (MIT, 1999).
  • Do use open-ended questions.  The most effective and challenging assignments focus on questions that lead students to thinking and explaining, rather than simple yes or no answers, whether explicitly part of the assignment description or in the  brainstorming heuristics (Gardner, 2005).
  • Do direct students to appropriate available resources . Giving students pointers about other venues for assistance can help them get started on the right track independently. These kinds of suggestions might include information about campus resources such as the University Writing Center or discipline-specific librarians, suggesting specific journals or books, or even sections of their textbook, or providing them with lists of research ideas or links to acceptable websites.
  • Do consider providing models – both successful and unsuccessful models (Miller, 2007). These models could be provided by past students, or models you have created yourself.  You could even ask students to evaluate the models themselves using the determined evaluation criteria, helping them to visualize the final product, think critically about how to complete the assignment, and ideally, recognize success in their own work.
  • Do consider including a way for students to make the assignment their own. In their study, Hass and Osborn (2007) confirmed the importance of personal engagement for students when completing an assignment.  Indeed, students will be more engaged in an assignment if it is personally meaningful, practical, or purposeful beyond the classroom.  You might think of ways to encourage students to tap into their own experiences or curiosities, to solve or explore a real problem, or connect to the larger community.  Offering variety in assignment selection can also help students feel more individualized, creative, and in control.
  • If your assignment is substantial or long, do consider sequencing it. Far too often, assignments are given as one-shot final products that receive grades at the end of the semester, eternally abandoned by the student.  By sequencing a large assignment, or essentially breaking it down into a systematic approach consisting of interconnected smaller elements (such as a project proposal, an annotated bibliography, or a rough draft, or a series of mini-assignments related to the longer assignment), you can encourage thoughtfulness, complexity, and thoroughness in your students, as well as emphasize process over final product.

Next are a few elements to avoid in your assignments:

  • Do not ask too many questions in your assignment.  In an effort to challenge students, instructors often err in the other direction, asking more questions than students can reasonably address in a single assignment without losing focus. Offering an overly specific “checklist” prompt often leads to externally organized papers, in which inexperienced students “slavishly follow the checklist instead of integrating their ideas into more organically-discovered structure” (Flaxman, 2005).
  • Do not expect or suggest that there is an “ideal” response to the assignment. A common error for instructors is to dictate content of an assignment too rigidly, or to imply that there is a single correct response or a specific conclusion to reach, either explicitly or implicitly (Flaxman, 2005). Undoubtedly, students do not appreciate feeling as if they must read an instructor's mind to complete an assignment successfully, or that their own ideas have nowhere to go, and can lose motivation as a result. Similarly, avoid assignments that simply ask for regurgitation (Miller, 2007). Again, the best assignments invite students to engage in critical thinking, not just reproduce lectures or readings.
  • Do not provide vague or confusing commands . Do students know what you mean when they are asked to “examine” or “discuss” a topic? Return to what you determined about your students' experiences and levels to help you decide what directions will make the most sense to them and what will require more explanation or guidance, and avoid verbiage that might confound them.
  • Do not impose impossible time restraints or require the use of insufficient resources for completion of the assignment.  For instance, if you are asking all of your students to use the same resource, ensure that there are enough copies available for all students to access – or at least put one copy on reserve in the library. Likewise, make sure that you are providing your students with ample time to locate resources and effectively complete the assignment (Fitzpatrick, 1989).

The assignments we give to students don't simply have to be research papers or reports. There are many options for effective yet creative ways to assess your students' learning! Here are just a few:

Journals, Posters, Portfolios, Letters, Brochures, Management plans, Editorials, Instruction Manuals, Imitations of a text, Case studies, Debates, News release, Dialogues, Videos, Collages, Plays, Power Point presentations

Ultimately, the success of student responses to an assignment often rests on the instructor's deliberate design of the assignment. By being purposeful and thoughtful from the beginning, you can ensure that your assignments will not only serve as effective assessment methods, but also engage and delight your students. If you would like further help in constructing or revising an assignment, the Teaching, Learning, and Professional Development Center is glad to offer individual consultations. In addition, look into some of the resources provided below.

Online Resources

“Creating Effective Assignments” http://www.unh.edu/teaching-excellence/resources/Assignments.htm This site, from the University of New Hampshire's Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning,  provides a brief overview of effective assignment design, with a focus on determining and communicating goals and expectations.

Gardner, T.  (2005, June 12). Ten Tips for Designing Writing Assignments. Traci's Lists of Ten. http://www.tengrrl.com/tens/034.shtml This is a brief yet useful list of tips for assignment design, prepared by a writing teacher and curriculum developer for the National Council of Teachers of English .  The website will also link you to several other lists of “ten tips” related to literacy pedagogy.

“How to Create Effective Assignments for College Students.”  http:// tilt.colostate.edu/retreat/2011/zimmerman.pdf     This PDF is a simplified bulleted list, prepared by Dr. Toni Zimmerman from Colorado State University, offering some helpful ideas for coming up with creative assignments.

“Learner-Centered Assessment” http://cte.uwaterloo.ca/teaching_resources/tips/learner_centered_assessment.html From the Centre for Teaching Excellence at the University of Waterloo, this is a short list of suggestions for the process of designing an assessment with your students' interests in mind. “Matching Learning Goals to Assignment Types.” http://teachingcommons.depaul.edu/How_to/design_assignments/assignments_learning_goals.html This is a great page from DePaul University's Teaching Commons, providing a chart that helps instructors match assignments with learning goals.

Additional References Bean, J.C. (1996). Engaging ideas: The professor's guide to integrating writing, critical thinking, and active learning in the classroom . San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Fitzpatrick, R. (1989). Research and writing assignments that reduce fear lead to better papers and more confident students. Writing Across the Curriculum , 3.2, pp. 15 – 24.

Flaxman, R. (2005). Creating meaningful writing assignments. The Teaching Exchange .  Retrieved Jan. 9, 2008 from http://www.brown.edu/Administration/Sheridan_Center/pubs/teachingExchange/jan2005/01_flaxman.pdf

Hass, M. & Osborn, J. (2007, August 13). An emic view of student writing and the writing process. Across the Disciplines, 4. 

Hedengren, B.F. (2004). A TA's guide to teaching writing in all disciplines . Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's.

Hudd, S. S. (2003, April). Syllabus under construction: Involving students in the creation of class assignments.  Teaching Sociology , 31, pp. 195 – 202.

Leahy, R. (2002). Conducting writing assignments. College Teaching , 50.2, pp. 50 – 54.

Miller, H. (2007). Designing effective writing assignments.  Teaching with writing .  University of Minnesota Center for Writing. Retrieved Jan. 9, 2008, from http://writing.umn.edu/tww/assignments/designing.html

MIT Online Writing and Communication Center (1999). Creating Writing Assignments. Retrieved January 9, 2008 from http://web.mit.edu/writing/Faculty/createeffective.html .

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Tips for Writing an Assignment and Teaching It to Students

Uw-madison's writing across the curriculum program.

Here are some suggestions to keep in mind as you write your assignment handouts, as well as suggestions for other activities that prepare students to write.

Good writing assignments encourage students’ engagement with course material, promote critical thinking, and help students learn characteristic ways of asking questions, analyzing data, and making arguments in your discipline. No matter what type of writing you assign, how you present the assignments to your students can affect their success.

  • Continually share your pedagogical goals for the course and for writing assignments with students.
  • Sequence writing assignments to build on developing writing skills by progressing from easier to more difficult kinds of writing and thinking (e.g., move from summaries to arguments, from narrow questions to more complex problems).
  • The writing task (what you want them to do)
  • The student writer’s role
  • Format (length, resources to be used, manuscript details, etc.)
  • Expectations for process (draft dates, peer review workshops, revision dates)
  • Criteria for evaluation
  • Discuss how to read and interpret writing assignments.
  • Ask students how they plan to approach the assignment to clarify any misinterpretations they may have and to help them get started on the right track.
  • Allow time for student questions.
  • Model successful sample papers.
  • Do a “norming” session by asking students to evaluate a variety of sample essays (or parts of essays) and explain why the good papers were successful.
  • Try writing the assignment yourself and share your efforts with your students.
  • Provide students with multiple opportunities for feedback and revision with proposal and draft due dates.
  • Have students work in peer review groups together, presenting their work and asking each other questions.
  • Hold brief individual conferences in your office to talk about plans or drafts.
  • Have students give class presentations on their work.
  • Respond to writers, not papers.
  • Resist the urge to comment on everything, which will overwhelm students.
  • Use written or oral feedback to set a few specific goals for student improvement.
  • Respond to early drafts; evaluate final drafts.
  • Ask students to hand in early drafts and your comments with their final drafts so you can respond directly to their revisions (and spend less time responding to final versions).
  • Have students turn in self-evaluating cover sheets or cover letters with their papers to encourage self-reflection and to guide your feedback.
  • Consider giving global or models feedback to short assignment
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Designing Assignments for Learning

The rapid shift to remote teaching and learning meant that many instructors reimagined their assessment practices. Whether adapting existing assignments or creatively designing new opportunities for their students to learn, instructors focused on helping students make meaning and demonstrate their learning outside of the traditional, face-to-face classroom setting. This resource distills the elements of assignment design that are important to carry forward as we continue to seek better ways of assessing learning and build on our innovative assignment designs.

On this page:

Rethinking traditional tests, quizzes, and exams.

  • Examples from the Columbia University Classroom
  • Tips for Designing Assignments for Learning

Reflect On Your Assignment Design

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Cite this resource: Columbia Center for Teaching and Learning (2021). Designing Assignments for Learning. Columbia University. Retrieved [today’s date] from https://ctl.columbia.edu/resources-and-technology/teaching-with-technology/teaching-online/designing-assignments/

assignment instructions for students

Traditional assessments tend to reveal whether students can recognize, recall, or replicate what was learned out of context, and tend to focus on students providing correct responses (Wiggins, 1990). In contrast, authentic assignments, which are course assessments, engage students in higher order thinking, as they grapple with real or simulated challenges that help them prepare for their professional lives, and draw on the course knowledge learned and the skills acquired to create justifiable answers, performances or products (Wiggins, 1990). An authentic assessment provides opportunities for students to practice, consult resources, learn from feedback, and refine their performances and products accordingly (Wiggins 1990, 1998, 2014). 

Authentic assignments ask students to “do” the subject with an audience in mind and apply their learning in a new situation. Examples of authentic assignments include asking students to: 

  • Write for a real audience (e.g., a memo, a policy brief, letter to the editor, a grant proposal, reports, building a website) and/or publication;
  • Solve problem sets that have real world application; 
  • Design projects that address a real world problem; 
  • Engage in a community-partnered research project;
  • Create an exhibit, performance, or conference presentation ;
  • Compile and reflect on their work through a portfolio/e-portfolio.

Noteworthy elements of authentic designs are that instructors scaffold the assignment, and play an active role in preparing students for the tasks assigned, while students are intentionally asked to reflect on the process and product of their work thus building their metacognitive skills (Herrington and Oliver, 2000; Ashford-Rowe, Herrington and Brown, 2013; Frey, Schmitt, and Allen, 2012). 

It’s worth noting here that authentic assessments can initially be time consuming to design, implement, and grade. They are critiqued for being challenging to use across course contexts and for grading reliability issues (Maclellan, 2004). Despite these challenges, authentic assessments are recognized as beneficial to student learning (Svinicki, 2004) as they are learner-centered (Weimer, 2013), promote academic integrity (McLaughlin, L. and Ricevuto, 2021; Sotiriadou et al., 2019; Schroeder, 2021) and motivate students to learn (Ambrose et al., 2010). The Columbia Center for Teaching and Learning is always available to consult with faculty who are considering authentic assessment designs and to discuss challenges and affordances.   

Examples from the Columbia University Classroom 

Columbia instructors have experimented with alternative ways of assessing student learning from oral exams to technology-enhanced assignments. Below are a few examples of authentic assignments in various teaching contexts across Columbia University. 

  • E-portfolios: Statia Cook shares her experiences with an ePorfolio assignment in her co-taught Frontiers of Science course (a submission to the Voices of Hybrid and Online Teaching and Learning initiative); CUIMC use of ePortfolios ;
  • Case studies: Columbia instructors have engaged their students in authentic ways through case studies drawing on the Case Consortium at Columbia University. Read and watch a faculty spotlight to learn how Professor Mary Ann Price uses the case method to place pre-med students in real-life scenarios;
  • Simulations: students at CUIMC engage in simulations to develop their professional skills in The Mary & Michael Jaharis Simulation Center in the Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons and the Helene Fuld Health Trust Simulation Center in the Columbia School of Nursing; 
  • Experiential learning: instructors have drawn on New York City as a learning laboratory such as Barnard’s NYC as Lab webpage which highlights courses that engage students in NYC;
  • Design projects that address real world problems: Yevgeniy Yesilevskiy on the Engineering design projects completed using lab kits during remote learning. Watch Dr. Yesilevskiy talk about his teaching and read the Columbia News article . 
  • Writing assignments: Lia Marshall and her teaching associate Aparna Balasundaram reflect on their “non-disposable or renewable assignments” to prepare social work students for their professional lives as they write for a real audience; and Hannah Weaver spoke about a sandbox assignment used in her Core Literature Humanities course at the 2021 Celebration of Teaching and Learning Symposium . Watch Dr. Weaver share her experiences.  

​Tips for Designing Assignments for Learning

While designing an effective authentic assignment may seem like a daunting task, the following tips can be used as a starting point. See the Resources section for frameworks and tools that may be useful in this effort.  

Align the assignment with your course learning objectives 

Identify the kind of thinking that is important in your course, the knowledge students will apply, and the skills they will practice using through the assignment. What kind of thinking will students be asked to do for the assignment? What will students learn by completing this assignment? How will the assignment help students achieve the desired course learning outcomes? For more information on course learning objectives, see the CTL’s Course Design Essentials self-paced course and watch the video on Articulating Learning Objectives .  

Identify an authentic meaning-making task

For meaning-making to occur, students need to understand the relevance of the assignment to the course and beyond (Ambrose et al., 2010). To Bean (2011) a “meaning-making” or “meaning-constructing” task has two dimensions: 1) it presents students with an authentic disciplinary problem or asks students to formulate their own problems, both of which engage them in active critical thinking, and 2) the problem is placed in “a context that gives students a role or purpose, a targeted audience, and a genre.” (Bean, 2011: 97-98). 

An authentic task gives students a realistic challenge to grapple with, a role to take on that allows them to “rehearse for the complex ambiguities” of life, provides resources and supports to draw on, and requires students to justify their work and the process they used to inform their solution (Wiggins, 1990). Note that if students find an assignment interesting or relevant, they will see value in completing it. 

Consider the kind of activities in the real world that use the knowledge and skills that are the focus of your course. How is this knowledge and these skills applied to answer real-world questions to solve real-world problems? (Herrington et al., 2010: 22). What do professionals or academics in your discipline do on a regular basis? What does it mean to think like a biologist, statistician, historian, social scientist? How might your assignment ask students to draw on current events, issues, or problems that relate to the course and are of interest to them? How might your assignment tap into student motivation and engage them in the kinds of thinking they can apply to better understand the world around them? (Ambrose et al., 2010). 

Determine the evaluation criteria and create a rubric

To ensure equitable and consistent grading of assignments across students, make transparent the criteria you will use to evaluate student work. The criteria should focus on the knowledge and skills that are central to the assignment. Build on the criteria identified, create a rubric that makes explicit the expectations of deliverables and share this rubric with your students so they can use it as they work on the assignment. For more information on rubrics, see the CTL’s resource Incorporating Rubrics into Your Grading and Feedback Practices , and explore the Association of American Colleges & Universities VALUE Rubrics (Valid Assessment of Learning in Undergraduate Education). 

Build in metacognition

Ask students to reflect on what and how they learned from the assignment. Help students uncover personal relevance of the assignment, find intrinsic value in their work, and deepen their motivation by asking them to reflect on their process and their assignment deliverable. Sample prompts might include: what did you learn from this assignment? How might you draw on the knowledge and skills you used on this assignment in the future? See Ambrose et al., 2010 for more strategies that support motivation and the CTL’s resource on Metacognition ). 

Provide students with opportunities to practice

Design your assignment to be a learning experience and prepare students for success on the assignment. If students can reasonably expect to be successful on an assignment when they put in the required effort ,with the support and guidance of the instructor, they are more likely to engage in the behaviors necessary for learning (Ambrose et al., 2010). Ensure student success by actively teaching the knowledge and skills of the course (e.g., how to problem solve, how to write for a particular audience), modeling the desired thinking, and creating learning activities that build up to a graded assignment. Provide opportunities for students to practice using the knowledge and skills they will need for the assignment, whether through low-stakes in-class activities or homework activities that include opportunities to receive and incorporate formative feedback. For more information on providing feedback, see the CTL resource Feedback for Learning . 

Communicate about the assignment 

Share the purpose, task, audience, expectations, and criteria for the assignment. Students may have expectations about assessments and how they will be graded that is informed by their prior experiences completing high-stakes assessments, so be transparent. Tell your students why you are asking them to do this assignment, what skills they will be using, how it aligns with the course learning outcomes, and why it is relevant to their learning and their professional lives (i.e., how practitioners / professionals use the knowledge and skills in your course in real world contexts and for what purposes). Finally, verify that students understand what they need to do to complete the assignment. This can be done by asking students to respond to poll questions about different parts of the assignment, a “scavenger hunt” of the assignment instructions–giving students questions to answer about the assignment and having them work in small groups to answer the questions, or by having students share back what they think is expected of them.

Plan to iterate and to keep the focus on learning 

Draw on multiple sources of data to help make decisions about what changes are needed to the assignment, the assignment instructions, and/or rubric to ensure that it contributes to student learning. Explore assignment performance data. As Deandra Little reminds us: “a really good assignment, which is a really good assessment, also teaches you something or tells the instructor something. As much as it tells you what students are learning, it’s also telling you what they aren’t learning.” ( Teaching in Higher Ed podcast episode 337 ). Assignment bottlenecks–where students get stuck or struggle–can be good indicators that students need further support or opportunities to practice prior to completing an assignment. This awareness can inform teaching decisions. 

Triangulate the performance data by collecting student feedback, and noting your own reflections about what worked well and what did not. Revise the assignment instructions, rubric, and teaching practices accordingly. Consider how you might better align your assignment with your course objectives and/or provide more opportunities for students to practice using the knowledge and skills that they will rely on for the assignment. Additionally, keep in mind societal, disciplinary, and technological changes as you tweak your assignments for future use. 

Now is a great time to reflect on your practices and experiences with assignment design and think critically about your approach. Take a closer look at an existing assignment. Questions to consider include: What is this assignment meant to do? What purpose does it serve? Why do you ask students to do this assignment? How are they prepared to complete the assignment? Does the assignment assess the kind of learning that you really want? What would help students learn from this assignment? 

Using the tips in the previous section: How can the assignment be tweaked to be more authentic and meaningful to students? 

As you plan forward for post-pandemic teaching and reflect on your practices and reimagine your course design, you may find the following CTL resources helpful: Reflecting On Your Experiences with Remote Teaching , Transition to In-Person Teaching , and Course Design Support .

The Columbia Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) is here to help!

For assistance with assignment design, rubric design, or any other teaching and learning need, please request a consultation by emailing [email protected]

Transparency in Learning and Teaching (TILT) framework for assignments. The TILT Examples and Resources page ( https://tilthighered.com/tiltexamplesandresources ) includes example assignments from across disciplines, as well as a transparent assignment template and a checklist for designing transparent assignments . Each emphasizes the importance of articulating to students the purpose of the assignment or activity, the what and how of the task, and specifying the criteria that will be used to assess students. 

Association of American Colleges & Universities (AAC&U) offers VALUE ADD (Assignment Design and Diagnostic) tools ( https://www.aacu.org/value-add-tools ) to help with the creation of clear and effective assignments that align with the desired learning outcomes and associated VALUE rubrics (Valid Assessment of Learning in Undergraduate Education). VALUE ADD encourages instructors to explicitly state assignment information such as the purpose of the assignment, what skills students will be using, how it aligns with course learning outcomes, the assignment type, the audience and context for the assignment, clear evaluation criteria, desired formatting, and expectations for completion whether individual or in a group.

Villarroel et al. (2017) propose a blueprint for building authentic assessments which includes four steps: 1) consider the workplace context, 2) design the authentic assessment; 3) learn and apply standards for judgement; and 4) give feedback. 

References 

Ambrose, S. A., Bridges, M. W., & DiPietro, M. (2010). Chapter 3: What Factors Motivate Students to Learn? In How Learning Works: Seven Research-Based Principles for Smart Teaching . Jossey-Bass. 

Ashford-Rowe, K., Herrington, J., and Brown, C. (2013). Establishing the critical elements that determine authentic assessment. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education. 39(2), 205-222, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02602938.2013.819566 .  

Bean, J.C. (2011). Engaging Ideas: The Professor’s Guide to Integrating Writing, Critical Thinking, and Active Learning in the Classroom . Second Edition. Jossey-Bass. 

Frey, B. B, Schmitt, V. L., and Allen, J. P. (2012). Defining Authentic Classroom Assessment. Practical Assessment, Research, and Evaluation. 17(2). DOI: https://doi.org/10.7275/sxbs-0829  

Herrington, J., Reeves, T. C., and Oliver, R. (2010). A Guide to Authentic e-Learning . Routledge. 

Herrington, J. and Oliver, R. (2000). An instructional design framework for authentic learning environments. Educational Technology Research and Development, 48(3), 23-48. 

Litchfield, B. C. and Dempsey, J. V. (2015). Authentic Assessment of Knowledge, Skills, and Attitudes. New Directions for Teaching and Learning. 142 (Summer 2015), 65-80. 

Maclellan, E. (2004). How convincing is alternative assessment for use in higher education. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education. 29(3), June 2004. DOI: 10.1080/0260293042000188267

McLaughlin, L. and Ricevuto, J. (2021). Assessments in a Virtual Environment: You Won’t Need that Lockdown Browser! Faculty Focus. June 2, 2021. 

Mueller, J. (2005). The Authentic Assessment Toolbox: Enhancing Student Learning through Online Faculty Development . MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching. 1(1). July 2005. Mueller’s Authentic Assessment Toolbox is available online. 

Schroeder, R. (2021). Vaccinate Against Cheating With Authentic Assessment . Inside Higher Ed. (February 26, 2021).  

Sotiriadou, P., Logan, D., Daly, A., and Guest, R. (2019). The role of authentic assessment to preserve academic integrity and promote skills development and employability. Studies in Higher Education. 45(111), 2132-2148. https://doi.org/10.1080/03075079.2019.1582015    

Stachowiak, B. (Host). (November 25, 2020). Authentic Assignments with Deandra Little. (Episode 337). In Teaching in Higher Ed . https://teachinginhighered.com/podcast/authentic-assignments/  

Svinicki, M. D. (2004). Authentic Assessment: Testing in Reality. New Directions for Teaching and Learning. 100 (Winter 2004): 23-29. 

Villarroel, V., Bloxham, S, Bruna, D., Bruna, C., and Herrera-Seda, C. (2017). Authentic assessment: creating a blueprint for course design. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education. 43(5), 840-854. https://doi.org/10.1080/02602938.2017.1412396    

Weimer, M. (2013). Learner-Centered Teaching: Five Key Changes to Practice . Second Edition. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. 

Wiggins, G. (2014). Authenticity in assessment, (re-)defined and explained. Retrieved from https://grantwiggins.wordpress.com/2014/01/26/authenticity-in-assessment-re-defined-and-explained/

Wiggins, G. (1998). Teaching to the (Authentic) Test. Educational Leadership . April 1989. 41-47. 

Wiggins, Grant (1990). The Case for Authentic Assessment . Practical Assessment, Research & Evaluation , 2(2). 

Wondering how AI tools might play a role in your course assignments?

See the CTL’s resource “Considerations for AI Tools in the Classroom.”

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Rethinking Online Assignments

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Assignments and assessments designed to be used in person might be less effective when adapted for online learning. These strategies for rethinking learning activities for online courses can help you address these issues.

Clearly communicate assignment instructions

We often take for granted the many informal interactions that occur in a face-to-face setting. Simple clarifications, adjustments, and reassurances about assignment due dates, requirements, and expectations can be lost when going online. Consider the following strategies to address this:

  • Make instructions clear and explicit. Provide students with clear guidance about exactly what needs to be done, when assignments are due, and how this will affect their grades.
  • Allocate more time to communicating with students. Be prepared to spend more time communicating assignment instructions, sending reminders, answering questions, or clarifying requirements.
  • Be meticulous with assignment instructions. Keep assignment instructions consistent in how and where they appear in the online learning space. Be sure to highlight any changes.
  • Keep it simple. Avoid elaborate assignments that require overly complex instructions. Or, if such an assignment is important to your course, dedicate extra time to reviewing the instructions.

Make assignments easy to manage

Online coursework, particularly with asynchronous elements, gives learners more choices around how they can engage with the course. This can provide more flexibility and freedom, but it requires students to effectively and proactively manage their own learning. Help your students focus more on learning and less on managing their workload with these strategies:

  • Chunk big assignments.  Large assignments put a lot of stress on particular weeks, so losing a week of work for any reason can heavily impact student success. A well-designed online course spreads the workload out as evenly as possible. With a little planning, it is also easy to accommodate extended time for short assessments . 
  • Create routines and habits.  Consider repeating assignments that occur regularly, like weekly reading reflections, daily problem sets, or regular discussion forums. Create predictability by having regular due dates and instructions.
  • Make the content needed for assignments convenient. If students need a particular article or weblink for an assignment, make it available with the assignment instructions. Clearly label files and materials so students can easily identify what they need to complete an assignment.

Be intentional about community and student input

You may find that meaningful engagement and connection happen differently in online learning than in traditional learning. Students can become disconnected from learning if the assignments are not meaningful to them, especially with asynchronous formats. These strategies can help you to get students more engaged with assignments:

  • Try group projects, if it makes sense.  While group projects can be more difficult to organize, they are a great way to get students in the course to know each other and build a learning community. 
  • Introduce low-stakes community-building assignments.  Try starting students off with something very simple, like a self introduction exercise, that lets them share something about themselves and connect to one another. Then, perhaps create spaces for students to get to know each other and deepen connections around shared interests, experiences, or communities.
  • Let students influence assignments.  Consider assignments that connect to topics and issues that students care about. Include an element of student choice and gather feedback from students on the design of the assignment. You might even have students contribute to rubrics or grading criteria.
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  • Create assignments

Create an assignment

This article is for teachers.

When you create an assignment, you can post it immediately, save a draft, or schedule it to post at a later date. After students complete and turn in their work, you can grade and return it to the students.

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Create & post assignments

When you create an assignment, you can:

  • Select one or more classes

Select individual students

Add a grade category, add a grading period, change the point value, add a due date or time, add a topic, add attachments, add a rubric.

  • Turn on originality reports

Go to classroom.google.com  and click Sign In.

Sign in with your Google Account. For example,  [email protected] or [email protected] .  Learn more .

and then

  • Enter the title and any instructions.

You can continue to edit and customize your assignment. Otherwise, if you’re ready, see below to post, schedule, or save your assignment .

Select additional classes

Assignments to multiple classes go to all students in those classes.

  • Create an assignment (details above).

Down Arrow

Unless you’re selecting multiple classes, you can select individual students. You can’t select more than 100 students at a time.

  • Click a student's name to select them.

Use grade categories to organize assignments. With grade categories, you and your students can see the category an assignment belongs to, such as Homework or Essays . Teachers also see the categories on the Grades page.

For more information on grade categories, go to Add a grade category to posts or Set up grading .

To organize assignments and grades into your school or district’s grading structure, create grading periods, such as quarters or semesters.

  • From the menu, select a grading period.

Tip: Before adding a grading period to an assignment, create a grading period for the class first. Learn how to create or edit grading periods .

You can change the point value of an assignment or make the assignment ungraded. By default, assignments are set at 100 points.

  • Under Points , click the value.
  • Enter a new point value or select Ungraded .

By default, an assignment has no due date. To set a due date:

assignment instructions for students

  • Click a date on the calendar.
  • To create a topic, click Create topic and enter a topic name.
  • Click a topic in the list to select it.

Note : You can only add one topic to an assignment.

Learn more about how to add topics to the Classwork page .

  • Create an assignment.

assignment instructions for students

  • Important: Google Drive files can be edited by co-teachers and are view-only to students. To change these share options, you can stop, limit, or change sharing .

assignment instructions for students

  • To add YouTube videos, an admin must turn on this option. Learn about access settings for your Google Workspace for Education account .
  • You can add interactive questions to YouTube video attachments. Learn how to add interactive questions to YouTube video attachments .

assignment instructions for students

  • Tip: When you attach a practice set to an assignment, you can't edit it.

File upload

  • If you see a message that you don’t have permission to attach a file, click Copy . Classroom makes a copy of the file to attach to the assignment and saves it to the class Drive folder.
  • Students can view file —All students can read the file, but not edit it.
  • Students can edit file —All students share the same file and can make changes to it.

Note : This option is only available before you post an assignment.

assignment instructions for students

Use an add-on

For instructions, go to Use add-ons in Classroom

For instructions, go to Create or reuse a rubric for an assignment .

For instructions, go to Turn on originality reports .

You can post an assignment immediately, or schedule it to post later. If you don’t want to post it yet, you can save it as a draft. To see scheduled and drafted assignments, click Classwork .

Post an assignment

  • Follow the steps above to create an assignment.
  • Click Assign to immediately post the assignment.

Schedule the assignment to post later

Scheduled assignments might be delayed up to 5 minutes after the post time.

  • To schedule the same assignment across multiple classes, make sure to select all classes you want to include.
  • When you enter a time, Classroom defaults to PM unless you specify AM.
  • (Optional) Select a due date and topic for each class.
  • (Optional) To replicate your selected time and date for the first class into all subsequent classes, click Copy settings to all .
  • Click Schedule . The assignment will automatically post at the scheduled date and time.

After scheduling multiple assignments at once, you can still edit assignments later by clicking into each class and changing them individually.

Save an assignment as a draft

  • Follow the steps above to create an assignment

You can open and edit draft assignments on the Classwork page.

Manage assignments

Edits affect individual classes. For multi-class assignments, make edits in each class.

Note : If you change an assignment's name, the assignment's Drive folder name isn't updated. Go to Drive and rename the folder.

Edit a posted assignment

assignment instructions for students

  • Enter your changes and click Save .

Edit a scheduled assignment

  • Enter your changes and click Schedule .

Edit a draft assignment

Changes are automatically saved.

  • Assign it immediately (details above).
  • Schedule it to post at a specific date and time (details above).
  • Click a class.

You can only delete an assignment on the Classwork page.

If you delete an assignment, all grades and comments related to the assignment are deleted. However, any attachments or files created by you or the students are still available in Drive.

Related articles

  • Create or reuse a rubric for an assignment
  • Create a quiz assignment
  • Create a question
  • Use add-ons in Classroom
  • Create, edit, delete, or share a practice set
  • Learn about interactive questions for YouTube videos in Google Classroom

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Attributes of Well-Written Assignment Instructions

When you are teaching a face-to-face course, you have some freedom to provide assignment instructions to your students that are somewhat imprecise. This is because you have the opportunity to provide further clarification or to answer any questions in person when your students are right in front of you. In an online course, however, assignment instructions should be maximally clear without any vagueness or ambiguity. Without your students sitting in front of you in real time, you won’t have as much of an opportunity to provide further clarification on assignment instructions that are less than precise.

When writing assignment instructions, the goal should be to provide as much precision, clarity, and specificity needed to ensure students have all the information they will need to be successful in their work on the assignment. The following are several attributes of well-written assignment instructions in an online course:

When writing instructions for online course materials, it can be helpful to imagine that you would never be able to provide further clarification on the assignment instructions or make any future edits. The kind of clarity you would provide if you knew you would never be able to provide further clarification is what you should strive for when writing assignment instructions for online course materials. Even if you end up teaching the course yourself, the reality is that the direct interaction with your students is likely to be asynchronous at best and nonexistent at worst. So you should aim to set students up for success with the quality and precision of the online course materials and assignment instructions that you author from the very beginning.

Have an idea for how to make assignment instructions as clear and precise as possible? Let us know about it in the comments section and join the conversation!

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Eberly Center

Teaching excellence & educational innovation, creating assignments.

Here are some general suggestions and questions to consider when creating assignments. There are also many other resources in print and on the web that provide examples of interesting, discipline-specific assignment ideas.

Consider your learning objectives.

What do you want students to learn in your course? What could they do that would show you that they have learned it? To determine assignments that truly serve your course objectives, it is useful to write out your objectives in this form: I want my students to be able to ____. Use active, measurable verbs as you complete that sentence (e.g., compare theories, discuss ramifications, recommend strategies), and your learning objectives will point you towards suitable assignments.

Design assignments that are interesting and challenging.

This is the fun side of assignment design. Consider how to focus students’ thinking in ways that are creative, challenging, and motivating. Think beyond the conventional assignment type! For example, one American historian requires students to write diary entries for a hypothetical Nebraska farmwoman in the 1890s. By specifying that students’ diary entries must demonstrate the breadth of their historical knowledge (e.g., gender, economics, technology, diet, family structure), the instructor gets students to exercise their imaginations while also accomplishing the learning objectives of the course (Walvoord & Anderson, 1989, p. 25).

Double-check alignment.

After creating your assignments, go back to your learning objectives and make sure there is still a good match between what you want students to learn and what you are asking them to do. If you find a mismatch, you will need to adjust either the assignments or the learning objectives. For instance, if your goal is for students to be able to analyze and evaluate texts, but your assignments only ask them to summarize texts, you would need to add an analytical and evaluative dimension to some assignments or rethink your learning objectives.

Name assignments accurately.

Students can be misled by assignments that are named inappropriately. For example, if you want students to analyze a product’s strengths and weaknesses but you call the assignment a “product description,” students may focus all their energies on the descriptive, not the critical, elements of the task. Thus, it is important to ensure that the titles of your assignments communicate their intention accurately to students.

Consider sequencing.

Think about how to order your assignments so that they build skills in a logical sequence. Ideally, assignments that require the most synthesis of skills and knowledge should come later in the semester, preceded by smaller assignments that build these skills incrementally. For example, if an instructor’s final assignment is a research project that requires students to evaluate a technological solution to an environmental problem, earlier assignments should reinforce component skills, including the ability to identify and discuss key environmental issues, apply evaluative criteria, and find appropriate research sources.

Think about scheduling.

Consider your intended assignments in relation to the academic calendar and decide how they can be reasonably spaced throughout the semester, taking into account holidays and key campus events. Consider how long it will take students to complete all parts of the assignment (e.g., planning, library research, reading, coordinating groups, writing, integrating the contributions of team members, developing a presentation), and be sure to allow sufficient time between assignments.

Check feasibility.

Is the workload you have in mind reasonable for your students? Is the grading burden manageable for you? Sometimes there are ways to reduce workload (whether for you or for students) without compromising learning objectives. For example, if a primary objective in assigning a project is for students to identify an interesting engineering problem and do some preliminary research on it, it might be reasonable to require students to submit a project proposal and annotated bibliography rather than a fully developed report. If your learning objectives are clear, you will see where corners can be cut without sacrificing educational quality.

Articulate the task description clearly.

If an assignment is vague, students may interpret it any number of ways – and not necessarily how you intended. Thus, it is critical to clearly and unambiguously identify the task students are to do (e.g., design a website to help high school students locate environmental resources, create an annotated bibliography of readings on apartheid). It can be helpful to differentiate the central task (what students are supposed to produce) from other advice and information you provide in your assignment description.

Establish clear performance criteria.

Different instructors apply different criteria when grading student work, so it’s important that you clearly articulate to students what your criteria are. To do so, think about the best student work you have seen on similar tasks and try to identify the specific characteristics that made it excellent, such as clarity of thought, originality, logical organization, or use of a wide range of sources. Then identify the characteristics of the worst student work you have seen, such as shaky evidence, weak organizational structure, or lack of focus. Identifying these characteristics can help you consciously articulate the criteria you already apply. It is important to communicate these criteria to students, whether in your assignment description or as a separate rubric or scoring guide . Clearly articulated performance criteria can prevent unnecessary confusion about your expectations while also setting a high standard for students to meet.

Specify the intended audience.

Students make assumptions about the audience they are addressing in papers and presentations, which influences how they pitch their message. For example, students may assume that, since the instructor is their primary audience, they do not need to define discipline-specific terms or concepts. These assumptions may not match the instructor’s expectations. Thus, it is important on assignments to specify the intended audience http://wac.colostate.edu/intro/pop10e.cfm (e.g., undergraduates with no biology background, a potential funder who does not know engineering).

Specify the purpose of the assignment.

If students are unclear about the goals or purpose of the assignment, they may make unnecessary mistakes. For example, if students believe an assignment is focused on summarizing research as opposed to evaluating it, they may seriously miscalculate the task and put their energies in the wrong place. The same is true they think the goal of an economics problem set is to find the correct answer, rather than demonstrate a clear chain of economic reasoning. Consequently, it is important to make your objectives for the assignment clear to students.

Specify the parameters.

If you have specific parameters in mind for the assignment (e.g., length, size, formatting, citation conventions) you should be sure to specify them in your assignment description. Otherwise, students may misapply conventions and formats they learned in other courses that are not appropriate for yours.

A Checklist for Designing Assignments

Here is a set of questions you can ask yourself when creating an assignment.

  • Provided a written description of the assignment (in the syllabus or in a separate document)?
  • Specified the purpose of the assignment?
  • Indicated the intended audience?
  • Articulated the instructions in precise and unambiguous language?
  • Provided information about the appropriate format and presentation (e.g., page length, typed, cover sheet, bibliography)?  
  • Indicated special instructions, such as a particular citation style or headings?  
  • Specified the due date and the consequences for missing it?
  • Articulated performance criteria clearly?
  • Indicated the assignment’s point value or percentage of the course grade?
  • Provided students (where appropriate) with models or samples?

Adapted from the WAC Clearinghouse at http://wac.colostate.edu/intro/pop10e.cfm .

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Writing Technical Instructions

Writing Technical Instructions

  • Resources & Preparation
  • Instructional Plan
  • Related Resources

Learning to write technical instructions is challenging. Writers must consider audience, purpose, context, length, and complexity—plus the specific content of the instructions, such as the steps in using a stapler. In this lesson, students walk through the process of creating technical instructions by first analyzing existing instructions. They then select an item and an audience for which they will write technical instructions. After writing their own instructions, students conduct usability tests of each other's instructions, providing user feedback. Finally, students use this user feedback to revise their instructions before publishing them.

Featured Resources

Analyzing Technical Instructions : Students can use the questions on this handout as a guide when they analyze sample technical instructions. Technical Instructions Planning Sheet : This handout explains the process for working with a partner to plan the technical instructions they will write. Conducting a Usability Test : This handout includes instructions for testing the technical instructions students have written.

From Theory to Practice

Teaching students how to write technical instructions helps them see that "to write, to engage in any communication, is to participate in a community; to write well is to understand the conditions of one's own participation-the concepts, values, traditions, and style which permit identification with that community and determine the success or failure of communication" (Miller 22). Similarly, in discussing finding meaningful writing activities for the English classroom, Weber writes: "The technical writing approach is one of many avenues to this goal. It engages my students in the total communications process: creating, planning, writing, editing, presenting, listening, sharing, and evaluating." Understanding discourse communities requires students to analyze the audience for a written work, and learning to write instructions is one such way students can learn about both audience analysis and technical writing. This lesson works toward building students' understanding of the importance their writing has on real audiences. Further Reading

Common Core Standards

This resource has been aligned to the Common Core State Standards for states in which they have been adopted. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, CCSS alignments are forthcoming.

State Standards

This lesson has been aligned to standards in the following states. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, standard alignments are not currently available for that state.

NCTE/IRA National Standards for the English Language Arts

  • 1. Students read a wide range of print and nonprint texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States and the world; to acquire new information; to respond to the needs and demands of society and the workplace; and for personal fulfillment. Among these texts are fiction and nonfiction, classic and contemporary works.
  • 4. Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.
  • 5. Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes.
  • 6. Students apply knowledge of language structure, language conventions (e.g., spelling and punctuation), media techniques, figurative language, and genre to create, critique, and discuss print and nonprint texts.
  • 8. Students use a variety of technological and information resources (e.g., libraries, databases, computer networks, video) to gather and synthesize information and to create and communicate knowledge.
  • 9. Students develop an understanding of and respect for diversity in language use, patterns, and dialects across cultures, ethnic groups, geographic regions, and social roles.
  • 11. Students participate as knowledgeable, reflective, creative, and critical members of a variety of literacy communities.
  • 12. Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information).

Materials and Technology

  • Sample technical instructions (Manuals, user guides, etc.)
  • Household items for writing instructions
  • Access to computer with Internet connection, Microsoft Word or Publisher, and printer
  • Large white paper (Chart-sized sticky notes work well for hanging items on wall)
  • Digital camera (optional)
  • Analyzing Technical Instructions
  • Sample Technical Instructions Rubric
  • Technical Instructions Planning Sheet
  • Visually Drafting Your Instructions
  • Using ReadWriteThink Notetaker to Draft Instructions
  • Conducting a Usability Test

Preparation

  • Collect a variety of written technical instructions for household items for students to use to analyze. Try to collect both effective and ineffective examples. Examples are also available online, at the Websites listed in the Resources section . Review the examples to familiarize yourself with their features and effectiveness.
  • Prepare three or four examples of effective and ineffective written technical instructions, using those you gathered or online examples, to be shown on an overhead or a document camera.
  • Make sure students have access to computer labs during sessions two through five.
  • Prepare copies of all handouts for distribution in class.
  • Test the Notetaker on your computers to familiarize yourself with the tool and ensure that you have the Flash plug-in installed. You can download the plug-in from the technical support page.

Student Objectives

Students will

  • analyze technical instructions to learn what makes them effective or ineffective for an audience.
  • analyze and describe the audience for a set of instructions, noting what that audience needs from that document.
  • understand the difference between technical writing and other genres of writing.
  • use document and audience analysis, drafting, peer response/user feedback, and revision to create effective technical instructions.
  • reflect on their writing process, noting how this assignment will be useful to them in future writing.

Session One

  • Ask students to talk about their experiences reading and using different types of written texts.
  • How are these different?
  • How do these genres speak to different audiences?
  • How do these types of writing work toward different purposes?
  • Ask students to focus on technical writing as a genre and to brainstorm the different kinds of written instructions they have seen or used in the past. Record their responses on the board or an overhead transparency.
  • What were they using the instructions for?
  • How helpful were they?
  • What were the best parts of the instructions?
  • What parts were difficult or hard to use?
  • What did they do if they had trouble using the instructions?
  • Arrange the class in groups of two to four students each, and give each group a set of instructions from those that you gathered. If the class meets in a computer classroom, share the links to instructions included in the Resources section.
  • Pass out copies of the Analyzing Technical Instructions , and ask students to analyze their instructions and record their observations on the handout.
  • When students complete their analysis, bring the class together and have each group report on their set of instructions.
  • On a sheet of chart paper, make a list of the top five effective and top five ineffective things students noticed about the instructions.
  • Hang this paper on the wall in the classroom for reference during the next three class sessions.
  • Ask students to bring one common household item to the next class session. Explain that students will write their own instructions for the item, so they should bring items that do not already have written instructions.
  • Brainstorm and discuss with students what would make good items and what would be too complex.
  • Encourage them to bring items that are not overly complex but not too simple either. Examples may include a stapler, clock, paper punch, flashlight, mechanical pencil, etc. Students should be able to write instructions for operating 2–3 features of the item. (For example, how to use a stapler and how to replace staples when cartridge is empty.) Encourage students to be creative in their choices.
  • Gather some extra items from the classroom or your home before the next session so you have options for students who forget to bring items.

Session Two

  • Review the top five effective and ineffective things about technical instructions from previous session with the class.
  • Spend more time with this topic, asking students to create a rubric determining what makes technical documents effective or ineffective. Use the Sample Technical Instructions Rubric as a model or starting point for the task.
  • Ask students to take out their household item, and spend five minutes freewriting about why they chose that item and how difficult it may or may not be to write instructions for it.
  • Arrange students in pairs, and ask them to share the item they brought and their thoughts from the freewriting.
  • Have students interview each other, using the Technical Instructions Planning Sheet to take notes about each other’s items.
  • Once interviews are complete, have students begin drafting their instructions. Give them large pieces of white paper for them to design, or mock up, their rough drafts.
  • Pass out copies or share an overhead transparency of the Visually Drafting Your Instructions sheet. Explain that students will draw separate boxes for each part of the item they want their instructions to cover, following the information on the handout.
  • Demonstrate how to use the ReadWriteThink Notetaker to document the steps in instructions, sharing the Using ReadWriteThink Notetaker to Draft Instructions handout with the class.
  • Have students use their notes on the Planning Sheet and their copies of the Visually Drafting Your Instructions handout to begin writing. Students can use the Notetaker to draft their instructions.
  • After students have outlined their instructions using Notetaker , ask them to print their work. Work cannot be saved in the Notetaker .
  • For homework, ask students to continue drafting their outlines using the Notetaker . Students should bring printed copies of Notetaker outlines to next session.

Session Three

  • Review outlines created using ReadWriteThink Notetaker with students.
  • Ask students to discuss how they will organize their notes into instructions, how many pages they will need, whether they need to include pictures to illustrate instructions.
  • The Process of Writing a Technical Manual
  • Instructions: How to Write for Busy, Grouchy People
  • After students review the site, ask them to write down three things they learned that they will consider as they write their own instructions.
  • Invite students to share their observations and discuss the advice as a whole class.
  • Review the expectations for the project using the rubric students created during the previous session. Answer any questions that students have about the project.
  • Explain the options that students have for creating polished drafts of their work. Point out the available software (e.g., Microsoft Word, Publisher) that students can use to type and format their instructions. (Depending on the class, instructors may need to instruct students on using the software to do this).
  • inserting Clip Art images.
  • drawing diagrams of their items using the computer or drawing by hand.
  • labeling parts or connecting the diagrams to the instructions.
  • importing images taken with a digital camera.
  • Ask students to print copies of their instructions when finished.
  • If additional time is needed, ask students to finish drafting their instructions for homework.
  • Remind students to bring a copy of their instructions and the related item to the next class.

Session Four

  • Students will bring a copy of their printed (complete) instructions and their household item.
  • Pass out copies of the instructions for Conducting a Usability Test and review the instructions with students.
  • Ask students to use the remaining class time to conduct at least two usability tests. Ensure that students understand that two different students will read and test their instructions for using the household item.
  • If time allows, students can begin revising their instructions in class and consult with the testers as appropriate.
  • For homework, students can continue working on revising their instructions. Students will finish revisions during the next session and submit their work.

Session Five

  • Have students revise their instructions, using the available resources—word processing software, clip art, and so forth.
  • Encourage students to consult the notes from their usability testing as they revise.
  • As students revise, circulate through the room, meeting with student to discuss revisions and offer suggestions.
  • Ask students to print their technical instructions, staple or attach pages as needed, and present final products to the class or school by the end of the session.
  • Spend additional time exploring document design by exploring alternative publishing options such as pamphlets, brochures, and different-sized documents.
  • Rather than writing instructions for operating a common household item, ask students to write instructions for completing a basic task, such as making a sandwich or addressing an envelope.
  • For a humorous break, share this Wendy’s training video and ask students to discuss what was effective and ineffective about those instructions. Be sure to discuss when the video was produced and how the video fit (or didn’t) the needs of the audience at the time it was produced.

Student Assessment / Reflections

  • Collect students’ worksheets, including the Analyzing Technical Instructions and the Technical Instructions Planning Sheet , and the notes taken during the Usability Test . Review the work for completion and understanding of the basic goals of the lesson, including comprehension of the role that audience and purpose play in effective technical writing.
  • During class discussion and students’ work in pairs, listen for comments that show students can think critically about the goals and effective strategies for technical writing in general and specifically for instructions.
  • For a formal assessment, use the rubric created by the class during Session Two, which was based on the the Sample Technical Instructions Rubric .
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Google Classroom  - Creating Assignments and Materials

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Google Classroom: Creating Assignments and Materials

Lesson 2: creating assignments and materials.

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Creating assignments and materials

Google Classroom gives you the ability to create and assign work for your students, all without having to print anything. Questions , essays , worksheets , and readings can all be distributed online and made easily available to your class. If you haven't created a class already, check out our Getting Started with Google Classroom lesson.

Watch the video below to learn more about creating assignments and materials in Google Classroom.

Creating an assignment

Whenever you want to create new assignments, questions, or material, you'll need to navigate to the Classwork tab.

clicking the Classwork tab

In this tab, you can create assignments and view all current and past assignments. To create an assignment, click the Create button, then select Assignment . You can also select Question if you'd like to pose a single question to your students, or Material if you simply want to post a reading, visual, or other supplementary material.

clicking the Assignment option in the Create menu

This will bring up the Assignment form. Google Classroom offers considerable flexibility and options when creating assignments.

Click the buttons in the interactive below to become familiar with the Assignment form.

assignment form interactive

This is where you'll type the title of the assignment you're creating.

Instructions

If you'd like to include instructions with your assignment, you can type them here.

Here, you can decide how many points an assignment is worth by typing the number in the form. You can also click the drop-down arrow to select Ungraded if you don't want to grade an assignment.

You can select a due date for an assignment by clicking this arrow and selecting a date from the calendar that appears. Students will have until then to submit their work.

In Google Classroom, you can sort your assignments and materials into topics. This menu allows you to select an existing topic or create a new one to place an assignment under.

Attachments

You can attach files from your computer , files from Google Drive , URLs , and YouTube videos to your assignments.

Google Classroom gives you the option of sending assignments to all students or a select number .

Once you're happy with the assignment you've created, click Assign . The drop-down menu also gives you the option to Schedule  an assignment if you'd like it to post it at a later date.

You can attach a rubric to help students know your expectations for the assignment and to give them feedback.

Once you've completed the form and clicked Assign , your students will receive an email notification letting them know about the assignment.

Google Classroom takes all of your assignments and automatically adds them to your Google Calendar. From the Classwork tab, you can click Google Calendar to pull this up and get a better overall view of the timeline for your assignments' due dates.

clicking Google Calendar

Using Google Docs with assignments

When creating an assignment, there may often be times when you want to attach a document from Google Docs. These can be helpful when providing lengthy instructions, study guides, and other material.

When attaching these types of files, you'll want to make sure to choose the correct setting for how your students can interact with it . After attaching one to an assignment, you'll find a drop-down menu with three options.

selecting the Students Can View File option

Let's take a look at when you might want to use each of these:

  • Students can view file : Use this option if the file is simply something you want your students to view but not make any changes to.
  • Students can edit file : This option can be helpful if you're providing a document you want your students to collaborate on or fill out collectively.
  • Make a copy for each student : If you're creating a worksheet or document that you want each student to complete individually, this option will create a separate copy of the same document for every student.

Using topics

On the Classwork tab, you can use  topics to sort and group your assignments and material. To create a topic, click the Create button, then select Topic .

clicking the Topic option in the Create menu

Topics can be helpful for organizing your content into the various units you teach throughout the year. You could also use it to separate your content by type , splitting it into homework, classwork, readings, and other topic areas.

showing a class with three topics

In our next lesson , we'll explore how to create quizzes and worksheets with Google Forms, further expanding how you can use Google Classroom with your students.

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Home » Assignment – Types, Examples and Writing Guide

Assignment – Types, Examples and Writing Guide

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Assignment

Definition:

Assignment is a task given to students by a teacher or professor, usually as a means of assessing their understanding and application of course material. Assignments can take various forms, including essays, research papers, presentations, problem sets, lab reports, and more.

Assignments are typically designed to be completed outside of class time and may require independent research, critical thinking, and analysis. They are often graded and used as a significant component of a student’s overall course grade. The instructions for an assignment usually specify the goals, requirements, and deadlines for completion, and students are expected to meet these criteria to earn a good grade.

History of Assignment

The use of assignments as a tool for teaching and learning has been a part of education for centuries. Following is a brief history of the Assignment.

  • Ancient Times: Assignments such as writing exercises, recitations, and memorization tasks were used to reinforce learning.
  • Medieval Period : Universities began to develop the concept of the assignment, with students completing essays, commentaries, and translations to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of the subject matter.
  • 19th Century : With the growth of schools and universities, assignments became more widespread and were used to assess student progress and achievement.
  • 20th Century: The rise of distance education and online learning led to the further development of assignments as an integral part of the educational process.
  • Present Day: Assignments continue to be used in a variety of educational settings and are seen as an effective way to promote student learning and assess student achievement. The nature and format of assignments continue to evolve in response to changing educational needs and technological innovations.

Types of Assignment

Here are some of the most common types of assignments:

An essay is a piece of writing that presents an argument, analysis, or interpretation of a topic or question. It usually consists of an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion.

Essay structure:

  • Introduction : introduces the topic and thesis statement
  • Body paragraphs : each paragraph presents a different argument or idea, with evidence and analysis to support it
  • Conclusion : summarizes the key points and reiterates the thesis statement

Research paper

A research paper involves gathering and analyzing information on a particular topic, and presenting the findings in a well-structured, documented paper. It usually involves conducting original research, collecting data, and presenting it in a clear, organized manner.

Research paper structure:

  • Title page : includes the title of the paper, author’s name, date, and institution
  • Abstract : summarizes the paper’s main points and conclusions
  • Introduction : provides background information on the topic and research question
  • Literature review: summarizes previous research on the topic
  • Methodology : explains how the research was conducted
  • Results : presents the findings of the research
  • Discussion : interprets the results and draws conclusions
  • Conclusion : summarizes the key findings and implications

A case study involves analyzing a real-life situation, problem or issue, and presenting a solution or recommendations based on the analysis. It often involves extensive research, data analysis, and critical thinking.

Case study structure:

  • Introduction : introduces the case study and its purpose
  • Background : provides context and background information on the case
  • Analysis : examines the key issues and problems in the case
  • Solution/recommendations: proposes solutions or recommendations based on the analysis
  • Conclusion: Summarize the key points and implications

A lab report is a scientific document that summarizes the results of a laboratory experiment or research project. It typically includes an introduction, methodology, results, discussion, and conclusion.

Lab report structure:

  • Title page : includes the title of the experiment, author’s name, date, and institution
  • Abstract : summarizes the purpose, methodology, and results of the experiment
  • Methods : explains how the experiment was conducted
  • Results : presents the findings of the experiment

Presentation

A presentation involves delivering information, data or findings to an audience, often with the use of visual aids such as slides, charts, or diagrams. It requires clear communication skills, good organization, and effective use of technology.

Presentation structure:

  • Introduction : introduces the topic and purpose of the presentation
  • Body : presents the main points, findings, or data, with the help of visual aids
  • Conclusion : summarizes the key points and provides a closing statement

Creative Project

A creative project is an assignment that requires students to produce something original, such as a painting, sculpture, video, or creative writing piece. It allows students to demonstrate their creativity and artistic skills.

Creative project structure:

  • Introduction : introduces the project and its purpose
  • Body : presents the creative work, with explanations or descriptions as needed
  • Conclusion : summarizes the key elements and reflects on the creative process.

Examples of Assignments

Following are Examples of Assignment templates samples:

Essay template:

I. Introduction

  • Hook: Grab the reader’s attention with a catchy opening sentence.
  • Background: Provide some context or background information on the topic.
  • Thesis statement: State the main argument or point of your essay.

II. Body paragraphs

  • Topic sentence: Introduce the main idea or argument of the paragraph.
  • Evidence: Provide evidence or examples to support your point.
  • Analysis: Explain how the evidence supports your argument.
  • Transition: Use a transition sentence to lead into the next paragraph.

III. Conclusion

  • Restate thesis: Summarize your main argument or point.
  • Review key points: Summarize the main points you made in your essay.
  • Concluding thoughts: End with a final thought or call to action.

Research paper template:

I. Title page

  • Title: Give your paper a descriptive title.
  • Author: Include your name and institutional affiliation.
  • Date: Provide the date the paper was submitted.

II. Abstract

  • Background: Summarize the background and purpose of your research.
  • Methodology: Describe the methods you used to conduct your research.
  • Results: Summarize the main findings of your research.
  • Conclusion: Provide a brief summary of the implications and conclusions of your research.

III. Introduction

  • Background: Provide some background information on the topic.
  • Research question: State your research question or hypothesis.
  • Purpose: Explain the purpose of your research.

IV. Literature review

  • Background: Summarize previous research on the topic.
  • Gaps in research: Identify gaps or areas that need further research.

V. Methodology

  • Participants: Describe the participants in your study.
  • Procedure: Explain the procedure you used to conduct your research.
  • Measures: Describe the measures you used to collect data.

VI. Results

  • Quantitative results: Summarize the quantitative data you collected.
  • Qualitative results: Summarize the qualitative data you collected.

VII. Discussion

  • Interpretation: Interpret the results and explain what they mean.
  • Implications: Discuss the implications of your research.
  • Limitations: Identify any limitations or weaknesses of your research.

VIII. Conclusion

  • Review key points: Summarize the main points you made in your paper.

Case study template:

  • Background: Provide background information on the case.
  • Research question: State the research question or problem you are examining.
  • Purpose: Explain the purpose of the case study.

II. Analysis

  • Problem: Identify the main problem or issue in the case.
  • Factors: Describe the factors that contributed to the problem.
  • Alternative solutions: Describe potential solutions to the problem.

III. Solution/recommendations

  • Proposed solution: Describe the solution you are proposing.
  • Rationale: Explain why this solution is the best one.
  • Implementation: Describe how the solution can be implemented.

IV. Conclusion

  • Summary: Summarize the main points of your case study.

Lab report template:

  • Title: Give your report a descriptive title.
  • Date: Provide the date the report was submitted.
  • Background: Summarize the background and purpose of the experiment.
  • Methodology: Describe the methods you used to conduct the experiment.
  • Results: Summarize the main findings of the experiment.
  • Conclusion: Provide a brief summary of the implications and conclusions
  • Background: Provide some background information on the experiment.
  • Hypothesis: State your hypothesis or research question.
  • Purpose: Explain the purpose of the experiment.

IV. Materials and methods

  • Materials: List the materials and equipment used in the experiment.
  • Procedure: Describe the procedure you followed to conduct the experiment.
  • Data: Present the data you collected in tables or graphs.
  • Analysis: Analyze the data and describe the patterns or trends you observed.

VI. Discussion

  • Implications: Discuss the implications of your findings.
  • Limitations: Identify any limitations or weaknesses of the experiment.

VII. Conclusion

  • Restate hypothesis: Summarize your hypothesis or research question.
  • Review key points: Summarize the main points you made in your report.

Presentation template:

  • Attention grabber: Grab the audience’s attention with a catchy opening.
  • Purpose: Explain the purpose of your presentation.
  • Overview: Provide an overview of what you will cover in your presentation.

II. Main points

  • Main point 1: Present the first main point of your presentation.
  • Supporting details: Provide supporting details or evidence to support your point.
  • Main point 2: Present the second main point of your presentation.
  • Main point 3: Present the third main point of your presentation.
  • Summary: Summarize the main points of your presentation.
  • Call to action: End with a final thought or call to action.

Creative writing template:

  • Setting: Describe the setting of your story.
  • Characters: Introduce the main characters of your story.
  • Rising action: Introduce the conflict or problem in your story.
  • Climax: Present the most intense moment of the story.
  • Falling action: Resolve the conflict or problem in your story.
  • Resolution: Describe how the conflict or problem was resolved.
  • Final thoughts: End with a final thought or reflection on the story.

How to Write Assignment

Here is a general guide on how to write an assignment:

  • Understand the assignment prompt: Before you begin writing, make sure you understand what the assignment requires. Read the prompt carefully and make note of any specific requirements or guidelines.
  • Research and gather information: Depending on the type of assignment, you may need to do research to gather information to support your argument or points. Use credible sources such as academic journals, books, and reputable websites.
  • Organize your ideas : Once you have gathered all the necessary information, organize your ideas into a clear and logical structure. Consider creating an outline or diagram to help you visualize your ideas.
  • Write a draft: Begin writing your assignment using your organized ideas and research. Don’t worry too much about grammar or sentence structure at this point; the goal is to get your thoughts down on paper.
  • Revise and edit: After you have written a draft, revise and edit your work. Make sure your ideas are presented in a clear and concise manner, and that your sentences and paragraphs flow smoothly.
  • Proofread: Finally, proofread your work for spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors. It’s a good idea to have someone else read over your assignment as well to catch any mistakes you may have missed.
  • Submit your assignment : Once you are satisfied with your work, submit your assignment according to the instructions provided by your instructor or professor.

Applications of Assignment

Assignments have many applications across different fields and industries. Here are a few examples:

  • Education : Assignments are a common tool used in education to help students learn and demonstrate their knowledge. They can be used to assess a student’s understanding of a particular topic, to develop critical thinking skills, and to improve writing and research abilities.
  • Business : Assignments can be used in the business world to assess employee skills, to evaluate job performance, and to provide training opportunities. They can also be used to develop business plans, marketing strategies, and financial projections.
  • Journalism : Assignments are often used in journalism to produce news articles, features, and investigative reports. Journalists may be assigned to cover a particular event or topic, or to research and write a story on a specific subject.
  • Research : Assignments can be used in research to collect and analyze data, to conduct experiments, and to present findings in written or oral form. Researchers may be assigned to conduct research on a specific topic, to write a research paper, or to present their findings at a conference or seminar.
  • Government : Assignments can be used in government to develop policy proposals, to conduct research, and to analyze data. Government officials may be assigned to work on a specific project or to conduct research on a particular topic.
  • Non-profit organizations: Assignments can be used in non-profit organizations to develop fundraising strategies, to plan events, and to conduct research. Volunteers may be assigned to work on a specific project or to help with a particular task.

Purpose of Assignment

The purpose of an assignment varies depending on the context in which it is given. However, some common purposes of assignments include:

  • Assessing learning: Assignments are often used to assess a student’s understanding of a particular topic or concept. This allows educators to determine if a student has mastered the material or if they need additional support.
  • Developing skills: Assignments can be used to develop a wide range of skills, such as critical thinking, problem-solving, research, and communication. Assignments that require students to analyze and synthesize information can help to build these skills.
  • Encouraging creativity: Assignments can be designed to encourage students to be creative and think outside the box. This can help to foster innovation and original thinking.
  • Providing feedback : Assignments provide an opportunity for teachers to provide feedback to students on their progress and performance. Feedback can help students to understand where they need to improve and to develop a growth mindset.
  • Meeting learning objectives : Assignments can be designed to help students meet specific learning objectives or outcomes. For example, a writing assignment may be designed to help students improve their writing skills, while a research assignment may be designed to help students develop their research skills.

When to write Assignment

Assignments are typically given by instructors or professors as part of a course or academic program. The timing of when to write an assignment will depend on the specific requirements of the course or program, but in general, assignments should be completed within the timeframe specified by the instructor or program guidelines.

It is important to begin working on assignments as soon as possible to ensure enough time for research, writing, and revisions. Waiting until the last minute can result in rushed work and lower quality output.

It is also important to prioritize assignments based on their due dates and the amount of work required. This will help to manage time effectively and ensure that all assignments are completed on time.

In addition to assignments given by instructors or professors, there may be other situations where writing an assignment is necessary. For example, in the workplace, assignments may be given to complete a specific project or task. In these situations, it is important to establish clear deadlines and expectations to ensure that the assignment is completed on time and to a high standard.

Characteristics of Assignment

Here are some common characteristics of assignments:

  • Purpose : Assignments have a specific purpose, such as assessing knowledge or developing skills. They are designed to help students learn and achieve specific learning objectives.
  • Requirements: Assignments have specific requirements that must be met, such as a word count, format, or specific content. These requirements are usually provided by the instructor or professor.
  • Deadline: Assignments have a specific deadline for completion, which is usually set by the instructor or professor. It is important to meet the deadline to avoid penalties or lower grades.
  • Individual or group work: Assignments can be completed individually or as part of a group. Group assignments may require collaboration and communication with other group members.
  • Feedback : Assignments provide an opportunity for feedback from the instructor or professor. This feedback can help students to identify areas of improvement and to develop their skills.
  • Academic integrity: Assignments require academic integrity, which means that students must submit original work and avoid plagiarism. This includes citing sources properly and following ethical guidelines.
  • Learning outcomes : Assignments are designed to help students achieve specific learning outcomes. These outcomes are usually related to the course objectives and may include developing critical thinking skills, writing abilities, or subject-specific knowledge.

Advantages of Assignment

There are several advantages of assignment, including:

  • Helps in learning: Assignments help students to reinforce their learning and understanding of a particular topic. By completing assignments, students get to apply the concepts learned in class, which helps them to better understand and retain the information.
  • Develops critical thinking skills: Assignments often require students to think critically and analyze information in order to come up with a solution or answer. This helps to develop their critical thinking skills, which are important for success in many areas of life.
  • Encourages creativity: Assignments that require students to create something, such as a piece of writing or a project, can encourage creativity and innovation. This can help students to develop new ideas and perspectives, which can be beneficial in many areas of life.
  • Builds time-management skills: Assignments often come with deadlines, which can help students to develop time-management skills. Learning how to manage time effectively is an important skill that can help students to succeed in many areas of life.
  • Provides feedback: Assignments provide an opportunity for students to receive feedback on their work. This feedback can help students to identify areas where they need to improve and can help them to grow and develop.

Limitations of Assignment

There are also some limitations of assignments that should be considered, including:

  • Limited scope: Assignments are often limited in scope, and may not provide a comprehensive understanding of a particular topic. They may only cover a specific aspect of a topic, and may not provide a full picture of the subject matter.
  • Lack of engagement: Some assignments may not engage students in the learning process, particularly if they are repetitive or not challenging enough. This can lead to a lack of motivation and interest in the subject matter.
  • Time-consuming: Assignments can be time-consuming, particularly if they require a lot of research or writing. This can be a disadvantage for students who have other commitments, such as work or extracurricular activities.
  • Unreliable assessment: The assessment of assignments can be subjective and may not always accurately reflect a student’s understanding or abilities. The grading may be influenced by factors such as the instructor’s personal biases or the student’s writing style.
  • Lack of feedback : Although assignments can provide feedback, this feedback may not always be detailed or useful. Instructors may not have the time or resources to provide detailed feedback on every assignment, which can limit the value of the feedback that students receive.

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Classroom Q&A

With larry ferlazzo.

In this EdWeek blog, an experiment in knowledge-gathering, Ferlazzo will address readers’ questions on classroom management, ELL instruction, lesson planning, and other issues facing teachers. Send your questions to [email protected]. Read more from this blog.

How to Help Students With Their Writing. 4 Educators Share Their Secrets

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Teaching students to write is no easy feat, and it’s a topic that has often been discussed on this blog.

It’s also a challenge that can’t have too much discussion!

Today, four educators share their most effective writing lessons.

‘Three Practices That Create Confident Writers’

Penny Kittle teaches first-year writers at Plymouth State University in New Hampshire. She was a teacher and literacy coach in public schools for 34 years and is the author of nine books, including Micro Mentor Texts (Scholastic). She is the founder and president of the Book Love Foundation, which annually grants classroom libraries to teachers throughout North America:

I write almost every day. Like anything I want to do well, I practice. Today, I wrote about the wild dancing, joyful energy, and precious time I spent with my daughter at a Taylor Swift concert. Then I circled back to notes on Larry’s question about teaching writers. I wrote badly, trying to find a through line. I followed detours and crossed out bad ideas. I stopped to think. I tried again. I lost faith in my words. I will get there , I told myself. I trust my process.

I haven’t always written this easily or this much. I wouldn’t say I’m a “natural” writer because I don’t believe they exist. Writing is work. When I entered college, I received a C-minus on my first paper. I was stunned. I had never worked at writing: I was a “first drafter,” an “only drafter.” And truthfully, I didn’t know how or what to practice. I was assigned writing in high school and I completed it. I rarely received feedback. I didn’t get better. I didn’t learn to think like a writer; I thought like a student.

I’ve now spent 40 years studying writing and teaching writers in kindergarten, elementary school, middle school, and high school, as well as teachers earning graduate degrees. Despite their age, writers in school share one remarkably similar trait: a lack of confidence. Confidence is a brilliant and fiery light; it draws your eyes, your heart, and your mind. But in fact, it is as rare as the Northern Lights. I feel its absence every fall in my composition courses.

We can change that.

Confidence blooms in classrooms focused on the growth of writers.

This happens in classrooms where the teacher relies less on lessons and more on a handful of practices. Unfortunately, though, in most classrooms, a heap of time is spent directing students to practice “writing-like” activities: restrictive templates for assignments, with detailed criteria focused on rules. Those activities handcuff writers. If you tell me what to do and how to do it, I will focus on either completing the task or avoiding it. That kind of writing work doesn’t require much thinking; it is merely labor.

Practice creating, on the other hand, is harder, but it is how we develop the important ability to let our ideas come and then shaping them into cohesive arguments, stories, poems, and observations. We have misunderstood the power of writing to create thinking. Likewise, we have misunderstood the limitations of narrow tasks. So, here are my best instructional practices that lead to confidence and growth in writers.

1. Writing Notebooks and Daily Revision. Writers need time to write. Think of it as a habit we begin to engage in with little effort, like serving a tennis ball from the baseline or dribbling a basketball or sewing buttonholes. Writers need daily time to whirl words, to spin ideas, to follow images that blink inside them as they move their pen across the page. In my classroom, writing time most often follows engagement with a poem.

Likewise, writers need guidance in rereading their first drafts of messy thinking. I’ve seen teachers open their notebooks and invite students to watch them shape sentences. They demonstrate how small revisions increase clarity and rhythm. Their students watch them find a focus and maintain it. Teachers show the effort and the joy of writing well.

Here’s an example: We listen to a beautiful poem such as “Montauk” by Sarah Kay, her tribute to growing up. Students write freely from lines or images that spring to them as they listen. I write in my notebook as students write in theirs for 4-5 minutes. Then I read my entry aloud, circling subjects and detours ( I don’t know why I wrote so much about my dog, but maybe I have more to say about this … ). I model how to find a focus. I invite students to do the same.

2. Writers Study Writing . Writers imitate structures, approaches, and ways of reaching readers. They read like writers to find possibilities: Look what the writer did here and here . A template essay can be an effective tool to write for a test, but thankfully, that is a very small and insignificant part of the whole of writing for any of us. Real writing grows from studying the work of other writers. We study sentences, passages, essays, and articles to understand how they work, as we create our own.

3. Writers Have Conversations as They Work . When writers practice the skills and embrace the challenges of writing in community, it expands possibilities. Every line read from a notebook carries the mark of a particular writer: the passion, the voice, the experiences, and the vulnerability of each individual. That kind of sharing drives process talk ( How did you think to write about that? Who do you imagine you are speaking to? ), which showcases the endless variation in writers and leads to “writerly thinking.” It shifts conversations from “right and wrong” to “how and why.”

Long ago, at a local elementary school, in a workshop for teachers, I watched Don Graves list on the chalkboard subjects he was considering writing about. He read over his list and chose one. From there, he wrote several sentences, talking aloud about the decisions he was making as a writer. Then he turned to accept and answer questions.

“Why do this?” someone asked.

“Because you are the most important writer in the room,” Don said. “You are showing students why anyone would write when they don’t have to.” He paused, then added, “If not you, who?”

confidenceblooms

Developing ‘Student Voice’

A former independent school English teacher and administrator, Stephanie Farley is a writer and educational consultant working with teachers and schools on issues of curriculum, assessment, instruction, SEL, and building relationships. Her book, Joyful Learning: Tools to Infuse Your 6-12 Classroom with Meaning, Relevance, and Fun is available from Routledge Eye on Education:

Teaching writing is my favorite part of being a teacher. It’s incredibly fun to talk about books with kids, but for me, it’s even more fun to witness students’ skills and confidence grow as they figure out how to use written language to communicate what they mean.

A lesson I used to like doing was in “voice.” My 8th graders had a hard time understanding what I meant when I asked them to consider “voice” in their writing. The best illustration I came up with was playing Taylor Swift’s song “Blank Space” for students. Some students groaned while others clapped. (Doesn’t this always happen when we play music for students? There’s no song that makes everyone happy!) But when they settled down, I encouraged them to listen to the style: the arrangement, her voice as she sang, the dominant instruments.

Then, I played a cover of “Blank Space” by Ryan Adams. Eyes rolled as the song unfurled through the speakers, but again I reminded students to listen to the arrangement, voice, and instruments. After about 60 seconds of the Adams version, heads nodded in understanding. When the music ended and I asked students to explain voice to me, they said it’s “making something your own … like your own style.” Yes!

The next step was applying this new understanding to their own writing. Students selected a favorite sentence from the books they were reading, then tried to write it in their own voice. We did this a few times, until everyone had competently translated Kwame Alexander into “Rosa-style” or Kelly Link into “Michael-style.” Finally, when it was time for students to write their own longer works—stories, personal essays, or narratives—they intentionally used the words and sentence patterns they had identified as their own voice.

I’m happy to report this method worked! In fact, it was highly effective. Students’ papers were more idiosyncratic, nuanced, and creative. The only change to this lesson I’d make now is trying to find a more zeitgeist-y song with the hope that the groans at the beginning die down a little faster.

itsfun

Teaching ELLs

Irina McGrath, Ph.D., is an assistant principal at Newcomer Academy in the Jefferson County school district in Kentucky and the president of KYTESOL. She is also an adjunct professor at the University of Louisville, Indiana University Southeast, and Bellarmine University. She is a co-creator of the ELL2.0 site that offers free resources for teachers of English learners:

Reflecting on my experience of teaching writing to English learners, I have come to realize that writing can be daunting, especially when students are asked to write in English, a language they are learning to master. The most successful writing lessons I have taught were those that transformed the process into an enjoyable experience, fostering a sense of accomplishment and pride in my students.

To achieve this, I prioritized the establishment of a supportive learning environment. At the beginning of each school year, I set norms that emphasized the importance of writing for everyone, including myself as their teacher. I encouraged students to write in English and their native language and I wrote alongside my English learners to demonstrate that writing is a journey that requires hard work and dedication, regardless of age or previous writing experiences. By witnessing my own struggles, my students felt encouraged to persevere.

My English learners understood that errors were expected and that they were valuable opportunities for growth and improvement. This created a comfortable atmosphere where students felt more confident taking risks and experimenting with their writing. Rather than being discouraged by mistakes, they viewed them as steppingstones toward progress.

In my most effective writing lessons, I provided scaffolds such as sentence stems, sentence frames, and word banks. I also encouraged my students to use translation tools to help generate ideas on paper. These scaffolds empowered English learners to independently tackle more challenging writing assignments and nurtured their confidence in completing writing tasks. During writers’ circles, we discussed the hard work invested in each writing piece, shared our work, and celebrated each other’s success.

Furthermore, my most successful writing lessons integrated reading and writing. I taught my students to read like writers and utilized mentor texts to emulate the craft of established authors, which they could later apply to their own writing. Mentor texts, such as picture books, short stories, or articles, helped my students observe how professional writers use dialogue, sentence structure, and descriptive language to enhance their pieces.

Instead of overwhelming students with information, I broke down writing into meaningful segments and taught through mini lessons. For example, we analyzed the beginnings of various stories to examine story leads. Then, collaboratively, my students and I created several leads together. When they were ready, I encouraged them to craft their own leads and select the most appropriate one for their writing piece.

Ultimately, my most effective lessons were those in which I witnessed the joyful smiles on my English learners’ faces as they engaged with pages filled with written or typed words. It is during those moments that I knew my writers were creating and genuinely enjoying their work.

To access a self-checklist that students and EL teachers can use when teaching or creating a writing piece in English, you can visit the infographic at bit.ly/ABC_of_Writing .

iprovided

‘Model Texts’

Anastasia M. Martinez is an English-language-development and AVID Excel teacher in Pittsburg, Calif.:

As a second-language learner, writing in English had not always been my suit. It was not until graduate school that I immersed myself in a vast array of journals, articles, and other academic works, which ultimately helped me find my academic voice and develop my writing style. Now, working as an ESL teacher with a diverse group of middle school multilingual learners, I always provide a model text relevant to a topic or prompt we are exploring.

When students have a model text, it gives them a starting point for their own writing and presents writing as less scary, where they get stuck on the first sentence and do not know how to start.

At the start of the lesson, prior to using a model text, I create a “do now” activity that guides my students’ attention to the topic and creates a relevant context for the text. After students share their ideas with a partner and then the class, we transition to our lesson objectives, and I introduce the model text. We first use prereading strategies to analyze the text, and students share what they notice based on the title, images, and a number of paragraphs. Then, depending on the students’ proficiency level, I read the text to the class, or students read the text as partners, thinking about what the text was mostly about.

After students read and share their ideas with partners and then the whole class, we transition to deconstructing the text. These multiple reengagements with the text help students become more familiar with it, as well as help students build reading fluency.

When deconstructing the model text, I guide my students through each paragraph and sentence. During that time, students orally share their ideas determining the meaning of specific paragraphs or sentences, which we later annotate in the model text using different colored highlighters or pens. Color coding helps visually guide students through similar parts of the model text. For instance, if we highlight evidence in paragraph 2 in one color, we also highlight evidence in the same color in the following paragraph. It helps students see the similarities between the paragraphs and discover the skeleton of the writing. Additionally, color coding helps students during their writing process and revision. Students can check if they used all parts of the writing based on the colors.

Furthermore, one of the essential pieces during deconstructing model texts that I draw my students’ attention to is transition words and “big words,” or academic vocabulary. We usually box them in the text, and I question students about why the author used a particular word in the text. Later, when students do their own writing, they can integrate new vocabulary and transition words, which enhances their vocabulary and language skills.

As the next step, I invite students to co-create a similar piece of writing with a partner or independently using our model text as their guide. Later, our model text serves as a checklist for individual and partner revisions, which students could use to give each other feedback.

Model texts are an essential part of the writing process in any content-area class. As educators, we should embrace the importance of model texts, as they provide a solid foundation upon which students can develop their unique writing skills, tone, and voice.

modeltexts

Thanks to Penny, Stephanie, Irina, and Anastasia for contributing their thoughts!

Consider contributing a question to be answered in a future post. You can send one to me at [email protected] . When you send it in, let me know if I can use your real name if it’s selected or if you’d prefer remaining anonymous and have a pseudonym in mind.

You can also contact me on Twitter at @Larryferlazzo .

Just a reminder; you can subscribe and receive updates from this blog via email . And if you missed any of the highlights from the first 12 years of this blog, you can see a categorized list here .

The opinions expressed in Classroom Q&A With Larry Ferlazzo are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

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  • A2 listening

Instructions for an assignment

Instructions for an assignment

Listen to a university teacher giving instructions for an assignment to practise and improve your listening skills.

Do the preparation task first. Then listen to the audio and do the exercises.

Preparation

Matching_MjI5MDM=

I want to explain a few things about your essay.

First of all, the deadline. The deadline for this essay is October the 18th. Not the 19th, not the 28th, not two days later because your dog was ill or your computer broke – the 18th. If it's late, I won't mark it. I won't even read it – you'll fail the assignment! So, please hand it in on time. You can even hand it in early, if you like!

You can email me the essays at [email protected]. That's H-A-R-T-S-H-O-R-N. I'll reply to say I've got it. If I don't reply within a day, it might mean I didn't get it, so please email me again to make sure. You can also bring a paper copy of the essay to my office, but let's be kind to the trees, OK? Email is better for the trees and for me.

Don't forget that you must reference every idea or quote you use that isn't your own idea. And the last page of your essay should be a list of all the books you used, in alphabetical order, not in the order you used them!

And lastly, make it easy for me to read! That means use a clear font. Arial is best, but Times New Roman is fine too. Not Comic Sans please! Size 12 font for the essay, and size 14 for the titles and subheadings. And use page numbers. Any questions?

What do you find difficult about writing essays?

Language level

What do you find difficult about writing essays? I love writing essays. I'm really good at writing, but the only thing I find difficult is referencing every book or page we use. For me, it's really boring and exhausting, but also really necessary.

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I believe that essays are probably the most difficult piece of writing to do, because you have to express your opinion, that is the thesis, with coherence and trying to persuade the reader you are right. To make it believable, you need to do some research on books, articles or on the internet to expose other's ideas that are in agreement with yours or in contrast, and in the last case to show why it is wrong. This makes writes an essay challenging and gratifying if you reach the goal.

When I wrote a piece of writting I consider that the most difficult is looked for answer,because I wanted that this answer was my(from my hart).But often I liked use quote.I sometimes used order when I wrote essay.

I don't understand "let's be kind to the tree"....tree is the pronoun ? Someone please explain me..

Hi Kaung Myat Zaw,

"Tree" is a noun. The teacher prefers to have the assignments digitally by email, not on paper. Since paper is made from trees, emailed assignments will use less paper, and protect the trees and the environment. That's why he says "let's be kind to the trees" - to encourage people not to use paper. As he says: "Email is better for the trees and for me."

I hope that helps to understand it.

LearnEnglish team

I don't have enough practice in writing essays nowadays. When I was at school, essays had a different structure and different requirements. That's why it's a little bit difficult for me to create essays.

I feel so grateful to know this amazing website where I can practice every time to enhance my English skills. Thanks so much.

I love writing, and I like to follow the essay competition. Writing makes me recall and sharpen my memory. Write and write until the last because writing is anti-aging for me.

"You still have to hand the essay in on time". As a matter of interest why in and on together? The examiner can explain it to me. In my point of view, the most difficult section is developing ideas in the essay and correct grammar structure in English.

Hi Toan3002,

"In" is part of the phrasal verb "hand in", which means to submit a document for an official process. 

"On" is part of the time phrase "on time", which means "at the correct time" and "not late".

I hope that helps to understand it!

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  • BookWidgets Teacher Blog

assignment instructions for students

20 ways teachers can give differentiated instructions to students

assignment instructions for students

There are so many different classroom teaching strategies. Think about blended learning, microlearning, mastery learning, individual teaching, flip the classroom, project-based learning and so on. No matter what method you choose, your job stays the same: teach students. It’s proven that direct instruction and instructing students at the beginning of a lesson is the most effective strategy when it comes to teaching. But that doesn’t mean you just have to stand in front of the class and talk: instructing students can come in so may different ways.

Instructing your students can mean anything. You just have to explain what the new lesson topic is all about. The way you do that is entirely up to you. Do you want some tips on teaching instruction? In this blog post, I’ll give you many ways to instruct your students.

3 basic rules for giving successful instructions to students

1. don’t assume your students know what you mean.

This is a very common mistake. You assume your students already have knowledge about the topic when they don’t. When you start building on knowledge students don’t have, there will always be a huge gap in your foundation. Compare it with the princess and the pea : no matter how many new matresses or new knowledge you add, the princess will always feel the uncomfortable pea (or, in our case, the gap of knowledge)

Of course, some students might already have a head start, but make sure to involve the students who don’t have that foreknowledge as well by keeping them up-to-date. You can always give instructions to students individually as you will see in some of the differntiated instruction examples.

2. Keep the instructions as simple as possible

Make sure your instruction is very clear. Don’t jump from one topic to another without following a clear structure or mentioning the links between the topics or lesson material.

Explain everything chronologically, and only start building on the next step when the previous one is understood by your students. Ask lots of question to measure understanding.

Just keep the learning goals close so you know where you are going. Split the larger learning goals into small learning goals. Teach those small learning goals in a structured way.

3. Give concrete examples

Like Daniel T. Willingham states in his must-read book : “We understand new things in the context of things we already know, and most of what we know is concrete.”

This means you must explain a concept by using examples that are easy to understand for your students. Students understand new ideas (things they don’t know) by relating them to old ideas (things they know). That’s pretty obvious.

Make sure your lesson materials or resources add real value to your lesson topic and are easy to comprehend. It’s always better to add audio, video or images to your spoken words or a written text. Try pouring your lesson content into a structured scheme like a timeline, a story, a planner, …

Let me make these instruction rules more concrete:

Ask yourself these questions when giving classroom instructions and try to answer them. The easier these questions are to answer, the better your instructions are.

  • Destination : What will I be able to see, hear, experience when I’ve followed the instructions?
  • Procedure : What are the exact steps I need to take or follow to reach the destination. What tools and resources will I need? What special information do I need to finish the instructions?
  • Time : How long do I have to accomplish the instructions?

20+ classroom instructions for teachers

Keep in mind the three golden rules above when instructing students, and you’ll do just fine. Here are some fun and practical ways to instruct your students so you don’t get stuck in just one way of teaching new lesson material. Of course, there are many more ways to use instructions in your classroom.

! Almost every instruction method in this post can be used as differentiated instructions, as it gives one single student the chance to learn at their own pace or according to their own needs, competences, and interests. Differentiated instruction strategies make sure students don’t get left behind when the teacher moves forward. Not every differentiation strategies have to be time consuming. You’ll find out how small steps can lead to big changes.

1. Explainer video

assignment instructions for students

2. Quiz with automatic feedback function

assignment instructions for students

  • If they make too many mistakes, you can send your students back to a video or a text with instructions, or even to a certain corner in the classroom with teacher instructions or paper instructions.
  • If your students did well on the quiz, this means they understood your video instructions. They will get an automatic feedback message with instructions to move on to a new topic or harder exercises.

It is also possible to provide additional information once students have given their answer, whether for a correct or incorrect answer. This gives them immediate confirmation, or if necessary adjustment, on their knowledge. Check out this quiz where the direct feedback/additional information is applied on a question-by-question basis.

3. Video Quiz

assignment instructions for students

Would you like to know what it looks like? Be sure to check out this example .

4. Use audio

assignment instructions for students

5. Timeline

assignment instructions for students

With BookWidgets, you can create two types of timelines. Here’s the fixed timeline version . This can serve as a theoretical explanation your students have to study. Then, maybe on a test, your students get an editable timeline and need to recall their knowledge. Here’s a post about everything you can do with digital timelines in your lessons .

assignment instructions for students

You can also add other interactive exercises or new instructions to each step of the planner, so students get new information in little chunks.

For differentiation, you can quickly duplicate a planner and make some changes for students that need more instructions.

8. Demonstration

assignment instructions for students

You can choose to do the demonstration two times. First for the quick learners, so they can get to work immediately. And the second time, much slower, with even more instructions.

Another suggestion is to do the second demonstration somewhere in the middle of the assignment, so students can look back at what they did until now, and still make changes to their work.

9. WebQuest

assignment instructions for students

There are many ways to use a webquest , including for differentiation or as an instruction bundle.

10. Student level pairs

assignment instructions for students

Now, let the students that master the learning material instruct the other student. This way, the student has a personal “coach” and can ask questions directly to someone who understands and can explain what the learning content is all about.

11. Student level instructions

assignment instructions for students

For example:

  • The survivors: students that understood all the instructions and can get to work independently, without any help.
  • The athletes: students that understand everything and are taking the lead. They can start working on extension assignments.
  • The scouts: students that need more instructions and can sit down with you around the “instruction table”.

Make sure to let your students reflect afterwards on whether they think they were in the right group.

12. Instruction groups

assignment instructions for students

For example, set up 4 different corners in your classroom with:

  • an instruction video
  • an audiobook
  • an open learning conversation with your students

Here, students choose how they want to receive instructions. They can still switch spots if they want, for example, a more visual explanation.

13. Known - want to know - forever know

assignment instructions for students

Before you give more instructions, you ask your students to write down everything they already know about the topic in the column of “known”. They also have to write down what they want to learn about the topic or what they are curious about in the “want to know” column.

After your instructions and exercises, you let them write down what they’ve learned and remember clearly in the “forever know” column.

14. Split-whiteboard

assignment instructions for students

Let your students send it back to you, so you can check for understanding. If they haven’t understood the text, you can give them the image that represents the text and give more instructions.

15. Feedback choice

assignment instructions for students

This is a good instruction method when students are working on a bigger project that takes a lot of time. Students get the chance to hand in their work and ask for feedback or “new instructions”.

This way, students can work more targeted towards a qualitative end result.

16. Work zones

assignment instructions for students

  • Zone 1: Students can start working independently in silence.
  • Zone 2: Students can work in pairs
  • Zone 3: Students can work using your support

Make sure to point out that their choice must be the most efficient way of working, not the easiest or the most fun one. Let them explain why they chose a certain working zone.

17. Choice of theme

assignment instructions for students

Besides varying your instructions, you can also do the same with assignments: students get to choose which exercise they want to solve.

assignment instructions for students

19. In-between questions

assignment instructions for students

This way, you get an overview of students that still struggle with the learning material and students that are good to go.

20. Documentary

assignment instructions for students

I hope these different instruction strategies give you some new inspiration to keep your students on track in a fun and more interactive way. Of course, there are many more ways to instruct your students, and they probably also work great! You can use them as long as you feel your students understand the lesson material. I also would like to introduce you to this post with 20 interactive teaching activities to create a more interactive classroom.

Many of these instruction strategies mention BookWidgets . That’s because BookWidgets exercises can be used for differentiation. Create an exercise or widget yourself:

Create An Interactive Exercise

I also would like to thank Schoolmakers . Their Dutch course on “ learning how to differentiate ” gave me lots of new ideas and is worth following. I mention their differentiation strategies in this post.

20 ways to give ifferentiated instructions

Join hundreds of thousands of subscribers, and get the best content on technology in education.

BookWidgets enables teachers to create fun and interactive lessons for tablets, smartphones, and computers.

assignment instructions for students

Assignment Instructions

Teachers can add instructions for students to assignments by following these steps:

On an article or Text Set, click “Assign” 

The options to create a new assignment or add this article to a pre-existing assignment will appear. Click create assignment

On the top of the article, the option to create a new assignment will appear

At any time, you can toggle the View as Student option to see how your students will view the assignment when they receive it.

Add an Assignment Title.

Under the Add Assignees Option, you can assign an article to an entire classroom, or select individual(s) students to assign the article to. You can learn about that here

Under Set Lexile Level, you can choose a level to assign the article at. You can also allow each student to receive the article at their Newsela recommended level. You also have the option to allow students the flexibility to change the article level, or lock the assignment at a specific level. The students will not be able to change the levels until they submit a quiz on the locked level.

Under Add Activities, you can choose which activities to have students complete.

Provide Instructions for your students.

Click Assign to send the instructions and assigned article(s) to your students.

Instructions

IMAGES

  1. Assignment Instructions

    assignment instructions for students

  2. Tutorial 3 Instructions Sample Long Assignments

    assignment instructions for students

  3. 8+ Writing instruction Templates

    assignment instructions for students

  4. Assignment instructions

    assignment instructions for students

  5. Assignment Instructions

    assignment instructions for students

  6. Book Study: Assignment Instructions

    assignment instructions for students

VIDEO

  1. Daily Attendance August 10, 2023. Homework Assignment Chapter 1. Plse instructions take note

  2. Assignment Instructions

  3. Assignment 0

  4. Quadratic Formula Assignment Instructions

  5. Arithmetic Sequences Assignment Instructions

  6. Written assignment instructions (2024)

COMMENTS

  1. Resources for Teachers: Creating Writing Assignments

    Is the assignment sequenced so that students: (1) write a draft, (2) receive feedback (from you, fellow students, or staff members at the Writing and Communication Center), and (3) then revise it? Such a procedure has been proven to accomplish at least two goals: it improves the student's writing and it discourages plagiarism.

  2. Communicating Assignment Instructions

    Calling an assignment a "book review" may prompt your students to provide a summary of a text, while calling it a "reading response" could encourage students to draw connections between a text and their own lives. Take a moment to check that the title of your assignment accurately communicates your expectations.

  3. Writing an Assignment Prompt and Rubric

    Writing an Assignment Prompt and Rubric As an instructor, you may require your students to complete a written assignment, which may be short-answer style or a fully researched academic paper. You'll develop a prompt any time you want your students to complete a written assignment.

  4. Understanding Assignments

    The first step in any successful college writing venture is reading the assignment. While this sounds like a simple task, it can be a tough one. This handout will help you unravel your assignment and begin to craft an effective response.

  5. PDF Strategies for Essay Writing

    assignment. Unless the instructor has specified otherwise, most of your paper assignments at Harvard will ask you to make an argument. So even when the assignment instructions tell you to "discuss" or "consider," your instructor generally expects you to offer an arguable claim in the paper. For example, if you are asked to

  6. 4 Tips for Writing Good Online Assignment Instructions

    To help students meet the challenges of their college-level assignments, instructors should take care to craft assignment instructions that are clear, concise, and attainable. As you get started, here's what to consider: Itemize the Minimum Assignment Requirements There are many approaches to writing assignments, but don't bury information.

  7. How Do I Create Meaningful and Effective Assignments?

    Journals, Posters, Portfolios, Letters, Brochures, Management plans, Editorials, Instruction Manuals, Imitations of a text, Case studies, Debates, News release, Dialogues, Videos, Collages, Plays, Power Point presentations Conclusion. Ultimately, the success of student responses to an assignment often rests on the instructor's deliberate design ...

  8. Tips for Writing an Assignment and Teaching It to Students

    Put the assignment in writing, making sure to explain… The writing task (what you want them to do) The student writer's role Audience Format (length, resources to be used, manuscript details, etc.) Expectations for process (draft dates, peer review workshops, revision dates) Criteria for evaluation Discuss the assignment in class.

  9. Designing Assignments for Learning

    Examples of authentic assignments include asking students to: Write for a real audience (e.g., a memo, a policy brief, letter to the editor, a grant proposal, reports, building a website) and/or publication; Solve problem sets that have real world application; Design projects that address a real world problem;

  10. Rethinking Online Assignments

    Consider repeating assignments that occur regularly, like weekly reading reflections, daily problem sets, or regular discussion forums. Create predictability by having regular due dates and instructions. Make the content needed for assignments convenient. If students need a particular article or weblink for an assignment, make it available with ...

  11. Writing Tips 101: Understanding Assignment Instructions

    Writing Tips 101: Understanding Assignment Instructions October 31st, 2017 by Kellie Nappa Last updated: October 4, 2023 As the Student Writing Specialist for JWU Online, professors often tell me that their students struggle with understanding assignment instructions.

  12. Create an assignment

    Try these next steps: Post to the help community Get answers from community members This article is for teachers. When you create an assignment, you can post it immediately, save a draft, or...

  13. Attributes of Well-Written Assignment Instructions

    When writing assignment instructions, the goal should be to provide as much precision, clarity, and specificity needed to ensure students have all the information they will need to be successful in their work on the assignment. The following are several attributes of well-written assignment instructions in an online course:

  14. Creating Assignments

    Name assignments accurately. Students can be misled by assignments that are named inappropriately. For example, if you want students to analyze a product's strengths and weaknesses but you call the assignment a "product description," students may focus all their energies on the descriptive, not the critical, elements of the task.

  15. Writing Technical Instructions

    Teaching students how to write technical instructions helps them see that "to write, to engage in any communication, is to participate in a community; to write well is to understand the conditions of one's own participation-the concepts, values, traditions, and style which permit identification with that community and determine the success or failure of communication" (Miller 22).

  16. Google Classroom: Creating Assignments and Materials

    When creating an assignment, there may often be times when you want to attach a document from Google Docs. These can be helpful when providing lengthy instructions, study guides, and other material. When attaching these types of files, you'll want to make sure to choose the correct setting for how your students can interact with it. After ...

  17. Assignment

    The instructions for an assignment usually specify the goals, requirements, and deadlines for completion, and students are expected to meet these criteria to earn a good grade. History of Assignment The use of assignments as a tool for teaching and learning has been a part of education for centuries.

  18. How to Help Students With Their Writing. 4 Educators Share Their

    Real writing grows from studying the work of other writers. We study sentences, passages, essays, and articles to understand how they work, as we create our own. 3. Writers Have Conversations as ...

  19. Instructions for an assignment

    This makes writes an essay challenging and gratifying if you reach the goal. When I wrote a piece of writting I consider that the most difficult is looked for answer,because I wanted that this answer was my (from my hart).But often I liked use quote.I sometimes used order when I wrote essay. …. Listen to a university teacher giving ...

  20. 20 ways teachers can give differentiated instructions to students

    The survivors: students that understood all the instructions and can get to work independently, without any help. The athletes: students that understand everything and are taking the lead. They can start working on extension assignments. The scouts: students that need more instructions and can sit down with you around the "instruction table".

  21. Create and Edit Assignments

    From the Assessments menu, select Assignment and provide the name, instructions, and the files students need. You can use the functions in the editor to format text and add files. You can also add files in the Assignment Files section. In the Blackboard mobile app, assignment instructions for Original courses show after students begin an attempt.

  22. PDF STUDENTS ASSIGNMENT GUIDELINE

    STUDENTS ASSIGNMENT GUIDELINE This guide is meant to support you as you work on your assignments. It will help you to overcome some of the challenges associated with academic writing. Each assignment is usually given with instructions and please take note but otherwise here is a general format which can be adjusted accordingly.

  23. PDF FIGURE 1 Student instructions for video assignment. The following

    Student instructions for video assignment. The following information is provided to students at the beginning of the video project. Instructors may customize their own instructions, for example, by selecting which among the elements listed below will be required for their student videos. Scope and Goals

  24. Assignment Instructions

    Assignment Instructions Teachers can add instructions for students to assignments by following these steps: On an article or Text Set, click "Assign" The options to create a new assignment or add this article to a pre-existing assignment will appear. Click create assignment

  25. Customer Lifetime Value Instructions for Students (1)

    Digital Marketing Analysis Challenge Assignment Instructions: Customer Lifetime Value Customer Lifetime Value This assignment gives students experience with marketing metrics and figuring customer lifetime value. This instructions document supports the information from Chapter 4: Measurement Model > Student Resources in your Digital Marketing Analytics: Strategic Decision-making eTextbook from ...

  26. Linguistics/CSE 472: Intro to Computational Linguistics

    Ling/CSE 472: Assignment 3: Critical Reading of Popular Press Articles on Language Technology Overview. This assignment asks you to do a critical reading of a popular press article on some particular piece of language technology. Instructions. Find an article, published 2020 or later, in the popular press describing some language technology.

  27. 𝙃𝙤𝙢𝙚𝙬𝙤𝙧𝙠 𝙃𝙚𝙡𝙥𝙚𝙧 on Instagram: "Assignment Helpers strive to provide

    discounthomeworkhelper on February 14, 2024: "Assignment Helpers strive to provide comprehensive support to students throughout the assignment ..." 𝙃𝙤𝙢𝙚𝙬𝙤𝙧𝙠 𝙃𝙚𝙡𝙥𝙚𝙧 on Instagram: "Assignment Helpers strive to provide comprehensive support to students throughout the assignment process.