Purdue Online Writing Lab Purdue OWL® College of Liberal Arts

Understanding Writing Assignments

OWL logo

Welcome to the Purdue OWL

This page is brought to you by the OWL at Purdue University. When printing this page, you must include the entire legal notice.

Copyright ©1995-2018 by The Writing Lab & The OWL at Purdue and Purdue University. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, reproduced, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our terms and conditions of fair use.

How to Decipher the Paper Assignment

Many instructors write their assignment prompts differently. By following a few steps, you can better understand the requirements for the assignment. The best way, as always, is to ask the instructor about anything confusing.

  • Read the prompt the entire way through once. This gives you an overall view of what is going on.
  • Underline or circle the portions that you absolutely must know. This information may include due date, research (source) requirements, page length, and format (MLA, APA, CMS).
  • Underline or circle important phrases. You should know your instructor at least a little by now - what phrases do they use in class? Does he repeatedly say a specific word? If these are in the prompt, you know the instructor wants you to use them in the assignment.
  • Think about how you will address the prompt. The prompt contains clues on how to write the assignment. Your instructor will often describe the ideas they want discussed either in questions, in bullet points, or in the text of the prompt. Think about each of these sentences and number them so that you can write a paragraph or section of your essay on that portion if necessary.
  • Rank ideas in descending order, from most important to least important. Instructors may include more questions or talking points than you can cover in your assignment, so rank them in the order you think is more important. One area of the prompt may be more interesting to you than another.
  • Ask your instructor questions if you have any.

After you are finished with these steps, ask yourself the following:

  • What is the purpose of this assignment? Is my purpose to provide information without forming an argument, to construct an argument based on research, or analyze a poem and discuss its imagery?
  • Who is my audience? Is my instructor my only audience? Who else might read this? Will it be posted online? What are my readers' needs and expectations?
  • What resources do I need to begin work? Do I need to conduct literature (hermeneutic or historical) research, or do I need to review important literature on the topic and then conduct empirical research, such as a survey or an observation? How many sources are required?
  • Who - beyond my instructor - can I contact to help me if I have questions? Do you have a writing lab or student service center that offers tutorials in writing?

(Notes on prompts made in blue )

Poster or Song Analysis: Poster or Song? Poster!

Goals : To systematically consider the rhetorical choices made in either a poster or a song. She says that all the time.

Things to Consider: ah- talking points

  • how the poster addresses its audience and is affected by context I'll do this first - 1.
  • general layout, use of color, contours of light and shade, etc.
  • use of contrast, alignment, repetition, and proximity C.A.R.P. They say that, too. I'll do this third - 3.
  • the point of view the viewer is invited to take, poses of figures in the poster, etc. any text that may be present
  • possible cultural ramifications or social issues that have bearing I'll cover this second - 2.
  • ethical implications
  • how the poster affects us emotionally, or what mood it evokes
  • the poster's implicit argument and its effectiveness said that was important in class, so I'll discuss this last - 4.
  • how the song addresses its audience
  • lyrics: how they rhyme, repeat, what they say
  • use of music, tempo, different instruments
  • possible cultural ramifications or social issues that have bearing
  • emotional effects
  • the implicit argument and its effectiveness

These thinking points are not a step-by-step guideline on how to write your paper; instead, they are various means through which you can approach the subject. I do expect to see at least a few of them addressed, and there are other aspects that may be pertinent to your choice that have not been included in these lists. You will want to find a central idea and base your argument around that. Additionally, you must include a copy of the poster or song that you are working with. Really important!

I will be your audience. This is a formal paper, and you should use academic conventions throughout.

Length: 4 pages Format: Typed, double-spaced, 10-12 point Times New Roman, 1 inch margins I need to remember the format stuff. I messed this up last time =(

Academic Argument Essay

5-7 pages, Times New Roman 12 pt. font, 1 inch margins.

Minimum of five cited sources: 3 must be from academic journals or books

  • Design Plan due: Thurs. 10/19
  • Rough Draft due: Monday 10/30
  • Final Draft due: Thurs. 11/9

Remember this! I missed the deadline last time

The design plan is simply a statement of purpose, as described on pages 40-41 of the book, and an outline. The outline may be formal, as we discussed in class, or a printout of an Open Mind project. It must be a minimum of 1 page typed information, plus 1 page outline.

This project is an expansion of your opinion editorial. While you should avoid repeating any of your exact phrases from Project 2, you may reuse some of the same ideas. Your topic should be similar. You must use research to support your position, and you must also demonstrate a fairly thorough knowledge of any opposing position(s). 2 things to do - my position and the opposite.

Your essay should begin with an introduction that encapsulates your topic and indicates 1 the general trajectory of your argument. You need to have a discernable thesis that appears early in your paper. Your conclusion should restate the thesis in different words, 2 and then draw some additional meaningful analysis out of the developments of your argument. Think of this as a "so what" factor. What are some implications for the future, relating to your topic? What does all this (what you have argued) mean for society, or for the section of it to which your argument pertains? A good conclusion moves outside the topic in the paper and deals with a larger issue.

You should spend at least one paragraph acknowledging and describing the opposing position in a manner that is respectful and honestly representative of the opposition’s 3 views. The counterargument does not need to occur in a certain area, but generally begins or ends your argument. Asserting and attempting to prove each aspect of your argument’s structure should comprise the majority of your paper. Ask yourself what your argument assumes and what must be proven in order to validate your claims. Then go step-by-step, paragraph-by-paragraph, addressing each facet of your position. Most important part!

Finally, pay attention to readability . Just because this is a research paper does not mean that it has to be boring. Use examples and allow your opinion to show through word choice and tone. Proofread before you turn in the paper. Your audience is generally the academic community and specifically me, as a representative of that community. Ok, They want this to be easy to read, to contain examples I find, and they want it to be grammatically correct. I can visit the tutoring center if I get stuck, or I can email the OWL Email Tutors short questions if I have any more problems.

  • MyU : For Students, Faculty, and Staff

Writing Across the Curriculum

Ask a question

  • Research & Assessment
  • Writing Plans
  • WEC Liaisons
  • Academic Units
  • Engage with WEC
  • Teaching Resources
  • Teaching Consultations
  • Faculty Writing Resources

Tww hero 3

  • Designing Effective Writing Assignments

One of the best ways for students to determine what they know, think, and believe about a given subject is to write about it. To support students in their writing, it is important to provide them with a meaningful writing task, one that has an authentic purpose, clear guidelines, and engages students in their learning. In this section, you can read about key principles of assignment design, review examples of effective writing assignments, and use a checklist to guide your own designs. You can also consult with a Writing Across the Curriculum Program team member . We’re happy to think with you about your writing assignment, whether it is in the inkling stage or undergoing a few minor tweaks.

What makes an assignment effective?

A good deal of educational research points to the benefits of writing assignments that exhibit the following features:

Meaningful tasks. A task is given meaning by its relevance to and alignment with the learning aims in the course. What counts as meaningful in one course context might not be meaningful in another. As Eodice, Geller, and Lerner (2016) have shown, meaningful writing assignments do occur across all disciplines and they are typically ones that “offer students opportunities to engage with instructors, peers, and texts and are relevant to past experiences and passions as well as to future aspirations and identities.”

Maximized learning time. As Linda Suskie argues, effectiveness is determined by the “learning payoff,” not by size of the assignment. Will students learn four times as much on an assignment that takes 20 hours outside of class than one that takes 5? Longer research-based assignments and elaborate class activities (mock conferences, debates, poster sessions, etc.) can greatly maximize learning, but there must be an appropriate level of writing and learning time built into the task. Term papers are much more effective when students have time to draft and revise stages of the assignment, rather than turning in one final product at the end.

Student laying in grass and writing

Logical sequencing. A writing task that includes discrete stages (research, drafting, review, revising, etc.) is more likely to be an effective learning experience than one that only specifies the final product. Furthermore, these stages are more effective when they are scaffolded so simpler tasks precede more complex tasks. For example, a well-sequenced 10-12 page essay assignment might involve discrete segments where students generate a central inquiry question, draft and workshop a thesis statement, produce a first draft of the essay, give and receive feedback on drafts, and submit a revision. Read more about sequencing assignments . 

Clear criteria will help students connect an assignment’s relevance to larger scale course outcomes. The literature on assignment design strongly encourages instructors to make the grading criteria explicit to students before the assignment is collected and assessed. A grading scheme or rubric that is handed out along with the assignment can provide students with a clear understanding of the weighted expectations and, thus help them decide what to focus on in the assignment. It becomes a teaching tool, not just an assessment tool.

Forward-thinking activities more than backward-thinking activities. Forward-thinking activities and assignments ask students to apply their learning rather than simply repeat it. The orientation of many writing prompts is often backward, asking students to show they learned X, Y, and Z. As L. Dee Fink (2013) points out, forward-thinking assignments and activities look ahead to what students will be able to do in the future having learned about X, Y, and Z. Such assignments often utilize real-world and scenario-based problems, requiring students to apply their learning to a new situation. For Grant Wiggins (1998) , questions, problems, tests, and assignments that are forward-thinking often:

  • Require judgment and innovation. Students have to use knowledge and skills to solve unstructured problems, not just plug in a routine.
  • Ask students to do the subject. Beyond recitation and replication, these tasks require students to carry out explorations, inquiry, and work within specific disciplines.
  • Replicate workplace and civic contexts. These tasks provide specific constraints, purposes, and audiences that students will face in work and societal contexts.
  • Involve a repertoire of skills and abilities rather than the isolation of individual skills. 

Feel free to use this assignment checklist , which draws on the principles and research described on this page.

  • African American & African Studies
  • Agronomy and Plant Genetics
  • Animal Science
  • Anthropology
  • Applied Economics
  • Art History
  • Carlson School of Management
  • Chemical Engineering and Materials Science
  • Civil, Environmental, and Geo- Engineering
  • College of Biological Sciences
  • Communication Studies
  • Computer Science & Engineering
  • Construction Management
  • Curriculum and Instruction
  • Dental Hygiene
  • Apparel Design
  • Graphic Design
  • Product Design
  • Retail Merchandising
  • Earth Sciences
  • Electrical and Computer Engineering
  • Environmental Sciences, Policy and Management
  • Family Social Science
  • Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology
  • Food Science and Nutrition
  • Geography, Environment and Society
  • German, Nordic, Slavic & Dutch
  • Health Services Management
  • Horticultural Science
  • Hubbard School of Journalism and Mass Communication
  • Industrial and Systems Engineering
  • Information Technology Infrastructure
  • Mathematics
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Medical Laboratory Sciences
  • Mortuary Science
  • Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development
  • Political Science
  • School of Architecture
  • School of Kinesiology
  • School of Public Health
  • Spanish and Portuguese Studies
  • Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences
  • Theatre Arts & Dance
  • Youth Studies
  • New Enrollments for Departments and Programs
  • Legacy Program for Continuing Units
  • Writing in Your Course Context
  • Syllabus Matters
  • Mid-Semester Feedback Strategies
  • Writing Assignment Checklist
  • Scaffolding and Sequencing Writing Assignments
  • Informal, Exploratory Writing Activities
  • 5-Minute Revision Workshops
  • Reflective Memos
  • Conducting In-Class Writing Activities: Notes on Procedures
  • Now what? Responding to Informal Writing
  • Teaching Writing with Quantitative Data
  • Commenting on Student Writing
  • Supporting Multilingual Learners
  • Teaching with Effective Models of Writing
  • Peer Response Protocols and Procedures
  • Using Reflective Writing to Deepen Student Learning
  • Conferencing with Student Writers
  • Designing Inclusive Writing Assigments
  • Addressing a Range of Writing Abilities in Your Courses
  • Effective Grading Strategies
  • Designing and Using Rubrics
  • Running a Grade-Norming Session
  • Working with Teaching Assistants
  • Managing the Paper Load
  • Teaching Writing with Sources
  • Preventing Plagiarism
  • Grammar Matters
  • What is ChatGPT and how does it work?
  • Incorporating ChatGPT into Classes with Writing Assignments: Policies, Syllabus Statements, and Recommendations
  • Restricting ChatGPT Use in Classes with Writing Assignments: Policies, Syllabus Statements, and Recommendations
  • What do we mean by "writing"?
  • How can I teach writing effectively in an online course?
  • What are the attributes of a "writing-intensive" course at the University of Minnesota?
  • How can I talk with students about the use of artificial intelligence tools in their writing?
  • How can I support inclusive participation on team-based writing projects?
  • How can I design and assess reflective writing assignments?
  • How can I use prewritten comments to give timely and thorough feedback on student writing?
  • How can I use online discussion forums to support and engage students?
  • How can I use and integrate the university libraries and academic librarians to support writing in my courses?
  • How can I support students during the writing process?
  • How can I use writing to help students develop self-regulated learning habits?
  • Submit your own question
  • Short Course: Teaching with Writing Online
  • Five-Day Faculty Seminar
  • Past Summer Hunker Participants
  • Resources for Scholarly Writers
  • Consultation Request
  • Faculty Writing Groups
  • Further Writing Resources

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 they 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 their 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, they still have 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 they already know 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 they expect.

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

How to Write a Perfect Assignment: Step-By-Step Guide

image

Table of contents

  • 1 How to Structure an Assignment?
  • 2.1 The research part
  • 2.2 Planning your text
  • 2.3 Writing major parts
  • 3 Expert Tips for your Writing Assignment
  • 4 Will I succeed with my assignments?
  • 5 Conclusion

How to Structure an Assignment?

To cope with assignments, you should familiarize yourself with the tips on formatting and presenting assignments or any written paper, which are given below. It is worth paying attention to the content of the paper, making it structured and understandable so that ideas are not lost and thoughts do not refute each other.

If the topic is free or you can choose from the given list — be sure to choose the one you understand best. Especially if that could affect your semester score or scholarship. It is important to select an  engaging title that is contextualized within your topic. A topic that should captivate you or at least give you a general sense of what is needed there. It’s easier to dwell upon what interests you, so the process goes faster.

To construct an assignment structure, use outlines. These are pieces of text that relate to your topic. It can be ideas, quotes, all your thoughts, or disparate arguments. Type in everything that you think about. Separate thoughts scattered across the sheets of Word will help in the next step.

Then it is time to form the text. At this stage, you have to form a coherent story from separate pieces, where each new thought reinforces the previous one, and one idea smoothly flows into another.

Main Steps of Assignment Writing

These are steps to take to get a worthy paper. If you complete these step-by-step, your text will be among the most exemplary ones.

The research part

If the topic is unique and no one has written about it yet, look at materials close to this topic to gain thoughts about it. You should feel that you are ready to express your thoughts. Also, while reading, get acquainted with the format of the articles, study the details, collect material for your thoughts, and accumulate different points of view for your article. Be careful at this stage, as the process can help you develop your ideas. If you are already struggling here, pay for assignment to be done , and it will be processed in a split second via special services. These services are especially helpful when the deadline is near as they guarantee fast delivery of high-quality papers on any subject.

If you use Google to search for material for your assignment, you will, of course, find a lot of information very quickly. Still, the databases available on your library’s website will give you the clearest and most reliable facts that satisfy your teacher or professor. Be sure you copy the addresses of all the web pages you will use when composing your paper, so you don’t lose them. You can use them later in your bibliography if you add a bit of description! Select resources and extract quotes from them that you can use while working. At this stage, you may also create a  request for late assignment if you realize the paper requires a lot of effort and is time-consuming. This way, you’ll have a backup plan if something goes wrong.

Planning your text

Assemble a layout. It may be appropriate to use the structure of the paper of some outstanding scientists in your field and argue it in one of the parts. As the planning progresses, you can add suggestions that come to mind. If you use citations that require footnotes, and if you use single spacing throughout the paper and double spacing at the end, it will take you a very long time to make sure that all the citations are on the exact pages you specified! Add a reference list or bibliography. If you haven’t already done so, don’t put off writing an essay until the last day. It will be more difficult to do later as you will be stressed out because of time pressure.

Writing major parts

It happens that there is simply no mood or strength to get started and zero thoughts. In that case, postpone this process for 2-3 hours, and, perhaps, soon, you will be able to start with renewed vigor. Writing essays is a great (albeit controversial) way to improve your skills. This experience will not be forgotten. It will certainly come in handy and bring many benefits in the future. Do your best here because asking for an extension is not always possible, so you probably won’t have time to redo it later. And the quality of this part defines the success of the whole paper.

Writing the major part does not mean the matter is finished. To review the text, make sure that the ideas of the introduction and conclusion coincide because such a discrepancy is the first thing that will catch the reader’s eye and can spoil the impression. Add or remove anything from your intro to edit it to fit the entire paper. Also, check your spelling and grammar to ensure there are no typos or draft comments. Check the sources of your quotes so that your it is honest and does not violate any rules. And do not forget the formatting rules.

with the right tips and guidance, it can be easier than it looks. To make the process even more straightforward, students can also use an assignment service to get the job done. This way they can get professional assistance and make sure that their assignments are up to the mark. At PapersOwl, we provide a professional writing service where students can order custom-made assignments that meet their exact requirements.

Expert Tips for your Writing Assignment

Want to write like a pro? Here’s what you should consider:

  • Save the document! Send the finished document by email to yourself so you have a backup copy in case your computer crashes.
  • Don’t wait until the last minute to complete a list of citations or a bibliography after the paper is finished. It will be much longer and more difficult, so add to them as you go.
  • If you find a lot of information on the topic of your search, then arrange it in a separate paragraph.
  • If possible, choose a topic that you know and are interested in.
  • Believe in yourself! If you set yourself up well and use your limited time wisely, you will be able to deliver the paper on time.
  • Do not copy information directly from the Internet without citing them.

Writing assignments is a tedious and time-consuming process. It requires a lot of research and hard work to produce a quality paper. However, if you are feeling overwhelmed or having difficulty understanding the concept, you may want to consider getting accounting homework help online . Professional experts can assist you in understanding how to complete your assignment effectively. PapersOwl.com offers expert help from highly qualified and experienced writers who can provide you with the homework help you need.

Will I succeed with my assignments?

Anyone can learn how to be good at writing: follow simple rules of creating the structure and be creative where it is appropriate. At one moment, you will need some additional study tools, study support, or solid study tips. And you can easily get help in writing assignments or any other work. This is especially useful since the strategy of learning how to write an assignment can take more time than a student has.

Therefore all students are happy that there is an option to  order your paper at a professional service to pass all the courses perfectly and sleep still at night. You can also find the sample of the assignment there to check if you are on the same page and if not — focus on your papers more diligently.

So, in the times of studies online, the desire and skill to research and write may be lost. Planning your assignment carefully and presenting arguments step-by-step is necessary to succeed with your homework. When going through your references, note the questions that appear and answer them, building your text. Create a cover page, proofread the whole text, and take care of formatting. Feel free to use these rules for passing your next assignments.

When it comes to writing an assignment, it can be overwhelming and stressful, but Papersowl is here to make it easier for you. With a range of helpful resources available, Papersowl can assist you in creating high-quality written work, regardless of whether you’re starting from scratch or refining an existing draft. From conducting research to creating an outline, and from proofreading to formatting, the team at Papersowl has the expertise to guide you through the entire writing process and ensure that your assignment meets all the necessary requirements.

Readers also enjoyed

250+ Research Paper Topics for Art Lovers and Curious Minds

Most Popular

How to write a literary analysis essay, how to introduce a quote in an essay, how to write a claim in an essay: everything you should know, how to write an explanatory essay.

2 hours ago

How To Write a Conclusion For an Argumentative Essay

Lesley J. Vos

Whether you’re a high school student or a university attendee, you’ve probably encountered the task of writing an explanatory essay. At first glance, it might seem like a straightforward assignment. However, this type of writing has its quirks that can trip up even the best of us. These nuances often lead to lower grades and a sense of frustration. But fear not! We’ve got your back. In this guide, we’ll break down everything you need to know to craft a top-notch explanatory essay. 

What is an Explanatory Essay

An explanatory essay is a piece of writing that breaks down complex ideas into bite-sized, understandable pieces for someone who’s completely new to the topic. Imagine explaining how a car engine works or the process of photosynthesis to a friend or, even better, a child. That’s the essence of an explanatory essay. Its primary goal is to clarify a specific topic or concept in a clear, straightforward manner. You’ll often find these essays in academic settings, but they are also quite common in newspapers, magazines, and online articles.

As with any type of writing, explanatory essays have their standout characteristics. The main one of that they present information objectively without trying to argue a particular viewpoint. Explanatory texts are called to give the reader a thorough understanding of the subject using evidence and logical reasoning.

For this very reason, when writing an explanatory essay, you should avoid including personal opinions or biased statements. Your job is to explain, not persuade. Also, don’t use unnecessary jargon or overly complex sentences that might confuse your readers. The goal is to make the information accessible and easy to grasp so that by the end of the essay, your audience can explain the topic to someone else confidently.

Creating an Explanatory Essay Outline

To start your writing right you need to set a foundation, which means creating an outline. And to make a proper draft for your essay, you need to understand its structure. Typically, an explanatory essay includes an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion.

Explanatory Essay Introduction

Start with some background information on your topic to set the stage for your readers. This is where you capture their interest with a hook, such as a surprising fact or a thought-provoking question. Finish your introduction with a clear thesis statement that outlines what you’ll be explaining.

Body Paragraphs  

Each body paragraph should focus on a single point that supports your thesis statement. Begin with a topic sentence that introduces the point, followed by evidence or examples that back it up. Make sure to explain how the evidence relates to your main point and wrap up each paragraph with a concluding statement that ties it all together.

Summarize the main points you’ve covered and restate your thesis in a new way to reinforce your argument. Offer a final thought or recommendation to leave your readers with something to ponder.

Now, that you have an understanding of what each of the writing parts should be focused on, you can start creating an outline. Note though, that to make it useful, you need to figure out the topic you are going to explain. Only then will you be able to organize everything effectively. When you settle on the subject, you can use the outline we included below as an example.

Example of an Outline

  • Background information on the topic.
  • Thesis statement.
  • First point supporting the thesis statement.
  • Evidence or examples to support this point.
  • Explanation of the evidence provided.
  • Concluding statement.
  • Second point supporting the thesis statement.
  • Third point supporting the thesis statement.
  • Summarize main points.
  • Restate thesis statement.
  • Call to action or future implications.

How to Write an Explanatory Essay Step-by-Step

You may think that writing an explanatory essay is challenging, but following a clear, step-by-step process can make it manageable, quick, and even enjoyable. Here’s how you can go about it:

How To Write An Explanatory Essay

Start by picking a topic you’re passionate about or find interesting. This makes the writing process more engaging for you and helps you show off your strong understanding of the subject. If you’re fascinated by how smartphones work, even this could be your topic.

How To Write An Explanatory Essay

Gather all the necessary information about your topic. Use reliable sources such as academic journals, books, and reputable websites. For instance, if you’re explaining the process of photosynthesis, you’ll need scientific articles and biology textbooks. Take detailed notes and work only with credible sources.

How To Write An Explanatory Essay

An outline helps organize your thoughts and make your essay flow logically. Start with an introduction that includes a hook and thesis statement. Then, outline your body paragraphs, each focusing on a single point supported by evidence. Finally, plan your conclusion to summarize your main points and restate the thesis. Above we have given you a detailed outline so all you need to do is just fill it out with the details on your specific topic.

How To Write An Explanatory Essay

Your introduction should grab the reader’s attention with something like interesting fact or question. It should also provide background information and end with your thesis statement. 

Example. “Did you know that plants have their own version of food factories? This process, known as photosynthesis, is essential for life on Earth.”

How To Write An Explanatory Essay

Each body paragraph should start with a topic sentence that introduces the point, followed by evidence or examples, and an explanation of how this evidence supports your thesis. Each paragraph should smoothly transition to the next.

Example . If explaining photosynthesis, one paragraph could cover the role of sunlight, another water, and third carbon dioxide.

How To Write An Explanatory Essay

Summarize your main points and restate your thesis in a new way. Offer a final thought or call to action to leave a lasting impression.

Example . “Understanding photosynthesis not only helps us appreciate the complexity of nature but also highlights the importance of protecting our environment.”

How To Write An Explanatory Essay

Review your essay for clarity, coherence, and any grammatical errors. Pay attention whether each part of your essay serves its purpose and if your argument flows logically from start to finish.

What to Avoid in Your Explanatory Essay

When writing an explanatory essay, there are certain pitfalls that can undermine your work. Firstly, avoid including personal opinions or bias, as the purpose of an explanatory essay is to inform and explain rather than to persuade. Stick to presenting factual, objective information.

Secondly, try not to use overly complex language or jargon that might confuse your readers. Aim for clarity and simplicity to ensure your essay is accessible to a broad audience. Additionally, do not veer off-topic or include irrelevant details that do not support your thesis statement. Staying focused on your main points keeps your essay cohesive and engaging.

Additionally, avoid choosing an overly broad topic. Selecting a theme that is too broad can make it challenging to cover all necessary aspects in detail. Narrowing down your topic allows for a more focused and detailed discussion. It is also a good idea to keep in mind the level of knowledge and interests of your audience. This will let you tailor the writing to suit your audience’s needs and understanding.

Lastly, avoid neglecting proper citation of your sources. Plagiarism is a serious offense, so always credit the original authors of the information you use. By being mindful of these common errors, you can craft a clear, informative, and effective explanatory essay.

An Example of The Explanatory Essay Format

Now, as we’ve covered all the major steps of the writing process, let’s take a look at how an explanatory essay can look like. We have decided to take the already established topic on the process of photosynthesis and write a brief exemplary text.





Consider a scenario where plants can’t synthesize their own food. Such a situation would fundamentally alter life on Earth, as plants are primary producers in the food chain. This essay elucidates the process of photosynthesis, explicating how plants convert sunlight into energy, the role of water, and the significance of carbon dioxide.



The first indispensable element of photosynthesis is sunlight. Sunlight is captured by chlorophyll, a green pigment found in the leaves of plants. Chlorophyll absorbs light energy and converts it into chemical energy. Without sunlight, plants are unable to perform photosynthesis and produce food.

Water is another crucial component of photosynthesis. Plants absorb water through their roots. During the light-dependent reactions, water molecules are split into oxygen and hydrogen. The oxygen is subsequently released into the atmosphere, while the hydrogen is utilized in the next stage of photosynthesis.

Carbon dioxide constitutes the final key ingredient in the photosynthesis process. Plants intake carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through small openings called stomata. Carbon dioxide combines with hydrogen to form glucose, which serves as the plant’s primary source of energy. This process not only sustains the plant but also produces oxygen, essential for animal life.



Sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide are all fundamental to the process of photosynthesis. By understanding photosynthesis, we gain a deeper appreciation of how plants sustain life on Earth. Protecting our environment is imperative to ensure that this vital process continues to support both plant and animal life.

Possible Topics to Discuss in Your Next Explanatory Essay

You’ve learned everything you need to know to create a compelling and well-organized explanatory essay. Now the writing is in your hands. All you need is an interesting topic. We know that picking out a subject for your explanatory essay can be hard. After all, there are so many different things you could discuss and explain. However, be sure to choose the matter that not only interests you but also provides enough material for research and discussion. Below are some engaging topics that can make your next explanatory essay both informative and intriguing.

TopicDescription
The Mechanism of Global WarmingExplore the scientific principles behind global warming and its impact on the environment.
How Social Media Influences Mental HealthDiscuss the positive and negative effects of social media on mental health, particularly among youth.
The Process of Human Memory FormationExplain how memories are formed, stored, and recalled in the human brain.
Renewable Energy Sources and Their BenefitsExamine different types of renewable energy and their advantages over traditional energy sources.
The Role of Artificial Intelligence in Modern MedicineDiscuss how AI is being used to improve diagnostics, treatment plans, and patient care.
The Evolution of the InternetTrace the development of the internet from its inception to its current state.
The Impact of Diet on Physical and Mental HealthExplain how various dietary choices affect overall health and well-being.
The Basics of Quantum MechanicsProvide an overview of quantum mechanics and its fundamental principles.
The Importance of Sleep for Cognitive FunctionDiscuss the relationship between sleep quality and cognitive performance.
The History and Cultural Significance of Traditional MusicExplore the origins and importance of traditional music in different cultures.

These topics offer a wide range of information to explore and can serve to engage your readers with interesting and relevant content. Select a topic that resonates with you, do your research, and clearly present all the important findings.

How do you write an explanatory essay?

To write a quality explanatory essay, start with a clear thesis statement that outlines what you’ll be explaining. Break down the topic into easily digestible parts and don’t forget to give examples and evidence for each point. Keep your language simple and your structure organized. Finish everything with a conclusion that summarizes your main points and leaves your readers with a clear understanding of the topic.

What is an exploratory essay?

An exploratory essay is a type of writing where, instead of presenting a clear argument or thesis, you explore a topic from various angles, considering different perspectives and possibilities. It’s more about the process of discovery than arriving at a final answer. 

What is the difference between expository and explanatory essays?

Expository and explanatory essays are cousins in the essay family, but they’re not identical twins. An expository essay aims to inform or explain a topic clearly and straightforwardly, often breaking down complex ideas into simpler parts. An explanatory essay, on the other hand, strives to explain the how and why of a particular subject, often exploring causes and effects or different viewpoints. 

Can you say I in an explanatory essay?

Generally, you want to keep the “I” out of your explanatory essay. Using this pronoun takes away from objectivity as it mostly indicates personal opinions or experiences. When writing an explanatory essay, you should be a narrator telling a story without becoming a character in it. However, some instructors might allow a bit of personal reflection, so it’s always good to check the guidelines you’re working with.

How do you start an exploratory essay?

To give the right start to your exploratory essay begin with an engaging hook that piques curiosity—maybe a question, a quote, or an interesting fact. Then move on to introducing the topic and explain why it’s worth exploring. Outline the different paths you might take in your further discussion. 

Follow us on Reddit for more insights and updates.

Comments (0)

Welcome to A*Help comments!

We’re all about debate and discussion at A*Help.

We value the diverse opinions of users, so you may find points of view that you don’t agree with. And that’s cool. However, there are certain things we’re not OK with: attempts to manipulate our data in any way, for example, or the posting of discriminative, offensive, hateful, or disparaging material.

Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.

More from How to Write an Academic Assignment

colorful image with students, books on a pink gradient background

Remember Me

Is English your native language ? Yes No

What is your profession ? Student Teacher Writer Other

Forgotten Password?

Username or Email

  • Utility Menu

University Logo

GA4 Tracking Code

Home

fa51e2b1dc8cca8f7467da564e77b5ea

  • Make a Gift
  • Join Our Email List

How to Write an Effective Assignment

At their base, all assignment prompts function a bit like a magnifying glass—they allow a student to isolate, focus on, inspect, and interact with some portion of your course material through a fixed lens of your choosing.

write writing assignment

The Key Components of an Effective Assignment Prompt

All assignments, from ungraded formative response papers all the way up to a capstone assignment, should include the following components to ensure that students and teachers understand not only the learning objective of the assignment, but also the discrete steps which they will need to follow in order to complete it successfully:

  • Preamble.  This situates the assignment within the context of the course, reminding students of what they have been working on in anticipation of the assignment and how that work has prepared them to succeed at it. 
  • Justification and Purpose.  This explains why the particular type or genre of assignment you’ve chosen (e.g., lab report, policy memo, problem set, or personal reflection) is the best way for you and your students to measure how well they’ve met the learning objectives associated with this segment of the course.
  • Mission.  This explains the assignment in broad brush strokes, giving students a general sense of the project you are setting before them. It often gives students guidance on the evidence or data they should be working with, as well as helping them imagine the audience their work should be aimed at.  
  • Tasks.  This outlines what students are supposed to do at a more granular level: for example, how to start, where to look, how to ask for help, etc. If written well, this part of the assignment prompt ought to function as a kind of "process" rubric for students, helping them to decide for themselves whether they are completing the assignment successfully.
  • Submission format.  This tells students, in appropriate detail, which stylistic conventions they should observe and how to submit their work. For example, should the assignment be a five-page paper written in APA format and saved as a .docx file? Should it be uploaded to the course website? Is it due by Tuesday at 5:00pm?

For illustrations of these five components in action, visit our gallery of annotated assignment prompts .

For advice about creative assignments (e.g. podcasts, film projects, visual and performing art projects, etc.), visit our  Guidance on Non-Traditional Forms of Assessment .

For specific advice on different genres of assignment, click below:

Response Papers

Problem sets, source analyses, final exams, concept maps, research papers, oral presentations, poster presentations.

  • Learner-Centered Design
  • Putting Evidence at the Center
  • What Should Students Learn?
  • Start with the Capstone
  • Gallery of Annotated Assignment Prompts
  • Scaffolding: Using Frequency and Sequencing Intentionally
  • Curating Content: The Virtue of Modules
  • Syllabus Design
  • Catalogue Materials
  • Making a Course Presentation Video
  • Teaching Teams
  • In the Classroom
  • Getting Feedback
  • Equitable & Inclusive Teaching
  • Advising and Mentoring
  • Teaching and Your Career
  • Teaching Remotely
  • Tools and Platforms
  • The Science of Learning
  • Bok Publications
  • Other Resources Around Campus

Have a language expert improve your writing

Run a free plagiarism check in 10 minutes, generate accurate citations for free.

  • Knowledge Base

The Beginner's Guide to Writing an Essay | Steps & Examples

An academic essay is a focused piece of writing that develops an idea or argument using evidence, analysis, and interpretation.

There are many types of essays you might write as a student. The content and length of an essay depends on your level, subject of study, and course requirements. However, most essays at university level are argumentative — they aim to persuade the reader of a particular position or perspective on a topic.

The essay writing process consists of three main stages:

  • Preparation: Decide on your topic, do your research, and create an essay outline.
  • Writing : Set out your argument in the introduction, develop it with evidence in the main body, and wrap it up with a conclusion.
  • Revision:  Check your essay on the content, organization, grammar, spelling, and formatting of your essay.

Instantly correct all language mistakes in your text

Upload your document to correct all your mistakes in minutes

upload-your-document-ai-proofreader

Table of contents

Essay writing process, preparation for writing an essay, writing the introduction, writing the main body, writing the conclusion, essay checklist, lecture slides, frequently asked questions about writing an essay.

The writing process of preparation, writing, and revisions applies to every essay or paper, but the time and effort spent on each stage depends on the type of essay .

For example, if you’ve been assigned a five-paragraph expository essay for a high school class, you’ll probably spend the most time on the writing stage; for a college-level argumentative essay , on the other hand, you’ll need to spend more time researching your topic and developing an original argument before you start writing.

1. Preparation 2. Writing 3. Revision
, organized into Write the or use a for language errors

Receive feedback on language, structure, and formatting

Professional editors proofread and edit your paper by focusing on:

  • Academic style
  • Vague sentences
  • Style consistency

See an example

write writing assignment

Before you start writing, you should make sure you have a clear idea of what you want to say and how you’re going to say it. There are a few key steps you can follow to make sure you’re prepared:

  • Understand your assignment: What is the goal of this essay? What is the length and deadline of the assignment? Is there anything you need to clarify with your teacher or professor?
  • Define a topic: If you’re allowed to choose your own topic , try to pick something that you already know a bit about and that will hold your interest.
  • Do your research: Read  primary and secondary sources and take notes to help you work out your position and angle on the topic. You’ll use these as evidence for your points.
  • Come up with a thesis:  The thesis is the central point or argument that you want to make. A clear thesis is essential for a focused essay—you should keep referring back to it as you write.
  • Create an outline: Map out the rough structure of your essay in an outline . This makes it easier to start writing and keeps you on track as you go.

Once you’ve got a clear idea of what you want to discuss, in what order, and what evidence you’ll use, you’re ready to start writing.

The introduction sets the tone for your essay. It should grab the reader’s interest and inform them of what to expect. The introduction generally comprises 10–20% of the text.

1. Hook your reader

The first sentence of the introduction should pique your reader’s interest and curiosity. This sentence is sometimes called the hook. It might be an intriguing question, a surprising fact, or a bold statement emphasizing the relevance of the topic.

Let’s say we’re writing an essay about the development of Braille (the raised-dot reading and writing system used by visually impaired people). Our hook can make a strong statement about the topic:

The invention of Braille was a major turning point in the history of disability.

2. Provide background on your topic

Next, it’s important to give context that will help your reader understand your argument. This might involve providing background information, giving an overview of important academic work or debates on the topic, and explaining difficult terms. Don’t provide too much detail in the introduction—you can elaborate in the body of your essay.

3. Present the thesis statement

Next, you should formulate your thesis statement— the central argument you’re going to make. The thesis statement provides focus and signals your position on the topic. It is usually one or two sentences long. The thesis statement for our essay on Braille could look like this:

As the first writing system designed for blind people’s needs, Braille was a groundbreaking new accessibility tool. It not only provided practical benefits, but also helped change the cultural status of blindness.

4. Map the structure

In longer essays, you can end the introduction by briefly describing what will be covered in each part of the essay. This guides the reader through your structure and gives a preview of how your argument will develop.

The invention of Braille marked a major turning point in the history of disability. The writing system of raised dots used by blind and visually impaired people was developed by Louis Braille in nineteenth-century France. In a society that did not value disabled people in general, blindness was particularly stigmatized, and lack of access to reading and writing was a significant barrier to social participation. The idea of tactile reading was not entirely new, but existing methods based on sighted systems were difficult to learn and use. As the first writing system designed for blind people’s needs, Braille was a groundbreaking new accessibility tool. It not only provided practical benefits, but also helped change the cultural status of blindness. This essay begins by discussing the situation of blind people in nineteenth-century Europe. It then describes the invention of Braille and the gradual process of its acceptance within blind education. Subsequently, it explores the wide-ranging effects of this invention on blind people’s social and cultural lives.

Write your essay introduction

The body of your essay is where you make arguments supporting your thesis, provide evidence, and develop your ideas. Its purpose is to present, interpret, and analyze the information and sources you have gathered to support your argument.

Length of the body text

The length of the body depends on the type of essay. On average, the body comprises 60–80% of your essay. For a high school essay, this could be just three paragraphs, but for a graduate school essay of 6,000 words, the body could take up 8–10 pages.

Paragraph structure

To give your essay a clear structure , it is important to organize it into paragraphs . Each paragraph should be centered around one main point or idea.

That idea is introduced in a  topic sentence . The topic sentence should generally lead on from the previous paragraph and introduce the point to be made in this paragraph. Transition words can be used to create clear connections between sentences.

After the topic sentence, present evidence such as data, examples, or quotes from relevant sources. Be sure to interpret and explain the evidence, and show how it helps develop your overall argument.

Lack of access to reading and writing put blind people at a serious disadvantage in nineteenth-century society. Text was one of the primary methods through which people engaged with culture, communicated with others, and accessed information; without a well-developed reading system that did not rely on sight, blind people were excluded from social participation (Weygand, 2009). While disabled people in general suffered from discrimination, blindness was widely viewed as the worst disability, and it was commonly believed that blind people were incapable of pursuing a profession or improving themselves through culture (Weygand, 2009). This demonstrates the importance of reading and writing to social status at the time: without access to text, it was considered impossible to fully participate in society. Blind people were excluded from the sighted world, but also entirely dependent on sighted people for information and education.

See the full essay example

The conclusion is the final paragraph of an essay. It should generally take up no more than 10–15% of the text . A strong essay conclusion :

  • Returns to your thesis
  • Ties together your main points
  • Shows why your argument matters

A great conclusion should finish with a memorable or impactful sentence that leaves the reader with a strong final impression.

What not to include in a conclusion

To make your essay’s conclusion as strong as possible, there are a few things you should avoid. The most common mistakes are:

  • Including new arguments or evidence
  • Undermining your arguments (e.g. “This is just one approach of many”)
  • Using concluding phrases like “To sum up…” or “In conclusion…”

Braille paved the way for dramatic cultural changes in the way blind people were treated and the opportunities available to them. Louis Braille’s innovation was to reimagine existing reading systems from a blind perspective, and the success of this invention required sighted teachers to adapt to their students’ reality instead of the other way around. In this sense, Braille helped drive broader social changes in the status of blindness. New accessibility tools provide practical advantages to those who need them, but they can also change the perspectives and attitudes of those who do not.

Write your essay conclusion

Checklist: Essay

My essay follows the requirements of the assignment (topic and length ).

My introduction sparks the reader’s interest and provides any necessary background information on the topic.

My introduction contains a thesis statement that states the focus and position of the essay.

I use paragraphs to structure the essay.

I use topic sentences to introduce each paragraph.

Each paragraph has a single focus and a clear connection to the thesis statement.

I make clear transitions between paragraphs and ideas.

My conclusion doesn’t just repeat my points, but draws connections between arguments.

I don’t introduce new arguments or evidence in the conclusion.

I have given an in-text citation for every quote or piece of information I got from another source.

I have included a reference page at the end of my essay, listing full details of all my sources.

My citations and references are correctly formatted according to the required citation style .

My essay has an interesting and informative title.

I have followed all formatting guidelines (e.g. font, page numbers, line spacing).

Your essay meets all the most important requirements. Our editors can give it a final check to help you submit with confidence.

Open Google Slides Download PowerPoint

An essay is a focused piece of writing that explains, argues, describes, or narrates.

In high school, you may have to write many different types of essays to develop your writing skills.

Academic essays at college level are usually argumentative : you develop a clear thesis about your topic and make a case for your position using evidence, analysis and interpretation.

The structure of an essay is divided into an introduction that presents your topic and thesis statement , a body containing your in-depth analysis and arguments, and a conclusion wrapping up your ideas.

The structure of the body is flexible, but you should always spend some time thinking about how you can organize your essay to best serve your ideas.

Your essay introduction should include three main things, in this order:

  • An opening hook to catch the reader’s attention.
  • Relevant background information that the reader needs to know.
  • A thesis statement that presents your main point or argument.

The length of each part depends on the length and complexity of your essay .

A thesis statement is a sentence that sums up the central point of your paper or essay . Everything else you write should relate to this key idea.

The thesis statement is essential in any academic essay or research paper for two main reasons:

  • It gives your writing direction and focus.
  • It gives the reader a concise summary of your main point.

Without a clear thesis statement, an essay can end up rambling and unfocused, leaving your reader unsure of exactly what you want to say.

A topic sentence is a sentence that expresses the main point of a paragraph . Everything else in the paragraph should relate to the topic sentence.

At college level, you must properly cite your sources in all essays , research papers , and other academic texts (except exams and in-class exercises).

Add a citation whenever you quote , paraphrase , or summarize information or ideas from a source. You should also give full source details in a bibliography or reference list at the end of your text.

The exact format of your citations depends on which citation style you are instructed to use. The most common styles are APA , MLA , and Chicago .

Is this article helpful?

Other students also liked.

  • How long is an essay? Guidelines for different types of essay
  • How to write an essay introduction | 4 steps & examples
  • How to conclude an essay | Interactive example

More interesting articles

  • Checklist for academic essays | Is your essay ready to submit?
  • Comparing and contrasting in an essay | Tips & examples
  • Example of a great essay | Explanations, tips & tricks
  • Generate topic ideas for an essay or paper | Tips & techniques
  • How to revise an essay in 3 simple steps
  • How to structure an essay: Templates and tips
  • How to write a descriptive essay | Example & tips
  • How to write a literary analysis essay | A step-by-step guide
  • How to write a narrative essay | Example & tips
  • How to write a rhetorical analysis | Key concepts & examples
  • How to Write a Thesis Statement | 4 Steps & Examples
  • How to write an argumentative essay | Examples & tips
  • How to write an essay outline | Guidelines & examples
  • How to write an expository essay
  • How to write the body of an essay | Drafting & redrafting
  • Kinds of argumentative academic essays and their purposes
  • Organizational tips for academic essays
  • The four main types of essay | Quick guide with examples
  • Transition sentences | Tips & examples for clear writing

What is your plagiarism score?

  • Mailing List
  • Search Search

Username or Email Address

Remember Me

MIT Comparative Media Studies/Writing

Resources for Teachers: Creating Writing Assignments

This page contains four specific areas:

Creating Effective Assignments

Checking the assignment, sequencing writing assignments, selecting an effective writing assignment format.

Research has shown that the more detailed a writing assignment is, the better the student papers are in response to that assignment. Instructors can often help students write more effective papers by giving students written instructions about that assignment. Explicit descriptions of assignments on the syllabus or on an “assignment sheet” tend to produce the best results. These instructions might make explicit the process or steps necessary to complete the assignment. Assignment sheets should detail:

  • the kind of writing expected
  • the scope of acceptable subject matter
  • the length requirements
  • formatting requirements
  • documentation format
  • the amount and type of research expected (if any)
  • the writer’s role
  • deadlines for the first draft and its revision

Providing questions or needed data in the assignment helps students get started. For instance, some questions can suggest a mode of organization to the students. Other questions might suggest a procedure to follow. The questions posed should require that students assert a thesis.

The following areas should help you create effective writing assignments.

Examining your goals for the assignment

  • How exactly does this assignment fit with the objectives of your course?
  • Should this assignment relate only to the class and the texts for the class, or should it also relate to the world beyond the classroom?
  • What do you want the students to learn or experience from this writing assignment?
  • Should this assignment be an individual or a collaborative effort?
  • What do you want students to show you in this assignment? To demonstrate mastery of concepts or texts? To demonstrate logical and critical thinking? To develop an original idea? To learn and demonstrate the procedures, practices, and tools of your field of study?

Defining the writing task

  • Is the assignment sequenced so that students: (1) write a draft, (2) receive feedback (from you, fellow students, or staff members at the Writing and Communication Center), and (3) then revise it? Such a procedure has been proven to accomplish at least two goals: it improves the student’s writing and it discourages plagiarism.
  • Does the assignment include so many sub-questions that students will be confused about the major issue they should examine? Can you give more guidance about what the paper’s main focus should be? Can you reduce the number of sub-questions?
  • What is the purpose of the assignment (e.g., review knowledge already learned, find additional information, synthesize research, examine a new hypothesis)? Making the purpose(s) of the assignment explicit helps students write the kind of paper you want.
  • What is the required form (e.g., expository essay, lab report, memo, business report)?
  • What mode is required for the assignment (e.g., description, narration, analysis, persuasion, a combination of two or more of these)?

Defining the audience for the paper

  • Can you define a hypothetical audience to help students determine which concepts to define and explain? When students write only to the instructor, they may assume that little, if anything, requires explanation. Defining the whole class as the intended audience will clarify this issue for students.
  • What is the probable attitude of the intended readers toward the topic itself? Toward the student writer’s thesis? Toward the student writer?
  • What is the probable educational and economic background of the intended readers?

Defining the writer’s role

  • Can you make explicit what persona you wish the students to assume? For example, a very effective role for student writers is that of a “professional in training” who uses the assumptions, the perspective, and the conceptual tools of the discipline.

Defining your evaluative criteria

1. If possible, explain the relative weight in grading assigned to the quality of writing and the assignment’s content:

  • depth of coverage
  • organization
  • critical thinking
  • original thinking
  • use of research
  • logical demonstration
  • appropriate mode of structure and analysis (e.g., comparison, argument)
  • correct use of sources
  • grammar and mechanics
  • professional tone
  • correct use of course-specific concepts and terms.

Here’s a checklist for writing assignments:

  • Have you used explicit command words in your instructions (e.g., “compare and contrast” and “explain” are more explicit than “explore” or “consider”)? The more explicit the command words, the better chance the students will write the type of paper you wish.
  • Does the assignment suggest a topic, thesis, and format? Should it?
  • Have you told students the kind of audience they are addressing — the level of knowledge they can assume the readers have and your particular preferences (e.g., “avoid slang, use the first-person sparingly”)?
  • If the assignment has several stages of completion, have you made the various deadlines clear? Is your policy on due dates clear?
  • Have you presented the assignment in a manageable form? For instance, a 5-page assignment sheet for a 1-page paper may overwhelm students. Similarly, a 1-sentence assignment for a 25-page paper may offer insufficient guidance.

There are several benefits of sequencing writing assignments:

  • Sequencing provides a sense of coherence for the course.
  • This approach helps students see progress and purpose in their work rather than seeing the writing assignments as separate exercises.
  • It encourages complexity through sustained attention, revision, and consideration of multiple perspectives.
  • If you have only one large paper due near the end of the course, you might create a sequence of smaller assignments leading up to and providing a foundation for that larger paper (e.g., proposal of the topic, an annotated bibliography, a progress report, a summary of the paper’s key argument, a first draft of the paper itself). This approach allows you to give students guidance and also discourages plagiarism.
  • It mirrors the approach to written work in many professions.

The concept of sequencing writing assignments also allows for a wide range of options in creating the assignment. It is often beneficial to have students submit the components suggested below to your course’s STELLAR web site.

Use the writing process itself. In its simplest form, “sequencing an assignment” can mean establishing some sort of “official” check of the prewriting and drafting steps in the writing process. This step guarantees that students will not write the whole paper in one sitting and also gives students more time to let their ideas develop. This check might be something as informal as having students work on their prewriting or draft for a few minutes at the end of class. Or it might be something more formal such as collecting the prewriting and giving a few suggestions and comments.

Have students submit drafts. You might ask students to submit a first draft in order to receive your quick responses to its content, or have them submit written questions about the content and scope of their projects after they have completed their first draft.

Establish small groups. Set up small writing groups of three-five students from the class. Allow them to meet for a few minutes in class or have them arrange a meeting outside of class to comment constructively on each other’s drafts. The students do not need to be writing on the same topic.

Require consultations. Have students consult with someone in the Writing and Communication Center about their prewriting and/or drafts. The Center has yellow forms that we can give to students to inform you that such a visit was made.

Explore a subject in increasingly complex ways. A series of reading and writing assignments may be linked by the same subject matter or topic. Students encounter new perspectives and competing ideas with each new reading, and thus must evaluate and balance various views and adopt a position that considers the various points of view.

Change modes of discourse. In this approach, students’ assignments move from less complex to more complex modes of discourse (e.g., from expressive to analytic to argumentative; or from lab report to position paper to research article).

Change audiences. In this approach, students create drafts for different audiences, moving from personal to public (e.g., from self-reflection to an audience of peers to an audience of specialists). Each change would require different tasks and more extensive knowledge.

Change perspective through time. In this approach, students might write a statement of their understanding of a subject or issue at the beginning of a course and then return at the end of the semester to write an analysis of that original stance in the light of the experiences and knowledge gained in the course.

Use a natural sequence. A different approach to sequencing is to create a series of assignments culminating in a final writing project. In scientific and technical writing, for example, students could write a proposal requesting approval of a particular topic. The next assignment might be a progress report (or a series of progress reports), and the final assignment could be the report or document itself. For humanities and social science courses, students might write a proposal requesting approval of a particular topic, then hand in an annotated bibliography, and then a draft, and then the final version of the paper.

Have students submit sections. A variation of the previous approach is to have students submit various sections of their final document throughout the semester (e.g., their bibliography, review of the literature, methods section).

In addition to the standard essay and report formats, several other formats exist that might give students a different slant on the course material or allow them to use slightly different writing skills. Here are some suggestions:

Journals. Journals have become a popular format in recent years for courses that require some writing. In-class journal entries can spark discussions and reveal gaps in students’ understanding of the material. Having students write an in-class entry summarizing the material covered that day can aid the learning process and also reveal concepts that require more elaboration. Out-of-class entries involve short summaries or analyses of texts, or are a testing ground for ideas for student papers and reports. Although journals may seem to add a huge burden for instructors to correct, in fact many instructors either spot-check journals (looking at a few particular key entries) or grade them based on the number of entries completed. Journals are usually not graded for their prose style. STELLAR forums work well for out-of-class entries.

Letters. Students can define and defend a position on an issue in a letter written to someone in authority. They can also explain a concept or a process to someone in need of that particular information. They can write a letter to a friend explaining their concerns about an upcoming paper assignment or explaining their ideas for an upcoming paper assignment. If you wish to add a creative element to the writing assignment, you might have students adopt the persona of an important person discussed in your course (e.g., an historical figure) and write a letter explaining his/her actions, process, or theory to an interested person (e.g., “pretend that you are John Wilkes Booth and write a letter to the Congress justifying your assassination of Abraham Lincoln,” or “pretend you are Henry VIII writing to Thomas More explaining your break from the Catholic Church”).

Editorials . Students can define and defend a position on a controversial issue in the format of an editorial for the campus or local newspaper or for a national journal.

Cases . Students might create a case study particular to the course’s subject matter.

Position Papers . Students can define and defend a position, perhaps as a preliminary step in the creation of a formal research paper or essay.

Imitation of a Text . Students can create a new document “in the style of” a particular writer (e.g., “Create a government document the way Woody Allen might write it” or “Write your own ‘Modest Proposal’ about a modern issue”).

Instruction Manuals . Students write a step-by-step explanation of a process.

Dialogues . Students create a dialogue between two major figures studied in which they not only reveal those people’s theories or thoughts but also explore areas of possible disagreement (e.g., “Write a dialogue between Claude Monet and Jackson Pollock about the nature and uses of art”).

Collaborative projects . Students work together to create such works as reports, questions, and critiques.

Search form

You are here.

  • Implementing Writing in Your Course

How to Design Successful Writing Assignments

Close up of hand on laptop keyboard

As writing instructors ourselves, we are all too familiar with the many difficulties that come with assigning writing. It’s difficult to create meaningful assignments that help students learn what you want them to learn. And despite all the labor we put into it, students can still express frustration and confusion over writing assignments. It is tempting to ask, “Why bother?”

However, while thoughtful writing instruction tied to learning outcomes takes time to implement, that initial effort can lead to a huge time savings over the long run. Some writing you do not even need to grade! Once you know some of the key components of writing assignment design, you will be able to create a collection of high-value teaching materials that you can adapt for years to come. Also, your students will learn more, and will be better equipped to handle complexity. With regular writing practice and targeted feedback, over time they will become more authoritative participants and contributors in your field.

Designing successful writing assignments involves some or all of the following six strategies:

  • Explicitly State Assignment Goals
  • Tie Assignment Goals to Course Goals
  • Create Antiracist Writing Assignments
  • Offer Clear Instructions for Completion
  • Clarify Expectations About Genre, Audience, and Formatting
  • Provide Examples of the Kinds of Writing You Assign
  • Asses Your Own Work

1. Explicitly State Assignment Goals

Are students “writing to learn” key course concepts from course materials or “learning to write” a new and specific form of communication in the class, such as a lab report or business memo? Or do you want your assignment to do some of both? Try to be as specific as possible when thinking about the assignment’s purpose. We encourage you to even jot down some of your desired outcomes. Being detailed about what you want students to gain from completing the assignment will help you create clear instructions for the assignment.

The example below is a strong example of a “writing to learn” assignment. In this assignment the instructor uses words such as "read," “explore,” “shape,” and “reflect” to clearly indicate that the act of composing in this assignment is more about attaining knowledge than it is about the creation of a final product. 

From a prompt for a personal narrative in a science writing course: 

All scientists have intellectual, cultural, and linguistic histories. For the sake of “neutrality” and “objectivity,” apprentices are often trained to separate themselves from these histories, especially when it comes to conducting and communicating research. This assignment asks you to read examples of scientists’ memoirs in various genres and then you will compose your own narrative in the mode of your choice, exploring how your identities, investments, and intellectual interests have shaped your science training and your trajectory as a scientist. This assignment serves as a form of reflection, orientation to/within a scientific field, and even as a professional credential (if desirable).

Back to top

2. Tie Assignment Goals to Course Goals

While you know why you are assigning a particular writing assignment, your students may not. Being clear about how completing the writing assignment will help your students learn can help create expectations and motivation for students. Without a clear understanding of how a writing assignment will help them learn, students may feel that they are being assigned useless "busywork."

Example 1 :

The example below is drawn from the final paper assignment for a course called “Imagining and Dreaming: Indigenous Futures,” taught by Lydia Heberling. In this assignment, the instructor not only clearly shows students how the assignment aligns with the course content, but it also reminds students how the third section of the course builds upon content learned in earlier units.

Throughout the quarter we have examined various writing practices that affirm the ongoing existence of American Indian peoples in spite of settler colonial attempts to remove, erase, and eradicate them. In our first sequence, we reflected on the relationship between place and identity and learned from Momaday that the land possesses stories from the past that can be accessed through interaction with and memories of those places.

In our second sequence, we examined a contemporary activist moment to deepen our understanding of the ongoing relational formations between Indigenous peoples and how those relations revitalize cultures from the brink of extinction. In learning about how various tribes worked together to protect a valuable natural resource by employing media and storytelling practices to garner support and attention, we learned that regardless of the outcome, activist moments like Standing Rock demonstrate a strong trans-Indigenous community that continues to survive in spite of ongoing settler colonial tactics of dispossession and erasure.

In this third, and last sequence, we are focusing on imagining, or dreaming about, vibrant Indigenous futures. Athabascan poet and scholar (and UW professor) Dian Million defines dreaming the following way [. . .]

Your task i n this next assignment is to return to the place you described in Paper 1, imagine what that place looks like 100 years from now. . .

Example 2 :

Here’s a second example of a writing assignment, created by Jen Malone for a course on writing in environmental science, which clearly demonstrates to students how the writing assignment both builds on previous course content and how it will help students cultivate research skills that they will be able to use in future writing assignments.

Thus far in this class, we’ve written an Op-Ed about ecotourism, and we will be moving into writing a short research paper on the topic of your choice later on in the quarter. But first, we’re going to do something a bit different.

Learning to research well is largely about practice—both in terms of growing accustomed to search engines (particularly scholarly ones) and library databases, and in terms of learning to plug different versions of your research terms into these search engines/databases until you find useful sources. Using research well is largely about figuring out how to analyze your sources--particularly in combination with one another, as a body of research. In order to practice both of these skills (which will totally help us to prepare for Paper #3, later on in the quarter), for Paper #2 we will. . .

3. Create Antiracist Writing Assignments

Antiracist writing instruction is usually discussed in relation to assessment, but it should be considered earlier than that, during assignment creation (just as it should be considered as key elements of curriculum and class culture). Antiracist writing assignment design can be pursued in two ways: through the subject matter, or content, of the writing assignments; and through your values around language use. Some brief suggestions for each follow.

Promoting antiracist subject matter in writing assignments:

Take a step back and discuss knowledge frameworks in your course and in your field. Every discipline has knowledge traditions and methods that can be problematic. How did these traditions come to be? Who do they serve, and who do they harm?

Avoid reductionist binaries when discussing complex questions. For example, framing a question like "What are the pros and cons of conducting medical research without subjects' knowledge or consent?" may lead students to consider both sides as having equal moral weight. A more specific (so a particular context can be considered) and open-ended (so students are not led to one or the other answer) question might work better. For example, "What are some of the ethical considerations of conducting flu vaccine clinical trials without participants' consent?"

Give students opportunities to explore their own identities in relation to the course content. Drawing personal connections not only helps foster deeper learning, but it can also cultivate a student’s sense of belonging in the field. It may also help you see how your field might serve some but not others. 

Encourage students to engage academic and non-academic source material. Have discussions about what “counts” as authoritative information in your field, and why.

Promoting linguistic justice in writing assignments: 

As this site from Wesleyan College recommends, “Centralize rhetorical situations and writing contexts rather than language standards in your writing classroom.” If you show that all language use (content, structure, syntax, vocabulary, style) is based on authorial choices made in particular contexts and for particular audiences, then you can help bust the myth of the universal standard of “academic English.”

Encourage students to use their own linguistic traditions whenever possible. For example, let students freewrite in a native language or dialect. Encourage them to draw connections between their own language backgrounds and the disciplinary discourse you are teaching. This is called translanguaging, and it can be a powerful tool for learning.

Avoid penalizing language use. If there is a certain style or vocabulary you want students to use, be explicit about why discourse is used that way, and how it conveys discipline-specific knowledge.

Further reading: 10 Ways to Tackle Linguistic Bias in Our Classrooms (Inside HigherEd)

4. Offer Clear Instructions for Completion

Investigative or writing techniques that seem obvious to you—such as making an argument, analyzing, evaluating—might mean something different to students from outside your specific discipline. Being clear about what you mean when you use certain terms can help students navigate an assignment more successfully. While it might feel clunky or obvious, including this information in an assignment will help steer your students in the right direction and minimize miscommunication.

In the following excerpt from a prompt for a writing-in-history course taught by Sumyat Thu, the instructor asks students to use research in their papers, and then clearly describes, and supports with examples from the class and library resources, what counts as appropriate source material.

This essay is based on research. Students are expected to use primary sources and secondary works in developing their essays. We do not frown on the use of on-line resources ; indeed, some very good reference works ( identified on the history librarian Ms. Mudrock's research guide) are available as on-line books, and the library has e-book versions of Paul Spickard's  Almost All Aliens . Nonetheless, we strongly urge students to utilize the very rich materials available in the UW Libraries, particularly scholarly books and articles. The UW Libraries' on-line catalog can be explored with keyword searches, and such indexes as America: History and Life (again, see Ms. Mudrock’s website) are very helpful as well.

In this second example, again by Jen Malone, we see how the instructor not only indicates what chronological steps students must take to complete the assignment, but also how she includes thorough and clear instructions for how students can complete each step.

So, the first step you’ll need to take will be to choose a topic . You may wish to choose the same topic you’ll be using for your research paper in ENVIR 100 (if you’ve chosen that option—if so, please follow any instructions they’ve given you for choosing a topic for that), or something related to environmental science that simply interests you, or a topic from the following list of suggestions:

  • GMOs (particularly with regards to the ecosystem and/or biodiversity),
  • The environmental impact of meat production
  • Bees and Colony Collapse Disorder

The second step you’ll need to take will be to do the research —you’ll need to find some sources (via library search engines, Google scholar, etc.). Keep some notes or a log of this process, since you’ll have to talk about how this went for you in your final report. Then you’ll need to read/skim the sources you’ve selected, and then you’ll need to create an annotated bibliography in which you list and briefly summarize those sources. An annotated bibliography is a particularly handy step when performing research, or when writing a paper that involves research. Basically, it is a list of the sources you intend to use for your paper (like a Works Cited page, you may use either MLA or APA format), but with the addition of a substantial paragraph (or two, if you wish) beneath each entry in which you summarize, and often evaluate, the source. This will help you to consider the sources you find as a body of research, and this makes using sources easier because you’ll have these initial notes handy as you write your report.

After you find and skim through your sources, the third step you’ll need to take will be to write the report .

  • In the first section of the report, you’ll want to talk about your research process (What was this like? What was easy for you and what was difficult? What did you learn? What search terms did you use? How did those terms change?).
  • In the second section of the report, you’ll want to talk about the body of research as a whole (How would you describe the issues/terms/debates surrounding the topic? What did you find? What do these sources indicate—both in terms of conclusions drawn and questions raised? How do these sources fit together and/or differ? What did you find most interesting?)
  • In the third section of the report, you’ll want to take a moment to consider how this body of research fits it with what you’re learning in ENVIR 100 and where you might take the topic in a future paper (How do you see what you found regarding this topic as relating to what has been discussed in class thus far? What are the stakes of this topic and for whom? What aspects of this topic do we seem to know little about? What are the questions you still have about this topic? And, finally, now that you’ve read through this body of research, if you were going to write a paper on this topic, what might your basic argument be?). We’ll discuss this all in more detail next week, after you’ve compiled your sources.

Note: the second example may be a lot longer of a writing prompt than many of us are used to. This is not a bad thing. In fact, students tend to really appreciate such clear instruction and it reduces the amount of time you will spend clarifying confusion about what is expected. Also, instructions like these can be easily re-purposed for other, similar assignments in the future so you will not have to reinvent the wheel each time.

5. Clarify Expectations About Genre, Audience, and Formatting

Students will approach your writing assignment with varying knowledge and experience. Unless you have already instructed students explicitly in class about the knowledge and skills needed to complete a writing assignment, you cannot assume that students will already possess that knowledge. While clear, explicit prompts are essential, we also strongly urge you to discuss in class the genre you are assigning as well. Offer examples, both from professionals in the field, and from former students. The more exposure students have to the kinds of writing you want to see, the the more inclusive and accessible your assignments will be. We know of a history TA who said that one of her students, an engineering major, wasn't clear on the nature of a historiography, so he turned in his paper formatted like a technical report! This is an understandable mistake for a student to make, and providing examples can prevent mistakes like this from happening in your own classroom.

Below are two examples of how instructors communicate their expectations about genre, audience, and formatting to students. The first example is less helpful for students because it leaves key parts of the instructor’s expectations vague. (What is the writing assignment’s audience? What citation style does the instructor prefer? Is the works cited page part of the assignment or not?) The second example provides more detail for students.

Example 1: Paper must be 4-5 pages double spaced and must include a works cited page.

Example 2 : T he business memo should be fo rmatted according to the parameters we have discussed: no more than two pages long , typed, single-spaced with one space between paragraphs , with standard margins, in Times New Roman font (12 point), written for an audience of industry professionals.

6. Provide Examples of the Kinds of Writing You Assign

Studies have shown that examples can be a powerful learning tool in writing instruction. We recommend that instructors distribute examples of both successful and unsuccessful student writing to their students and explain why the examples are successful or unsuccessful.

Ask students who have submitted successful assignments if you can borrow their work as examples for future classes. Be sure to remove students’ identifying information from the assignments before they are given to future students.

If you do not have examples of unsuccessful writing (remember, sharing even anonymized student writing without the author's consent would be unethical), you can alternatively create a list of common pitfalls and mistakes to avoid when completing the writing assignment. Distribute the list to your students. Be sure to ground these pitfalls in terms of higher order issues specific to this genre, rather than just distributing a one-size-fits-all personal list of writing pet peeves.

Ask students which examples help them learn the genre, and which do not. Over time your students will help you curate a really great collection of samples.

Create occasional reading assignments where you ask students to find and analyze examples of writing by professionals in the field. What makes them effective or ineffective examples of the genre? What are some of the text's defining characteristics? These kinds of analyses can really help students improve their own writing.

7. Assess Your Own Work

Assessment is not just for student writing: it’s also important to assess the efficacy of the assignments you create. If student work is disappointing or students have struggled with an assignment, it most likely a result of ineffective assignment design. Please remember: everyone , even seasoned writing instructors, has assignments that do not go well initially. That is normal and ok!

We recommend that you engage in self-reflection as to why your assignment did not turn out well, and make tweaks to the assignment and/or grading criteria as needed. Here are some questions to ask yourself to reflect on your writing assignments.

Did many students turn in work which did not meet your expectations? In what specific ways did they fall short?

Did many students struggle with the assignment or a particular piece of the assignment? Where, exactly, did they struggle and how do you know?

Were many students surprised or dissatisfied by their grades on the assignment? Why do you think this happened?

Strategies for understanding what went wrong

Ask your students, either in class, on Canvas, or in a survey like a Google Form, to debrief the assignment. What was easy for them about the assignment? What did they learn from it? What was challenging? What was unclear?

Take writing assignments to writing centers such as OWRC or CLUE to get student feedback on updated or streamlined assignments. Student writing tutors can be a great resource-- they've seen hundreds of writing assignments!

Next guide: Supporting Academic Integrity

write writing assignment

How to Write an Essay

Use the links below to jump directly to any section of this guide:

Essay Writing Fundamentals

How to prepare to write an essay, how to edit an essay, how to share and publish your essays, how to get essay writing help, how to find essay writing inspiration, resources for teaching essay writing.

Essays, short prose compositions on a particular theme or topic, are the bread and butter of academic life. You write them in class, for homework, and on standardized tests to show what you know. Unlike other kinds of academic writing (like the research paper) and creative writing (like short stories and poems), essays allow you to develop your original thoughts on a prompt or question. Essays come in many varieties: they can be expository (fleshing out an idea or claim), descriptive, (explaining a person, place, or thing), narrative (relating a personal experience), or persuasive (attempting to win over a reader). This guide is a collection of dozens of links about academic essay writing that we have researched, categorized, and annotated in order to help you improve your essay writing. 

Essays are different from other forms of writing; in turn, there are different kinds of essays. This section contains general resources for getting to know the essay and its variants. These resources introduce and define the essay as a genre, and will teach you what to expect from essay-based assessments.

Purdue OWL Online Writing Lab

One of the most trusted academic writing sites, Purdue OWL provides a concise introduction to the four most common types of academic essays.

"The Essay: History and Definition" (ThoughtCo)

This snappy article from ThoughtCo talks about the origins of the essay and different kinds of essays you might be asked to write. 

"What Is An Essay?" Video Lecture (Coursera)

The University of California at Irvine's free video lecture, available on Coursera, tells  you everything you need to know about the essay.

Wikipedia Article on the "Essay"

Wikipedia's article on the essay is comprehensive, providing both English-language and global perspectives on the essay form. Learn about the essay's history, forms, and styles.

"Understanding College and Academic Writing" (Aims Online Writing Lab)

This list of common academic writing assignments (including types of essay prompts) will help you know what to expect from essay-based assessments.

Before you start writing your essay, you need to figure out who you're writing for (audience), what you're writing about (topic/theme), and what you're going to say (argument and thesis). This section contains links to handouts, chapters, videos and more to help you prepare to write an essay.

How to Identify Your Audience

"Audience" (Univ. of North Carolina Writing Center)

This handout provides questions you can ask yourself to determine the audience for an academic writing assignment. It also suggests strategies for fitting your paper to your intended audience.

"Purpose, Audience, Tone, and Content" (Univ. of Minnesota Libraries)

This extensive book chapter from Writing for Success , available online through Minnesota Libraries Publishing, is followed by exercises to try out your new pre-writing skills.

"Determining Audience" (Aims Online Writing Lab)

This guide from a community college's writing center shows you how to know your audience, and how to incorporate that knowledge in your thesis statement.

"Know Your Audience" ( Paper Rater Blog)

This short blog post uses examples to show how implied audiences for essays differ. It reminds you to think of your instructor as an observer, who will know only the information you pass along.

How to Choose a Theme or Topic

"Research Tutorial: Developing Your Topic" (YouTube)

Take a look at this short video tutorial from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to understand the basics of developing a writing topic.

"How to Choose a Paper Topic" (WikiHow)

This simple, step-by-step guide (with pictures!) walks you through choosing a paper topic. It starts with a detailed description of brainstorming and ends with strategies to refine your broad topic.

"How to Read an Assignment: Moving From Assignment to Topic" (Harvard College Writing Center)

Did your teacher give you a prompt or other instructions? This guide helps you understand the relationship between an essay assignment and your essay's topic.

"Guidelines for Choosing a Topic" (CliffsNotes)

This study guide from CliffsNotes both discusses how to choose a topic and makes a useful distinction between "topic" and "thesis."

How to Come Up with an Argument

"Argument" (Univ. of North Carolina Writing Center)

Not sure what "argument" means in the context of academic writing? This page from the University of North Carolina is a good place to start.

"The Essay Guide: Finding an Argument" (Study Hub)

This handout explains why it's important to have an argument when beginning your essay, and provides tools to help you choose a viable argument.

"Writing a Thesis and Making an Argument" (University of Iowa)

This page from the University of Iowa's Writing Center contains exercises through which you can develop and refine your argument and thesis statement.

"Developing a Thesis" (Harvard College Writing Center)

This page from Harvard's Writing Center collates some helpful dos and don'ts of argumentative writing, from steps in constructing a thesis to avoiding vague and confrontational thesis statements.

"Suggestions for Developing Argumentative Essays" (Berkeley Student Learning Center)

This page offers concrete suggestions for each stage of the essay writing process, from topic selection to drafting and editing. 

How to Outline your Essay

"Outlines" (Univ. of North Carolina at Chapel Hill via YouTube)

This short video tutorial from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill shows how to group your ideas into paragraphs or sections to begin the outlining process.

"Essay Outline" (Univ. of Washington Tacoma)

This two-page handout by a university professor simply defines the parts of an essay and then organizes them into an example outline.

"Types of Outlines and Samples" (Purdue OWL Online Writing Lab)

Purdue OWL gives examples of diverse outline strategies on this page, including the alphanumeric, full sentence, and decimal styles. 

"Outlining" (Harvard College Writing Center)

Once you have an argument, according to this handout, there are only three steps in the outline process: generalizing, ordering, and putting it all together. Then you're ready to write!

"Writing Essays" (Plymouth Univ.)

This packet, part of Plymouth University's Learning Development series, contains descriptions and diagrams relating to the outlining process.

"How to Write A Good Argumentative Essay: Logical Structure" (Criticalthinkingtutorials.com via YouTube)

This longer video tutorial gives an overview of how to structure your essay in order to support your argument or thesis. It is part of a longer course on academic writing hosted on Udemy.

Now that you've chosen and refined your topic and created an outline, use these resources to complete the writing process. Most essays contain introductions (which articulate your thesis statement), body paragraphs, and conclusions. Transitions facilitate the flow from one paragraph to the next so that support for your thesis builds throughout the essay. Sources and citations show where you got the evidence to support your thesis, which ensures that you avoid plagiarism. 

How to Write an Introduction

"Introductions" (Univ. of North Carolina Writing Center)

This page identifies the role of the introduction in any successful paper, suggests strategies for writing introductions, and warns against less effective introductions.

"How to Write A Good Introduction" (Michigan State Writing Center)

Beginning with the most common missteps in writing introductions, this guide condenses the essentials of introduction composition into seven points.

"The Introductory Paragraph" (ThoughtCo)

This blog post from academic advisor and college enrollment counselor Grace Fleming focuses on ways to grab your reader's attention at the beginning of your essay.

"Introductions and Conclusions" (Univ. of Toronto)

This guide from the University of Toronto gives advice that applies to writing both introductions and conclusions, including dos and don'ts.

"How to Write Better Essays: No One Does Introductions Properly" ( The Guardian )

This news article interviews UK professors on student essay writing; they point to introductions as the area that needs the most improvement.

How to Write a Thesis Statement

"Writing an Effective Thesis Statement" (YouTube)

This short, simple video tutorial from a college composition instructor at Tulsa Community College explains what a thesis statement is and what it does. 

"Thesis Statement: Four Steps to a Great Essay" (YouTube)

This fantastic tutorial walks you through drafting a thesis, using an essay prompt on Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter as an example.

"How to Write a Thesis Statement" (WikiHow)

This step-by-step guide (with pictures!) walks you through coming up with, writing, and editing a thesis statement. It invites you think of your statement as a "working thesis" that can change.

"How to Write a Thesis Statement" (Univ. of Indiana Bloomington)

Ask yourself the questions on this page, part of Indiana Bloomington's Writing Tutorial Services, when you're writing and refining your thesis statement.

"Writing Tips: Thesis Statements" (Univ. of Illinois Center for Writing Studies)

This page gives plentiful examples of good to great thesis statements, and offers questions to ask yourself when formulating a thesis statement.

How to Write Body Paragraphs

"Body Paragraph" (Brightstorm)

This module of a free online course introduces you to the components of a body paragraph. These include the topic sentence, information, evidence, and analysis.

"Strong Body Paragraphs" (Washington Univ.)

This handout from Washington's Writing and Research Center offers in-depth descriptions of the parts of a successful body paragraph.

"Guide to Paragraph Structure" (Deakin Univ.)

This handout is notable for color-coding example body paragraphs to help you identify the functions various sentences perform.

"Writing Body Paragraphs" (Univ. of Minnesota Libraries)

The exercises in this section of Writing for Success  will help you practice writing good body paragraphs. It includes guidance on selecting primary support for your thesis.

"The Writing Process—Body Paragraphs" (Aims Online Writing Lab)

The information and exercises on this page will familiarize you with outlining and writing body paragraphs, and includes links to more information on topic sentences and transitions.

"The Five-Paragraph Essay" (ThoughtCo)

This blog post discusses body paragraphs in the context of one of the most common academic essay types in secondary schools.

How to Use Transitions

"Transitions" (Univ. of North Carolina Writing Center)

This page from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill explains what a transition is, and how to know if you need to improve your transitions.

"Using Transitions Effectively" (Washington Univ.)

This handout defines transitions, offers tips for using them, and contains a useful list of common transitional words and phrases grouped by function.

"Transitions" (Aims Online Writing Lab)

This page compares paragraphs without transitions to paragraphs with transitions, and in doing so shows how important these connective words and phrases are.

"Transitions in Academic Essays" (Scribbr)

This page lists four techniques that will help you make sure your reader follows your train of thought, including grouping similar information and using transition words.

"Transitions" (El Paso Community College)

This handout shows example transitions within paragraphs for context, and explains how transitions improve your essay's flow and voice.

"Make Your Paragraphs Flow to Improve Writing" (ThoughtCo)

This blog post, another from academic advisor and college enrollment counselor Grace Fleming, talks about transitions and other strategies to improve your essay's overall flow.

"Transition Words" (smartwords.org)

This handy word bank will help you find transition words when you're feeling stuck. It's grouped by the transition's function, whether that is to show agreement, opposition, condition, or consequence.

How to Write a Conclusion

"Parts of An Essay: Conclusions" (Brightstorm)

This module of a free online course explains how to conclude an academic essay. It suggests thinking about the "3Rs": return to hook, restate your thesis, and relate to the reader.

"Essay Conclusions" (Univ. of Maryland University College)

This overview of the academic essay conclusion contains helpful examples and links to further resources for writing good conclusions.

"How to End An Essay" (WikiHow)

This step-by-step guide (with pictures!) by an English Ph.D. walks you through writing a conclusion, from brainstorming to ending with a flourish.

"Ending the Essay: Conclusions" (Harvard College Writing Center)

This page collates useful strategies for writing an effective conclusion, and reminds you to "close the discussion without closing it off" to further conversation.

How to Include Sources and Citations

"Research and Citation Resources" (Purdue OWL Online Writing Lab)

Purdue OWL streamlines information about the three most common referencing styles (MLA, Chicago, and APA) and provides examples of how to cite different resources in each system.

EasyBib: Free Bibliography Generator

This online tool allows you to input information about your source and automatically generate citations in any style. Be sure to select your resource type before clicking the "cite it" button.

CitationMachine

Like EasyBib, this online tool allows you to input information about your source and automatically generate citations in any style. 

Modern Language Association Handbook (MLA)

Here, you'll find the definitive and up-to-date record of MLA referencing rules. Order through the link above, or check to see if your library has a copy.

Chicago Manual of Style

Here, you'll find the definitive and up-to-date record of Chicago referencing rules. You can take a look at the table of contents, then choose to subscribe or start a free trial.

How to Avoid Plagiarism

"What is Plagiarism?" (plagiarism.org)

This nonprofit website contains numerous resources for identifying and avoiding plagiarism, and reminds you that even common activities like copying images from another website to your own site may constitute plagiarism.

"Plagiarism" (University of Oxford)

This interactive page from the University of Oxford helps you check for plagiarism in your work, making it clear how to avoid citing another person's work without full acknowledgement.

"Avoiding Plagiarism" (MIT Comparative Media Studies)

This quick guide explains what plagiarism is, what its consequences are, and how to avoid it. It starts by defining three words—quotation, paraphrase, and summary—that all constitute citation.

"Harvard Guide to Using Sources" (Harvard Extension School)

This comprehensive website from Harvard brings together articles, videos, and handouts about referencing, citation, and plagiarism. 

Grammarly contains tons of helpful grammar and writing resources, including a free tool to automatically scan your essay to check for close affinities to published work. 

Noplag is another popular online tool that automatically scans your essay to check for signs of plagiarism. Simply copy and paste your essay into the box and click "start checking."

Once you've written your essay, you'll want to edit (improve content), proofread (check for spelling and grammar mistakes), and finalize your work until you're ready to hand it in. This section brings together tips and resources for navigating the editing process. 

"Writing a First Draft" (Academic Help)

This is an introduction to the drafting process from the site Academic Help, with tips for getting your ideas on paper before editing begins.

"Editing and Proofreading" (Univ. of North Carolina Writing Center)

This page provides general strategies for revising your writing. They've intentionally left seven errors in the handout, to give you practice in spotting them.

"How to Proofread Effectively" (ThoughtCo)

This article from ThoughtCo, along with those linked at the bottom, help describe common mistakes to check for when proofreading.

"7 Simple Edits That Make Your Writing 100% More Powerful" (SmartBlogger)

This blog post emphasizes the importance of powerful, concise language, and reminds you that even your personal writing heroes create clunky first drafts.

"Editing Tips for Effective Writing" (Univ. of Pennsylvania)

On this page from Penn's International Relations department, you'll find tips for effective prose, errors to watch out for, and reminders about formatting.

"Editing the Essay" (Harvard College Writing Center)

This article, the first of two parts, gives you applicable strategies for the editing process. It suggests reading your essay aloud, removing any jargon, and being unafraid to remove even "dazzling" sentences that don't belong.

"Guide to Editing and Proofreading" (Oxford Learning Institute)

This handout from Oxford covers the basics of editing and proofreading, and reminds you that neither task should be rushed. 

In addition to plagiarism-checkers, Grammarly has a plug-in for your web browser that checks your writing for common mistakes.

After you've prepared, written, and edited your essay, you might want to share it outside the classroom. This section alerts you to print and web opportunities to share your essays with the wider world, from online writing communities and blogs to published journals geared toward young writers.

Sharing Your Essays Online

Go Teen Writers

Go Teen Writers is an online community for writers aged 13 - 19. It was founded by Stephanie Morrill, an author of contemporary young adult novels. 

Tumblr is a blogging website where you can share your writing and interact with other writers online. It's easy to add photos, links, audio, and video components.

Writersky provides an online platform for publishing and reading other youth writers' work. Its current content is mostly devoted to fiction.

Publishing Your Essays Online

This teen literary journal publishes in print, on the web, and (more frequently), on a blog. It is committed to ensuring that "teens see their authentic experience reflected on its pages."

The Matador Review

This youth writing platform celebrates "alternative," unconventional writing. The link above will take you directly to the site's "submissions" page.

Teen Ink has a website, monthly newsprint magazine, and quarterly poetry magazine promoting the work of young writers.

The largest online reading platform, Wattpad enables you to publish your work and read others' work. Its inline commenting feature allows you to share thoughts as you read along.

Publishing Your Essays in Print

Canvas Teen Literary Journal

This quarterly literary magazine is published for young writers by young writers. They accept many kinds of writing, including essays.

The Claremont Review

This biannual international magazine, first published in 1992, publishes poetry, essays, and short stories from writers aged 13 - 19.

Skipping Stones

This young writers magazine, founded in 1988, celebrates themes relating to ecological and cultural diversity. It publishes poems, photos, articles, and stories.

The Telling Room

This nonprofit writing center based in Maine publishes children's work on their website and in book form. The link above directs you to the site's submissions page.

Essay Contests

Scholastic Arts and Writing Awards

This prestigious international writing contest for students in grades 7 - 12 has been committed to "supporting the future of creativity since 1923."

Society of Professional Journalists High School Essay Contest

An annual essay contest on the theme of journalism and media, the Society of Professional Journalists High School Essay Contest awards scholarships up to $1,000.

National YoungArts Foundation

Here, you'll find information on a government-sponsored writing competition for writers aged 15 - 18. The foundation welcomes submissions of creative nonfiction, novels, scripts, poetry, short story and spoken word.

Signet Classics Student Scholarship Essay Contest

With prompts on a different literary work each year, this competition from Signet Classics awards college scholarships up to $1,000.

"The Ultimate Guide to High School Essay Contests" (CollegeVine)

See this handy guide from CollegeVine for a list of more competitions you can enter with your academic essay, from the National Council of Teachers of English Achievement Awards to the National High School Essay Contest by the U.S. Institute of Peace.

Whether you're struggling to write academic essays or you think you're a pro, there are workshops and online tools that can help you become an even better writer. Even the most seasoned writers encounter writer's block, so be proactive and look through our curated list of resources to combat this common frustration.

Online Essay-writing Classes and Workshops

"Getting Started with Essay Writing" (Coursera)

Coursera offers lots of free, high-quality online classes taught by college professors. Here's one example, taught by instructors from the University of California Irvine.

"Writing and English" (Brightstorm)

Brightstorm's free video lectures are easy to navigate by topic. This unit on the parts of an essay features content on the essay hook, thesis, supporting evidence, and more.

"How to Write an Essay" (EdX)

EdX is another open online university course website with several two- to five-week courses on the essay. This one is geared toward English language learners.

Writer's Digest University

This renowned writers' website offers online workshops and interactive tutorials. The courses offered cover everything from how to get started through how to get published.

Writing.com

Signing up for this online writer's community gives you access to helpful resources as well as an international community of writers.

How to Overcome Writer's Block

"Symptoms and Cures for Writer's Block" (Purdue OWL)

Purdue OWL offers a list of signs you might have writer's block, along with ways to overcome it. Consider trying out some "invention strategies" or ways to curb writing anxiety.

"Overcoming Writer's Block: Three Tips" ( The Guardian )

These tips, geared toward academic writing specifically, are practical and effective. The authors advocate setting realistic goals, creating dedicated writing time, and participating in social writing.

"Writing Tips: Strategies for Overcoming Writer's Block" (Univ. of Illinois)

This page from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign's Center for Writing Studies acquaints you with strategies that do and do not work to overcome writer's block.

"Writer's Block" (Univ. of Toronto)

Ask yourself the questions on this page; if the answer is "yes," try out some of the article's strategies. Each question is accompanied by at least two possible solutions.

If you have essays to write but are short on ideas, this section's links to prompts, example student essays, and celebrated essays by professional writers might help. You'll find writing prompts from a variety of sources, student essays to inspire you, and a number of essay writing collections.

Essay Writing Prompts

"50 Argumentative Essay Topics" (ThoughtCo)

Take a look at this list and the others ThoughtCo has curated for different kinds of essays. As the author notes, "a number of these topics are controversial and that's the point."

"401 Prompts for Argumentative Writing" ( New York Times )

This list (and the linked lists to persuasive and narrative writing prompts), besides being impressive in length, is put together by actual high school English teachers.

"SAT Sample Essay Prompts" (College Board)

If you're a student in the U.S., your classroom essay prompts are likely modeled on the prompts in U.S. college entrance exams. Take a look at these official examples from the SAT.

"Popular College Application Essay Topics" (Princeton Review)

This page from the Princeton Review dissects recent Common Application essay topics and discusses strategies for answering them.

Example Student Essays

"501 Writing Prompts" (DePaul Univ.)

This nearly 200-page packet, compiled by the LearningExpress Skill Builder in Focus Writing Team, is stuffed with writing prompts, example essays, and commentary.

"Topics in English" (Kibin)

Kibin is a for-pay essay help website, but its example essays (organized by topic) are available for free. You'll find essays on everything from  A Christmas Carol  to perseverance.

"Student Writing Models" (Thoughtful Learning)

Thoughtful Learning, a website that offers a variety of teaching materials, provides sample student essays on various topics and organizes them by grade level.

"Five-Paragraph Essay" (ThoughtCo)

In this blog post by a former professor of English and rhetoric, ThoughtCo brings together examples of five-paragraph essays and commentary on the form.

The Best Essay Writing Collections

The Best American Essays of the Century by Joyce Carol Oates (Amazon)

This collection of American essays spanning the twentieth century was compiled by award winning author and Princeton professor Joyce Carol Oates.

The Best American Essays 2017 by Leslie Jamison (Amazon)

Leslie Jamison, the celebrated author of essay collection  The Empathy Exams , collects recent, high-profile essays into a single volume.

The Art of the Personal Essay by Phillip Lopate (Amazon)

Documentary writer Phillip Lopate curates this historical overview of the personal essay's development, from the classical era to the present.

The White Album by Joan Didion (Amazon)

This seminal essay collection was authored by one of the most acclaimed personal essayists of all time, American journalist Joan Didion.

Consider the Lobster by David Foster Wallace (Amazon)

Read this famous essay collection by David Foster Wallace, who is known for his experimentation with the essay form. He pushed the boundaries of personal essay, reportage, and political polemic.

"50 Successful Harvard Application Essays" (Staff of the The Harvard Crimson )

If you're looking for examples of exceptional college application essays, this volume from Harvard's daily student newspaper is one of the best collections on the market.

Are you an instructor looking for the best resources for teaching essay writing? This section contains resources for developing in-class activities and student homework assignments. You'll find content from both well-known university writing centers and online writing labs.

Essay Writing Classroom Activities for Students

"In-class Writing Exercises" (Univ. of North Carolina Writing Center)

This page lists exercises related to brainstorming, organizing, drafting, and revising. It also contains suggestions for how to implement the suggested exercises.

"Teaching with Writing" (Univ. of Minnesota Center for Writing)

Instructions and encouragement for using "freewriting," one-minute papers, logbooks, and other write-to-learn activities in the classroom can be found here.

"Writing Worksheets" (Berkeley Student Learning Center)

Berkeley offers this bank of writing worksheets to use in class. They are nested under headings for "Prewriting," "Revision," "Research Papers" and more.

"Using Sources and Avoiding Plagiarism" (DePaul University)

Use these activities and worksheets from DePaul's Teaching Commons when instructing students on proper academic citation practices.

Essay Writing Homework Activities for Students

"Grammar and Punctuation Exercises" (Aims Online Writing Lab)

These five interactive online activities allow students to practice editing and proofreading. They'll hone their skills in correcting comma splices and run-ons, identifying fragments, using correct pronoun agreement, and comma usage.

"Student Interactives" (Read Write Think)

Read Write Think hosts interactive tools, games, and videos for developing writing skills. They can practice organizing and summarizing, writing poetry, and developing lines of inquiry and analysis.

This free website offers writing and grammar activities for all grade levels. The lessons are designed to be used both for large classes and smaller groups.

"Writing Activities and Lessons for Every Grade" (Education World)

Education World's page on writing activities and lessons links you to more free, online resources for learning how to "W.R.I.T.E.": write, revise, inform, think, and edit.

  • PDFs for all 136 Lit Terms we cover
  • Downloads of 1966 LitCharts Lit Guides
  • Teacher Editions for every Lit Guide
  • Explanations and citation info for 41,447 quotes across 1966 books
  • Downloadable (PDF) line-by-line translations of every Shakespeare play

Need something? Request a new guide .

How can we improve? Share feedback .

LitCharts is hiring!

The LitCharts.com logo.

English EFL

4 Key Points for Effective Assignment Writing

write writing assignment

Methodology

By Christina Desouza

Writing an effective assignment is more of an art than a science. It demands critical thinking, thorough research, organized planning, and polished execution. As a professional academic writer with over four years of experience, I've honed these skills and discovered proven strategies for creating standout assignments.

In this article, I will delve into the four key steps of assignment writing, offering detailed advice and actionable tips to help students master this craft.

1.    Start With Research

In-depth research is the cornerstone of any high-quality assignment. It allows you to gain a profound understanding of your topic and equip yourself with relevant data, compelling arguments, and unique insights.

Here's how to do it right:

●       Diversify Your Sources

Don't limit yourself to the first page of Google results. Make use of academic databases like JSTOR , Google Scholar , PubMed , or your school's online library. These resources house a plethora of scholarly articles, research papers, and academic books that can provide you with valuable information.

●       Verify Information

Remember, not all information is created equal. Cross-check facts and data from multiple reliable sources to ensure accuracy. Look for consensus among experts on contentious issues.

●       Stay Organized

Keep track of your resources as you go. Tools like Zotero or Mendeley can help you organize your references and generate citations in various formats. This will save you from scrambling to find sources when you're wrapping up your assignment.

1.    Prepare Assignment Structure

write writing assignment

Creating a well-planned structure for your assignment is akin to drawing a roadmap. It helps you stay on track and ensures that your ideas flow logically. Here's what to consider:

●       Develop an Outline

The basic structure of an assignment includes an introduction, body, and conclusion. The introduction should present the topic and establish the purpose of your assignment. The body should delve into the topic in detail, backed by your research. The conclusion should summarize your findings or arguments without introducing new ideas.

●       Use Subheadings

Subheadings make your assignment easier to read and follow. They allow you to break down complex ideas into manageable sections. As a rule of thumb, each paragraph should cover one idea or argument.

●       Allocate Word Count

Assignments often come with word limits. Allocate word count for each section of your assignment based on its importance to avoid overwriting or underwriting any part.

1.    Start Assignment Writing

Writing your assignment is where your research and planning come to fruition. You now have a robust foundation to build upon, and it's time to craft a compelling narrative.

Here's how to accomplish this:

●       Write a Gripping Introduction

Your introduction is the gateway to your assignment. Make it captivating. Start with a hook—a surprising fact, an interesting quote, or a thought-provoking question—to grab your readers' attention. Provide an overview of what your assignment is about and the purpose it serves. A well-crafted introduction sets the tone for the rest of the assignment and motivates your readers to delve deeper into your work.

●       Develop a Comprehensive Body

The body of your assignment is where you delve into the details. Develop your arguments, present your data, and discuss your findings. Use clear and concise language. Avoid jargon unless necessary. Each paragraph should cover one idea or argument to maintain readability.

●       Craft a Convincing Conclusion

Your conclusion is your final chance to leave an impression on your reader. Summarize your key findings or arguments without introducing new ideas. Reinforce the purpose of your assignment and provide a clear answer to the question or problem you addressed in the introduction. A strong conclusion leaves your readers with a sense of closure and a full understanding of your topic.

●       Write Clearly

Use straightforward sentences and avoid jargon. Your goal is to communicate, not to confuse. Tools like Hemingway Editor can help ensure your writing is clear and concise.

●       Use Paraphrasingtool.ai

Paraphrasingtool.ai is an AI-powered tool that can enhance your assignment writing. It reformulates your sentences while preserving their meaning. It not only helps you avoid plagiarism but also enhances the readability of your work.

write writing assignment

●       Cite Your Sources

Citations are a critical part of assignment writing. They acknowledge the work of others you've built upon and demonstrate the depth of your research. Always include in-text citations and a bibliography at the end. This not only maintains academic integrity but also gives your readers resources to delve deeper into the topic if they wish.

1.    Review and Proofread The Assignment

Reviewing and proofreading are the final but critical steps in assignment writing. They ensure your assignment is free from errors and that your ideas are coherently presented. Here's how to do it effectively:

●       Take a Break

After you finish writing, take a break before you start proofreading. Fresh eyes are more likely to spot mistakes and inconsistencies.

●       Read Aloud

Reading your work aloud can help you identify awkward phrasing, run-on sentences, and typos. You're more likely to catch errors when you hear them, as it requires a different type of processing than reading silently.

●       Use Proofreading Tools

Digital tools like Grammarly can be your second pair of eyes, helping you spot grammatical errors, typos, and even issues with sentence structure. However, don't rely solely on these tools—make sure to manually review your work as well.

Effective assignment writing is a skill that takes practice to master. It requires meticulous research, organized planning, clear writing, and careful proofreading. The steps and tips outlined in this article are by no means exhaustive, but they provide a solid framework to start from.

Remember, there is always room for improvement. Don't be disheartened by initial challenges. Each assignment is an opportunity to learn, grow, and sharpen your writing skills. So, be persistent, stay curious, and keep refining your craft. With time and practice, you will find yourself writing assignments that are not just excellent, but truly outstanding.

facebook

Keys to Literacy

Literacy Lines

Home » Literacy Lines » Planning Effective Writing Assignments

Planning Effective Writing Assignments

write writing assignment

When you ask students to complete a writing assignment, how often do you receive something back that does not match what you were expecting from your students? Part of the problem is that students may not have enough information about your expectations. Often the directions for a writing task lack specificity, such as the following examples:

  • Write a composition that compares and contrasts…
  • Write a short research report about…
  • Use information from these three sources to write an answer to this question…

With broad assignments like these, students are understandably not sure about the purpose for writing the piece, how long it should be, how much and what kind of content they should include, and what supports might be available. They also may be unsure of how the writing will be graded.

One of the recommendations from the Writing next research report (Graham & Perin, 2007) is for teachers to provide specific product goals:

“Setting product goals involves assigning students specific, reachable goals for the writing they are to complete. It includes identifying the purpose of the assignment (e.g., to persuade) as well as characteristics of the final product. Specific goals in the studies reviewed included (a) adding more ideas to a paper when revising, or establishing a goal to write a specific kind of paper and (b) assigning goals for specific structural elements in a composition. Compared with instances in which students were simply given a general overall goal, these relatively simple procedures resulted in a positive effect size, and the average effect was strong. Overall, assigning students goals for their written product had a strong impact on writing quality.” (p. 17)

To help students successfully complete content writing tasks, follow these steps when planning a writing assignment:

  • Determine the writing objective. For example, is the objective to have students process their content knowledge, or perhaps to deepen their understanding and reflect on what they have learned? Do you want to use the writing task to assess students’ content learning?
  • Generate an appropriate writing task, choosing the best type of writing for the task – informational, opinion/argument, or narrative.
  • Set clear goals. Identify the TAP (task audience, purpose). Clearly state your expectations for the length of the piece, the form, and any other requirements.
  • Provide scaffolds. For instance, can you show models or examples? What other scaffolds can you provide to help some students or all students?
  • Plan for feedback and revision. Is this part of the writing process necessary and reasonable, given the writing objective and task? If so, what tools can be used to provide feedback?

Writing Assignment Guide (WAG)

One of the instructional suggestions in the Keys to Content Writing professional development course is for teachers to use a WAG to plan writing assignments and communicate expectations to students. The information in a WAG should be shared with students so they know the requirements and the support that will be provided. A blank copy of a WAG planning template is shown below, followed by a description of each part of the WAG.

write writing assignment

  • Writing Task: The teacher describes the writing task, including the type of writing (informational, opinion/argument, narrative, or a combination).
  • Audience: The teacher identifies the audience for the writing piece. This might be the teacher, peer students, or an authentic audience.
  • Purpose: The teacher identifies the purpose for writing the piece, such as to reinforce content learning, to develop writing skills, or a specific purpose related to an authentic audience.
  • Length: The teacher shares requirements for the length of the writing piece by identifying a range in number of words, sentences, paragraphs, or pages.
  • Directions & Requirements: The teacher presents directions for the writing task and shares specific requirements for the content or text structure. If there are requirements for use and citation of sources, these are included, as well as information about grading. 
  • Writing Supports: The teacher identifies scaffolds and supports that are provided for some or all of the students.

The WAG example below includes questions (in red) for teachers to assist them as they complete a WAG. Several classroom examples follow.

write writing assignment

Sharing a WAG with Students

Teachers should share the information with students so they understand the requirements for a writing assignment and the support teachers will provide. Teachers should base the format used to share the WAG details on the age and skills of the students. They can share a copy of the WAG, or they can modify the information in a more student-friendly layout. Two examples are provided below.

write writing assignment

Using a WAG As a Guide for Grading

One of the questions students ask is, “How will my writing piece be graded?” The Length and Directions and Requirements parts of the WAG can be used to communicate to students what they should check for when they are reviewing and revising their writing. Did they meet requirements for length, text structure and formatting, use of vocabulary? Did they include all the required content? When assessing and grading a writing piece, the teacher can include requirement details in a scoring rubric, enabling them to make grading decisions based on a set criteria rather than a more general reaction to the quality of the student’s writing.

References:

  • Graham, S., & Perin, D. (2007). Writing next: Effective strategies to improve the writing of adolescents in middle and high schools – A report to Carnegie Corporation of New York. Washington, DC: Alliance for  Excellent Education.
  • Sedita, J. (2024). Keys to content writing, 3rd Edition. Rowley, MA: Keys to Literacy.
  • Joan Sedita

write writing assignment

Leave a Reply

Cancel reply.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe by Email

  • Adolescent Literacy
  • Brain and Literacy
  • Close Reading
  • College and Career Ready
  • Common Core
  • Complex Text
  • Comprehension Instruction
  • Content Literacy
  • Decoding and Fluency
  • Differentiated Fluency
  • Differentiated Instruction
  • Digital Literacies
  • Disciplinary Literacy
  • Elementary Literacy
  • English Language Learners
  • Grammar and Syntax
  • High School Literacy
  • Interventions
  • Learning Disabilities – Dyslexia
  • Middle School Literacy
  • MTSS (Multi-Tiered Systems of Support)
  • PK – Grade 3 Literacy
  • Professional Development
  • RTI (Response to Intervention)
  • Special Education
  • Teacher Education
  • Teacher Evaluation
  • Text Structures
  • Uncategorized
  • Vocabulary Instruction
  • Writing Instruction

Posts by Author

  • Becky DeSmith
  • Donna Mastrovito
  • Brad Neuenhaus
  • Shauna Cotte
  • Amy Samelian
  • Sue Nichols
  • Stephanie Stollar
  • Colleen Yasenchock
  • Maureen Murgo
  • melissa powers
  • Sande Dawes

ACCESSING KEYS TO LITERACY PD DURING SCHOOL CLOSURES

We are closely monitoring the covid-19 situation and the impact on our employees and the schools where we provide professional development., during this time period when onsite, face-to-face training and coaching is not possible, we offer multiple options for accessing our literacy pd content and instructional practices., if you are a current or new partner, explore our website or contact us to learn more about:.

  • Live virtual training, coaching
  • Facilitated and asynchronous online courses
  • Free webinars and resources

[email protected] 978-948-8511

Thrive Projects

10 Tips for Writing Assignments

Writing assignments are a cornerstone of your academic journey, and honing your assignment writing skills is paramount for your success. Whether you're embarking on your first year or a seasoned academic, the art of effective assignment writing can wield significant influence over your grades and overall educational voyage. In this comprehensive guide, we'll offer you ten invaluable tips to elevate your assignment writing prowess. These strategies, along with expert guidance from our specialized assignment help website writemyessays.com/do-my-assignment.html , will empower you to enhance your writing skills and chart a course towards academic triumph.

Tip 1: Start Early

The first rule of successful assignment writing is to start early. Procrastination is the enemy of quality work. By initiating your assignments as soon as you receive them, you'll have ample time for essential steps such as research, planning, drafting, and revisions. Starting early allows you to manage your time effectively and produce well-crafted assignments.

Tip 2: Understand the Assignment

Before you begin writing, it's essential to thoroughly understand the assignment instructions. Take the time to read and analyze what is expected of you. If any aspects are unclear, don't hesitate to seek clarification from your instructor. Understanding the assignment's requirements is fundamental to meeting them successfully.

Tip 3: Plan Your Work

Effective planning is a cornerstone of assignment writing. Develop a structured plan that includes creating a timeline for your assignment. Break down the work into smaller tasks, allocate sufficient time for research, outlining, drafting, and proofreading. A well-organized plan will keep you on track and reduce stress.

Tip 4: Utilize Campus Resources

Your university offers a wealth of resources to support your writing endeavors. Take advantage of writing centers, libraries, and academic advisors who can provide guidance and feedback on your assignments. These resources are valuable assets that can significantly improve the quality of your work.

Tip 5: Research Thoroughly

High-quality assignments require thorough research. Dive deeply into your chosen topic, utilizing a variety of credible sources such as academic journals, books, and reputable websites. Ensure that you cite your sources correctly to provide evidence for your arguments and maintain academic integrity.

Tip 6: Maintain a Good Writing Style

Developing and maintaining a clear and concise writing style is essential for effective communication in your assignments. Avoid overly complex language and prioritize clarity. Ensure that your assignments have a logical structure with a clear flow of ideas. Your goal is to make your writing accessible and easy for your reader to understand.

Tip 7: Seek Writing Assistance

If you ever find yourself struggling with assignment writing, don't hesitate to seek writing assistance. Many universities offer writing assistance programs staffed by experienced tutors who can provide guidance and feedback on your work. These services are designed to help you refine your writing skills and produce higher-quality assignments.

Tip 8: Proofread and Edit

The importance of proofreading and editing cannot be overstated. After completing your initial draft, take the time to review and edit your work. Check for grammar and punctuation errors, ensure proper formatting, and verify that your assignment aligns with the assignment guidelines. Effective editing will polish your work and enhance its overall quality.

Tip 9: Stay Safe Online

When conducting online research for your assignments, it's essential to prioritize online safety. Use reliable sources and be cautious of plagiarism. Properly cite all your references to maintain academic integrity and avoid unintentional academic misconduct.

Tip 10: Celebrate Your Achievements

Lastly, don't forget to celebrate your achievements in assignment writing. Completing assignments is a significant accomplishment on your academic journey. Reward yourself for your hard work and dedication, and acknowledge your successes. Recognizing your achievements can motivate you to excel in future assignments.

Dos and Don'ts

To summarize, here are some dos and don'ts for successful assignment writing:

  • Start early and plan your work effectively.
  • Thoroughly understand the assignment instructions.
  • Utilize available campus resources for support and guidance.
  • Conduct in-depth research using credible sources.
  • Maintain a clear and concise writing style for accessibility.
  • Seek writing assistance when facing challenges.
  • Commit to thorough proofreading and editing.
  • Stay safe and ethical when conducting online research.
  • Celebrate your achievements and milestones.
  • Procrastinate on your assignments; start early instead.
  • Overlook or misinterpret assignment instructions.
  • Miss out on utilizing valuable campus resources.
  • Skimp on research quality or rely on unreliable sources.
  • Engage in overly complex writing that hinders clarity.
  • Hesitate to seek assistance when facing challenges.
  • Neglect the critical steps of proofreading and editing.
  • Plagiarize or compromise on academic integrity.
  • Forget to acknowledge and celebrate your accomplishments.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some common questions related to assignment writing:

1. How can I improve my writing style?

Improving your writing style is a gradual process. Consider taking writing courses, seeking feedback from professors or writing tutors, and practicing regularly to refine your skills.

2. Is it okay to use online sources for research?

Yes, it's acceptable to use online sources for research, but ensure that they are reliable and properly cited in your assignments to maintain academic credibility.

Final Thoughts

Writing assignments may seem challenging at times, but with the right approach and these ten tips, you can excel in your academic journey. Remember that assignment writing is a skill that improves with practice and dedication. By following these guidelines and continuously honing your writing skills, you'll be well-equipped to tackle assignments successfully and achieve academic excellence. Go to website

Share This:

write writing assignment

Designing Writing Assignments

Designing Writing Assignments designing-assignments

As you think about creating writing assignments, use these five principles:

  • Tie the writing task to specific pedagogical goals.
  • Note rhetorical aspects of the task, i.e., audience, purpose, writing situation.
  • Make all elements of the task clear.
  • Include grading criteria on the assignment sheet.
  • Break down the task into manageable steps.

You'll find discussions of these principles in the following sections of this guide.

Writing Should Meet Teaching Goals

Working backwards from goals, guidelines for writing assignments, resource: checksheets, resources: sample assignments.

  • Citation Information

To guarantee that writing tasks tie directly to the teaching goals for your class, ask yourself questions such as the following:

  • What specific course objectives will the writing assignment meet?
  • Will informal or formal writing better meet my teaching goals?
  • Will students be writing to learn course material, to master writing conventions in this discipline, or both?
  • Does the assignment make sense?

Although it might seem awkward at first, working backwards from what you hope the final papers will look like often produces the best assignment sheets. We recommend jotting down several points that will help you with this step in writing your assignments:

  • Why should students write in your class? State your goals for the final product as clearly and concretely as possible.
  • Determine what writing products will meet these goals and fit your teaching style/preferences.
  • Note specific skills that will contribute to the final product.
  • Sequence activities (reading, researching, writing) to build toward the final product.

Successful writing assignments depend on preparation, careful and thorough instructions, and on explicit criteria for evaluation. Although your experience with a given assignment will suggest ways of improving a specific paper in your class, the following guidelines should help you anticipate many potential problems and considerably reduce your grading time.

  • Explain the purpose of the writing assignment.
  • Make the format of the writing assignment fit the purpose (format: research paper, position paper, brief or abstract, lab report, problem-solving paper, etc.).

II. The assignment

  • Provide complete written instructions.
  • Provide format models where possible.
  • Discuss sample strong, average, and weak papers.

III. Revision of written drafts

Where appropriate, peer group workshops on rough drafts of papers may improve the overall quality of papers. For example, have students critique each others' papers one week before the due date for format, organization, or mechanics. For these workshops, outline specific and limited tasks on a checksheet. These workshops also give you an opportunity to make sure that all the students are progressing satisfactorily on the project.

IV. Evaluation

On a grading sheet, indicate the percentage of the grade devoted to content and the percentage devoted to writing skills (expression, punctuation, spelling, mechanics). The grading sheet should indicate the important content features as well as the writing skills you consider significant.

Visitors to this site are welcome to download and print these guidelines

Checksheet 1: (thanks to Kate Kiefer and Donna Lecourt)

  • written out the assignment so that students can take away a copy of the precise task?
  • made clear which course goals this writing task helps students meet?
  • specified the audience and purpose of the assignment?
  • outlined clearly all required sub-parts of the assignment (if any)?
  • included my grading criteria on the assignment sheet?
  • pointed students toward appropriate prewriting activities or sources of information?
  • specified the format of the final paper (including documentation, headings or sections, page layout)?
  • given students models or appropriate samples?
  • set a schedule that will encourage students to review each other's drafts and revise their papers?

Checksheet 2: (thanks to Jean Wyrick)

  • Is the assignment written clearly on the board or on a handout?
  • Do the instructions explain the purpose(s) of the assignment?
  • Does the assignment fit the purpose?
  • Is the assignment stated in precise language that cannot be misunderstood?
  • If choices are possible, are these options clearly marked?
  • Are there instructions for the appropriate format? (examples: length? typed? cover sheet? type of paper?)
  • Are there any special instructions, such as use of a particular citation format or kinds of headings? If so, are these clearly stated?
  • Is the due date clearly visible? (Are late assignments accepted? If so, any penalty?)
  • Are any potential problems anticipated and explained?
  • Are the grading criteria spelled out as specifically as possible? How much does content count? Organization? Writing skills? One grade or separate grades on form and content? Etc.
  • Does the grading criteria section specifically indicate which writing skills the teacher considers important as well as the various aspects of content?
  • What part of the course grade is this assignment?
  • Does the assignment include use of models (strong, average, weak) or samples outlines?

Sample Full-Semester Assignment from Ag Econ 4XX

Good analytical writing is a rigorous and difficult task. It involves a process of editing and rewriting, and it is common to do a half dozen or more drafts. Because of the difficulty of analytical writing and the need for drafting, we will be completing the assignment in four stages. A draft of each of the sections described below is due when we finish the class unit related to that topic (see due dates on syllabus). I will read the drafts of each section and provide comments; these drafts will not be graded but failure to pass in a complete version of a section will result in a deduction in your final paper grade. Because of the time both you and I are investing in the project, it will constitute one-half of your semester grade.

Content, Concepts and Substance

Papers will focus on the peoples and policies related to population, food, and the environment of your chosen country. As well as exploring each of these subsets, papers need to highlight the interrelations among them. These interrelations should form part of your revision focus for the final draft. Important concepts relevant to the papers will be covered in class; therefore, your research should be focused on the collection of information on your chosen country or region to substantiate your themes. Specifically, the paper needs to address the following questions.

  • Population - Developing countries have undergone large changes in population. Explain the dynamic nature of this continuing change in your country or region and the forces underlying the changes. Better papers will go beyond description and analyze the situation at hand. That is, go behind the numbers to explain what is happening in your country with respect to the underlying population dynamics: structure of growth, population momentum, rural/urban migration, age structure of population, unanticipated populations shocks, etc. DUE: WEEK 4.
  • Food - What is the nature of food consumption in your country or region? Is the average daily consumption below recommended levels? Is food consumption increasing with economic growth? What is the income elasticity of demand? Use Engel's law to discuss this behavior. Is production able to stay abreast with demand given these trends? What is the nature of agricultural production: traditional agriculture or green revolution technology? Is the trend in food production towards self-sufficiency? If not, can comparative advantage explain this? Does the country import or export food? Is the politico-economic regime supportive of a progressive agricultural sector? DUE: WEEK 8.
  • Environment - This is the third issue to be covered in class. It is crucial to show in your paper the environmental impact of agricultural production techniques as well as any direct impacts from population changes. This is especially true in countries that have evolved from traditional agriculture to green revolution techniques in the wake of population pressures. While there are private benefits to increased production, the use of petroleum-based inputs leads to environmental and human health related social costs which are exacerbated by poorly defined property rights. Use the concepts of technological externalities, assimilative capacity, property rights, etc. to explain the nature of this situation in your country or region. What other environmental problems are evident? Discuss the problems and methods for economically measuring environmental degradation. DUE: WEEK 12.
  • Final Draft - The final draft of the project should consider the economic situation of agriculture in your specified country or region from the three perspectives outlined above. Key to such an analysis are the interrelationships of the three perspectives. How does each factor contribute to an overall analysis of the successes and problems in agricultural policy and production of your chosen country or region? The paper may conclude with recommendations, but, at the very least, it should provide a clear summary statement about the challenges facing your country or region. DUE: WEEK15.

Landscape Architecture 3XX: Design Critique

Critical yet often overlooked components of the landscape architect's professional skills are the ability to critically evaluate existing designs and the ability to eloquently express him/herself in writing. To develop your skills at these fundamental components, you are to professionally critique a built project with which you are personally and directly familiar. The critique is intended for the "informed public" as might be expected to be read in such features in The New York Times or Columbus Monthly ; therefore, it should be insightful and professionally valid, yet also entertaining and eloquent. It should reflect a sophisticated knowledge of the subject without being burdened with professional jargon.

As in most critiques or reviews, you are attempting not only to identify the project's good and bad features but also to interpret the project's significance and meaning. As such, the critique should have a clear "point of view" or thesis that is then supported by evidence (your description of the place) that persuades the reader that your thesis is valid. Note, however, that your primary goal is not to force the reader to agree with your point of view but rather to present a valid discussion that enriches and broadens the reader's understanding of the project.

To assist in the development of the best possible paper, you are to submit a typed draft by 1:00 pm, Monday, February 10th. The drafts will be reviewed as a set and will then serve as a basis of an in-class writing improvement seminar on Friday, February 14th. The seminar will focus on problems identified in the set of drafts, so individual papers will not have been commented on or marked. You may also submit a typed draft of your paper to the course instructor for review and comment at any time prior to the final submission.

Final papers are due at 2:00 pm, Friday, February 23rd.

Animal/Dairy/Poultry Science 2XX: Comparative Animal Nutrition

Purpose: Students should be able to integrate lecture and laboratory material, relate class material to industry situations, and improve their problem-solving abilities.

Assignment 1: Weekly laboratory reports (50 points)

For the first laboratory, students will be expected to provide depth and breadth of knowledge, creativity, and proper writing format in a one-page, typed, double-spaced report. Thus, conciseness will be stressed. Five points total will be possible for the first draft, another five points possible will be given to a student peer-reviewer of the draft, and five final points will be available for a second draft. This assignment, in its entirety, will be due before the first midterm (class 20). Any major writing flaws will be addressed early so that students can grasp concepts stressed by the instructors without major impact on their grades. Additional objectives are to provide students with skills in critically reviewing papers and to acquaint writers and reviewers of the instructors' expectations for assignments 2 and 3, which are weighted much more heavily.

Students will submit seven one-page handwritten reports from each week's previous laboratory. These reports will cover laboratory classes 2-9; note that one report can be dropped and week 10 has no laboratory. Reports will be graded (5 points each) by the instructors for integration of relevant lecture material or prior experience with the current laboratory.

Assignment 2: Group problem-solving approach to a nutritional problem in the animal industry (50 points)

Students will be divided into groups of four. Several problems will be offered by the instructors, but a group can choose an alternative, approved topic. Students should propose a solution to the problem. Because most real-life problems are solved by groups of employees and (or) consultants, this exercise should provide students an opportunity to practice skills they will need after graduation. Groups will divide the assignment as they see fit. However, 25 points will be based on an individual's separate assignment (1-2 typed pages), and 25 points will be based on the group's total document. Thus, it is assumed that papers will be peer-reviewed. The audience intended will be marketing directors, who will need suitable background, illustrations, etc., to help their salespersons sell more products. This assignment will be started in about the second week of class and will be due by class 28.

Assignment 3: Students will develop a topic of their own choosing (approved by instructors) to be written for two audiences (100 points).

The first assignment (25 points) will be written in "common language," e.g., to farmers or salespersons. High clarity of presentation will be expected. It also will be graded for content to assure that the student has developed the topic adequately. This assignment will be due by class 38.

Concomitant with this assignment will be a first draft of a scientific term paper on the same subject. Ten scientific articles and five typed, double-spaced pages are minimum requirements. Basic knowledge of scientific principles will be incorporated into this term paper written to an audience of alumni of this course working in a nutrition-related field. This draft (25 points) will be due by class 38. It will be reviewed by a peer who will receive up to 25 points for his/her critique. It will be returned to the student and instructor by class 43. The final draft, worth an additional 25 points, will be due before class 50 and will be returned to the student during the final exam period.

Integration Papers - HD 3XX

Two papers will be assigned for the semester, each to be no more than three typewritten pages in length. Each paper will be worth 50 points.

Purpose:   The purpose of this assignment is to aid the student in learning skills necessary in forming policy-making decisions and to encourage the student to consider the integral relationship between theory, research, and social policy.

Format:   The student may choose any issue of interest that is appropriate to the socialization focus of the course, but the issue must be clearly stated and the student is advised to carefully limit the scope of the issue question.

There are three sections to the paper:

First:   One page will summarize two conflicting theoretical approaches to the chosen issue. Summarize only what the selected theories may or would say about the particular question you've posed; do not try to summarize the entire theory. Make clear to a reader in what way the two theories disagree or contrast. Your text should provide you with the basic information to do this section.

Second:   On the second page, summarize (abstract) one relevant piece of current research. The research article must be chosen from a professional journal (not a secondary source) written within the last five years. The article should be abstracted and then the student should clearly show how the research relates to the theoretical position(s) stated earlier, in particular, and to the socialization issue chosen in general. Be sure the subjects used, methodology, and assumptions can be reasonably extended to your concern.

Third:   On the third page, the student will present a policy guideline (for example, the Colorado courts should be required to include, on the child's behalf, a child development specialist's testimony at all custody hearings) that can be supported by the information gained and presented in the first two pages. My advice is that you picture a specific audience and the final purpose or use of such a policy guideline. For example, perhaps as a child development specialist you have been requested to present an informed opinion to a federal or state committee whose charge is to develop a particular type of human development program or service. Be specific about your hypothetical situation and this will help you write a realistic policy guideline.

Sample papers will be available in the department reading room.

SP3XX Short Essay Grading Criteria

A (90-100): Thesis is clearly presented in first paragraph. Every subsequent paragraph contributes significantly to the development of the thesis. Final paragraph "pulls together" the body of the essay and demonstrates how the essay as a whole has supported the thesis. In terms of both style and content, the essay is a pleasure to read; ideas are brought forth with clarity and follow each other logically and effortlessly. Essay is virtually free of misspellings, sentence fragments, fused sentences, comma splices, semicolon errors, wrong word choices, and paragraphing errors.

B (80-89): Thesis is clearly presented in first paragraph. Every subsequent paragraph contributes significantly to the development of the thesis. Final paragraph "pulls together" the body of the essay and demonstrates how the essay as a whole has supported the thesis. In terms of style and content, the essay is still clear and progresses logically, but the essay is somewhat weaker due to awkward word choice, sentence structure, or organization. Essay may have a few (approximately 3) instances of misspellings, sentence fragments, fused sentences, comma splices, semicolon errors, wrong word choices, and paragraphing errors.

C (70-79): There is a thesis, but the reader may have to hunt for it a bit. All the paragraphs contribute to the thesis, but the organization of these paragraphs is less than clear. Final paragraph simply summarizes essay without successfully integrating the ideas presented into a unified support for thesis. In terms of style and content, the reader is able to discern the intent of the essay and the support for the thesis, but some amount of mental gymnastics and "reading between the lines" is necessary; the essay is not easy to read, but it still has said some important things. Essay may have instances (approximately 6) of misspellings, sentence fragments, fused sentences, comma splices, semicolon errors, wrong word choices, and paragraphing errors.

D (60-69): Thesis is not clear. Individual paragraphs may have interesting insights, but the paragraphs do not work together well in support of the thesis. In terms of style and content, the essay is difficult to read and to understand, but the reader can see there was a (less than successful) effort to engage a meaningful subject. Essay may have several instances (approximately 6) of misspellings, sentence fragments, fused sentences, comma splices, semicolon errors, wrong word choices, and paragraphing errors.

Teacher Comments

Patrick Fitzhorn, Mechanical Engineering: My expectations for freshman are relatively high. I'm jaded with the seniors, who keep disappointing me. Often, we don't agree on the grading criteria.

There's three parts to our writing in engineering. The first part, is the assignment itself.

The four types: lab reports, technical papers, design reports, and proposals. The other part is expectations in terms of a growth of writing style at each level in our curriculum and an understanding of that from students so they understand that high school writing is not acceptable as a senior in college. Third, is how we transform our expectations into justifiable grades that have real feedback for the students.

To the freshman, I might give a page to a page and one half to here's how I want the design report. To the seniors it was three pages long. We try to capture how our expectations change from freshman to senior. I bet the structure is almost identical...

We always give them pretty rigorous outlines. Often times, the way students write is to take the outline we give them and students write that chunk. Virtually every writing assignment we give, we provide a writing outline of the writing style we want. These patterns are then used in industry. One organization style works for each of the writing styles. Between faculty, some minute details may change with organization, but there is a standard for writers to follow.

Interviewer: How do students determine purpose

Ken Reardon, Chemical Engineerin: Students usually respond to an assignment. That tells them what the purpose is. . . . I think it's something they infer from the assignment sheet.

Interviewer What types of purposes are there?

Ken Reardon: Persuading is the case with proposals. And informing with progress and the final results. Informing is to just "Here are the results of analysis; here's the answer to the question." It's presenting information. Persuasion is analyzing some information and coming to a conclusion. More of the writing I've seen engineers do is a soft version of persuasion, where they're not trying to sell. "Here's my analysis, here's how I interpreted those results and so here's what I think is worthwhile." Justifying.

Interviewer: Why do students need to be aware of this concept?

Ken Reardon: It helps to tell the reader what they're reading. Without it, readers don't know how to read.

Kiefer, Kate. (1997). Designing Writing Assignments. Writing@CSU . Colorado State University. https://writing.colostate.edu/teaching/guide.cfm?guideid=101

project

Our Advantages

check

Secure Payments

cards

For security reasons we do not store any credit card information.

A complete guide to assignment writing

Mind critical thinking, mind your structure, mind your style, mind the references, mind the visuals, mind the accuracy, make your assignment stand out.

A written assignment is a task that every students has to cope with during their education at a college. Your tutors will use it to evaluate your knowledge and skills that you have gained by the end of the course or somewhere in the middle of it to check the progress. Each new task will be a different one, but there are some specific moments that are common for all of them. If you consider this task to be complicated or you simply don’t have time for doing it, we’re here to help you.

We’re a team of experts in different fields, so we will definitely find the right person for your task. If you doubt, you can send us a private message and ask if we can help you with a specific topic. In most of the cases, our cooperation looks like the following:

  • You place an order or send us a message;
  • You give us all the requirements and we discuss them;
  • We select the expert to do your assignment;
  • You get the task on time and revise it;
  • The writer makes edits or changes if required.

You will spend a few seconds to a few minutes on placing an order and you will get a high-quality piece of writing that will make a positive impression on your professor or tutor

Assignment writing: a step-by-step guide

We’d like to share the tips that we know with you so you will easily cope with the task yourself. Think of the structure, arguments and some analysis. Plan your writing in advance and don’t procrastinate. Of course, we cannot advise you only one variant of planning as you will need a different amount of time for every task. So take a paper calendar or any application on your phone and make notes about what you will do each day.

It’s good to add a few days of rest to your plan as you may go somewhere out or just feel sick and tired of your work. We recommend you to spend less than 30 minutes a day on your assignment. Don’t rush as you will soon lose your motivation. And don’t try to postpone the whole work until the last night before the deadline.

Get help with assignment writing from experienced authors.

You should read, think, evaluate, compare and express your opinion. College assignment requires you to master your critical thinking, so don’t try to simply rewrite someone else’s words. To do this, you should:

  • Read the text;
  • Think how it’s related to the topic of your assignment;
  • Compare this text to the ones you have read before;
  • Think what’s missing in it;
  • Think what you agree or disagree with and why;
  • Think about the proficiency of the author;
  • Think what would you add to this text and so on.

Your text should lead the reader from the first to the last lines. If you don’t write the whole text at a time, you will need to check the continuity of your sentences. They should make a logical structure and become a complete story. And keep in mind all the requirements and guidelines that you have received from your professor. Use a standard structure of the text comprising:

  • Introduction (describe the topic and its importance);
  • Body (provide the arguments and the evidence);
  • Conclusion (make a summary of the arguments).

Online assignment writing service will save your time.

If you take a look at the assignments online, you will see that the style of the text is academic. You won’t see jargons or slang words. You shouldn’t use personal pronouns like “You” or “I”. Make your sentences short and easy to read. You can check it by reading aloud. If you take a breath and you can read one sentence from start to finish, it has a perfect length. If you make pauses or some lines are hard to read, it’s better to rewrite them.

When ordering assignments online, you will have to find the proofs for all of your words. It means that expressing your opinion regarding the topic is not enough. Your assignment will be too weak without a proper referencing. You provide arguments that represent certain points of view or some specific solutions. You should find reliable sources that will support these statements. And they will become your references.

If you order an assignment writing, you will get at least one bulleted list and one table or picture. Depending on the topic and the course, you may make your text look attractive by dividing the text into paragraphs of the same length and highlighting the titles for the sections if there are any. If allowed, you can add photos or pictures that will make your assignment more impressive.

Make your assignment writing easy with our tips.

If you doubt whether you can get rid of all the mistakes, we offer you help with assignment writing and editing. Our brain works the way that we simply miss the mistakes that we have made in the text. And if you want to notice all of the drawbacks, you have to give yourself a bit of rest. Check your text to be free of plague words, any kinds of errors and false statements.

There are two ways that will help you make your assignment super great. One of them is choosing the online writing service. And the second is starting your work as early as possible. You will have enough time for thinking over the approaches to the research and you will have time to improve your text

What Makes a Good Writing Assignment?

Getting Started

Why include writing in my courses?

What is writing to learn?

WTL Activities

What is writing to engage?

What is writing in the disciplines?

WID Assignments

Useful Knowledge

What should I know about rhetorical situations?

Do I have to be an expert in grammar to assign writing?

What should I know about genre and design?

What should I know about second-language writing?

What teaching resources are available?

What should I know about WAC and graduate education?

Assigning Writing

What makes a good writing assignment?

How can I avoid getting lousy student writing?

What benefits might reflective writing have for my students?

Using Peer Review

Why consider collaborative writing assignments?

Do writing and peer review take up too much class time?

How can I get the most out of peer review?

Responding to Writing

How can I handle responding to student writing?

Sample Grading Sheets

How can writing centers support writing in my courses?

What writing resources are available for my students?

Using Technology

How can computer technologies support writing in my classes?

Designing and Assessing WAC Programs

What is a WAC program?

What designs are typical for WAC programs?

How can WAC programs be assessed?

More on WAC

Where can I learn more about WAC?

Surprisingly, teachers have been known to assign writing tasks without articulating to themselves what the task is supposed to do for students. Good writing assignments always start with a clear goal that the teacher can express, usually on the assignment sheet so that students understand the goal as well.

Good writing assignments also often take shape by thinking backwards. In effect, teachers ask themselves, "What do I want to read at the end of this assignment?" By working from what they anticipate the final product to look like, teachers can give students detailed guidelines about both the writing task and the final written product.

Five Principles

As you think about making up writing assignments, use these five principles:

  • Tie the writing task to specific pedagogical goals, particularly those articulated in the overall course goals.
  • Note rhetorical aspects of the task, i.e., audience, purpose, writing situation.
  • Break down the task into manageable steps.
  • Make all elements of the task clear.
  • Include grading criteria on the assignment sheet.

Principle 1. Writing Should Meet Teaching Goals

Asking questions like these about your assignment will help guarantee that writing tasks tie directly to your teaching goals in the class:

  • What specific course objectives will the writing assignment meet?
  • Will informal or formal writing better meet teaching goals?
  • Will students be writing to learn course material or writing conventions in the discipline or both?
  • Does the assignment make sense?

Work Backward from Goals

Although it might seem awkward at first, working backwards from what you hope the final drafts will look like often produces the best assignment sheets. We recommend jotting down several points that will help you with this step in writing your assignments:

  • Why should students write in your class? State your goals for the final product as clearly and concretely as possible.
  • Determine what writing products will meet these goals and fit your teaching style/preferences.
  • Note specific skills that will contribute to the final product.
  • Sequence activities (reading, researching, writing) to build toward the final product.

Beyond the Basics

Writing tasks fill many different roles for students, so defining good writing assignments begins with the specific instructional context. For that reason, the first key to writing a good assignment is tying the task to the specific course goals. After taking your class and its goals into account, though, several other principles can improve the writing tasks you assign and the writing you get from students.

Principle 2. Consider the Rhetorical Situation

Perhaps most important, as noted in the five principles section, is to consider the rhetorical situation. By this, writing experts mean that you should think carefully about the audience you want students to write to as well as the particular genre or format for the final document and the larger context for the document.

Setting up your writing assignment so that the target reader is someone other than you, the teacher, might result in the most improvement in student writing. Students, after all, have had extensive experience writing to teachers, and students know that teachers are a "captive" audience. Your job mandates that you read carefully and respond to their texts. Chinn & Hilgers (2000) explain this role for the teachers as often limited to "corrector." However, instructors can move beyond the corrector role into a "collaborator" role by varying writing tasks, encouraging peer collaboration, and emphasizing professional contexts for writing. So for students, the teacher is not necessarily a reader or audience that will motivate the best possible work on a writing task. Indeed, Hilgers et al . (1999) report that their interview research with 33 upper-division students yielded an intriguing statistic: "56% of the interviewees also described one or more nonteacher audiences" (328) for their academic tasks. In many instances, the assignment called for a hypothetical audience other than the teacher, but even when the assignment didn't prompt students to write for readers other than the teacher, students directed their work toward "an individual they believed has specific content knowledge such as a CEO, coworker, or technician" (328).

Although some experts (Freedman et al ., 1994) argue that setting up a fictitious scenario with a specified audience does not motivate students any more highly than simply writing for the teacher, other practitioners across the disciplines have seen improvement in student writing when they use cases with embedded audiences for students' documents. (See, for instance, Brumberger, 2004; Cass & Fernandez, 2008; Stevens, 2005; Sulewski, 2003.)

A further extension of this move toward providing rich writing contexts beyond the teacher involves writing tasks that actually target real readers. Many senior design projects and management projects in engineering and natural resources involve pairing students with actual clients so that students must take into account the particular needs of their readers. Across many disciplines, teachers are investigating alternative methods to connect undergraduate writers with real audiences, including client-based partnerships (Kiefer & Leff, 2008; Kreth, 2005; Planken & Kreps, 2006;) and service-learning opportunities (Addams et al ., 2010; Bourelle, 2012), among other options.

But even if your particular class doesn't allow you to pair students with actual clients or other readers, consider ways in which you can create a meaningful context with readers beyond the teacher in the classroom (see, for example, Ward, 2009). Chamely-Wiik et al . (2012), for instance, describe in detail how, drawing on materials from The Council of Writing Program Administrators and The Foundation for Critical Thinking, they developed a case study writing context for first-year general chemistry students. As they explain,

Our initial case-study assignment, used for the first two years of the course, required students to explore the scientific principles involved in the Bhopal disaster where thousands of people died in an industrial chemical accident.... The second assignment, used in the third year, required students to formulate and defend an argument whether research in the field of cold fusion should continue to be supported. (504)

Students write with a local audience of classmates and a larger institutional context of the university community in mind. Students responded positively on affective surveys, a typical reaction to carefully designed writing tasks. More significantly, "students in this chemistry course outperformed the majority of students across all undergraduate levels at the university" (506). (For other examples of science students writing to lay audiences, see Martin, 2010; McDermott& Kuhn, 2011; Moni et al ., 2007; Sivey & Lee, 2008).

In addition to audience concerns, students also benefit from understanding how and why a particular format or genre helps them communicate with a target audience (especially when we think of genres as those recurring rhetorical reactions to typical communicative situations). From YouTube videos in organic chemistry (Franz, 2012) to position papers in public relations (Powell, 2012) to posters in physiology (Mulnix, 2003), teachers are helping students to write in genres that immediately connect them with the real readers of their future professional settings. (See also Blakeslee, 2001; Guilford, 2001; Jebb, 2005; LeBigot & Rouet, 2007; Mizrahi, 2003; Motavalli et al ., 2007; Schwartz et al ., 2004; Wald et al ., 2009.)

Why does this attention to audience and genre seem to matter so much to student writing? In recent years, several studies (Adam, 2000; Beaufort, 2004; Belfiore et al ., 2004; Freedman & Adam, 2000; Spinuzzi, 2010) have explored the reasons why writers attentive to specific contexts are more successful. In particular, workplace literacy and socio-cognitive apprenticeship theory (among related theoretical perspectives) both emphasize the role that knowledgeable mentors within a workplace play as they initiate newcomers to the communicative context. (See especially Beaufort, 2000, and Ding, 2008, for social apprenticeship studies and Paretti, 2008, on situated learning and activity theory.) As Dias et al . (1999) explain, writing is not a fixed set of skills that we learn once and then simply plug into as we need to communicate. Rather,

Written discourse... is regularized but not fixed; fluid, flexible, and dynamic; emerging and evolving in exigency and action; reflecting and incorporating social needs, demands, and structures, and responsive to social interpretations and reinterpretations of necessarily shifting, complex experiences. (23)

And, as a result of the fluidity of discourse in varied workplace settings, writers themselves should be prepared for major development of their communication skills when they enter new workplaces. MacKinnon's qualitative study (2000) of new analysts and economists at the Bank of Canada showed that

Overall, the writing-related changes were considerable, consequential, and a shock for some participants: "It's like going to China," said one. For most of the ten participants, the complex totality of the writing-related changes they experienced added up to a "sea change": a major shift in their understanding of what writing is an does in an organization, a revised understanding of the roles they saw for themselves as writing workers and as working writers, and often major changes in various aspects of the macro writing process. (50)

When students have opportunities as undergraduates or graduate/professional students to anticipate these major shifts, then the transitions to workplaces of all sorts become easier. For the most part, moreover, students recognize that apprenticeship learning in academic settings provides both more structured scaffolding of writing tasks and lower-stakes learning. They thus embrace the learning opportunities when offered to them in academic classes.

Principle 3. Break Down the Task into Manageable Steps

The fifth principle noted in the general section on "what makes a good writing assignment?" is to break down the task into manageable steps. Many teachers approach this element of good assignment design by thinking carefully about assignment sequence. One particularly thorough explanation of this process appears in Leydens & Santi (2006). This writing specialist and geoscientist take up the details of designing assignments with an eye to course goals. They also consider the importance of not overwhelming teachers and students (the Less is More approach) as they explain their specific process of questioning their assignments (pp. 493-497). (See also Lord, 2009, and Greasley & Cassidy, 2010.)

Scaffolded assignments, such as the agricultural economics assignment noted in the Additional Resources section, help students reach a larger goal by asking them to collect resources in stages. A final stage requires that students transform each of the earlier stages in a final document. Sequenced assignments, on the other hand, each stand independently, but each task builds on particular skills and challenges to enable students to meet a larger set of goals. Herrington (1997) describes a scaffolded assignment (71-72) with a preliminary plan for a major project followed by an annotated bibliography, early draft (with cover note focused on successes and challenges thus far) and final draft (with cover note). Mulnix & Mulnix (2010) also describe a similar argumentative assignment that uses sequenced tasks to repeat and reinforce critical thinking skills. See also Sin et al . (2007) for a sequence in accounting, Howell (2007) in materials science, Fencl (2010) on a sequence in physics, Zlatic et al . (2000) on pharmaceutical education, and Harding (2005) on freshman mechanical engineering. Coe (2011), on the other hand, describes a series of scaffolded writing tasks to help students build argument skills in philosophy, Alaimo et al . (2009) explain their project for sophomore organic chemistry students, and Lillig (2008) looks at upper-division chemistry.

Principles 4 and 5. Make the Assignment Clear to Students

A well-designed assignment will make the elements of the task clear to students. This includes identifying relevant intermediate assignments and activities, such as topic proposals or literature reviews for longer assignments, as well as providing information about relevant writing, research, and collaboration processes. In general, it is also advisable to list grading criteria on the assignment sheet. Making the assignment clear to students will help them better understand the scope and challenge of the assignment. It also is likely to produce better learning and performance.

Resource: Sample Assignment from an Advanced Undergraduate Agricultural Economics Seminar

Good analytical writing is a rigorous and difficult task. It involves a process of editing and rewriting, and it is common to do a half dozen or more drafts. Because of the difficulty of analytical writing and the need for drafting, we will be completing the assignment in four stages. A draft of each of the sections described below is due when we finish the class unit related to that topic (see due dates on syllabus). I will read the drafts of each section and provide comments; these drafts will not be graded but failure to pass in a complete version of a section will result in a deduction in your final assignment grade. Because of the time both you and I are investing in the project, it will constitute one-half of your semester grade.

Content, Concepts and Substance

Papers will focus on the peoples and policies related to population, food, and the environment of your chosen country. As well as exploring each of these subsets, papers need to highlight the interrelations among them. These interrelations should form part of your revision focus for the final draft. Important concepts relevant to the papers will be covered in class; therefore, your research should be focused on the collection of information on your chosen country or region to substantiate your themes. Specifically, the paper needs to address the following questions.

1. Population

Developing countries have undergone large changes in population. Explain the dynamic nature of this continuing change in your country or region and the forces underlying the changes. Better papers will go beyond description and analyze the situation at hand. That is, go behind the numbers to explain what is happening in your country with respect to the underlying population dynamics: structure of growth, population momentum, rural/urban migration, age structure of population, unanticipated populations shocks, etc. DUE: WEEK 4.

What is the nature of food consumption in your country or region? Is the average daily consumption below recommended levels? Is food consumption increasing with economic growth? What is the income elasticity of demand? Use Engel's law to discuss this behavior. Is production able to stay abreast with demand given these trends? What is the nature of agricultural production: traditional agriculture or green revolution technology? Is the trend in food production towards self-sufficiency? If not, can comparative advantage explain this? Does the country import or export food? Is the politico-economic regime supportive of a progressive agricultural sector? DUE: WEEK 8.

3. Environment

This is the third issue to be covered in class. It is crucial to show in your paper the environmental impact of agricultural production techniques as well as any direct impacts from population changes. This is especially true in countries that have evolved from traditional agriculture to green revolution techniques in the wake of population pressures. While there are private benefits to increased production, the use of petroleum-based inputs leads to environmental and human health related social costs which are exacerbated by poorly defined property rights. Use the concepts of technological externalities, assimilative capacity, property rights, etc., to explain the nature of this situation in your country or region. What other environmental problems are evident? Discuss the problems and methods for economically measuring environmental degradation. DUE: WEEK 12.

4. Final Draft

The final draft of the project should consider the economic situation of agriculture in your specified country or region from the three perspectives outlined above. Key to such an analysis are the interrelationships of the three perspectives. How does each factor contribute to an overall analysis of the successes and problems in agricultural policy and production of your chosen country or region? The paper may conclude with recommendations, but, at the very least, it should provide a clear summary statement about the challenges facing your country or region. DUE: WEEK15.

Adam, C. (2000). "What do we learn from the readers? Factors in determining successful transitions between academic and workplace writing." In P. Dias and A. Paré (Eds.), Transitions: Writing in Academic and Workplace Settings ; pp. 167-182. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press.

Addams, L.H., Woodbury, D., Allred, T., & Addams, J. (2010). Developing Student Communication Skills while Assisting Nonprofit Organizations. Business Communication Quarterly, 73 (3), 282-290.

Alaimo, P.J., Bean, J.C., Langenhan, J.M., & Nichols, L. (2009). Eliminating Lab Reports: A Rhetorical Approach for Teaching the Scientific Paper in Sophomore Organic Chemistry. The WAC Journal, 20 , 17-32.

Beaufort, A. (2004). Developmental gains of a history major: A case for building a theory of disciplinary writing expertise. Research in the Teaching of English, 39 (2), 136-185.

Beaufort, A. (2000). Learning the trade: A social apprenticeship model for gaining writing expertise. Written Communication, 17 (2), 185-224.

Belfiore, M.E., Defoe, T.A., Folinsbee, S., Hunter, J., & Jackson, N.S. (2004). Reading Work: Literacies in the New Workplace. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Blakeslee, A.M. (2001). Bridging the workplace and the academy: Teaching professional genres through classroom-workplace collaborations. Technical Communication Quarterly, 10 (2), 169-192.

Bourelle, T. (2012). Bridging the Gap between the Technical Communication Classroom and the Internship: Teaching Social Consciousness and Real-World Writing. Journal of Technical Writing and Communication, 42 (2), 183-197.

Brumberger, E.R. (2004). The "Corporate Correspondence Project": Fostering Audience Awareness and Extended Collaboration. Business Communication Quarterly, 67 (3), 349-58.

Cass, A.G., & Fernandes, C.S.T. (2008). Simulated conference submissions: A technique to improve student attitudes about writing. 2008 IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference, Vols. 1-3 ; pp. 1535-1540.   

Chamely,Wiik, D.M., Kaky, J.E., & Galin, J. (2012). From Bhopal to cold fusion: A case-study approach to writing assignments in honors general chemistry. Journal of Chemical Education, 89 (4), 502-508.

Chinn, P.W.U., & Hilgers. T.L. (2000). From corrector to collaborator: The range of instructor roles in writing-based natural and applied science classes. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 37 (1), 3-25.

Coe, C.D. (2011). Scaffolded writing as a tool for critical thinking: Teaching beginning students how to write arguments. Teaching Philosophy, 34 (1), 33-50.

Dias, P., Freedman, A., Medway, P., & Paré. (1999). "Introduction: Researching Writing at School and at Work." Worlds Apart: Acting and Writing in Academic and Workplace Contexts; pp. 3-13. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Dias, P., Freedman, A., Medway, P., & Paré. (1999). "Situating Writing." Worlds Apart: Acting and Writing in Academic and Workplace Contexts; pp. 17-41. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Ding, H. (2008). The use of cognitive and social apprenticeship to teach a disciplinary genre: Initiation of graduate students into NIH grant writing. Written Communication, 25 (1), 3-52.

Fencl, H.S. (2010). Development of Students' Critical-Reasoning Skills through Content-Focused Activities in a General Education Course. Journal of College Science Teaching, 39 (5), 56-62.

Franz, A.K. (2012). Organic chemistry YouTube writing assignment for large lecture classes. Journal of Chemical Education, 89 (4), 497-501.

Freedman, A., & Adam, C. (2000). "Write where you are: Situating learning to write in university and workplace settings." In P. Dias and A. Paré (Eds.), Transitions: Writing in Academic and Workplace Settings ; pp. 31-60. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press.

Freedman, A., Adam, C., & Smart, G. (1994). Wearing suits to class: Simulating genres and simulations as genre. Written Communication, 11 (2), 193-226.

Greasley, P., & Cassidy, A. (2010). When it comes round to marking assignments: how to impress and how to 'distress' lecturers. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 35 (2), 173-189.

Guildford, W.H. (2001). Teaching peer review and the process of scientific writing. Advances in Physiology Education, 25 (3), 167-175.

Harding, B.A. (2005). "A simple mechanism to teach a complex practitioner knowledge set." Innovations in Engineering Education 2005 ; pp. 479-486. ASME.

Herrington, A. (1997). "Developing and responding to major writing projects ." In M.D. Sorcinelli & P. Elbow (Eds.), Writing to learn: Strategies for assigning and responding to writing across the disciplines , pp. 67-75. New directions for teaching the learning, No. 69 . San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Hilgers, T.L., Hussey, E.L., & Stitt-Bergh, M. (1999). "As you're writing, you have these epiphanies": What college students say about writing and learning in their majors. Written Communication, 16 (3), 317-353.

Howell, P.R. (2007). "Writing to specification: An approach to teaching scientific literacy, and a prelude to writing 'The World of Materials' essays." In J.E.E. Baglin (Ed.), Proceedings of the Symposium and Forum Education in Materials Science, Engineering and Technology ; pp. 247-289.

Kiefer, K., & Leff, A. (2008). "Client-based writing about science: Immersing science students in real writing contexts." Across the Disciplines , vol. 5 .

Kreth, M.L. (2005). A Small-Scale Client Project for Business Writing Students: Developing a Guide for First-Time Home Buyers. Business Communication Quarterly, 68 (1), 52-59.

LeBigot, L., & Rouet, J.F. (2007). The impact of presentation format, task assignment, and prior knowledge on students' comprehension of multiple online documents. Journal of Literacy Research, 39 (4), 445-470.

Leydens, J., & Santi, P. (2006). Optimizing faculty use of writing as a learning tool in geoscience education. Journal of Geoscience Education , 54 (4), 491-502.

Lillig, J.W. (2008). Writing across the semester: A non-standard term paper that encourages critical data analysis in the upper-division chemistry classroom. Journal of Chemical Education, 85 (10), 1392-1394.

Lord, S.M. (2009). Integrating effective "writing to communicate" experiences in engineering courses: Guidelines and examples. International Journal of Engineering Education, 25 (1), 196-204.

MacKinnon, J. (1993). "Becoming a rhetor: Developing writing ability in a mature, writing-intensive organization." In R. Spilka (Ed.), Writing in the Workplace: New Research Perspectives ; pp. 41-55. Carbondale: Southern Illinois UP.

Martin, A.M. (2010). "Astronomy and writing: A first-year cosmology course for nonmajors." In J. Barnes, D.A. Smith, M.G. Gibbs, and J.G. Manning (Eds.), Science Education and Outreach: Forging a Path to the Future . Astronomical Society of the Pacific Conference Series, Vol. 431; pp. 368-371. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

McDermott, M., & Kuhn, M. (2011). Using writing for alternative audiences in a college integrated science course. Journal of College Science Teaching, 41 (1), 40-45.

Mizrahi, J. (2003). Teaching technical writing to university students using the medical report. STC's 50 th Annual Conference Proceedings ; 190-193.

Moni, R.W., Hryciw, D.H., Poronnik, P., & Moni, K.B. (2007). Using explicit teaching to improve how bioscience students write to the lay public. Advances in Physiology Education, 31 (2), 167-75.

Motavalli, P.P., Patton, M.D., & Miles, R.J. (2007). Use of web-based student extension publications to improve undergraduate student writing skills. Journal of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Education, 36 : 95-102.

Mulnix, A.B. (2003). Investigations of Protein Structure and Function Using the Scientific Literature: An Assignment for an Undergraduate Cell Physiology Course. Cell Biology Education, 2 (4), 248-255.

Mulnix, J.W., & Mulnix, M.J. (2010). Using a writing portfolio project to teach critical thinking skills. Teaching Philosophy, 33 (1), 27-54.

Paretti, M.C. (2008). Teaching communication in capstone design: The role of the instructor in situated learning. Journal of Engineering Education, 97 (4), 491-503.

Planken, B., & Kreps, A.J. Raising Students' Awareness of the Implications of Multimodality for Content Design and Usability: The Web Site Project. Business Communication Quarterly, 69 (4), 421-425.

Powell, V. (2012). Revival of the Position Paper: Aligning Curricula and Professional Competencies. Communication Teacher, 26 (2), 96-103.

Schwartz, R.S., Lederman, N.G., & Crawford, B.A. (2004). Developing view of nature of science in an authentic context: An explicit approach to bridging the gap between nature of science and scientific inquiry. Science Education, 88 (4), 610-645.

Sin, S., Jones, A., & Petocz, P. (2007). Evaluating a method of integrating generic skills with accounting content based on a functional theory of meaning. Accounting and Finance, 47 (1), 143-163.

Sivey, J.D., & Lee, C.M. (2008). Using popular magazine articles to teach the art of writing for nontechnical audiences. Journal of Chemical Education, 85 (1), 55-58.

Spinuzzi, C. (2010). Secret sauce and snake oil: Writing monthly reports in a highly contingent environment. Written Communication, 27 (4), 363-409.

Stevens, B. (2005). The Car Accident: An Exercise in Persuasive Writing. Communication Teacher, 19 (2), 62-67.

Sulewski, R. (2003). Integrating communication and technical material int eh first-year engineering curriculum: The role of the laboratory. STC's 50 th Annual Conference Proceedings ; 176-178.

Wald, H.S., Davis, S.W., Reis, S.P., Monroe, A.D., & Borkan, J.M. (2009). Reflecting on reflections: Enhancement of medical education curriculum with structured field notes and guided feedback. Academic Medicine, 84 (7), 830-837.

Ward, M., Sr. (2009). Squaring the learning circle: Cross-classroom collaborations and the impact of audience on student outcomes in professional writing. Journal of Business and Technical Communication, 23 (1), 61-82.

Zlatic, T.D., Nowak, D.M., & Sylvester, D. (2000). Integrating general and professional education through a study of herbal products: An intercollegiate collaboration. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 64 (1), 83-94.

Related Web Sites

WAC@NIU ( http://www.engl.niu.edu/wac/ ) has two useful items in their archives under "Ccomputer-intensive assignments" in the first Key Web Sites section of links:

  • "checklist, a series of questions to help plan writing assignments"

(If the questions under rhetorical situation confuse you, call our Writing Center for a quick explanation.)

  • "setting up a writing assignment"

Writing@CSU includes a much more detailed explanation of how and why to design writing assignments at http://writing.colostate.edu/guides/teaching/fys/assignmentwriting.cfm .

Stanford University

Search form

How to write the best college assignments.

By Lois Weldon

When it comes to writing assignments, it is difficult to find a conceptualized guide with clear and simple tips that are easy to follow. That’s exactly what this guide will provide: few simple tips on how to write great assignments, right when you need them. Some of these points will probably be familiar to you, but there is no harm in being reminded of the most important things before you start writing the assignments, which are usually determining on your credits.

The most important aspects: Outline and Introduction

Preparation is the key to success, especially when it comes to academic assignments. It is recommended to always write an outline before you start writing the actual assignment. The outline should include the main points of discussion, which will keep you focused throughout the work and will make your key points clearly defined. Outlining the assignment will save you a lot of time because it will organize your thoughts and make your literature searches much easier. The outline will also help you to create different sections and divide up the word count between them, which will make the assignment more organized.

The introduction is the next important part you should focus on. This is the part that defines the quality of your assignment in the eyes of the reader. The introduction must include a brief background on the main points of discussion, the purpose of developing such work and clear indications on how the assignment is being organized. Keep this part brief, within one or two paragraphs.

This is an example of including the above mentioned points into the introduction of an assignment that elaborates the topic of obesity reaching proportions:

Background : The twenty first century is characterized by many public health challenges, among which obesity takes a major part. The increasing prevalence of obesity is creating an alarming situation in both developed and developing regions of the world.

Structure and aim : This assignment will elaborate and discuss the specific pattern of obesity epidemic development, as well as its epidemiology. Debt, trade and globalization will also be analyzed as factors that led to escalation of the problem. Moreover, the assignment will discuss the governmental interventions that make efforts to address this issue.

Practical tips on assignment writing

Here are some practical tips that will keep your work focused and effective:

–         Critical thinking – Academic writing has to be characterized by critical thinking, not only to provide the work with the needed level, but also because it takes part in the final mark.

–         Continuity of ideas – When you get to the middle of assignment, things can get confusing. You have to make sure that the ideas are flowing continuously within and between paragraphs, so the reader will be enabled to follow the argument easily. Dividing the work in different paragraphs is very important for this purpose.

–         Usage of ‘you’ and ‘I’ – According to the academic writing standards, the assignments should be written in an impersonal language, which means that the usage of ‘you’ and ‘I’ should be avoided. The only acceptable way of building your arguments is by using opinions and evidence from authoritative sources.

–         Referencing – this part of the assignment is extremely important and it takes a big part in the final mark. Make sure to use either Vancouver or Harvard referencing systems, and use the same system in the bibliography and while citing work of other sources within the text.  

–         Usage of examples – A clear understanding on your assignment’s topic should be provided by comparing different sources and identifying their strengths and weaknesses in an objective manner. This is the part where you should show how the knowledge can be applied into practice.

–         Numbering and bullets – Instead of using numbering and bullets, the academic writing style prefers the usage of paragraphs.

–         Including figures and tables – The figures and tables are an effective way of conveying information to the reader in a clear manner, without disturbing the word count. Each figure and table should have clear headings and you should make sure to mention their sources in the bibliography.

–         Word count – the word count of your assignment mustn’t be far above or far below the required word count. The outline will provide you with help in this aspect, so make sure to plan the work in order to keep it within the boundaries.

The importance of an effective conclusion

The conclusion of your assignment is your ultimate chance to provide powerful arguments that will impress the reader. The conclusion in academic writing is usually expressed through three main parts:

–         Stating the context and aim of the assignment

–         Summarizing the main points briefly

–         Providing final comments with consideration of the future (discussing clear examples of things that can be done in order to improve the situation concerning your topic of discussion).

Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:11.0pt; font-family:"Calibri","sans-serif"; mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;}

Lois Weldon is writer at  Uk.bestdissertation.com . Lives happily at London with her husband and lovely daughter. Adores writing tips for students. Passionate about Star Wars and yoga.

7 comments on “How To Write The Best College Assignments”

Extremely useful tip for students wanting to score well on their assignments. I concur with the writer that writing an outline before ACTUALLY starting to write assignments is extremely important. I have observed students who start off quite well but they tend to lose focus in between which causes them to lose marks. So an outline helps them to maintain the theme focused.

Hello Great information…. write assignments

Well elabrated

Thanks for the information. This site has amazing articles. Looking forward to continuing on this site.

This article is certainly going to help student . Well written.

Really good, thanks

Practical tips on assignment writing, the’re fantastic. Thank you!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.

Stanford University

  • Stanford Home
  • Maps & Directions
  • Search Stanford
  • Emergency Info
  • Terms of Use
  • Non-Discrimination
  • Accessibility

© Stanford University , Stanford , California 94305 .

Pardon Our Interruption

As you were browsing something about your browser made us think you were a bot. There are a few reasons this might happen:

  • You've disabled JavaScript in your web browser.
  • You're a power user moving through this website with super-human speed.
  • You've disabled cookies in your web browser.
  • A third-party browser plugin, such as Ghostery or NoScript, is preventing JavaScript from running. Additional information is available in this support article .

To regain access, please make sure that cookies and JavaScript are enabled before reloading the page.

Logo

Why I ban AI use for writing assignments

Students may see handwriting essays in class as a needlessly time-consuming approach to assignments, but I want them to learn how to engage with arguments, develop their own views and convey them effectively, writes James Stacey Taylor

James Stacey Taylor's avatar

James Stacey Taylor

  • More on this topic

Illustration ban AI concept

You may also like

A student writing an essay at their desk

Popular resources

.css-1txxx8u{overflow:hidden;max-height:81px;text-indent:0px;} Why I ban AI use for writing assignments

What does it mean for students to be ai-ready, an introvert’s guide to networking, teach the skills required for a future we can’t yet imagine, emotions and learning: what role do emotions play in how and why students learn.

I used to allow students to use artificial intelligence to help them write their papers. I spent a lot of class time explaining how AI works, how they can use it to help them write if they wish, and how I expect them to document its use if they draw on it. I did this because students are likely going to have to know how to use it, and so we should help them understand how to do so effectively and ethically. 

But I now think that allowing AI use for student writing assignments is a mistake – at least in lower-level classes. It doesn’t help students learn what I want them to learn through writing papers for class. So, I have banned its use.

The ban is simple: students are not allowed to use AI in writing their papers. They cannot use it to generate ideas, to “improve” their writing or (obviously) to write their papers for them. 

  • Advice for writing and teaching writing
  • Common features of LLM-created writing
  • Resource collection: AI and assessment in higher education

Eliminating AI use is also simple in practice. Students do much of the initial work on their papers in class. They read, in class, short academic works. They identify the conclusions being argued for and the reasons given for them. They then draft by hand (without access to electronic devices) an exegesis of the author’s position. We reconvene to discuss the view, and in another class period students write their initial take on things. They complete the paper outside class, handing in their initial handwritten work to accompany their typed papers. 

The in-class work is not presented to the students as a way to ensure that they’re not using AI. That would undermine the trust needed between students and instructors for a class to be effective. Rather, this work is done in class, without electronics, to ensure students can work in a distraction-free environment suited for careful and sustained thought. 

Why handwriting rather than typing? This slows things down and encourages thought.  

Teaching text understanding without AI

Just as the ban is simple, so is the reason for it: I want students to learn how to engage with arguments. 

To do this, they need to read and understand the author’s conclusion. They need to understand the author’s arguments for that view. They need to think about whether the premises of those arguments support the conclusion – and, if they do not, whether they could be modified to do so or whether the argument needs to be abandoned. If the premises do support the conclusion, they need to think about whether they’d also support a counterintuitive conclusion – and, if so, whether this shows that some of the premises should be rejected. 

Could students use AI to do some of this? Sure. They could, for example, ask AI to outline the philosopher Peter Singer’s argument for famine relief. AI does a nice job of this. But if students use AI in this way, they won’t develop the skill of working out what the author is arguing for and how they do that. I don’t want students to be able to read a digested summary of a paper. I want them to develop the skill to produce such a summary themselves, identifying the main points of an argument and working out how they support the conclusion. 

Could they use AI to generate objections to the arguments they read? Of course. AI does a good job of summarising objections to Singer’s view. But I don’t want students to parrot others’ objections. I want them to think of objections themselves. 

Could AI be useful for them in organising their exegesis of others’ views and their criticisms of them? Yes. But, again, part of what I want my students to learn is precisely what this outsources to the AI: how to organise their thoughts and communicate them effectively. 

Having students start their essays in class and by hand helps them develop their views and how to convey them effectively. As they work through the process of writing their papers, they often realise that their thoughts aren’t as well developed as they thought. I want them to master these skills. 

When students resist an AI-free writing process

Some students are initially resistant to what they see as a needlessly time-consuming approach to writing . Used to skimming texts and banging out a fast 1,000 words, they dislike having to slow down. And when they slow down, some discover that they are less able to engage with texts than they believed. 

This identifies weaknesses that students did not know they had. But it has also led to some students becoming frustrated at what they see as pedantry on my part. Isn’t their exegesis “good enough” if it “captures the gist” of what was written? More challenging is that if students can succeed without engaging with the texts they read, what questions does this raise about the value of such engagement? This, by implication, casts doubt on the value of a liberal arts education itself. If students can succeed in their chosen careers without being able to critically engage with texts, it is difficult to justify the claim that it is important that they develop that skill. The prevalence of AI is raising questions not just about its appropriate use in the classroom but about whether some of those classrooms are important at all. 

Other students, however, have expressed appreciation for this slower, more careful analogue approach. One told me that my classes were the only times in his college career he’d felt “like a scholar”; a senior told me she was proud of having finally grappled with a problem and written something that was entirely hers. Several have told me this approach got them to think about ideas rather than grades.

So, goodbye, AI. 

James Stacey Taylor is a professor of philosophy in the department of philosophy, religion and classical studies in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at The College of New Jersey.

If you would like advice and insight from academics and university staff delivered direct to your inbox each week, sign up for the Campus newsletter .

Uoffer Global empowers international students through innovative pathway programmes

Partnering with industry for authentic experiences, a diy guide to starting your own journal, use gamification to teach international relations concepts, five questions to ask when embedding cultural competency.

Register for free

and unlock a host of features on the THE site

Free All-in-One Office Suite with PDF Editor

Edit Word, Excel, and PPT for FREE.

Read, edit, and convert PDFs with the powerful PDF toolkit.

Microsoft-like interface, easy to use.

Windows • MacOS • Linux • iOS • Android

banner

Select areas that need to improve

  • Didn't match my interface
  • Too technical or incomprehensible
  • Incorrect operation instructions
  • Incomplete instructions on this function

Fields marked * are required please

Please leave your suggestions below

  • Quick Tutorials
  • Practical Skills

How to Write A Report - A Guide to Report Format with Examples

A report is a major aspect of every academic's life, serving as a vital reflection of the depth and quality of your research. For those in research, the report is especially crucial, as it details the thoroughness of your work. Ensuring that your report is comprehensive and perfectly formatted is essential, particularly for university students, where it can define your greatest achievements. In this article, I will guide you on how to write a report properly, detailing everything you should include to ensure it meets high standards.

Types of Report Formats

Reports serve various purposes across different contexts, each tailored to meet specific needs and audiences. Here's a detailed breakdown of their classifications:

1.Academic Reports:

Academic reports are meticulously created by students or researchers to present findings on a specific topic. They typically include sections like an introduction, literature review, methodology, results, discussion, and conclusion. Examples include research papers, thesis reports, and lab reports.

2.Business Reports:

These reports facilitate communication within or between businesses, offering insights into market research, financial analysis, project progress, and more. Examples encompass financial reports, market analysis reports, and project status updates.

3.Scientific Reports:

Scientific reports are comprehensive documents that detail research and experiments, structured to ensure clarity and reproducibility. Examples range from research articles and clinical study reports to technical reports.

Classification of Reports:

1.Formal and Informal Reports:

Formal Reports: Structured and detailed, adhering to specific formats for official use. Examples include annual business reports.

Informal Reports: Less structured and straightforward, often used for internal updates like project status emails.

2.Short and Long Reports:

Short Reports: Concise documents providing essential information swiftly, such as executive summaries.

Long Reports: Detailed and extensive documents offering comprehensive insights, like in-depth research studies.

3.Internal and External Reports:

Internal Reports: Used within organizations to communicate among employees or departments, such as internal audit reports.

External Reports: Shared outside the organization with stakeholders or the public, such as annual financial statements.

4.Vertical and Lateral Reports:

Vertical Reports: Communicate vertically within organizational hierarchies, either upward (e.g., from employees to management) or downward (e.g., from management to employees). Examples include performance review reports.

Lateral Reports: Shared horizontally among peers or departments at the same hierarchical level within an organization, facilitating inter-departmental collaboration on projects.

Structure and Organization

When it comes to writing reports, the structure and organization can vary depending on the type of report you're creating. Let's explore some common report outlines to help you understand the differences and choose the right structure for your needs.

First, it's important to note that there's a basic outline that many reports follow, which typically includes:

Now, let's dive into specific types of reports and their unique structures:

Scientific Report

Scientific reports follow a specific structure designed to present research methods and findings clearly:

Book Report

Book reports, often assigned in school, have their own unique structure:

Business Report

Business reports are used to communicate information within an organization:

Newspaper or School Assignment Report

Newspaper articles and some school assignments follow a more concise structure:

These outlines provide a general guide, so it's best to always check your specific assignment requirements or organizational guidelines. The key is to choose a structure that best presents your information in a logical, easy-to-follow manner for your intended audience.

How to Write a Report Faster in 5 Steps- Using WPS AI

Learning how to write a report with the proper format and structure can be valuable in your academics. Not only will this help you with your assignments, but following a report structure can also make describing events or incidents with more clarity much easier in other situations.

Now, since we are just setting off on what report writing is, we will be taking help from WPS AI. It is a major resource for me whenever I start writing a report for an assignment, while writing my research papers, or even a simple class assignment. Its AI features make every task easier for me. With the help of AI, I can research better, get better ideas, and even improve my writing. So, let's begin learning how to write a report and also look at a few examples along the way.

1.Choose a topic

So, the first step in starting our report writing is selecting a topic for our research. Choosing the right topic is crucial for a successful report. It should align with your assignment requirements or your audience's expectations. Additionally, selecting a topic at the beginning gives us a clear direction—what to research and what keywords to use—making our research more focused and concise.

Now, this can be a bit challenging. Let's say our assignment requires us to write about battery-powered cars. This requirement is quite broad, and there are many different topics within battery-powered cars. The traditional approach would be to learn about the topic first, conduct a Google search, and read various articles to select a topic for our report. However, this process can be lengthy. Let's make it quicker by using WPS Office :

Step 1: Open WPS Office and create a new blank document by clicking on New > Docs > Blank.

Step 2: In WPS Writer's blank document, simply type "@ai" and then press Enter to activate the WPS AI assistant.

Step 3: Since we want topic ideas for our report, we'll click on "Brainstorm" and ask WPS AI to generate a few topic ideas for our report with a prompt. Here's an example:

"Generate ideas for a report topic focused on battery-powered cars, exploring recent advancements in electric vehicle technology and their environmental impact."

Step 4: WPS AI will generate a few topic ideas for your report. If you find a topic you like, click on "Accept". Otherwise, click on "Continue" to get more topic ideas.

Using WPS AI to generate topic ideas helps students quickly find their preferred topic and saves them the trouble of extensive research to choose a topic for their report. So, with the topic chosen, let's move on to the next step.

2.Conduct research

Once we have chosen the topic for our report, the next step is to conduct research. For this part, I usually visit Google Scholar to find research papers and other helpful articles. Students can also access exclusive research papers through their university's online libraries. Additionally, for specific topics like stocks, valuable resources include official stock exchange websites for authentic data.

Now, once the research papers and relevant information are gathered, going through these resources to extract information can take hours of reading time. To streamline this process, you can upload your research paper PDFs to WPS Office and get key insights in just a few moments.

Step 1: Open the PDF document using WPS Office and click on the WPS AI widget at the top right corner of the screen.

Step 2: The WPS AI pane will open on the right side of the screen. Simply click on "Upload" to upload the research paper to WPS AI.

Step 3: WPS AI will process the PDF, and in a few moments, it will present all the key insights available in the PDF.

Step 4: If you need further information from the PDF, simply click on the "Inquiry" tab and chat with the WPS AI chatbot to extract more details.

With this approach, conducting research becomes not only quicker but also more meaningful. After conducting research, I quickly move on to the next step, which is creating an outline for my report and starting the writing process.

3.Prepare an outline

Creating an outline before we begin writing our report is essential, as it helps our report follow a proper order and prevents confusion or getting lost while writing. If creating an outline seems challenging, you can always use WPS AI to assist in creating one. A simple AI prompt allows students to generate an effective and detailed outline for their report with the help of WPS AI.

So, let's say my topic is "Advancements in the Range and Charging Speeds of Electric Cars." Let's ask WPS AI to create a detailed outline for our report on this topic:

Step 1: First, type "@AI" to activate WPS AI and then click on "Outline" since we need help creating an outline.

Step 2: Enter an AI prompt to guide WPS AI in creating an outline for your topic. The more detailed your prompt, the better the outline will be.

Step 3: WPS AI will assist in generating an outline with a proper structure.

The outline generated with the help of WPS AI may or may not be the final version of your outline. You may need to make a few changes based on the content of your research. However, this outline will provide a basic structure that you can now modify according to your report's topic.

4.Write a Rough Draft

Now that you have a solid outline, it's time to start writing. Don't worry about perfection at this stage – the goal is to get your ideas down on paper.

Here's how WPS AI can assist in drafting:

Use the AI to expand on each section of your outline. For example, you could ask: "Write an Overview on the importance of advancements in the range and charging speeds of electric cars".

If you're stuck on a particular point, ask WPS AI for help. Try prompts like: "What are Lithium-ion batteries” or "List out the possible environmental benefits of Electric Cars".

Use WPS Office's formatting tools to structure your document. Apply heading styles to your outline points for easy navigation.

As you write, remember to maintain your own voice. Use the AI-generated content as a starting point, but add your own analysis, insights, and examples. This will ensure your report is original and reflects your understanding of the topic.

5.Revising and Editing your Report

At this point, you might feel like you're done with your report, but there's one last crucial step: proofreading. A mistake or two in typing or grammar can significantly diminish the professionalism of your report. It's essential to review your content, refining what needs to be included and removing anything irrelevant.

Here's how to use WPS AI for revising and editing:

Use the AI's grammar and spell-check features to catch basic errors.

We can use WPS AI to review specific paragraphs for clarity by selecting the "Improve Writing" option from the list of WPS AI options provided in the hover menu.

Here is what your report would look like at the end of this entire process:

Bonus Tips: How Can WPS AI Help your Report Writing [Not Only the Format]

WPS Office has contributed a lot to academic pursuits by providing a full-fledged office suite that aids everyone in their academic life. It gives access to advanced features that simplify report writing, eliminating frustrations related to conversions to PDF, formatting, checking, and more.

WPS Office offers multiple tools to help refine the report, including:

1. Content Generation and Refinement

WPS AI Writer: The AI-powered content generation tool in WPS Office assists users in creating well-structured and coherent content. Whether you're starting from scratch or need to enhance an existing draft, WPS AI can suggest improvements, generate additional content, and help organize your ideas effectively.

Templates: WPS Office provides a variety of templates for different types of reports, ensuring that you start with a professional format.

Smart Assistance: The AI can offer suggestions for better word choices, sentence structures, and even provide detailed outlines based on your topic.

2. Language and Style Enhancement

Grammar and Style Check: WPS Office includes advanced grammar and style checking tools that help you maintain a professional tone and clear language throughout your report.

Real-Time Feedback: Receive instant feedback on grammar, punctuation, and style issues as you type.

Customization: Adjust the settings to focus on specific style guides or preferences, ensuring that your report meets the required academic standards.

3. Proofreading and Editing

AI-Powered Proofreading: The built-in proofreading tool in WPS Office helps catch errors that you might miss. It goes beyond basic spell check to include context-aware suggestions.

Comprehensive Checks: This tool checks for consistency, coherence, and clarity, ensuring that your report is not only error-free but also easy to read and understand.

Batch Processing: Proofread and edit multiple documents simultaneously, saving time and ensuring consistency across all your reports.

FAQs About Writing a Report

1. what is a report.

A report is a written document that presents information about a particular topic, practical experiments, or research. Reports are usually well-structured, consisting of sections such as an executive summary, introduction, findings, discussion, conclusion, and recommendations. The main objective of a report is to describe and analyze the results, offering a clear understanding of the subject being addressed.

2. What is the difference between a report and an essay?

A report is a systematically organized document that presents information and analysis. Reports are used to detail the findings of a project, experiment, or investigation.It typically features specific sections with headings and subheadings and often incorporates tables, bullet points, and graphics. An essay, in contrast, has a more flexible structure with an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. Essays focus on developing a discussion or argument about a topic through a series of connected paragraphs. They are used to build and explore arguments and insights.

3. What are some common mistakes to avoid in report writing?

When writing a report, it is essential to avoid common pitfalls that can hinder clarity and effectiveness, such as:

Insufficient Organization: A well-defined structure is essential for clarity.

Excessive Detail: Too much information without context can confuse the reader.

Language Mistakes: Grammatical and spelling issues can diminish the report's credibility.

Audience Consideration: Not customizing content for the audience can reduce effectiveness.

Omitting Conclusions and Recommendations: Clear conclusions and actionable recommendations are crucial for impact.

Inappropriate Tense Usage: The report should be in the past tense.

Direct Speech Misuse: Use indirect speech.

Voice Misapplication: Passive voice should be utilized.

Perspective Issues: Reports must be composed in the third person.

Craft The Perfect Report WIth WPS Office

Reports can truly have a major part in shaping your ultimate future, so you want to make sure you have all the tools you need to know on how to write a report that allows you to submit it to perfection. WPS Office provides the resources and features necessary to help you achieve this goal. By using WPS Office, you equip yourself with all the necessary tools to write a perfectly formatted, professional report. Get WPS Office today to make your report writing better and ensure your reports contribute positively to shaping your future.

  • 1. How to Write an Argumentative Essay- Steps with Examples
  • 2. How to Write an Essay in MLA Format | For Students
  • 3. How to Write a Paper in APA Format | For Students
  • 4. How to convert PPTX format to PPT format
  • 5. Write a Teaching Philosophy Statement: Examples and Guide
  • 6. How to Write an Introduction Paragraph: Examples and Guide

15 years of office industry experience, tech lover and copywriter. Follow me for product reviews, comparisons, and recommendations for new apps and software.

IMAGES

  1. How to Write an Assignment: Step by Step Guide

    write writing assignment

  2. Major Writing Assignment #1

    write writing assignment

  3. The Anatomy of a Well-Designed Writing Assignment

    write writing assignment

  4. How to Write an Assignment: Step by Step Guide

    write writing assignment

  5. A Step-by-step Guide to Assignment Writing

    write writing assignment

  6. 13 Best Tips To Write An Assignment

    write writing assignment

VIDEO

  1. title page

  2. Simple way to write the front page of any assignment in Stylish

  3. The Best & Easy Way To Write an Assignment

  4. Assignment front page

  5. How to Write Your Assignment in the UK: Step-by-Step Guide #assignmenthelp

  6. How to write an Assignment

COMMENTS

  1. Common Writing Assignments

    Common Writing Assignments. These OWL resources will help you understand and complete specific types of writing assignments, such as annotated bibliographies, book reports, and research papers. This section also includes resources on writing academic proposals for conference presentations, journal articles, and books.

  2. Understanding Writing Assignments

    Many instructors write their assignment prompts differently. By following a few steps, you can better understand the requirements for the assignment. The best way, as always, is to ask the instructor about anything confusing. Read the prompt the entire way through once. This gives you an overall view of what is going on.

  3. Designing Effective Writing Assignments

    Designing Effective Writing Assignments. One of the best ways for students to determine what they know, think, and believe about a given subject is to write about it. To support students in their writing, it is important to provide them with a meaningful writing task, one that has an authentic purpose, clear guidelines, and engages students in ...

  4. 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 ...

  5. How to Write a Perfect Assignment: Step-By-Step Guide

    To construct an assignment structure, use outlines. These are pieces of text that relate to your topic. It can be ideas, quotes, all your thoughts, or disparate arguments. Type in everything that you think about. Separate thoughts scattered across the sheets of Word will help in the next step. Then it is time to form the text.

  6. The Writing Process

    Table of contents. Step 1: Prewriting. Step 2: Planning and outlining. Step 3: Writing a first draft. Step 4: Redrafting and revising. Step 5: Editing and proofreading. Other interesting articles. Frequently asked questions about the writing process.

  7. 8 Tips for Creating Effective Writing Assignments

    Put It in Writing: While you'll want to present your assignment orally in class, be sure to give your students a written copy, too, so they can refer to it as they work. Putting it down on paper may also help you clarify your own expectations about the assignment. Anticipate the Inevitable: You're enthusiastically explaining the limitless ...

  8. Designing Essay Assignments

    Assignments should allow for this process in the following ways: smaller assignments should prepare for larger ones later; students should do some thinking and writing before they write a draft and get a response to it (even if only a response to a proposal or thesis statement sent by email, or described in class);

  9. Formal Writing Assignments

    Strive for Clarity in Your Assignment Sheet. Use "active voice" commands as you write your assignment sheet. It might feel more polite to write, "You might try comparing A to B," but students need to see "Compare A to B.". Use language that your students will understand. Students may not know exactly what you want when they see ...

  10. How To Write An Explanatory Essay: Format & Outline

    Whether you're a high school student or a university attendee, you've probably encountered the task of writing an explanatory essay. At first glance, it might seem like a straightforward assignment. However, this type of writing has its quirks that can trip up even the best of us.

  11. How to Write an Effective Assignment

    How to Write an Effective Assignment. At their base, all assignment prompts function a bit like a magnifying glass—they allow a student to isolate, focus on, inspect, and interact with some portion of your course material through a fixed lens of your choosing. The diagram above represents an assignment prompt which is functioning well.

  12. Types of Writing Assignments

    This article provides a brief overview of 5 types of writing assignments that students are likely to encounter in college. 1. Reflective Papers. These assignments typically require students to think about their own experiences that demonstrate a specific concept and/or principle. For instance, a student might write about their own struggle with ...

  13. The Beginner's Guide to Writing an Essay

    Essay writing process. The writing process of preparation, writing, and revisions applies to every essay or paper, but the time and effort spent on each stage depends on the type of essay.. For example, if you've been assigned a five-paragraph expository essay for a high school class, you'll probably spend the most time on the writing stage; for a college-level argumentative essay, on the ...

  14. Resources for Teachers: Creating Writing Assignments

    Sequencing Writing Assignments; Selecting an Effective Writing Assignment Format; Creating Effective Assignments. Research has shown that the more detailed a writing assignment is, the better the student papers are in response to that assignment. Instructors can often help students write more effective papers by giving students written ...

  15. How to Design Successful Writing Assignments

    With regular writing practice and targeted feedback, over time they will become more authoritative participants and contributors in your field. Designing successful writing assignments involves some or all of the following six strategies: Explicitly State Assignment Goals. Tie Assignment Goals to Course Goals.

  16. How to Write an Essay

    How to Prepare to Write an Essay. Before you start writing your essay, you need to figure out who you're writing for (audience), what you're writing about (topic/theme), and what you're going to say (argument and thesis). This section contains links to handouts, chapters, videos and more to help you prepare to write an essay.

  17. 4 Key Points for Effective Assignment Writing

    1. Start Assignment Writing. Writing your assignment is where your research and planning come to fruition. You now have a robust foundation to build upon, and it's time to craft a compelling narrative. Here's how to accomplish this: Write a Gripping Introduction. Your introduction is the gateway to your assignment.

  18. Planning Effective Writing Assignments

    Generate an appropriate writing task, choosing the best type of writing for the task - informational, opinion/argument, or narrative. Set clear goals. Identify the TAP (task audience, purpose). Clearly state your expectations for the length of the piece, the form, and any other requirements. Provide scaffolds.

  19. 10 Tips for Writing Assignments: Your Path to Academic Success

    Tip 3: Plan Your Work. Effective planning is a cornerstone of assignment writing. Develop a structured plan that includes creating a timeline for your assignment. Break down the work into smaller tasks, allocate sufficient time for research, outlining, drafting, and proofreading. A well-organized plan will keep you on track and reduce stress.

  20. 15 foolproof tips for writing a great assignment

    7. Structure your argument. As you write the body of your assignment, make sure that each point you make has some supporting evidence. Use statistics or quotes you gathered during your reading to support your argument, or even as something to argue against. Expert tip: If you're using a lot of different sources, it's easy to forget to add ...

  21. Guide: Designing Writing Assignments

    Designing Writing Assignments designing-assignments. As you think about creating writing assignments, use these five principles: Tie the writing task to specific pedagogical goals. Note rhetorical aspects of the task, i.e., audience, purpose, writing situation. Make all elements of the task clear. Include grading criteria on the assignment sheet.

  22. Assignment writing: write your best assignment with EnHelp.org

    Assignment writing: a step-by-step guide. We'd like to share the tips that we know with you so you will easily cope with the task yourself. Think of the structure, arguments and some analysis. ... If you don't write the whole text at a time, you will need to check the continuity of your sentences. They should make a logical structure and ...

  23. What Makes a Good Writing Assignment?

    For that reason, the first key to writing a good assignment is tying the task to the specific course goals. After taking your class and its goals into account, though, several other principles can improve the writing tasks you assign and the writing you get from students. Principle 2. Consider the Rhetorical Situation.

  24. How To Write The Best College Assignments

    Dividing the work in different paragraphs is very important for this purpose. - Usage of 'you' and 'I' - According to the academic writing standards, the assignments should be written in an impersonal language, which means that the usage of 'you' and 'I' should be avoided. The only acceptable way of building your arguments ...

  25. 20-2 RI4 Writing Assignment (4) (docx)

    Communications document from Golden Hills Virtual School, 5 pages, Social Studies 20-2 Related Issue 4 Assignment I Examine the 3 sources on the following pages for the writing assignment Examine each source. Write a response in paragraph form and answer the following questions: What do each of the three sources communic

  26. Why I ban AI use for writing assignments

    The ban is simple: students are not allowed to use AI in writing their papers. They cannot use it to generate ideas, to "improve" their writing or (obviously) to write their papers for them. Advice for writing and teaching writing; Common features of LLM-created writing; Resource collection: AI and assessment in higher education

  27. How to Write A Report

    So, let's begin learning how to write a report and also look at a few examples along the way. 1.Choose a topic. So, the first step in starting our report writing is selecting a topic for our research. Choosing the right topic is crucial for a successful report. It should align with your assignment requirements or your audience's expectations.

  28. Creating a Handwritten Assignment

    Uploading the assignment template. On the Template page, you'll upload a blank copy of the assignment that you are handing out to students. For assignment formatting best practices, check out our Formatting the Assignment Template article.. To upload the assignment template, select Upload PDF or drag the PDF file onto the page.; To preview the uploaded assignment, use the page navigator and ...

  29. Welcome to Turnitin Guides

    Similarity Report and AI Writing guidance: Academic integrity tools: Creating PeerMark assignments guidance: Class and assignment management: Creating and managing QuickMarks, rubrics and grading PeerMark assignments guidance: Grading and feedback: User profile guidance for administrators and instructors: User profile settings

  30. 8 Ways to Create AI-Proof Writing Prompts

    5. Make Assignments Personal. Having students reflect on material in their own lives can be a good way to prevent AI writing. In-person teachers can get to know their students well enough to know ...