Analyzing Writing Assignments
Here are some important areas to look at when considering how to successfully complete a writing assignment in any course:
1. Title – What type of assignment is it?
- The title often suggests what kind of writing you’ll be doing (e.g., summary/response, annotated bibliography, etc.).
2. Verbs – What am I supposed to do?
- Words like describe, explain, summarize, reflect, etc., indicate the purpose of the writing task.
3. Nouns/Adverbs – What am I writing about, and how am I supposed to do it?
- Words like summary, response, synthesis, reflection, analysis, etc., let you know what content and approach you will need.
- Words like thoroughly, briefly, objectively, critically, carefully, etc., provide guidelines for the content and approach.
1. Audience – Who am I writing for?
- The purpose of any paper is for reader understanding of the content. This will affect aspects such as tone, style, and arguments.
2. Components – What do I include with the paper?
- You might need to include such components as outlines, abstracts, graphics, title pages, drafts, and notes pages.
3. Organization – Does the professor suggest a specific way to set up the paper?
- Many times, the organizational format of a paper is laid out in the assignment.
4. Formatting – Is there a length requirement? Does the professor prefer certain fonts or margin settings?
- A paper might have a minimum, maximum, or no length requirement. Margins and fonts may be specified; if not, use standard formats.
5. Citation Style – What citation style is required in this paper?
- MLA and APA citations styles are used most often. While both styles have the same purpose, they have some very noticeable differences; therefore, it is important to use the style requested by the professor.
1. Purpose – What am I intended to learn from this assignment, and how will this affect the way I write it?
2. Class Assignments – How does this writing assignment relate to course goals and other class assignments?
3. Resources – Does the professor suggest any resources for help in research, writing, or revising?
4. Tips – Does the professor include any helpful hints that will make the assignment easier?
1. Evaluation Criteria – What qualities will the paper be graded on?
- Many professors provide rubrics that let you know the qualities of the paper that are being graded.
- It is important to know which aspects of the paper (content, research, organization, thesis statement, conventions, etc.) are most heavily weighted in the grade, so that you can consider this when writing.
- While good grammar is important, it is not enough; the content, focus, and organization of the paper carry more weight.
2. Due Date – When is the paper due?
- Plan your writing and schedule your time; begin when you receive the assignment.
- Writing is a process! Use time wisely to space out research, drafting, revising, editing, etc.
- Your professor is the best person to talk to if you have any questions.