Help on Crafting Assignments - Redeemer University College

Things to Consider When Crafting Writing Assignments
“Research has shown that the more detailed a writing assignment is, the better the
student papers are in response to that assignment” (“Creating Effective Writing
Assignments” MIT Online Writing and Communication Center). When preparing
upcoming syllabi and writing assignments, consider the following:
1. If you wish for your students to choose their own topics, consider discussing
suitable topic ideas in class, or having them submit a working thesis prior to the ir
final drafts.
2. If you provide prompts or topic ideas, be clear whether they need to address each
sub-question in a given topic idea.
3. Use specific verbs to express how you would like your students to proceed. For
example, “analyze” or “summarize” are clearer than “consider”.
4. State what form the assignment should take, or what type of essay it is (for
example, a lab report or a journal, a persuasive essay or a descriptive essay).
Nonetheless, each writing form or genre can be understood a variety of ways,
leading to students’ confusion. This is why specific verbs are so helpful.
5. Be clear on not only what they should discuss, but also what they should avoid.
For example, if you consider research prior to a certain date to be irrelevant, then
say so.
6. Help your students identify their audience. If they assume their professor is their
intended audience, they may not explain certain ideas as clearly as if you had
indicated that the entire class is their audience.
7. Make sure the assignment sheet is proportionate to the length of the essay. The
longer the assignment is, the more useful additional instruction will become.
8. Indicate how you evaluate assignments. If you can provide how you weigh
content over mechanics, students will find this very helpful.
9. Encourage the students as soon as you give them the assignment to come to
the Writing Centre . We help with all stages of the writing process.
For further help, consider using the following resources:
Creating Effective Writing Assignments: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Designing Assignments and Presenting them to Students: University of Toronto
Syllabus and Assignment Design: Dartmouth College
UMUC Effective Writing Center: University of Maryland University College