Assignment Description Checklist
- Due date.
- Length—number of words and/or pages (You may wish to specify font size, margins, etc.).
- Number and kind of references.
- Information about preferred documentation, such as CBE, APA.
- A clear explanation of what you are requesting your students to do.
- A statement about style and organization.
- Your policy on late papers.
- Details about available tutoring services or other extra assistance.
May be included in your course guidelines instead.
- In most cases, it is best to embed the language of your course learning objectives and the Cross-curricular Initiatives (SUS) in your writing assignments.
Purpose and Audience
- Students cannot effectively plan, write, and research a paper if they are unclear about what kind of paper is being required. Is the paper an argumentative paper? An objective report? Should it be addressed to a specific audience, such as the teacher, a peer, or a colleague?
- The terms you use to describe an assignment determine the type of papers you will receive. Asking students to “analyze,” for example, should produce papers that separate something into its constituent parts and examine the parts critically. Conversely, asking students to “synthesize” should produce papers that link ideas or parts.
- How would you describe excellent student performance on your course writing assignment? How would you describe competent performance? Do you have a minimum standard below which papers would not be unacceptable? Consider posting your rubric on Course Content and referring to it here.
- Some students assume that a paper written for something other than a writing course won’t be judged by how well it is written. Remind your students that it is important to learn how effectively to communicate one’s ideas and assertions. You may want to offer at least a sentence or two to indicate that you expect papers to be well-written, proofread, and grammatically sound. This is for your benefit also: a poorly written paper is distracting and difficult to read.
- Language: Be aware that your writing serves as an example of what you consider to be good prose and what kind of writing you expect students to produce. It offers students a gauge for assessing your sincerity in claiming that you care about how well something is written. Has the notice of writing assignment been thoroughly checked for typographical errors, punctuation, and grammar? Is the vocabulary of the assignment consistent with the course material itself (content, themes, vocabulary)?
- Presentation: Is the assignment description logically structured and presented? Does the typography assist the student in understanding the instructor's instructions and expectations?