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

Make a Gift

Banner

Understanding your assignment questions: A short guide

  • Introduction
  • Breaking down the question

Directive or task words

Task works for science based essays.

  • Further reading and references

It is really important to understand the directive or task word used in your assignment.

This will indicate how you should write and what the purpose of the assignment in. The following examples show some task words and their definitions.

However, it is important to note that none of these words has a fixed meaning. The definitions given are a general guide, and interpretation of the words may vary according to the context and the discipline.

If you are unsure as the exactly what a lecturer means by a particular task word, you should ask for clarification. 

Analyse : Break up into parts; investigate

Comment on : Identify and write about the main issues; give your reactions based on what you've read/ heard in lectures. Avoid just personal opinion. 

Compare : Look for the similarities between two things. Show the relevance or consequences of these similarities concluding which is preferable. 

Contrast : Identify the differences between two items or arguments. Show whether the differences are significant. Perhaps give reasons why one is preferable. 

Criticise : Requires an answer that points out mistakes or weaknesses, and which also indicates any favourable aspects of the subject of the question. It requires a balanced answer. 

Critically evaluate : Weigh arguments for and against something, assessing the strength of the evidence on both sides. Use criteria to guide your assessment of which opinions, theories, models or items are preferable. 

Define : Give the exact meaning of. Where relevant, show you understand how the definition may be problematic. 

Describe : To describe is to give an observational account of something and would deal with what happened, where it happened, when it happened and who was involved. Spell out the main aspects of an idea or topic or the sequence in which a series of things happened. 

Discuss : Investigate or examine by argument; sift and  debate; give reasons for and against; examine the implications. 

Evaluate : Assess and give your judgement about the merit, importance or usefulness of something using evidence to support your argument. 

Examine : Look closely into something

Explain : Offer a detailed and exact rationale behind an idea or principle, or a set of reasons for a situation or attitude. Make clear how and why something happens. 

Explore : Examine thoroughly; consider from a variety of viewpoints

Illustrate : Make something clear and explicit, give examples of evidence

Justify : Give evidence that supports and argument or idea; show why a decision or conclusions were made

Outline : Give the main points/features/general principles; show the main structure and interrelations; omit details and examples

State : Give the main features briefly and clearly

Summarise : Draw out the main points only; omit details and examples

To what extent... : Consider how far something is true, or contributes to a final outcome. Consider also ways in which it is not true.

Task Words:

How to write e.g., discuss, argue etc.

Subject Matter:

What you should be writing about.

Limiting Words:

May narrow or change the focus of your answer. (Important - they stop you from including irrelevant info)

Below are some examples of questions and tips on how you might think about answering them.

Compare acute and chronic pain in terms of pathophysiology and treatment

Compare  - Make sure you are comparing and not just describing the two things in isolation

Acute and chronic pain  - Subject matter

In terms of pathophysiology and treatment  - Important limiting phrase - focus ONLY on these things. Use them as a lens to highlight the differences between acute and chronic pain.

Tip : Assignments that ask you to compare two things can be structured in different ways. You may choose to alternate continually between the two things, making direct comparisons and organising your essay according to themes. Alternatively, you may choose to discuss one thing fully and then the next. If you choose the second approach, you must make the links and comparisons between the two things completely clear. 

With reference to any particular example enzyme, outline the key structural and functional properties of its active site

With reference to any particular example enzyme  - Important limiting phase - focus your answer on a specific example. Use this example to help demonstrate your understanding. 

Outline  - Factual description is needed. You must demonstrate your knowledge and understanding. 

The key structural and functional properties of its active site  - Subject matter

Tip : Assignments that ask you to outline or describe are assessing your understanding of the topic. You must express facts clearly and precisely, using examples to illuminate them. 

There is no convincing evidence for the existence of life outside our solar systems

There is  - Task words not so obvious this time. Try turning the title into a question: 'Is there any convincing evidence for...?'

Convincing  - Important limiting word- there may be evidence but you need to assess whether or not it is convincing. 

For the existence of life outside of our solar system  - Subject matter

Tip : Assignment titles that are on actually a question are often simply asking 'how true is this statement?' You must present reasons it could be true and reasons it might not be, supported by evidence and recognising the complexity of the statement. 

To what extent can nuclear power provide a solution to environmental issues?

Discuss  - Explore the topic from different angles, in a critical way (not purely descriptive)

Nuclear power  - Subject matter

Provide a solution to  - Limiting phrase: discuss ways it can and ways it can't- don't be afraid to take a position based on evidence.

Environmental issues  - Subject matter. Might be an idea to define/ discuss what could be meant by environmental issues? This might be important for your argument. 

Tip : If an assignment is asking a direct question, make sure your essay answers it. Address it directly in the introduction, make sure each paragraph contributes something towards your response to it, and reinforce your response in your conclusion. 

Discuss the issue of patient autonomy in relation to at least one case study 

The issue of patient autonomy  - Subject matter

In relation to at least one case study  - Important limiting phrase - don't just discuss the issue of patient autonomy in general; discuss it in the context of one or more case studies. You should use the case study to illustrate all of your points about patient autonomy. 

Tip : Assignments that ask you to discuss in relation to a case study, or to a placement or own experience, usually want to see a clear link between theory and practice (reality). 

  • << Previous: Breaking down the question
  • Next: Further reading and references >>
  • Last Updated: Nov 13, 2023 4:28 PM
  • URL: https://libguides.bham.ac.uk/asc/understandingassignments
  • Jump to menu
  • Student Home
  • Accept your offer
  • How to enrol
  • Student ID card
  • Set up your IT
  • Orientation Week
  • Fees & payment
  • Academic calendar
  • Special consideration
  • Transcripts
  • The Nucleus: Student Hub
  • Referencing
  • Essay writing
  • Learning abroad & exchange
  • Professional development & UNSW Advantage
  • Employability
  • Financial assistance
  • International students
  • Equitable learning
  • Postgraduate research
  • Health Service
  • Events & activities
  • Emergencies
  • Volunteering
  • Clubs and societies
  • Accommodation
  • Health services
  • Sport and gym
  • Arc student organisation
  • Security on campus
  • Maps of campus
  • Careers portal
  • Change password

Answering Assignment Questions

In order to decide how to answer an essay question, you need to identify what the question requires in terms of content and genre. This guide outlines some methods to help you analyse essay questions.

Analyse the question using key words

Assignment questions can be broken down into parts so that you can better understand what you are being asked to do. It is important to identify key words and phrases in the topic.

What are key words?

Key words are the words in an assignment question that tell you the approaches to take when you answer.

Diagram of task words in assignment questions

Make sure you understand the meaning of key words in an essay question, especially t ask words . As Task words are verbs that direct you and tell you how to go about answering a question, understanding the meaning helps you know exactly what you to do.

Content words tell you what the topic area(s) of your assignment are and take you halfway towards narrowing down your material and selecting your answer. Content words help you to focus your research and reading on the correct area.

Limiting words make a broad topic workable. They focus the topic area further by indicating aspects you should narrowly concentrate on.

If you're not sure about any aspect of the question, ask your tutor/lecturer for clarification. Never start any assignment until you know and understand exactly what you are being asked to do.

How to use key words

  • Look for the keywords in your essay question.
  • Underline them.
  • Spend a little time working out what they mean. Use the Glossary of task words to help you.

Example Question

Computers have had a significant impact on education in the 20th century. Discuss the changes they have made.

DISCUSS. Look up the meaning in the glossary of task words to find out what it means.

(See Glossary of task words )

Content Words

EDUCATION, COMPUTERS. Content words help you to direct your research and reading towards the correct area(s), in this case on computers and on education.

Limiting Words

CHANGES, SIGNIFICANT IMPACT, 20TH CENTURY. Limiting words further define the topic area and indicate aspects you should narrowly concentrate on. For example, in this question, do not just write about computers in education, Discuss the SIGNIFICANT IMPACT they have had and the CHANGES computers have made to education during a certain time: the 20TH CENTURY.

 See next: Implied or complex questions

Essay and assignment writing guide.

  • Essay writing basics
  • Essay and assignment planning
  • Complex assignment questions
  • Glossary of task words
  • Editing checklist
  • Writing a critical review
  • Annotated bibliography
  • Reflective writing
  • ^ More support

Study Hacks Workshops | All the hacks you need! 7 Feb – 10 Apr 2024

  • Privacy Policy
  • SignUp/Login

Research Method

Home » Assignment – Types, Examples and Writing Guide

Assignment – Types, Examples and Writing Guide

Table of Contents

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.

About the author

' src=

Muhammad Hassan

Researcher, Academic Writer, Web developer

You may also like

Research Paper Conclusion

Research Paper Conclusion – Writing Guide and...

Appendices

Appendices – Writing Guide, Types and Examples

Research Report

Research Report – Example, Writing Guide and...

Delimitations

Delimitations in Research – Types, Examples and...

Scope of the Research

Scope of the Research – Writing Guide and...

Research Contribution

Research Contribution – Thesis Guide

  • Skip to main content
  • Skip to header right navigation
  • Skip to site footer

DigiNo

DigiNo - Online Teaching Jobs, Side Hustles & AI Tools

Guiding Questions – What Are They? (Examples of Using Them in Teaching)

Guiding Questions

Table of Contents

Guiding questions overview.

When learning a new skill or subject a student will be encouraged to consider a specific topic, but in an impersonal sense. Take, for instance, a traditional school curriculum.

A student will be told to study the Normans, or the Vikings, or the Russian Bolshevik Revolution. Each ‘topic’ will consist of various sub-topics that the student will be expected to remember: social divides, wars, foreign relations.. .

The student cannot connect with them in a more personal sense. They may well be capable of recalling a statistic or figure, but a deeper sense of understanding will elude them.

This approach results in a world full of adults who can honestly suggest that school is a waste of time – they can recall a few Roman emperors, know how to recognise a fraction, and can take a good stab at telling the difference between a verb and an adjective.

Who can blame them for feeling like school wasn’t worth their time and effort?

If a teacher should choose to employ what are called ‘guiding questions’ then this issue can be avoided.

So, what are Guiding Questions?

Guiding questions encourage conversation between student and teacher, and result in a fundamental sense of understanding .

A guiding question is a question which encourages a student to consider the information they have been taught, but to come up with their own answers.

Guiding Question Example (Guiding Question vs Leading Question)

In studying sociology, instead of asking ‘why is crime bad?’ consider asking ‘are there any instances in which an illegal action may be justified?’

A guiding question must not include a suggestion as to the ‘correct’ answer. It cannot ask ‘why is x good/bad?’ This is a leading question, and will not allow a student to consider all aspects of a subject.

What do Guiding Questions look like?

On the surface a guiding question can appear to suffer from the same propensity for generalities as the ‘traditional’ school curriculum. This belief would not survive exposure to guiding questions.

A student encouraged to consider the question ‘what would life be like aboard a Viking longship?’ will develop a much greater understanding than a student asked to remember ten things about Vikings.

A student asked to roleplay a customer, perhaps trying to order a coffee in an Italian cafe, will come to terms with the language much quicker than a student asked to remember the names of three different beverages; likely with the typical ‘and use them in a sentence’ bolted on at the end, resulting in the jumbled word-salad of half-remembered expressions that many of us have.

The ability to recall the words for ‘swimming pool’, ‘horse’ and ‘red’ is a poor reward for studying a foreign language.

Why should I use Guiding Questions?

Guiding questions can prove to be an excellent teaching tool for those working in teach from home jobs .

Consider asking your student about their favourite part of the local park, or to discuss the plot of the worst movie they’ve ever seen.

A ‘traditional’ list of ‘these are verbs, these are adjectives, remember them and use them in a sentence by next week’ is unlikely to leave your student with lasting sense of understanding, and will not give them a feeling of what it’s like to use the language.

Language is personal, and social; expressive, and restrictive; you can use it to show or you can use it to hide. Your student cannot be expected to internalise and understand what it is to use a language by use only of the ‘traditional’ list of adjectives/verbs/adverbs.

Ask them some guiding questions, encourage them to engage with and think about the topic beyond simply memorisation, and watch them understand .

Here are are a list of online teaching platforms for you to put your guiding questions into practice whilst earning an income for it:

assigned questions definition

See Hiring Online Teaching Jobs

' src=

About DigiNo

DigiNo is a free tool to help people earn online income: Read More

reading comprehension strategies

Skip to Content

Massey University

  • Search OWLL
  • Handouts (Printable)
  • Pre-reading Service
  • StudyUp Recordings
  • StudyUp Postgraduate
  • Academic writing
  • Intro to academic writing
  • What is academic writing?
  • Writing objectively
  • Writing concisely
  • 1st vs. 3rd person
  • Inclusive language
  • Te Reo Māori
  • Assignment planning
  • Assignment planning calculator

Interpreting the assignment question

  • Command words
  • Organising points
  • Researching
  • Identifying academic sources
  • Evaluating source quality
  • Editing & proofreading
  • Apostrophes
  • Other punctuation
  • Active voice
  • American vs. British spelling
  • Conditionals
  • Prepositions
  • Pronoun Reference
  • Sentence fragments
  • Sentence Structure
  • Subject-verb agreement
  • Formatting and layout
  • Word limits and assignment length
  • Commonly confused words
  • How assignments are marked
  • Marking guides
  • Getting an A
  • Levels of assessment
  • Using feedback
  • Professional emails
  • Forum posts
  • Forum netiquette guidelines
  • Sharing personal information
  • Writing about personal experiences
  • Assignment types
  • What is an essay?
  • Essay planning and structure
  • Introduction
  • Thesis statement
  • Body paragraphs
  • Essay revision
  • Essay writing resources
  • What is a report?
  • Report structure
  • Analysing issues for a report
  • Business report
  • What is a business report?
  • Business report structure
  • Inductive vs. deductive reports
  • Other kinds of business communication
  • Business report format and layout
  • What is a lab report?
  • Lab report structure
  • Science lab report writing resources
  • Psychology lab report writing resources
  • Lab report body paragraphs
  • Literature review
  • What is a literature review?
  • Writing a literature review
  • Literature review structure
  • Literature review writing resources
  • Research proposal
  • Writing a research proposal
  • Research proposal structure
  • Other types
  • Article critique
  • Book review
  • Annotated bibliography
  • Reflective writing
  • Oral presentation
  • Thesis / dissertation
  • Article / conference paper
  • Shorter responses
  • Computer skills
  • Microsoft Word
  • Basic formatting
  • Images, tables, & figures
  • Long documents
  • Microsoft Excel
  • Basic spreadsheets
  • Navigating & printing spreadsheets
  • Charts / graphs & formulas
  • Microsoft PowerPoint
  • Basic skills
  • Advanced skills
  • Distance study
  • Getting started
  • How to study
  • Online study techniques
  • Distance support
  • Reading & writing
  • Reading strategies
  • Writing strategies
  • Grammar resources
  • Listening & speaking
  • Listening strategies
  • Speaking strategies
  • Maths & statistics
  • Trigonometry
  • Finance formulas
  • Postgraduate study
  • Intro to postgrad study
  • Planning postgrad study
  • Postgrad resources
  • Postgrad assignment types
  • Referencing
  • Intro to referencing
  • What is referencing?
  • Why reference?
  • Common knowledge
  • Referencing styles
  • What type of source is this?
  • Reference list vs. bibliography
  • Referencing software
  • Quoting & paraphrasing
  • Paraphrasing & summarising
  • Paraphrasing techniques
  • APA Interactive
  • In-text citation
  • Reference list
  • Online material
  • Other material
  • Headings in APA
  • Tables and Figures
  • Referencing elements
  • 5th vs. 6th edition
  • 6th vs. 7th edition
  • Chicago style
  • Chicago Interactive
  • About notes system
  • Notes referencing elements
  • Quoting and paraphrasing
  • Author-date system
  • MLA Interactive
  • Abbreviations
  • List of works cited
  • Captions for images
  • 8th vs 9th edition
  • Oxford style
  • Other styles
  • Harvard style
  • Vancouver style
  • Legal citations
  • Visual material
  • Sample assignments
  • Sample essay 1
  • Sample essay 2
  • Sample annotated bibliography
  • Sample book review
  • Study skills
  • Time management
  • Intro to time management
  • Procrastination & perfectionism
  • Goals & motivation
  • Time management for internal students
  • Time management for distance students
  • Memory skills
  • Principles of good memory
  • Memory strategies
  • Note-taking
  • Note-taking methods
  • Note-taking in lectures
  • Note-taking while reading
  • Digital note-taking
  • Reading styles
  • In-depth reading
  • Reading comprehension
  • Reading academic material
  • Reading a journal article
  • Reading an academic book
  • Critical thinking
  • What is critical thinking?
  • Constructing an argument
  • Critical reading
  • Logical fallacies
  • Tests & exams
  • Exam & test study
  • Planning exam study
  • Gathering & sorting information
  • Reviewing past exams
  • Phases of revision
  • Last-minute study strategies
  • Question types
  • Short answer
  • Multi-choice
  • Problem / computational
  • Case-study / scenario
  • Open book exam
  • Open web exam or test
  • Take home test
  • In the exam
  • Online exam
  • Physical exam

There are usually three steps to analysing an assignment question. Some questions may involve more than one task.

Checking the meaning

Check the meaning of any words or terms within the assignment question by looking up your course notes, study guide, textbook, or dictionary.

If the assignment question includes a direct quote from a particular author, then you could try to locate a copy of the source (article or paper or text). This will enable you to identify the context of the writer's statement. This can lead you to supporting evidence for the author's position that you may need to consider when writing your assignment.

Identify the three main parts of the question

Normally, there are three main parts to assignment questions:

  • Command/s : These are command or directing words that tell you what to do, such as "Discuss", "Analyse", "Compare and contrast", "Critique", or "Evaluate". Sometimes there is more than one command in a question. For more on this see the section on assignment command words .
  • Topic/s : This is the general area(s) for your discussion. The topic/s can be determined by taking the command word/s and asking "what?" after each command word. For example, Discuss what? Compare and contrast what with what?
  • Focus : The specific area of the topic that you need to concentrate on. Sometimes there is more than one focus in a question. This can usually be identified by extending the strategy above: Discuss - what? - in relation to what?

Forming a thesis statement

Many types of assignment (such as essays ) require you to form a thesis statement - a single sentence outlining your answer to the question. See the section on thesis statements for more.

Complex questions

Some assignments are more complex and may require you to perform more than one task to complete the assignment. This is not always clear, as some tasks are implied rather than explicitly stated. It may be necessary to break the question into small chunks to find all the different sections that you will need to cover in order to answer a question fully.

For example:

Define Maslow's hierarchy of needs. Describe how they apply to an online marketing environment.

First Chunk: Define Maslow's hierarchy of needs

  • Understand the chunk: Define Maslow's Hierarchy.
  • Brainstorm about the topic; ask yourself questions about the topic.
  • Note down in your own words your next action.

Second Chunk: Describe online marketing

  • Understand the chunk: Describe online marketing
  • Brainstorm about the topic: What is online marketing?
  • Note down in your own words your next action: What research do you need to do?

Third Chunk: Describe how Maslow relates to the different facets of the online marketing environment

Page authorised by Director - Centre for Learner Success Last updated on 18 February, 2019

  • Academic Q+A

Have a study or assignment writing question? Ask an expert at Academic Q+A

Live online workshops

  • StudyUp (undergraduate)
  • Campus workshops
  • Albany (undergraduate)
  • Albany (postgraduate)
  • Albany (distance)
  • Manawatu (undergraduate)
  • Manawatu (postgraduate)

Upcoming events

  • All upcoming events
  • Academic writing and learning support
  • 0800 MASSEY | (+64 6 350 5701)
  • [email protected]
  • Online form
  • TutorHome |
  • IntranetHome |
  • Contact the OU Contact the OU Contact the OU |
  • Accessibility Accessibility
  • StudentHome

Help Centre

Preparing assignments, understanding the question.

The first and most important thing to do is pay close attention to what the module assignment guide says you have to do. It gives you the assignment question and extra things that might help such as notes on the writing style and the format you should adopt.

Make sure you know what type of assignment is needed. Is an essay required? Do you have to write a report or a series of short answers to questions?

Check the word limit and keep to it.

Eulina's advice on starting an assignment

assigned questions definition

Eulina: I really do try and stress to analyse the essay title or the assignment title. Just for 15 minutes, don't even start working, just have the title in front of you and maybe pick out the words that are telling you what to do. If it's to compare and contrast? Is it to outline? Is it to explain a theme? What are they asking of me? What are they looking for? If you get that right, you're halfway through into writing your assignment. And then from that you can write your essay plan. Now people write essay plans in all different ways, in like a box, flow diagram, or in linear. And your essay plan should just be key words, or key themes that will then trigger off other, issues or other notes. So when you begin to write your essay you've got a plan in front of you, know exactly where to go for the information, you know exactly what information you're going for and I think if you work within that structure it becomes less confusing.

All assignment questions have key words or phrases that indicate how and what you should write. There are two types of key words to be aware of.

Content words

  • Process words

You'll be able to focus your ideas much more clearly if you identify the content and process words in the question or title of your assignment.

These tell you what topics the question requires you to focus on. For example, look at this assignment question.

Compare your own education to date with that of one of your parents, one of your children (if you have any) or a friend from a different generation . Which points of comparison seem important to you and why ?

The content words are in bold and tend to be nouns. There are plenty of content words there. The question asks you to choose between three groups of people against whom you should compare your education. The key word 'important' indicates that you must pick out a number of main points of comparison (not everything you can think of).

Content word activity

Identify the content words in the assignment question in the following activity: Content words activity . There is also a  Word version (DOC, 158KB)  available.

Process words and phrases

Process words and phrases tell you what to do with your material and are often expressed as imperatives: ' Assess  the impact of ...' or ' Explain  the importance of ...' So, in the example question above, the key words 'Compare' and 'why' are process words (rather than content words). The word 'why' indicates that you must give reasons for selecting particular points of similarity and difference.

In the assignment question below, the process words are in bold.

With particular reference to Reading A of Chapter 9, English: history, diversity and change, discuss and evaluate the grounds on which judgements are made about ‘correctness’ in English.

Process word activity

Identify the meanings of these process words in the following activity: Process words activity . There is also a  Word version (DOC, 195KB)  available. Once you feel confident that you've identified what you are being asked to do for your assignment, you can turn to finding the relevant books, etc.

Last updated 1 year ago

The Open University

Follow us on social media.

Google+

  • Accessibility statement
  • Conditions of use
  • Privacy policy
  • Cookie policy
  • Manage cookie preferences
  • Student Policies and Regulations
  • Student Charter
  • System Status

© . . .

Logo for University of Southern Queensland

Want to create or adapt books like this? Learn more about how Pressbooks supports open publishing practices.

Writing Assignments

Kate Derrington; Cristy Bartlett; and Sarah Irvine

Hands on laptop

Introduction

Assignments are a common method of assessment at university and require careful planning and good quality research. Developing critical thinking and writing skills are also necessary to demonstrate your ability to understand and apply information about your topic.  It is not uncommon to be unsure about the processes of writing assignments at university.

  • You may be returning to study after a break
  • You may have come from an exam based assessment system and never written an assignment before
  • Maybe you have written assignments but would like to improve your processes and strategies

This chapter has a collection of resources that will provide you with the skills and strategies to understand assignment requirements and effectively plan, research, write and edit your assignments.  It begins with an explanation of how to analyse an assignment task and start putting your ideas together.  It continues by breaking down the components of academic writing and exploring the elements you will need to master in your written assignments. This is followed by a discussion of paraphrasing and synthesis, and how you can use these strategies to create a strong, written argument. The chapter concludes with useful checklists for editing and proofreading to help you get the best possible mark for your work.

Task Analysis and Deconstructing an Assignment

It is important that before you begin researching and writing your assignments you spend sufficient time understanding all the requirements. This will help make your research process more efficient and effective. Check your subject information such as task sheets, criteria sheets and any additional information that may be in your subject portal online. Seek clarification from your lecturer or tutor if you are still unsure about how to begin your assignments.

The task sheet typically provides key information about an assessment including the assignment question. It can be helpful to scan this document for topic, task and limiting words to ensure that you fully understand the concepts you are required to research, how to approach the assignment, and the scope of the task you have been set. These words can typically be found in your assignment question and are outlined in more detail in the two tables below (see Table 19.1 and Table 19.2 ).

Table 19.1 Parts of an Assignment Question

Make sure you have a clear understanding of what the task word requires you to address.

Table 19.2 Task words

The criteria sheet , also known as the marking sheet or rubric, is another important document to look at before you begin your assignment. The criteria sheet outlines how your assignment will be marked and should be used as a checklist to make sure you have included all the information required.

The task or criteria sheet will also include the:

  • Word limit (or word count)
  • Referencing style and research expectations
  • Formatting requirements

Task analysis and criteria sheets are also discussed in the chapter Managing Assessments for a more detailed discussion on task analysis, criteria sheets, and marking rubrics.

Preparing your ideas

Concept map on whiteboard

Brainstorm or concept map:  List possible ideas to address each part of the assignment task based on what you already know about the topic from lectures and weekly readings.

Finding appropriate information: Learn how to find scholarly information for your assignments which is

See the chapter Working With Information for a more detailed explanation .

What is academic writing?

Academic writing tone and style.

Many of the assessment pieces you prepare will require an academic writing style.  This is sometimes called ‘academic tone’ or ‘academic voice’.  This section will help you to identify what is required when you are writing academically (see Table 19.3 ). The best way to understand what academic writing looks like, is to read broadly in your discipline area.  Look at how your course readings, or scholarly sources, are written. This will help you identify the language of your discipline field, as well as how other writers structure their work.

Table 19.3 Comparison of academic and non-academic writing

Thesis statements.

Essays are a common form of assessment that you will likely encounter during your university studies. You should apply an academic tone and style when writing an essay, just as you would in in your other assessment pieces. One of the most important steps in writing an essay is constructing your thesis statement.  A thesis statement tells the reader the purpose, argument or direction you will take to answer your assignment question. A thesis statement may not be relevant for some questions, if you are unsure check with your lecturer. The thesis statement:

  • Directly  relates to the task .  Your thesis statement may even contain some of the key words or synonyms from the task description.
  • Does more than restate the question.
  • Is specific and uses precise language.
  • Let’s your reader know your position or the main argument that you will support with evidence throughout your assignment.
  • The subject is the key content area you will be covering.
  • The contention is the position you are taking in relation to the chosen content.

Your thesis statement helps you to structure your essay.  It plays a part in each key section: introduction, body and conclusion.

Planning your assignment structure

Image of the numbers 231

When planning and drafting assignments, it is important to consider the structure of your writing. Academic writing should have clear and logical structure and incorporate academic research to support your ideas.  It can be hard to get started and at first you may feel nervous about the size of the task, this is normal. If you break your assignment into smaller pieces, it will seem more manageable as you can approach the task in sections. Refer to your brainstorm or plan. These ideas should guide your research and will also inform what you write in your draft. It is sometimes easier to draft your assignment using the 2-3-1 approach, that is, write the body paragraphs first followed by the conclusion and finally the introduction.

Writing introductions and conclusions

Clear and purposeful introductions and conclusions in assignments are fundamental to effective academic writing. Your introduction should tell the reader what is going to be covered and how you intend to approach this. Your conclusion should summarise your argument or discussion and signal to the reader that you have come to a conclusion with a final statement.  These tips below are based on the requirements usually needed for an essay assignment, however, they can be applied to other assignment types.

Writing introductions

Start written on road

Most writing at university will require a strong and logically structured introduction. An effective introduction should provide some background or context for your assignment, clearly state your thesis and include the key points you will cover in the body of the essay in order to prove your thesis.

Usually, your introduction is approximately 10% of your total assignment word count. It is much easier to write your introduction once you have drafted your body paragraphs and conclusion, as you know what your assignment is going to be about. An effective introduction needs to inform your reader by establishing what the paper is about and provide four basic things:

  • A brief background or overview of your assignment topic
  • A thesis statement (see section above)
  • An outline of your essay structure
  • An indication of any parameters or scope that will/ will not be covered, e.g. From an Australian perspective.

The below example demonstrates the four different elements of an introductory paragraph.

1) Information technology is having significant effects on the communication of individuals and organisations in different professions. 2) This essay will discuss the impact of information technology on the communication of health professionals.   3)  First, the provision of information technology for the educational needs of nurses will be discussed.  4)  This will be followed by an explanation of the significant effects that information technology can have on the role of general practitioner in the area of public health.  5)  Considerations will then be made regarding the lack of knowledge about the potential of computers among hospital administrators and nursing executives.  6)   The final section will explore how information technology assists health professionals in the delivery of services in rural areas .  7)  It will be argued that information technology has significant potential to improve health care and medical education, but health professionals are reluctant to use it.

1 Brief background/ overview | 2 Indicates the scope of what will be covered |   3-6 Outline of the main ideas (structure) | 7 The thesis statement

Note : The examples in this document are taken from the University of Canberra and used under a CC-BY-SA-3.0 licence.

Writing conclusions

You should aim to end your assignments with a strong conclusion. Your conclusion should restate your thesis and summarise the key points you have used to prove this thesis. Finish with a key point as a final impactful statement.  Similar to your introduction, your conclusion should be approximately 10% of the total assignment word length. If your assessment task asks you to make recommendations, you may need to allocate more words to the conclusion or add a separate recommendations section before the conclusion. Use the checklist below to check your conclusion is doing the right job.

Conclusion checklist 

  • Have you referred to the assignment question and restated your argument (or thesis statement), as outlined in the introduction?
  • Have you pulled together all the threads of your essay into a logical ending and given it a sense of unity?
  • Have you presented implications or recommendations in your conclusion? (if required by your task).
  • Have you added to the overall quality and impact of your essay? This is your final statement about this topic; thus, a key take-away point can make a great impact on the reader.
  • Remember, do not add any new material or direct quotes in your conclusion.

This below example demonstrates the different elements of a concluding paragraph.

1) It is evident, therefore, that not only do employees need to be trained for working in the Australian multicultural workplace, but managers also need to be trained.  2)  Managers must ensure that effective in-house training programs are provided for migrant workers, so that they become more familiar with the English language, Australian communication norms and the Australian work culture.  3)  In addition, Australian native English speakers need to be made aware of the differing cultural values of their workmates; particularly the different forms of non-verbal communication used by other cultures.  4)  Furthermore, all employees must be provided with clear and detailed guidelines about company expectations.  5)  Above all, in order to minimise communication problems and to maintain an atmosphere of tolerance, understanding and cooperation in the multicultural workplace, managers need to have an effective knowledge about their employees. This will help employers understand how their employee’s social conditioning affects their beliefs about work. It will develop their communication skills to develop confidence and self-esteem among diverse work groups. 6) The culturally diverse Australian workplace may never be completely free of communication problems, however,   further studies to identify potential problems and solutions, as well as better training in cross cultural communication for managers and employees,   should result in a much more understanding and cooperative environment. 

1  Reference to thesis statement – In this essay the writer has taken the position that training is required for both employees and employers . | 2-5 Structure overview – Here the writer pulls together the main ideas in the essay. | 6  Final summary statement that is based on the evidence.

Note: The examples in this document are taken from the University of Canberra and used under a CC-BY-SA-3.0 licence.

Writing paragraphs

Paragraph writing is a key skill that enables you to incorporate your academic research into your written work.  Each paragraph should have its own clearly identified topic sentence or main idea which relates to the argument or point (thesis) you are developing.  This idea should then be explained by additional sentences which you have paraphrased from good quality sources and referenced according to the recommended guidelines of your subject (see the chapter Working with Information ). Paragraphs are characterised by increasing specificity; that is, they move from the general to the specific, increasingly refining the reader’s understanding. A common structure for paragraphs in academic writing is as follows.

Topic Sentence 

This is the main idea of the paragraph and should relate to the overall issue or purpose of your assignment is addressing. Often it will be expressed as an assertion or claim which supports the overall argument or purpose of your writing.

Explanation/ Elaboration

The main idea must have its meaning explained and elaborated upon. Think critically, do not just describe the idea.

These explanations must include evidence to support your main idea. This information should be paraphrased and referenced according to the appropriate referencing style of your course.

Concluding sentence (critical thinking)

This should explain why the topic of the paragraph is relevant to the assignment question and link to the following paragraph.

Use the checklist below to check your paragraphs are clear and well formed.

Paragraph checklist

  • Does your paragraph have a clear main idea?
  • Is everything in the paragraph related to this main idea?
  • Is the main idea adequately developed and explained?
  • Do your sentences run together smoothly?
  • Have you included evidence to support your ideas?
  • Have you concluded the paragraph by connecting it to your overall topic?

Writing sentences

Make sure all the sentences in your paragraphs make sense. Each sentence must contain a verb to be a complete sentence. Avoid sentence fragments . These are incomplete sentences or ideas that are unfinished and create confusion for your reader. Avoid also run on sentences . This happens when you join two ideas or clauses without using the appropriate punctuation. This also confuses your meaning (See the chapter English Language Foundations for examples and further explanation).

Use transitions (linking words and phrases) to connect your ideas between paragraphs and make your writing flow. The order that you structure the ideas in your assignment should reflect the structure you have outlined in your introduction. Refer to transition words table in the chapter English Language Foundations.

Paraphrasing and Synthesising

Paraphrasing and synthesising are powerful tools that you can use to support the main idea of a paragraph. It is likely that you will regularly use these skills at university to incorporate evidence into explanatory sentences and strengthen your essay. It is important to paraphrase and synthesise because:

  • Paraphrasing is regarded more highly at university than direct quoting.
  • Paraphrasing can also help you better understand the material.
  • Paraphrasing and synthesising demonstrate you have understood what you have read through your ability to summarise and combine arguments from the literature using your own words.

What is paraphrasing?

Paraphrasing is changing the writing of another author into your words while retaining the original meaning. You must acknowledge the original author as the source of the information in your citation. Follow the steps in this table to help you build your skills in paraphrasing (see Table 19.4 ).

Table 19.4 Paraphrasing techniques

Example of paraphrasing.

Please note that these examples and in text citations are for instructional purposes only.

Original text

Health care professionals   assist people often when they are at their most  vulnerable . To provide the best care and understand their needs, workers must demonstrate good communication skills .  They must develop patient trust and provide empathy   to effectively work with patients who are experiencing a variety of situations including those who may be suffering from trauma or violence, physical or mental illness or substance abuse (French & Saunders, 2018).

Poor quality paraphrase example

This is a poor example of paraphrasing. Some synonyms have been used and the order of a few words changed within the sentences however the colours of the sentences indicate that the paragraph follows the same structure as the original text.

Health care sector workers are often responsible for vulnerable  patients.   To understand patients and deliver good service , they need to be excellent communicators .  They must establish patient rapport and show empathy if they are to successfully care for patients from a variety of backgrounds  and with different medical, psychological and social needs (French & Saunders, 2018).

A good quality paraphrase example

This example demonstrates a better quality paraphrase. The author has demonstrated more understanding of the overall concept in the text by using the keywords as the basis to reconstruct the paragraph. Note how the blocks of colour have been broken up to see how much the structure has changed from the original text.

Empathetic   communication is a vital skill for health care workers.   Professionals in these fields   are often responsible for patients with complex medical, psychological and social needs. Empathetic   communication assists in building rapport and gaining the necessary trust   to assist these vulnerable patients  by providing appropriate supportive care (French & Saunders, 2018).

The good quality paraphrase example demonstrates understanding of the overall concept in the text by using key words as the basis to reconstruct the paragraph.  Note how the blocks of colour have been broken up, which indicates how much the structure has changed from the original text.

What is synthesising?

Synthesising means to bring together more than one source of information to strengthen your argument. Once you have learnt how to paraphrase the ideas of one source at a time, you can consider adding additional sources to support your argument. Synthesis demonstrates your understanding and ability to show connections between multiple pieces of evidence to support your ideas and is a more advanced academic thinking and writing skill.

Follow the steps in this table to improve your synthesis techniques (see Table 19.5 ).

Table 19.5 Synthesising techniques

Example of synthesis

There is a relationship between academic procrastination and mental health outcomes.  Procrastination has been found to have a negative effect on students’ well-being (Balkis, & Duru, 2016). Yerdelen, McCaffrey, and Klassens’ (2016) research results suggested that there was a positive association between procrastination and anxiety. This was corroborated by Custer’s (2018) findings which indicated that students with higher levels of procrastination also reported greater levels of the anxiety. Therefore, it could be argued that procrastination is an ineffective learning strategy that leads to increased levels of distress.

Topic sentence | Statements using paraphrased evidence | Critical thinking (student voice) | Concluding statement – linking to topic sentence

This example demonstrates a simple synthesis. The author has developed a paragraph with one central theme and included explanatory sentences complete with in-text citations from multiple sources. Note how the blocks of colour have been used to illustrate the paragraph structure and synthesis (i.e., statements using paraphrased evidence from several sources). A more complex synthesis may include more than one citation per sentence.

Creating an argument

What does this mean.

Throughout your university studies, you may be asked to ‘argue’ a particular point or position in your writing. You may already be familiar with the idea of an argument, which in general terms means to have a disagreement with someone. Similarly, in academic writing, if you are asked to create an argument, this means you are asked to have a position on a particular topic, and then justify your position using evidence.

What skills do you need to create an argument?

In order to create a good and effective argument, you need to be able to:

  • Read critically to find evidence
  • Plan your argument
  • Think and write critically throughout your paper to enhance your argument

For tips on how to read and write critically, refer to the chapter Thinking for more information. A formula for developing a strong argument is presented below.

A formula for a good argument

A diagram on the formula for a ggood argument which includes deciding what side of argument you are on, research evidence to support your argument, create a plan to create a logically flowing argument and writing your argument

What does an argument look like?

As can be seen from the figure above, including evidence is a key element of a good argument. While this may seem like a straightforward task, it can be difficult to think of wording to express your argument. The table below provides examples of how you can illustrate your argument in academic writing (see Table 19.6 ).

Table 19.6 Argument

Editing and proofreading (reviewing).

Once you have finished writing your first draft it is recommended that you spend time revising your work.  Proofreading and editing are two different stages of the revision process.

  • Editing considers the overall focus or bigger picture of the assignment
  • Proofreading considers the finer details

Editing mindmap with the words sources, content,s tructure and style. Proofreading mindmap with the words referencing, word choice, grammar and spelling and punctuation

As can be seen in the figure above there are four main areas that you should review during the editing phase of the revision process. The main things to consider when editing include content, structure, style, and sources. It is important to check that all the content relates to the assignment task, the structure is appropriate for the purposes of the assignment, the writing is academic in style, and that sources have been adequately acknowledged. Use the checklist below when editing your work.

Editing checklist

  • Have I answered the question accurately?
  • Do I have enough credible, scholarly supporting evidence?
  • Is my writing tone objective and formal enough or have I used emotive and informal language?
  • Have I written in the third person not the first person?
  • Do I have appropriate in-text citations for all my information?
  • Have I included the full details for all my in-text citations in my reference list?

There are also several key things to look out for during the proofreading phase of the revision process. In this stage it is important to check your work for word choice, grammar and spelling, punctuation and referencing errors. It can be easy to mis-type words like ‘from’ and ‘form’ or mix up words like ‘trail’ and ‘trial’ when writing about research, apply American rather than Australian spelling, include unnecessary commas or incorrectly format your references list. The checklist below is a useful guide that you can use when proofreading your work.

Proofreading checklist

  • Is my spelling and grammar accurate?
  •  Are they complete?
  • Do they all make sense?
  • Do they only contain only one idea?
  • Do the different elements (subject, verb, nouns, pronouns) within my sentences agree?
  • Are my sentences too long and complicated?
  • Do they contain only one idea per sentence?
  • Is my writing concise? Take out words that do not add meaning to your sentences.
  • Have I used appropriate discipline specific language but avoided words I don’t know or understand that could possibly be out of context?
  • Have I avoided discriminatory language and colloquial expressions (slang)?
  • Is my referencing formatted correctly according to my assignment guidelines? (for more information on referencing refer to the Managing Assessment feedback section).

This chapter has examined the experience of writing assignments.  It began by focusing on how to read and break down an assignment question, then highlighted the key components of essays. Next, it examined some techniques for paraphrasing and summarising, and how to build an argument. It concluded with a discussion on planning and structuring your assignment and giving it that essential polish with editing and proof-reading. Combining these skills and practising them, can greatly improve your success with this very common form of assessment.

  • Academic writing requires clear and logical structure, critical thinking and the use of credible scholarly sources.
  • A thesis statement is important as it tells the reader the position or argument you have adopted in your assignment. Not all assignments will require a thesis statement.
  • Spending time analysing your task and planning your structure before you start to write your assignment is time well spent.
  • Information you use in your assignment should come from credible scholarly sources such as textbooks and peer reviewed journals. This information needs to be paraphrased and referenced appropriately.
  • Paraphrasing means putting something into your own words and synthesising means to bring together several ideas from sources.
  • Creating an argument is a four step process and can be applied to all types of academic writing.
  • Editing and proofreading are two separate processes.

Academic Skills Centre. (2013). Writing an introduction and conclusion . University of Canberra, accessed 13 August, 2013, http://www.canberra.edu.au/studyskills/writing/conclusions

Balkis, M., & Duru, E. (2016). Procrastination, self-regulation failure, academic life satisfaction, and affective well-being: underregulation or misregulation form. European Journal of Psychology of Education, 31 (3), 439-459.

Custer, N. (2018). Test anxiety and academic procrastination among prelicensure nursing students. Nursing education perspectives, 39 (3), 162-163.

Yerdelen, S., McCaffrey, A., & Klassen, R. M. (2016). Longitudinal examination of procrastination and anxiety, and their relation to self-efficacy for self-regulated learning: Latent growth curve modeling. Educational Sciences: Theory & Practice, 16 (1).

Writing Assignments Copyright © 2021 by Kate Derrington; Cristy Bartlett; and Sarah Irvine is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

Share This Book

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 .

CONTACT US to talk with an Eberly colleague in person!

  • Faculty Support
  • Graduate Student Support
  • Canvas @ Carnegie Mellon
  • Quick Links

creative commons image

Cambridge Dictionary

  • Cambridge Dictionary +Plus

Meaning of assign in English

Your browser doesn't support HTML5 audio

assign verb [T] ( CHOOSE )

  • Every available officer will be assigned to the investigation .
  • The textbooks were assigned by the course director .
  • Part of the group was assigned to clear land mines .
  • Each trainee is assigned a mentor who will help them learn more about the job .
  • We were assigned an interpreter for the duration of our stay .
  • accommodate
  • accommodate someone with something
  • administration
  • arm someone with something
  • hand something in
  • hand something out
  • hand something over
  • hand something round
  • reassignment

You can also find related words, phrases, and synonyms in the topics:

assign verb [T] ( SEND )

  • She was assigned to the Paris office .
  • All the team was assigned to Poland.
  • advertisement
  • employment agency
  • equality, diversity and inclusion
  • reinstatement
  • relocation expenses
  • testimonial

assign verb [T] ( COMPUTING )

  • 3-D printing
  • adaptive learning
  • additive manufacturing
  • hexadecimal
  • hill climbing
  • home automation
  • telerobotics
  • word processing

assign verb [T] ( GIVE LEGALLY )

Phrasal verb, assign | intermediate english, assign | business english, examples of assign, translations of assign.

Get a quick, free translation!

{{randomImageQuizHook.quizId}}

Word of the Day

the act of driving too closely behind the vehicle in front

Infinitive or -ing verb? Avoiding common mistakes with verb patterns (1)

Infinitive or -ing verb? Avoiding common mistakes with verb patterns (1)

assigned questions definition

Learn more with +Plus

  • Recent and Recommended {{#preferredDictionaries}} {{name}} {{/preferredDictionaries}}
  • Definitions Clear explanations of natural written and spoken English English Learner’s Dictionary Essential British English Essential American English
  • Grammar and thesaurus Usage explanations of natural written and spoken English Grammar Thesaurus
  • Pronunciation British and American pronunciations with audio English Pronunciation
  • English–Chinese (Simplified) Chinese (Simplified)–English
  • English–Chinese (Traditional) Chinese (Traditional)–English
  • English–Dutch Dutch–English
  • English–French French–English
  • English–German German–English
  • English–Indonesian Indonesian–English
  • English–Italian Italian–English
  • English–Japanese Japanese–English
  • English–Norwegian Norwegian–English
  • English–Polish Polish–English
  • English–Portuguese Portuguese–English
  • English–Spanish Spanish–English
  • English–Swedish Swedish–English
  • Dictionary +Plus Word Lists
  • assign (CHOOSE)
  • assign (SEND)
  • assign (COMPUTING)
  • assign (GIVE LEGALLY)
  • Intermediate    Verb
  • Business    Verb
  • Translations
  • All translations

Add assign to one of your lists below, or create a new one.

{{message}}

Something went wrong.

There was a problem sending your report.

  • Dictionaries home
  • American English
  • Collocations
  • German-English
  • Grammar home
  • Practical English Usage
  • Learn & Practise Grammar (Beta)
  • Word Lists home
  • My Word Lists
  • Recent additions
  • Resources home
  • Text Checker

Definition of assign verb from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary

Questions about grammar and vocabulary?

Find the answers with Practical English Usage online, your indispensable guide to problems in English.

  • 3 [ usually passive ] assign somebody to somebody/something to send a person to work under the authority of someone or in a particular group I was assigned to B platoon.
  • 4 to say that something has a particular value or function, or happens at a particular time or place assign something to something Assign a different color to each different type of information. assign something sth The painting cannot be assigned an exact date.
  • 5 assign something to somebody ( law ) to say that your property or rights now belong to someone else The agreement assigns copyright to the publisher. She has assigned the lease to her daughter.

Nearby words

Synonyms of assigned

  • as in entrusted
  • as in allotted
  • as in ceded
  • as in appointed
  • More from M-W
  • To save this word, you'll need to log in. Log In

Thesaurus Definition of assigned

Synonyms & Similar Words

  • commissioned
  • recommended
  • distributed
  • apportioned
  • administered
  • shared (out)
  • contributed
  • meted (out)
  • reallocated
  • parceled (out)
  • redistributed
  • parcelled (out)
  • reapportioned

Antonyms & Near Antonyms

  • deprived (of)
  • appropriated
  • confiscated
  • transferred
  • relinquished
  • disposed of
  • passed (down)
  • transmitted
  • handed down
  • surrendered
  • turned over
  • handed over
  • expropriated
  • constituted
  • inaugurated
  • consecrated
  • singled (out)
  • blackballed

Thesaurus Entries Near assigned

assignations

Cite this Entry

“Assigned.” Merriam-Webster.com Thesaurus , Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/assigned. Accessed 24 Feb. 2024.

More from Merriam-Webster on assigned

Nglish: Translation of assigned for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of assigned for Arabic Speakers

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

Play Quordle: Guess all four words in a limited number of tries.  Each of your guesses must be a real 5-letter word.

Can you solve 4 words at once?

Word of the day.

See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Popular in Grammar & Usage

8 grammar terms you used to know, but forgot, homophones, homographs, and homonyms, commonly misspelled words, a guide to em dashes, en dashes, and hyphens, absent letters that are heard anyway, popular in wordplay, the words of the week - feb. 23, 10 scrabble words without any vowels, 12 more bird names that sound like insults (and sometimes are), 9 superb owl words, 'gaslighting,' 'woke,' 'democracy,' and other top lookups, games & quizzes.

Play Blossom: Solve today's spelling word game by finding as many words as you can using just 7 letters. Longer words score more points.

IMAGES

  1. General Questions In English: Rules And Explanation

    assigned questions definition

  2. General Questions In English: Rules And Explanation

    assigned questions definition

  3. Question Words, Meanings and Example Sentences

    assigned questions definition

  4. Types of Questions: Sample Question Types with Examples

    assigned questions definition

  5. Research Questions: Definition, Types, and How to Write One

    assigned questions definition

  6. Question Words: Useful Wh Questions Rules & Examples • 7ESL

    assigned questions definition

COMMENTS

  1. PDF Strategies for Essay Writing

    in the assignment, then you should follow that instruction. In those assignments, the instructor wants to know what you think about the assigned sources and about the question, and they do not want you to bring in other sources. • Consider your audience. It can be difficult to know how much background information or context to

  2. Understanding Assignments

    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.

  3. Understanding your assignment questions: A short guide

    Describe: To describe is to give an observational account of something and would deal with what happened, where it happened, when it happened and who was involved. Spell out the main aspects of an idea or topic or the sequence in which a series of things happened.

  4. Answering Assignment Questions

    Writing Essay and assignment writing guide In order to decide how to answer an essay question, you need to identify what the question requires in terms of content and genre. This guide outlines some methods to help you analyse essay questions. Analyse the question using key words

  5. Assignment

    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. ... 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 ...

  6. Guiding Questions

    Guiding questions can prove to be an excellent teaching tool for those working in teach from home jobs. Consider asking your student about their favourite part of the local park, or to discuss the plot of the worst movie they've ever seen. A 'traditional' list of 'these are verbs, these are adjectives, remember them and use them in a ...

  7. PDF Understanding and Answering Assignment Questions

    Analysing a Question using Key Words Assignment questions can be broken down into parts so that you can better understand what you are being asked to do. It is important to identify key words and phrases in the topic. What are Key Words? Key words are the words in an assignment question that tell you the approaches to take when you answer.

  8. Interpreting the assignment question

    Normally, there are three main parts to assignment questions: Command/s: These are command or directing words that tell you what to do, such as "Discuss", "Analyse", "Compare and contrast", "Critique", or "Evaluate". Sometimes there is more than one command in a question. For more on this see the section on assignment command words.

  9. PDF Understanding the Assignment Question

    When you write an assignment, is important that you don't overlook the key features of the question. These include: The "direction" or "task" word/s. This the VERB in the question that tells you exactly what you need to do. The table overleaf provides some examples of different direction words and their meanings. The "scoping" word.

  10. Preparing assignments: Understanding the question

    1 min 1 sec. All assignment questions have key words or phrases that indicate how and what you should write. There are two types of key words to be aware of. Content words. Process words. You'll be able to focus your ideas much more clearly if you identify the content and process words in the question or title of your assignment.

  11. ASSIGNED

    to give a particular job or piece of work to someone: [ + two objects ] UN troops were assigned the task of rebuilding the hospital. The case has been assigned to our most senior officer. If you assign a time for a job or activity, you decide it will be done during that time: Have you assigned a day for the interviews yet?

  12. Writing Assignments

    The task sheet typically provides key information about an assessment including the assignment question. It can be helpful to scan this document for topic, task and limiting words to ensure that you fully understand the concepts you are required to research, how to approach the assignment, and the scope of the task you have been set ...

  13. Analyse, Explain, Identify… 22 essay question words

    And to understand the requirements of the question, you need to have a good hold on all the different question words. For example, 'justify', 'examine', and 'discuss', to name a few. Lacking this understanding is a pitfall many students tumble into. But our guide on essay question words below should keep you firmly above on safe, essay-acing ...

  14. PDF Teaching Tips: 20 Questions About Writing Assignments

    20 Questions About Writing Assignments Students can ask these questions about assignments they receive—and we can ensure that our own assignment prompts and explanations give students these key pieces of information. Questions about getting started 1. If I have my own idea for a topic or angle that's interesting to me, can I use it, or do I

  15. Creating Assignments

    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.

  16. assignment noun

    /əˈsaɪnmənt/ /əˈsaɪnmənt/ [countable] a task or piece of work that somebody is given to do, usually as part of their job or studies Students are required to complete all homework assignments. You will need to complete three written assignments per semester. a business/special assignment I had set myself a tough assignment.

  17. ASSIGNED

    to give a particular job or piece of work to someone: [ + two objects ] UN troops were assigned the task of rebuilding the hospital. The case has been assigned to our most senior officer. If you assign a time for a job or activity, you decide it will be done during that time: Have you assigned a day for the interviews yet?

  18. Assign Definition & Meaning

    as· sign ə-ˈsīn assigned; assigning; assigns Synonyms of assign transitive verb 1 : to transfer (property) to another especially in trust or for the benefit of creditors 2 a : to appoint to a post or duty assigned them to light duty assigned me two clerks b : to appoint as a duty or task assigns 20 pages for homework 3

  19. assign

    assign - WordReference English dictionary, questions, discussion and forums. All Free. WordReference.com | Online Language Dictionaries. ... To assign is to distribute available things, designating them to be given to or reserved for specific persons or purposes: to assign duties.

  20. ASSIGN

    to give a particular job or piece of work to someone: [ + two objects ] UN troops were assigned the task of rebuilding the hospital. The case has been assigned to our most senior officer. If you assign a time for a job or activity, you decide it will be done during that time: Have you assigned a day for the interviews yet?

  21. assign verb

    /əˈsaɪn/ Verb Forms to give someone something that they can use, or some work or responsibility assign something (to somebody) The two large classrooms have been assigned to us. The teacher assigned a different task to each of the children. assign somebody something We have been assigned the two large classrooms.

  22. assigned questions

    Learn the definition of 'assigned questions'. Check out the pronunciation, synonyms and grammar. Browse the use examples 'assigned questions' in the great English corpus. ... Ask each missionary to prepare a two- to three-minute talk on his or her assigned question. LDS. You can track assignments, questions, and events in class calendars ...

  23. ASSIGNED Synonyms: 147 Similar and Opposite Words

    Synonyms for ASSIGNED: entrusted, tasked, charged, trusted, commissioned, intrusted, imposed, delegated; Antonyms of ASSIGNED: denied, retained, kept, deprived (of ...