The Writing Center's consultants strive to help students understand and engage with writing assignments in productive ways. Unfortunately, we sometimes encounter poorly written assignment sheets or, worse, no assignment sheet at all. Assignment sheet oversights and omissions often only confuse students.
As writing consultants, we believe the most effective assignment sheets include:
- Context: How does this assignment advance the work done in previous assignments and foreshadow future assignments within the course?
- Expectations: What is the purpose of the assignment and what should students strive to accomplish for the assignment, both on a macro- and micro-level?
- Parameters: What are the limits or requirements of this assignment? Examples include: due dates, paper length, number of sources, types of sources, citation style guide, etc.
We encourage faculty to consider their own rhetoric while carefully crafting assignments:
- Writer: What language and tone toward students will you use within the assignment sheet?
- Text: Is the assignment sheet written clearly, concretely and concisely for better understanding by students?
- Reader: Can students reasonably meet and even exceed your expectations for the assignment within the parameters provided?
Pre-writing and process are the keys to crafting effective writing assignments that fulfill course goals and encourage student development in areas of research, composition and critical thinking. Along with seeking feedback from faculty peers, the Writing Center staff is happy to brainstorm and critique writing assignments with faculty members across every discipline and all course levels.