Effective Writing Assignments

ECC Writing Center
Tips for Creating Effective Writing Assignments
for Basic Skills Students
Keep it simple
 Consider that your audience may include basic skills readers, tutors (who don’t attend
your class), ESL students
 Avoid jargon and extra verbiage
 Avoid terms specific to one instructor
 Don’t ask for too much in one assignment
 Be sure assignments clearly relate to the topics and objectives on the official college
course outline
Avoid changing the assignment
 Don’t add additional verbal instructions to a written assignment
 Resist telling students “you don’t have to do that” after the assignment is distributed
Be specific
 Include all pertinent information: length, parameters, format
 Avoid general, vague instructions like “Discuss this author’s take on X ….”
Get to the point
 Eliminate extensive preambles before the topic itself
 Don’t try to re-teach concepts on the assignment sheet
Avoid Mixing Modes
 In English A and B, as a general rule, stick to one method of development/essay (with
possible exception of summary/response)
 Avoid excessive terminology in referring to modes
Stress What’s Important
 Include only key terms
 Keep in mind that a term or suggestion may be interpreted as prescriptive
Keep It Short
 Limit the assignment to one page
 Include only the assignment itself (not peer editing instructions, general MLA resources,
 Keep each section of the assignment brief (no long sections of text)
Identify Yourself
 Put the course and section number on the assignment (needed for Writing Center)
 Put instructor name on the sheet (not on a cover sheet that may become detached)