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Designing Assignments for Learning

The rapid shift to remote teaching and learning meant that many instructors reimagined their assessment practices. Whether adapting existing assignments or creatively designing new opportunities for their students to learn, instructors focused on helping students make meaning and demonstrate their learning outside of the traditional, face-to-face classroom setting. This resource distills the elements of assignment design that are important to carry forward as we continue to seek better ways of assessing learning and build on our innovative assignment designs.

On this page:

Rethinking traditional tests, quizzes, and exams.

  • Examples from the Columbia University Classroom
  • Tips for Designing Assignments for Learning

Reflect On Your Assignment Design

Connect with the ctl.

  • Resources and References

design assignment layout

Cite this resource: Columbia Center for Teaching and Learning (2021). Designing Assignments for Learning. Columbia University. Retrieved [today’s date] from https://ctl.columbia.edu/resources-and-technology/teaching-with-technology/teaching-online/designing-assignments/

Traditional assessments tend to reveal whether students can recognize, recall, or replicate what was learned out of context, and tend to focus on students providing correct responses (Wiggins, 1990). In contrast, authentic assignments, which are course assessments, engage students in higher order thinking, as they grapple with real or simulated challenges that help them prepare for their professional lives, and draw on the course knowledge learned and the skills acquired to create justifiable answers, performances or products (Wiggins, 1990). An authentic assessment provides opportunities for students to practice, consult resources, learn from feedback, and refine their performances and products accordingly (Wiggins 1990, 1998, 2014). 

Authentic assignments ask students to “do” the subject with an audience in mind and apply their learning in a new situation. Examples of authentic assignments include asking students to: 

  • Write for a real audience (e.g., a memo, a policy brief, letter to the editor, a grant proposal, reports, building a website) and/or publication;
  • Solve problem sets that have real world application; 
  • Design projects that address a real world problem; 
  • Engage in a community-partnered research project;
  • Create an exhibit, performance, or conference presentation ;
  • Compile and reflect on their work through a portfolio/e-portfolio.

Noteworthy elements of authentic designs are that instructors scaffold the assignment, and play an active role in preparing students for the tasks assigned, while students are intentionally asked to reflect on the process and product of their work thus building their metacognitive skills (Herrington and Oliver, 2000; Ashford-Rowe, Herrington and Brown, 2013; Frey, Schmitt, and Allen, 2012). 

It’s worth noting here that authentic assessments can initially be time consuming to design, implement, and grade. They are critiqued for being challenging to use across course contexts and for grading reliability issues (Maclellan, 2004). Despite these challenges, authentic assessments are recognized as beneficial to student learning (Svinicki, 2004) as they are learner-centered (Weimer, 2013), promote academic integrity (McLaughlin, L. and Ricevuto, 2021; Sotiriadou et al., 2019; Schroeder, 2021) and motivate students to learn (Ambrose et al., 2010). The Columbia Center for Teaching and Learning is always available to consult with faculty who are considering authentic assessment designs and to discuss challenges and affordances.   

Examples from the Columbia University Classroom 

Columbia instructors have experimented with alternative ways of assessing student learning from oral exams to technology-enhanced assignments. Below are a few examples of authentic assignments in various teaching contexts across Columbia University. 

  • E-portfolios: Statia Cook shares her experiences with an ePorfolio assignment in her co-taught Frontiers of Science course (a submission to the Voices of Hybrid and Online Teaching and Learning initiative); CUIMC use of ePortfolios ;
  • Case studies: Columbia instructors have engaged their students in authentic ways through case studies drawing on the Case Consortium at Columbia University. Read and watch a faculty spotlight to learn how Professor Mary Ann Price uses the case method to place pre-med students in real-life scenarios;
  • Simulations: students at CUIMC engage in simulations to develop their professional skills in The Mary & Michael Jaharis Simulation Center in the Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons and the Helene Fuld Health Trust Simulation Center in the Columbia School of Nursing; 
  • Experiential learning: instructors have drawn on New York City as a learning laboratory such as Barnard’s NYC as Lab webpage which highlights courses that engage students in NYC;
  • Design projects that address real world problems: Yevgeniy Yesilevskiy on the Engineering design projects completed using lab kits during remote learning. Watch Dr. Yesilevskiy talk about his teaching and read the Columbia News article . 
  • Writing assignments: Lia Marshall and her teaching associate Aparna Balasundaram reflect on their “non-disposable or renewable assignments” to prepare social work students for their professional lives as they write for a real audience; and Hannah Weaver spoke about a sandbox assignment used in her Core Literature Humanities course at the 2021 Celebration of Teaching and Learning Symposium . Watch Dr. Weaver share her experiences.  

​Tips for Designing Assignments for Learning

While designing an effective authentic assignment may seem like a daunting task, the following tips can be used as a starting point. See the Resources section for frameworks and tools that may be useful in this effort.  

Align the assignment with your course learning objectives 

Identify the kind of thinking that is important in your course, the knowledge students will apply, and the skills they will practice using through the assignment. What kind of thinking will students be asked to do for the assignment? What will students learn by completing this assignment? How will the assignment help students achieve the desired course learning outcomes? For more information on course learning objectives, see the CTL’s Course Design Essentials self-paced course and watch the video on Articulating Learning Objectives .  

Identify an authentic meaning-making task

For meaning-making to occur, students need to understand the relevance of the assignment to the course and beyond (Ambrose et al., 2010). To Bean (2011) a “meaning-making” or “meaning-constructing” task has two dimensions: 1) it presents students with an authentic disciplinary problem or asks students to formulate their own problems, both of which engage them in active critical thinking, and 2) the problem is placed in “a context that gives students a role or purpose, a targeted audience, and a genre.” (Bean, 2011: 97-98). 

An authentic task gives students a realistic challenge to grapple with, a role to take on that allows them to “rehearse for the complex ambiguities” of life, provides resources and supports to draw on, and requires students to justify their work and the process they used to inform their solution (Wiggins, 1990). Note that if students find an assignment interesting or relevant, they will see value in completing it. 

Consider the kind of activities in the real world that use the knowledge and skills that are the focus of your course. How is this knowledge and these skills applied to answer real-world questions to solve real-world problems? (Herrington et al., 2010: 22). What do professionals or academics in your discipline do on a regular basis? What does it mean to think like a biologist, statistician, historian, social scientist? How might your assignment ask students to draw on current events, issues, or problems that relate to the course and are of interest to them? How might your assignment tap into student motivation and engage them in the kinds of thinking they can apply to better understand the world around them? (Ambrose et al., 2010). 

Determine the evaluation criteria and create a rubric

To ensure equitable and consistent grading of assignments across students, make transparent the criteria you will use to evaluate student work. The criteria should focus on the knowledge and skills that are central to the assignment. Build on the criteria identified, create a rubric that makes explicit the expectations of deliverables and share this rubric with your students so they can use it as they work on the assignment. For more information on rubrics, see the CTL’s resource Incorporating Rubrics into Your Grading and Feedback Practices , and explore the Association of American Colleges & Universities VALUE Rubrics (Valid Assessment of Learning in Undergraduate Education). 

Build in metacognition

Ask students to reflect on what and how they learned from the assignment. Help students uncover personal relevance of the assignment, find intrinsic value in their work, and deepen their motivation by asking them to reflect on their process and their assignment deliverable. Sample prompts might include: what did you learn from this assignment? How might you draw on the knowledge and skills you used on this assignment in the future? See Ambrose et al., 2010 for more strategies that support motivation and the CTL’s resource on Metacognition ). 

Provide students with opportunities to practice

Design your assignment to be a learning experience and prepare students for success on the assignment. If students can reasonably expect to be successful on an assignment when they put in the required effort ,with the support and guidance of the instructor, they are more likely to engage in the behaviors necessary for learning (Ambrose et al., 2010). Ensure student success by actively teaching the knowledge and skills of the course (e.g., how to problem solve, how to write for a particular audience), modeling the desired thinking, and creating learning activities that build up to a graded assignment. Provide opportunities for students to practice using the knowledge and skills they will need for the assignment, whether through low-stakes in-class activities or homework activities that include opportunities to receive and incorporate formative feedback. For more information on providing feedback, see the CTL resource Feedback for Learning . 

Communicate about the assignment 

Share the purpose, task, audience, expectations, and criteria for the assignment. Students may have expectations about assessments and how they will be graded that is informed by their prior experiences completing high-stakes assessments, so be transparent. Tell your students why you are asking them to do this assignment, what skills they will be using, how it aligns with the course learning outcomes, and why it is relevant to their learning and their professional lives (i.e., how practitioners / professionals use the knowledge and skills in your course in real world contexts and for what purposes). Finally, verify that students understand what they need to do to complete the assignment. This can be done by asking students to respond to poll questions about different parts of the assignment, a “scavenger hunt” of the assignment instructions–giving students questions to answer about the assignment and having them work in small groups to answer the questions, or by having students share back what they think is expected of them.

Plan to iterate and to keep the focus on learning 

Draw on multiple sources of data to help make decisions about what changes are needed to the assignment, the assignment instructions, and/or rubric to ensure that it contributes to student learning. Explore assignment performance data. As Deandra Little reminds us: “a really good assignment, which is a really good assessment, also teaches you something or tells the instructor something. As much as it tells you what students are learning, it’s also telling you what they aren’t learning.” ( Teaching in Higher Ed podcast episode 337 ). Assignment bottlenecks–where students get stuck or struggle–can be good indicators that students need further support or opportunities to practice prior to completing an assignment. This awareness can inform teaching decisions. 

Triangulate the performance data by collecting student feedback, and noting your own reflections about what worked well and what did not. Revise the assignment instructions, rubric, and teaching practices accordingly. Consider how you might better align your assignment with your course objectives and/or provide more opportunities for students to practice using the knowledge and skills that they will rely on for the assignment. Additionally, keep in mind societal, disciplinary, and technological changes as you tweak your assignments for future use. 

Now is a great time to reflect on your practices and experiences with assignment design and think critically about your approach. Take a closer look at an existing assignment. Questions to consider include: What is this assignment meant to do? What purpose does it serve? Why do you ask students to do this assignment? How are they prepared to complete the assignment? Does the assignment assess the kind of learning that you really want? What would help students learn from this assignment? 

Using the tips in the previous section: How can the assignment be tweaked to be more authentic and meaningful to students? 

As you plan forward for post-pandemic teaching and reflect on your practices and reimagine your course design, you may find the following CTL resources helpful: Reflecting On Your Experiences with Remote Teaching , Transition to In-Person Teaching , and Course Design Support .

The Columbia Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) is here to help!

For assistance with assignment design, rubric design, or any other teaching and learning need, please request a consultation by emailing [email protected]

Transparency in Learning and Teaching (TILT) framework for assignments. The TILT Examples and Resources page ( https://tilthighered.com/tiltexamplesandresources ) includes example assignments from across disciplines, as well as a transparent assignment template and a checklist for designing transparent assignments . Each emphasizes the importance of articulating to students the purpose of the assignment or activity, the what and how of the task, and specifying the criteria that will be used to assess students. 

Association of American Colleges & Universities (AAC&U) offers VALUE ADD (Assignment Design and Diagnostic) tools ( https://www.aacu.org/value-add-tools ) to help with the creation of clear and effective assignments that align with the desired learning outcomes and associated VALUE rubrics (Valid Assessment of Learning in Undergraduate Education). VALUE ADD encourages instructors to explicitly state assignment information such as the purpose of the assignment, what skills students will be using, how it aligns with course learning outcomes, the assignment type, the audience and context for the assignment, clear evaluation criteria, desired formatting, and expectations for completion whether individual or in a group.

Villarroel et al. (2017) propose a blueprint for building authentic assessments which includes four steps: 1) consider the workplace context, 2) design the authentic assessment; 3) learn and apply standards for judgement; and 4) give feedback. 


Ambrose, S. A., Bridges, M. W., & DiPietro, M. (2010). Chapter 3: What Factors Motivate Students to Learn? In How Learning Works: Seven Research-Based Principles for Smart Teaching . Jossey-Bass. 

Ashford-Rowe, K., Herrington, J., and Brown, C. (2013). Establishing the critical elements that determine authentic assessment. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education. 39(2), 205-222, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02602938.2013.819566 .  

Bean, J.C. (2011). Engaging Ideas: The Professor’s Guide to Integrating Writing, Critical Thinking, and Active Learning in the Classroom . Second Edition. Jossey-Bass. 

Frey, B. B, Schmitt, V. L., and Allen, J. P. (2012). Defining Authentic Classroom Assessment. Practical Assessment, Research, and Evaluation. 17(2). DOI: https://doi.org/10.7275/sxbs-0829  

Herrington, J., Reeves, T. C., and Oliver, R. (2010). A Guide to Authentic e-Learning . Routledge. 

Herrington, J. and Oliver, R. (2000). An instructional design framework for authentic learning environments. Educational Technology Research and Development, 48(3), 23-48. 

Litchfield, B. C. and Dempsey, J. V. (2015). Authentic Assessment of Knowledge, Skills, and Attitudes. New Directions for Teaching and Learning. 142 (Summer 2015), 65-80. 

Maclellan, E. (2004). How convincing is alternative assessment for use in higher education. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education. 29(3), June 2004. DOI: 10.1080/0260293042000188267

McLaughlin, L. and Ricevuto, J. (2021). Assessments in a Virtual Environment: You Won’t Need that Lockdown Browser! Faculty Focus. June 2, 2021. 

Mueller, J. (2005). The Authentic Assessment Toolbox: Enhancing Student Learning through Online Faculty Development . MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching. 1(1). July 2005. Mueller’s Authentic Assessment Toolbox is available online. 

Schroeder, R. (2021). Vaccinate Against Cheating With Authentic Assessment . Inside Higher Ed. (February 26, 2021).  

Sotiriadou, P., Logan, D., Daly, A., and Guest, R. (2019). The role of authentic assessment to preserve academic integrity and promote skills development and employability. Studies in Higher Education. 45(111), 2132-2148. https://doi.org/10.1080/03075079.2019.1582015    

Stachowiak, B. (Host). (November 25, 2020). Authentic Assignments with Deandra Little. (Episode 337). In Teaching in Higher Ed . https://teachinginhighered.com/podcast/authentic-assignments/  

Svinicki, M. D. (2004). Authentic Assessment: Testing in Reality. New Directions for Teaching and Learning. 100 (Winter 2004): 23-29. 

Villarroel, V., Bloxham, S, Bruna, D., Bruna, C., and Herrera-Seda, C. (2017). Authentic assessment: creating a blueprint for course design. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education. 43(5), 840-854. https://doi.org/10.1080/02602938.2017.1412396    

Weimer, M. (2013). Learner-Centered Teaching: Five Key Changes to Practice . Second Edition. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. 

Wiggins, G. (2014). Authenticity in assessment, (re-)defined and explained. Retrieved from https://grantwiggins.wordpress.com/2014/01/26/authenticity-in-assessment-re-defined-and-explained/

Wiggins, G. (1998). Teaching to the (Authentic) Test. Educational Leadership . April 1989. 41-47. 

Wiggins, Grant (1990). The Case for Authentic Assessment . Practical Assessment, Research & Evaluation , 2(2). 

Wondering how AI tools might play a role in your course assignments?

See the CTL’s resource “Considerations for AI Tools in the Classroom.”

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  • Designing Essay Assignments

by Gordon Harvey

Students often do their best and hardest thinking, and feel the greatest sense of mastery and growth, in their writing. Courses and assignments should be planned with this in mind. Three principles are paramount:

1. Name what you want and imagine students doing it

However free students are to range and explore in a paper, the general kind of paper you’re inviting has common components, operations, and criteria of success, and you should make these explicit. Having satisfied yourself, as you should, that what you’re asking is doable, with dignity, by writers just learning the material, try to anticipate in your prompt or discussions of the assignment the following queries:

  • What is the purpose of this? How am I going beyond what we have done, or applying it in a new area, or practicing a key academic skill or kind of work?
  • To what audience should I imagine myself writing?
  • What is the main task or tasks, in a nutshell? What does that key word (e.g., analyze, significance of, critique, explore, interesting, support) really mean in this context or this field?
  • What will be most challenging in this and what qualities will most distinguish a good paper? Where should I put my energy? (Lists of possible questions for students to answer in a paper are often not sufficiently prioritized to be helpful.)
  • What misconceptions might I have about what I’m to do? (How is this like or unlike other papers I may have written?) Are there too-easy approaches I might take or likely pitfalls? An ambitious goal or standard that I might think I’m expected to meet but am not?
  • What form will evidence take in my paper (e.g., block quotations? paraphrase? graphs or charts?) How should I cite it? Should I use/cite material from lecture or section?
  • Are there some broad options for structure, emphasis, or approach that I’ll likely be choosing among?
  • How should I get started on this? What would be a helpful (or unhelpful) way to take notes, gather data, discover a question or idea? Should I do research? 

2. Take time in class to prepare students to succeed at the paper

Resist the impulse to think of class meetings as time for “content” and of writing as work done outside class. Your students won’t have mastered the art of paper writing (if such a mastery is possible) and won’t know the particular disciplinary expectations or moves relevant to the material at hand. Take time in class to show them: 

  • discuss the assignment in class when you give it, so students can see that you take it seriously, so they can ask questions about it, so they can have it in mind during subsequent class discussions;
  • introduce the analytic vocabulary of your assignment into class discussions, and take opportunities to note relevant moves made in discussion or good paper topics that arise;
  • have students practice key tasks in class discussions, or in informal writing they do in before or after discussions;
  • show examples of writing that illustrates components and criteria of the assignment and that inspires (class readings can sometimes serve as illustrations of a writing principle; so can short excerpts of writing—e.g., a sampling of introductions; and so can bad writing—e.g., a list of problematic thesis statements);
  • the topics of originality and plagiarism (what the temptations might be, how to avoid risks) should at some point be addressed directly. 

3. Build in process

Ideas develop over time, in a process of posing and revising and getting feedback and revising some more. 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);
  • for larger papers, students should write and get response (using the skills vocabulary of the assignment) to a draft—at least an “oral draft” (condensed for delivery to the class);
  • if possible, meet with students individually about their writing: nothing inspires them more than feeling that you care about their work and development;
  • let students reflect on their own writing, in brief cover letters attached to drafts and revisions (these may also ask students to perform certain checks on what they have written, before submitting);
  • have clear and firm policies about late work that nonetheless allow for exception if students talk to you in advance.
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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.

Eberly Center

Teaching excellence & educational innovation, creating assignments.

Here are some general suggestions and questions to consider when creating assignments. There are also many other resources in print and on the web that provide examples of interesting, discipline-specific assignment ideas.

Consider your learning objectives.

What do you want students to learn in your course? What could they do that would show you that they have learned it? To determine assignments that truly serve your course objectives, it is useful to write out your objectives in this form: I want my students to be able to ____. Use active, measurable verbs as you complete that sentence (e.g., compare theories, discuss ramifications, recommend strategies), and your learning objectives will point you towards suitable assignments.

Design assignments that are interesting and challenging.

This is the fun side of assignment design. Consider how to focus students’ thinking in ways that are creative, challenging, and motivating. Think beyond the conventional assignment type! For example, one American historian requires students to write diary entries for a hypothetical Nebraska farmwoman in the 1890s. By specifying that students’ diary entries must demonstrate the breadth of their historical knowledge (e.g., gender, economics, technology, diet, family structure), the instructor gets students to exercise their imaginations while also accomplishing the learning objectives of the course (Walvoord & Anderson, 1989, p. 25).

Double-check alignment.

After creating your assignments, go back to your learning objectives and make sure there is still a good match between what you want students to learn and what you are asking them to do. If you find a mismatch, you will need to adjust either the assignments or the learning objectives. For instance, if your goal is for students to be able to analyze and evaluate texts, but your assignments only ask them to summarize texts, you would need to add an analytical and evaluative dimension to some assignments or rethink your learning objectives.

Name assignments accurately.

Students can be misled by assignments that are named inappropriately. For example, if you want students to analyze a product’s strengths and weaknesses but you call the assignment a “product description,” students may focus all their energies on the descriptive, not the critical, elements of the task. Thus, it is important to ensure that the titles of your assignments communicate their intention accurately to students.

Consider sequencing.

Think about how to order your assignments so that they build skills in a logical sequence. Ideally, assignments that require the most synthesis of skills and knowledge should come later in the semester, preceded by smaller assignments that build these skills incrementally. For example, if an instructor’s final assignment is a research project that requires students to evaluate a technological solution to an environmental problem, earlier assignments should reinforce component skills, including the ability to identify and discuss key environmental issues, apply evaluative criteria, and find appropriate research sources.

Think about scheduling.

Consider your intended assignments in relation to the academic calendar and decide how they can be reasonably spaced throughout the semester, taking into account holidays and key campus events. Consider how long it will take students to complete all parts of the assignment (e.g., planning, library research, reading, coordinating groups, writing, integrating the contributions of team members, developing a presentation), and be sure to allow sufficient time between assignments.

Check feasibility.

Is the workload you have in mind reasonable for your students? Is the grading burden manageable for you? Sometimes there are ways to reduce workload (whether for you or for students) without compromising learning objectives. For example, if a primary objective in assigning a project is for students to identify an interesting engineering problem and do some preliminary research on it, it might be reasonable to require students to submit a project proposal and annotated bibliography rather than a fully developed report. If your learning objectives are clear, you will see where corners can be cut without sacrificing educational quality.

Articulate the task description clearly.

If an assignment is vague, students may interpret it any number of ways – and not necessarily how you intended. Thus, it is critical to clearly and unambiguously identify the task students are to do (e.g., design a website to help high school students locate environmental resources, create an annotated bibliography of readings on apartheid). It can be helpful to differentiate the central task (what students are supposed to produce) from other advice and information you provide in your assignment description.

Establish clear performance criteria.

Different instructors apply different criteria when grading student work, so it’s important that you clearly articulate to students what your criteria are. To do so, think about the best student work you have seen on similar tasks and try to identify the specific characteristics that made it excellent, such as clarity of thought, originality, logical organization, or use of a wide range of sources. Then identify the characteristics of the worst student work you have seen, such as shaky evidence, weak organizational structure, or lack of focus. Identifying these characteristics can help you consciously articulate the criteria you already apply. It is important to communicate these criteria to students, whether in your assignment description or as a separate rubric or scoring guide . Clearly articulated performance criteria can prevent unnecessary confusion about your expectations while also setting a high standard for students to meet.

Specify the intended audience.

Students make assumptions about the audience they are addressing in papers and presentations, which influences how they pitch their message. For example, students may assume that, since the instructor is their primary audience, they do not need to define discipline-specific terms or concepts. These assumptions may not match the instructor’s expectations. Thus, it is important on assignments to specify the intended audience http://wac.colostate.edu/intro/pop10e.cfm (e.g., undergraduates with no biology background, a potential funder who does not know engineering).

Specify the purpose of the assignment.

If students are unclear about the goals or purpose of the assignment, they may make unnecessary mistakes. For example, if students believe an assignment is focused on summarizing research as opposed to evaluating it, they may seriously miscalculate the task and put their energies in the wrong place. The same is true they think the goal of an economics problem set is to find the correct answer, rather than demonstrate a clear chain of economic reasoning. Consequently, it is important to make your objectives for the assignment clear to students.

Specify the parameters.

If you have specific parameters in mind for the assignment (e.g., length, size, formatting, citation conventions) you should be sure to specify them in your assignment description. Otherwise, students may misapply conventions and formats they learned in other courses that are not appropriate for yours.

A Checklist for Designing Assignments

Here is a set of questions you can ask yourself when creating an assignment.

  • Provided a written description of the assignment (in the syllabus or in a separate document)?
  • Specified the purpose of the assignment?
  • Indicated the intended audience?
  • Articulated the instructions in precise and unambiguous language?
  • Provided information about the appropriate format and presentation (e.g., page length, typed, cover sheet, bibliography)?  
  • Indicated special instructions, such as a particular citation style or headings?  
  • Specified the due date and the consequences for missing it?
  • Articulated performance criteria clearly?
  • Indicated the assignment’s point value or percentage of the course grade?
  • Provided students (where appropriate) with models or samples?

Adapted from the WAC Clearinghouse at http://wac.colostate.edu/intro/pop10e.cfm .

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Designing assignments.

Making a few revisions to your writing assignments can make a big difference in the writing your students will produce. The most effective changes involve specifying what you would like students to do in the assignment and suggesting concrete steps students can take to achieve that goal.

Clarify what you want your students to do…and why they’re doing it

Kerry Walk, former director of the Princeton Writing Program, offers these principles to consider when designing a writing assignment (condensed and adapted from the original): “At least one sentence on your assignment sheet should explicitly state what you want students to do. The assignment is usually signaled by a verb, such as “analyze,” “assess,” “explain,” or “discuss.” For example, in a history course, after reading a model biography, students were directed as follows: ‘Your assignment is to write your own biographical essay on Mao, using Mao’s reminiscences (as told to a Western journalist), speeches, encyclopedia articles, a medical account from Mao’s physician, and two contradictory obituaries.’ In addition, including a purpose for the assignment can provide crucial focus and guidance. Explaining to students why they’re doing a particular assignment can help them grasp the big picture—what you’re trying to teach them and why learning it is worthwhile. For example, ‘This assignment has three goals: for you to (1) see how the concepts we’ve learned thus far can be used in a different field from economics, (2) learn how to write about a model, and (3) learn to critique a model or how to defend one.’”

Link course writing goals to assignments

Students are more likely to understand what you are asking them to do if the assignment re-uses language that you’ve already introduced in class discussions, in writing activities, or in your Writing Guide. In the assignment below, Yale professor Dorlores Hayden uses writing terms that have been introduced in class:

Choose your home town or any other town or city you have lived in for at least a year. Based upon the readings on the history of transportation, discuss how well or how poorly pedestrian, horse-drawn, steam- powered, and electric transportation might have served your town or city before the gasoline automobile. (If you live in a twentieth-century automobile-oriented suburb, consider rural transportation patterns before the car and the suburban houses.) How did topography affect transportation choices? How did transportation choices affect the local economy and the built environment? Length, 1000 words (4 typed pages plus a plan of the place and/or a photograph). Be sure to argue a strong thesis and back it up with quotations from the readings as well as your own analysis of the plan or photograph.

Give students methods for approaching their work

Strong writing assignments not only identify a clear writing task, they often provide suggestions for how students might begin to accomplish the task. In order to avoid overloading students with information and suggestions, it is often useful to separate the assignment prompt and the advice for approaching the assignment. Below is an example of this strategy from one of Yale’s English 114 sections:

Assignment: In the essays we have read so far, a debate has emerged over what constitutes cosmopolitan practice , loosely defined as concrete actions motivated by a cosmopolitan philosophy or perspective. Using these readings as evidence, write a 5-6-page essay in which you make an argument for your own definition of effective cosmopolitan practice.

Method: In order to develop this essay, you must engage in a critical conversation with the essays we have read in class. In creating your definition of cosmopolitan practice, you will necessarily draw upon the ideas of these authors. You must show how you are building upon, altering, or working in opposition to their ideas and definitions through your quotation and analysis of their concepts and evidence.

Questions to consider:  These questions are designed to prompt your thinking. You do not need to address all these questions in the body of your essay; instead, refer to any of these issues only as they support your ideas.

  • How would you define cosmopolitan practice? How does your definition draw upon or conflict with the definitions offered by the authors we have read so far?
  • What are the strengths of your definition of cosmopolitan practice? What problems does it address? How do the essays we have read support those strengths? How do those strengths address weaknesses in other writers’ arguments?
  • What are the limitations or problems with your definition? How would the authors we have read critique your definition? How would you respond to those critiques?

Case Study: A Sample Writing Assignment and Revision

A student responding to the following assignment felt totally at sea, with good reason:

Write an essay describing the various conceptions of property found in your readings and the different arguments for and against the distribution of property and the various justifications of, and attacks on, ownership. Which of these arguments has any merits? What is the role of property in the various political systems discussed? The essay should concentrate on Hobbes, Locke, and Marx.

“How am I supposed to structure the essay?” the student asked. “Address the first question, comparing the three guys? Address the second question, doing the same, etc.? … Do I talk about each author separately in terms of their conceptions of the nation, and then have a section that compares their arguments, or do I have a 4 part essay which is really 4 essays (two pages each) answering each question? What am I going to put in the intro, and the conclusion?” Given the tangle of ideas presented in the assignment, the student’s panic and confusion are understandable.

A better-formulated assignment poses significant challenges, but one of them is not wondering what the instructor secretly wants. Here’s a possible revision, which follows the guidelines suggested above:

[Course Name and Title]

[Instructor’s Name]

Due date: Thursday, February 24, at 11:10am in section

Length: 5-6pp. double-spaced

Limiting your reading to the sourcebook, write a comparative analysis of Hobbes’s, Locke’s, and Marx’s conceptions of property.

The purpose of this assignment is to help you synthesize some difficult political theory and identify the profound differences among some key theorists.

The best papers will focus on a single shared aspect of the theorists’ respective political ideologies, such as how property is distributed, whether it should be owned, or what role it serves politically. The best papers will not only focus on a specific topic, but will state a clear and arguable thesis about it (“the three authors have differing conceptions of property” is neither) and go on to describe and assess the authors’ viewpoints clearly and concisely.

Note that this revised assignment is now not only clearer than the original; it also requires less regurgitation and more sustained thought.

For more information about crafting and staging your assignments, see “ The Papers We Want to Read ” by Linda Simon, Social Studies; Jan/Feb90, Vol. 81 Issue 1, p37, 3p. (The link to Simon’s article will only work if your computer is on the Yale campus.) See also the discussion of Revising Assignments in the section of this website on Addressing Plagiarism .


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Designing Assignments

Designing effective writing assignments is a key component of integrating writing into your course. This page provides resources to help you learn how to design assignments that will provide your students with new and exciting avenues to learning through writing.

Also see: Integrating Writing into Your Course for general resources related to integrating writing into your (non-writing) course.


Assignment Design (Yale Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning) “Making a few revisions to your writing assignments can make a big difference in the writing your students will produce. The most effective changes involve specifying what you would like students to do in the assignment and suggesting concrete steps students can take to achieve that goal.”

A Brief Guide to Designing Essay Assignments (Gordon Harvey, Harvard College Writing Program) (PDF) This Harvard Writing Project Brief Guide provides three quick and easy steps to designing an assignment and helping students execute it.

Designing Assignments and Presenting Them to Students (Univ. of Toronto Writing) “Here are some ways to help students learn your subject through writing about it, while developing their writing skills at the same time. Designing your assignments with learning in mind is the single most important way you can support students’ development as writers.”

Designing Writing Assignments (Traci Gardner, National Council of Teachers of English) (PDF) “Effective student writing begins with well-designed classroom assignments. In Designing Writing Assignments , veteran educator Traci Gardner offers practical ways for teachers to develop assignments that will allow students to express their creativity and grow as writers and thinkers while still addressing the many demands of resource-stretched classrooms.”

Teaching Guide: Designing Writing Assignments (Writing@CSU) “Our teaching guides are designed for writing teachers and for teachers of other subjects who want to use writing and speaking activities in their classrooms. To view our guides, click on the links below.”

  • Five Principles
  • Guidelines for Writing Assignments
  • Resource: Checksheets
  • Resource: Sample grading criteria
  • Sample assignments
  • Teacher Comments
  • Working Backwards from Goals
  • Writing Should Meet Teaching Goals

Tips for Writing an Assignment and Teaching it to Students (University of Wisconsin – Madison, Writing Across the Curriculum) “Here are some suggestions to keep in mind as you write your assignment handouts, as well as suggestions for other activities that prepare students to write.”

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  • Implementing Writing in Your Course

How to Design Successful Writing Assignments

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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).

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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

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Formatting your assignments

Illustrated step-by-step guides to help you understand the formatting and presentation expectations of university assignments.

A student working on a laptop


Although formatting your essay, report or dissertation can feel like a lesser priority than the process of research and writing itself, it is an important way to ensure your ideas are given the spotlight through visually accessible, professional presentation. Formatting can be a minefield, especially when you’re formatting at the last minute; it’s important to leave a few days at the end of your essay writing process for working on your formatting, and to spend some time familiarising yourself with the different aspects of formatting.

301 Recommends:

Our Essay Structure and Planning workshop will outline how to analyse your essay question, discuss approaches logically structure all your ideas, help you make your introductions and conclusions more effective, and teach how to link your ideas and ensure all essay content flows logically from the introduction.

Below, you will find some general introductions to the key areas. 

Action: know the rules 

Because formatting rules can vary greatly depending on your department or assignment, it’s crucial to check the formatting specifications in your assignment description/rubric, and any general departmental presentation standards, as a first port of call. Many referencing systems also have specific rules about how to format your work, so make sure to familiarise yourself with the university library’s referencing guides . Many referencing systems also have more detailed style guides available via their websites.

Formatting key information  

Assignment cover sheets .

In some departments, you may be expected to include a cover sheet on the front page of your assignment. This is a page including key information about your assignment, such as your module number, student registration number, essay title, and submission date.

You may be asked to submit a plagiarism declaration and to make your markers aware of any disabilities through the yellow sticker system . If you are asked to include a cover sheet in your assignment, your department should make you aware of where you can access this.

Assignment titles

Place your assignment title at the top of your first page, either centre or left aligned, in bold font. At university, you may be assigned a pre-designed essay title/question, or asked to select from several possible titles. You may also be asked to design your own essay title. Here are some top tips on designing your own title:

  • To bring focus to your essay, draft a working title at the essay planning stage. You can come back and review this title in light of your finished essay draft.
  • Make sure to use action words in your essay title that reflect the skills your assessors are looking for, both in the assignment description and the marking criteria you have been given. For example, if heavy emphasis is placed on critical analysis, you could use a title like ‘Analyse the effect of…’ See this glossary of essay terms , containing examples that you can use in your own titles. 
  • The action words you choose can also help you to reflect the structure of the essay in your question. For example, an essay using the action word ‘Discuss’ might use a for/against/conclusion or advantages/disadvantages/conclusion structure, or an essay using the term ‘Analyse’ might break an issue down into parts, e.g. into key themes, to understand its meaning as a whole. Think about the type of essay you want to write: do you want it to be comparative, look at several topics equally, or do you have a clear argument that you want to put forward? You can then create a question that gives you the opportunity to approach the topic from your own perspective.
  • Make sure to include the main terminology you are working with in your assignment title.
  • Make sure your question has a realistic scope, without being so broad that you cannot answer it within the limitations of your essay. To limit your question, you could include any limiting factors you are working with, such as specific time periods, geographical regions or sub-themes within the overall topic area. For example, in the title ‘Evaluate the proposition that a global monoculture will destroy diversity and difference’, the broad topic of global monoculture is limited down through a specific sub-focus on diversity and difference.

Stating word counts 

Depending on the instructions you have been given, you may be asked to state your word count, either on your cover sheet or at the beginning of your essay. If you are asked to include this information, make sure your word count accurately reflects the assessment guidance: for example, are references included in your word count?

Visual clarity  

Line spacing .

Most assignment descriptions specify that you should increase the space between each line on the page, from the standard 1.0 spacing to either 1.5 or 2.0 spacing. You are asked to do this to make the essay more visually accessible and easier to read, by breaking up the number of lines on each page. 

Download this step-by-step illustrated guide to line spacing in Microsoft Word and Google Docs.


All non-examination based assignments should be word processed rather than handwritten. Most assignment descriptions will specify that for visual clarity, and to ensure a professional appearance, you should use a plain, sans-serif font such as Arial. For readability, this should be in 11 or 12 point size. Check your departmental or assignment guidance for any specific rules about font choices. 

Page numbering, headers and footers  

Including page numbers in your assignments makes them more accessible. Depending on the departmental guidance you have been given, you may be asked to include these in either the header or the footer of your essay (the blank space above and below where the text would go on a normal page in a word processor). It may also be helpful to include your registration number and the module code of the essay in the same header or footers that specify the page number. 

Download this step-by-step illustrated guide to adding page numbers and using headers and footers in Microsoft Word and Google Docs. 

Page layout   

Margins .

A margin is the amount of blank space on either side of a paragraph in a normal word processor. Traditionally, assignment descriptions specified that the margins should be made wider at the binding edge (the left hand side) of the page, to allow for easier reading of printed essays. However, with the shift to online essays, you might not be asked to do this any more and the default settings on your word processor are likely to be sufficiently wide.

For printed dissertations and theses, you may receive specific guidance about the suitable layout of margins, as these are more likely to be printed: see this university guide on formatting PhD theses . 

Download this step-by-step illustrated guide to adjusting margins in Microsoft Word and Google Docs.

Paragraph alignment 

Most formatting instructions specify that paragraphs should be lined up in a straight line (aligned) on the left hand edge, but left jagged on the right hand edge (like this page). This is called left alignment, or flush-left style, and should be the default alignment setting for your word processor. This style can be helpful for visual accessibility, but check any specific instructions you have been given by your department to see which style of alignment you have been asked to use. 

Download this step-by-step illustrated guide to adjusting paragraph alignment in Microsoft Word and Google Docs.  

Paragraph indentation

You may be asked to add indents to your paragraphs: an indent is an additional small gap between the margin and the beginning of a paragraph (it makes a ‘dent’ in the first line of your paragraph). Indents are used to provide extra clarification that the reader is starting a new paragraph after finishing the last one: therefore, they should not be used in the first paragraph of your essay. Indents are not always required, and whether you are expected to use them may depend on your referencing style , and any formatting instructions you have been given by your department.

Download this step-by-step illustrated guide to indenting paragraphs in Microsoft Word and Google Docs.

Formatting referenced material 

Footnotes and endnotes .

Some referencing systems require you to use footnotes or endnotes to format your references (make sure to check the library’s referencing guide to familiarise yourself with the expected format of your referencing style). Inserting a footnote into your word document when you have cited from a source adds a superscript number (a number formatted in a smaller font) to the sentence. It creates a note with a matching number at the bottom of the page you are working on (in the footer), which you can add the reference information to.

Endnotes work in the same way, but instead of appearing at the bottom of the page, the reference list appears at the end of the document.

Download this step-by-step illustrated guide to manually inserting footnotes and endnotes in Microsoft Word and Google Docs.  

References and bibliographies  

Instead of, or alongside footnotes/endnotes, some referencing systems ask you to include a bibliography and/or a reference list at the end of the essay (make sure to check the library’s referencing guide to familiarise yourself with the expected format of your referencing style). A reference list is a list of all the sources you have directly referred to in the essay, which could be ordered numerically or alphabetically, depending on your referencing style.

A bibliography could be used alongside, or instead of, a reference list, depending on your referencing style; here, you list all the sources you have consulted that have influenced your ideas, whether they are included in the essay or not. The way this is ordered also depends on your referencing style. 

If you auto-generate your citations in Microsoft Word or Google Docs, you can auto-generate your bibliography instead of creating it manually: instructions for doing so are in the resource below. If you use a different reference manager, such as Mendeley, Zotero, or Endnote, these have their own specific instructions for auto-generating bibliographies. See the reference management resources offered by the university. 

Download this step-by-step illustrated guide to manually or automatically formatting a bibliography or reference list in Microsoft Word and Google Docs.

Block quotations  

When you need to include a quotation in your essay that is three or more lines long, you can add this as a block quotation. A block quotation appears on a separate line to the other parts of the paragraph, and is indented (i.e. there is a wider gap between a block quotation and the left-hand margin than there is between the rest of the paragraph and the left-hand margin). Block quotations aren’t placed in quotation marks, so the indentation is used to indicate that you are using a quotation.

Check your referencing guide and any departmental guidance to learn more about the specific rules on formatting block quotations in your department. Because they take up large chunks of your word count, and break up the flow of your texts, make sure to use block quotations sparingly: they are especially helpful when you are going to perform close analysis of a large section of text. For more information on different types of quotation and how to use them, see our workshop on paraphrasing and using academic sources.

Download this step-by-step illustrated guide to formatting block quotations in Microsoft Word and Google Docs.

Advanced formatting 

Headings and contents tables .

Most standard short essays do not include headings, other than the essay title and reference list and/or bibliography. Section headings may be required for some longer or more structured types of academic writing, such as reports; reports often follow a very closely prescribed structure, so it is essential to pay very careful attention to the specific guidelines issued with your brief. Make sure that any system you use for numbering your headings and subheadings is consistently applied throughout the document.

Depending on the advice you have been given, and the length and complexity of a lab report, you may also be required to include a table of contents to help the reader navigate between headings. Contents tables are generally standard practice in longer assignments such as dissertations and theses. Make sure to check any departmental guidance you have been given about formatting reports.

Download this step-by-step illustrated guide to formatting headings and contents tables in Microsoft Word and Google Docs.

301 Recommends: Scientific Writing and Lab Reports Workshop

This workshop  will help you to familiarise yourself with some of the specific expectations associated with this assignment format.

Figures and tables 

Some kinds of essays, dissertations and reports will require you to make use of figures (pictures, diagrams, and graphs) and tables (any data in a table format). Figures and tables are normally numbered in sequence, e.g. ‘Table 1’, ‘Figure 4’, and are directly referred to in the text according to their number, rather than according to their location on the page (e.g. ‘as shown in Table 2’ rather than ‘as shown below’). 

If your text is of dissertation or thesis length, or if your text has several figures, it may also be helpful to include a list of figures immediately after the table of contents. Some referencing guides have specific rules about presenting and referencing tables and figures, so make sure to familiarise yourself with these and carefully read any specific instructions about figures and tables in your assignment brief. 

Download this step-by-step illustrated guide to inserting figures and tables and creating lists of figures/tables in Microsoft Word and Google Docs.

Top tips for formatting tables and figures:

  • Make sure that any tables or figures you use are placed below the paragraph where you refer to them, and that you have directly referred to all figures and tables in the text of the essay.
  • The caption for a table usually acts as its title, so this is placed above the table in the document. The caption for a figure is usually placed underneath the figure. Do not include unnecessary additional titles in the graph image itself, if the title is already included in your image caption. 
  • Make sure to label your captions consistently, choosing between ‘Fig.’ or ‘Figure’ and consistently using either a full stop or a colon after the label (i.e. ‘Figure 1:’ or ‘Fig. 1.’) 
  • Your caption should clearly and succinctly explain what the figure or table is. If the figure is taken from an external source, you must provide a reference that accurately reflects its copyright status (see these university library guides to inserting and attributing images and figures in university work). 
  • Make sure to include legends in any charts you use (a key that helps to explain the data in the chart). Any data series you use should be clearly distinguishable from each other (e.g. avoid printing a report with coloured graphs in black and white!) If you are only using one series of data, a legend is not always necessary. 
  • Make sure tables are clear and easy to read, using sans serif fonts, a readable font size, and avoiding unnecessary use of colour. 
  • Make sure graphs are clear and easy to read, with clearly and appropriately labelled axes. Be wary of 3D effects that may obscure the clarity of a graph.
  • Make sure to avoid presenting the same information in a graph and a table.
  • Images and figures in printed essays, such as dissertations and theses, should be large enough for the text and numbers to be legible on the printed copy. Make sure they do not extend beyond the print margins of the document. 

301 Recommends: Displaying Data in Graphs and Tables Workshop

This workshop will provide more technical advice on using graphs and tables in your work. See also this Engineering department guidance on formatting graphs and tables in Engineering lab reports.


Appendices commonly appear in dissertations, theses, and lab reports. An appendix provides supporting information that gives the reader a better understanding of the essay, but that might be too long, detailed or awkward to insert into the main body of the essay without breaking up its flow. Interview questions or transcripts, sample questionnaires, raw data, figures, photographs, large/complex datasets, and diagrams are all examples of information that could be included in an appendix, if it is relevant to do so.

The reader should be able to understand the essay without reference to this supporting information, as all the most important and relevant information needed to answer the question should be included in the body (i.e., the appendix should not be used to make room for content that doesn’t fit within your word count). Your appendices must be clearly signposted and explained in the body of your report, highlighting any information that is essential for your reader to understand. Do not include any appendices that are not referenced in the text itself.

The appendices should be placed in numerical or alphabetical order, and signposted according to this specific system (e.g. ‘Appendix B indicates that…’) They should be clearly labelled, using headings that match up to the in-text reference. Appendices usually appear at the very end of the assignment, after your references/bibliography. Make sure to list any appendices used in your table of contents; if you have been instructed to do so by your department or within your referencing system, you could include a list of appendices separate to your contents list. 

The specific format of the appendix heading, and the reference made to the appendix in the text, depends on your referencing style , so make sure to carefully review this information before you design your appendices.

Download this step-by-step illustrated guide to inserting appendices and creating lists of appendices in Microsoft Word and Google Docs.

Tips and resources

  • Use this 301 proofreading checklist to check over your work when you are finished.
  • Use the University Library referencing guide for advice about referencing and formatting that is specific to your referencing style. If you need extra clarification about formatting rules, it is often possible to download an extended style guide from the official website for a specific referencing system. 
  • For further training on referencing, using reference generators, and using images in your work, see the University Library workshop programme .

Related information

Academic Writing


Essay structure and planning

Scientific writing and lab reports

Creating accessible Word documents

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Teaching Commons > Teaching Guides > Assignment Design

Assignment Design


Here's a short list of some general assignment design strategies that apply to a wide variety of disciplines.

Aligning with Learning Goals

A number of strategies for deterring plagiarism are discussed, including asking your students to write about current topics relevant to your course and staging essay assignments throughout the quarter.

Integrative Learning

​Integrative learning occurs when students make connections among ideas and experiences in order to transfer learning to new contexts.​

The Cowbell

News and Resources from UWGB's Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning

Assignment Design

There’s a fine line between assignment design and assessment strategies . In short, designing good assignments is one means of assessing your students’ learning on a larger scale.

Assignments help measure student learning in your course. Effective assignment design in your course involves aligning your assignments with learning outcomes. When assignments and outcomes are aligned, good grades and good learning go hand in hand ( https://www.cmu.edu/teaching/designteach/design/assessments.html ).

Assessments fall into one of two categories, formative or summative .

Formative assessments are typically low-stakes and help students identify their strengths and weaknesses so that they can improve their learning. Routine formative assessments also help instructors identify the areas where students are struggling and adapt their teaching accordingly.

Summative assessments evaluate student learning (such as at the end of a unit of instruction). Summative assessments are generally higher stakes (like midterm exams and final projects).

Assignments are what students actually ‘do’ as part of those assessments.

Incorporating a mix of assignment activities in your course can help students practice and demonstrate their mastery of outcomes in multiple ways. Consider ways you can design your assignments so that they better mirror the application of knowledge in real-world scenarios. Assignments designed in this way are often referred to as Authentic Assessments ( Authentic-assessment.pdf (uwex.edu)). One type of highly authentic assessment is the long-term project which challenges students to solve a problem or complete a challenge requiring the application of course concepts ( Project_Based_Learning.pdf (uwex.edu) ).

More details and examples can be found in the tabbed content box below. Please also consider signing up for a CATL consultation with one of our instructional designers for some personalized assistance in developing your ideas for assignments and ensuring that they align with your course outcomes .

(Adapted from Carnegie Mellon's:  Design and Teach a Course )

Assessments should provide instructors and students with evidence of how well students have mastered the course outcomes.

There are two major reasons for aligning assessments with learning outcomes.

  • Alignment increases the probability that we will provide students with the opportunities to learn and practice knowledge and skills that instructors will require students know in the objectives and in the assessments. (Teaching to the assessment is a  good  thing.)
  • When instructors align assessments with outcomes, students are more likely to translate "good grades" into "good learning." Conversely, when instructors misalign assessments with objectives, students will focus on getting good grades on the assessments, rather than focusing on mastering the material that the instructor finds important.

Instructors may use different types of assessments to measure student proficiency in a learning objective. Moreover, instructors may use the same activity to measure different objectives. To ensure a more accurate assessment of student proficiency, many instructional designers recommend that you use different kinds of activities so that students have multiple ways to practice and demonstrate their knowledge and skills.

Formative assessment

The goal of formative assessment is to  monitor student learning  to provide ongoing feedback that can be used by instructors to improve their teaching and by students to improve their learning. More specifically, formative assessments:

  • help students identify their strengths and weaknesses and target areas that need work
  • help faculty recognize where students are struggling and address problems immediately

Formative assessments are generally  low stakes , which means that they have low or no point value. Examples of formative assessments include asking students to:

  • draw a concept map in class to represent their understanding of a topic
  • submit one or two sentences identifying the main point of a lecture
  • turn in a research proposal for early feedback

Summative assessment

The goal of summative assessment is to  evaluate student learning  at the end of an instructional unit by comparing it against some standard or benchmark.

Summative assessments are often  high stakes , which means that they have a high point value. Examples of summative assessments include:

  • a midterm exam
  • a final project
  • a senior recital

Information from summative assessments can be used formatively when students or faculty use it to guide their efforts and activities in subsequent courses.

Formative Assessments:

  • Reading quizzes
  • Concept map
  • Muddiest point
  • Pro/con grid
  • Focused paraphrasing
  • Reflective journal
  • Virtual lab/game
  • Webconference
  • Debate (synchronous or asynchronous)
  • Participant research
  • Peer review

Summative Assessments:

  • Presentation
  • Portfolio project

Carnegie Mellon University on Aligning Assessments with Objectives with examples.

Items to consider when weighing your assessment options:

If you are thinking about using discussions, be sure to think about the following:.

  • What kind of questions/situations do you want the students to discuss? Is it complex enough to allow students to build knowledge beyond the textbook? Will the discussion help students meet your objectives (and develop an answer for your essential questions)?
  • What are your expectations for discussions? Should students participate (post) a certain number of times, with a certain number of words, and reply to a certain number of people?
  • What is your role in the discussion (traffic cop, the person who clarifies issues, will you respond to every post)?

If you are thinking about using quizzes, be sure to think about the following:

  • What type of questions will help your students meet the objectives of the course? Are you going to grade essay questions or just let the computer grade multiple choice questions?
  • What is the place for academic integrity? Are you going to randomize questions, randomize answers, restrict time, restrict the answers that students can see after completing the exam?
  • How are you going to populate your quiz? Are you going to write the questions or use questions that come from a textbook publisher?

If you are thinking of using essays, be sure to think about the following:

  • Will these essays/papers help students to meet the course objectives, which ones? Is the length of the essay appropriate?
  • What do you think about plagiarism checkers such as TurnItIn?
  • To what extent will you allow students to submit drafts, and will you provide feedback on drafts, or will you use a peer review system?

Other items to consider:

  • Are you thinking about using an alternative assignment? If so, you may want to talk with an instructional technologist or designer.
  • Consider the type of feedback you will provide for each assignment. What should students expect from you; how will you communicate those expectations; and how soon will you provide feedback (realistically)?

Further resources

Small teaching online.

This book (requires UWGB login) contains many tips that are easy to integrate into your distance education class. The chapter on “ surfacing backward design” contains many tips for assessment for online classes, many of which are adaptable to all distance modalities.

CATL Resources

  • Collaborative Learning Assignments  (Toolbox article)
  • Administering Tests and Quizzes (including alternatives) (Toolbox article)
  • Writing Good Multiple Choice Questions ( TeAch Tuesday , YouTube)

Tip sheets from UW-System

UW-System put together some tip sheets for common sticking points in assessment for distance education.

  • Writing effective multiple choice questions
  • Authentic assessments
  • Unproctored online assessments
  • Project-based learning

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Templates for college and university assignments

Include customizable templates in your college toolbox. stay focused on your studies and leave the assignment structuring to tried and true layout templates for all kinds of papers, reports, and more..

college tools photo

Keep your college toolbox stocked with easy-to-use templates

Work smarter with higher-ed helpers from our college tools collection. Presentations are on point from start to finish when you start your project using a designer-created template; you'll be sure to catch and keep your professor's attention. Staying on track semester after semester takes work, but that work gets a little easier when you take control of your scheduling, list making, and planning by using trackers and planners that bring you joy. Learning good habits in college will serve you well into your professional life after graduation, so don't reinvent the wheel—use what is known to work!

design assignment layout

Simple web design tips for beginners: A complete guide

Just getting started in web design? This guide will get you ready to tackle your first project as a beginner.

design assignment layout

From 101 to advanced, learn how to build sites in Webflow with over 100 lessons — including the basics of HTML and CSS.

design assignment layout

Web design is a crucial component of the web development process.

If you're interested in web design, we're guessing you have a creative streak. And how could you not be excited about jumping in and making your first website? Web design is about crafting a functional piece of art — but where do you start? If you're wondering what you need to know before you begin, this is a simple web design guide that will help you start.

Choose something basic for your first site design

This seems like a no brainer, right? But sometimes we can get overly ambitious and end up discouraged. For your first project, it’s a good idea to choose something simple and fun. An ecommerce site is more complicated and would be better to tackle once you have more experience. 

A blog is a great place to start. It will be a good design exercise and you’ll learn how a Content Management System (CMS) works, which will be important to know for future site designs. Best of all — you don’t have to start from scratch. There are plenty of blog templates that make it easy to put one together.

Templates are a valuable learning tool. Watching how HTML, CSS, and Javascript elements are styled and come together will give you deeper insight into what makes a design work. You can use templates as a foundation to make changes and customizations.

Maybe you don't want to start a blog — try pulling from your creative pursuits or hobbies. How about building a showcase for your photography skills or for your collection of short stories? Creating a design to feature a passion of yours makes for an enjoyable first project.

Find inspiration from other designers

design assignment layout

You've no doubt come across websites that have wowed you with their stunning design.

Create an inspiration doc with links to sites you love, or bookmark them as you go. Pinterest is a great place to find great site design — you can find and pins illustrations, book covers, posters, blogs, and other types of design work to refer to. Designers use the term "mood board" for these collections. Mood boards are a quick reference resource if you find yourself stuck. Which you will.

Outside the discoveries you make on your own, there are some curated collections you should check out. 

  • Awwwards always has new and fresh work and a variety of themed collections 
  • Behance is a fantastic compilation of website design work, where the focus is on quality and creativity
  • Dribbble focuses on individual designers, providing a forum to get feedback and communicate with others about their work

And of course, head over to Made in Webflow to see the variety of ways people are using our design platform. There’s so much cool stuff to check out and so many templates available to clone as your very own.

Look outside the web for sources of inspiration

Web design is informed by a visual language that can be found anywhere, like the cover of a graphic novel or the digital kiosk at your bank. Develop an eye for recognizing good design and start analyzing why something works or doesn’t work, whatever the medium.

Pay attention to typography 

We often read without even being aware of typefaces. Pay attention to the effect type has on as you consume content. Is that font on the menu readable? What makes that hand-lettered sign for the local business work so well? Letters are everywhere. Make note of both good and bad uses of typography. 

Typewolf is an excellent resource to keep tabs on popular fonts. It has plenty of lists to explore, a featured site of the day, and lookbooks that have spectacular font combinations. It’s helpful to see actual examples of typography being used, and websites like Typewolf are a great place to see their practical applications. Getting familiar with different fonts will help you pick the right type for your first site design.

design assignment layout

Let the fine arts influence you 

Oh, did we mention there’s an entire history of art to draw from? So many movements and artists still shape the work of creatives today — especially web designers. Take a stroll through our Web design and art history piece to discover many monumental artistic achievements. Not only is filled with valuable information, it’s an excellent example of how content and artistry can come together to tell a story.

design assignment layout

Research different types of design

There are so many disciplines of design to be familiar with. A knowledge of product design, illustration, and even branding can further develop your creative senses.

For inspiration that goes beyond web design, Abduzeedo offers brilliant examples. Whether it’s poster art, luggage, or furniture, you’ll see fantastic examples of design done right. Be open to different types of design and actively seek out inspiration . The more knowledge you have, the easier it will be to design your first website . Education informs intuition.

design assignment layout

Have content ready before you start 

Putting content first means having content ready to work with before you start designing your first website.

It doesn’t have to be perfect. You can always edit and optimize for Google SEO (search engine optimization) later. But having at least a rough draft of what will go live will help make sure the design is laid out to accommodate it. Designing with real content gives you a better representation of how the website will look and function. It also gives you the opportunity to make changes earlier in the design process.

For blogs, you’ll need to have a post ready to test in the CMS. Having a couple posts written before you launch will save scrambling to write something after the fact. 

Keep your design simple and intuitive

Whether it's writing, navigation, or CTAs, no one wants to struggle with your design.

Your design approach should be rooted in simplicity and order. Logic should guide someone through the site with ease. And since we’re talking about those people who will interact with what you’ve created, this is a good place to introduce UX.

Understand user experience (UX) basics

A website is more than just floating text in space. The color scheme, content, typography, layout, and imagery all come together to serve your audience and stir emotion. Someone wandering through the digital space you’ve created should have a clear path free from obstacles.

UX focuses on understanding your audience. What are they looking for — and how will your design make finding it easy? UX is about getting into the heads of your audience and seeing your design through their eyes.

When building your first website, keep these guiding UX principles in mind:

  • Make things simple and intuitive
  • Communicate concepts in a logical succession
  • Meet your audience’s needs and resist the temptation to showboat your skills at the expense of usability

Learning about your audience will help you craft a design that’s tailored to their wants and needs. Check out our Beginner’s guide to user research for more insights on how to do this.

Understand user interface (UI) basics

If you’re new to web design, you might be confused by the difference between UI and UX . Most of us were. Know this — they’re two distinct concepts.

Where UX is concerned with the overall feel of a design, UI is about the specifics. If you were in an elevator, UI would be the size and arrangement of the floor buttons, while UX would encompass the colors, textures, and other interior design choices of the elevator space. UI is about giving someone the tools they need to experience your website free from complications. 

When constructing your first website, keep these UI principles in mind:

  • Functionality of interactive elements should be obvious
  • Uniformity must guide usability — actions should follow logical patterns
  • Design choices should be made with a clear purpose

Take a look at 10 essential UI design tips for a deeper dive into UI.

Introducing The Freelancer’s Journey: a free course that teaches you how to succeed as a freelance web designer — from getting clients to launching their websites.

Use the principles of design for web starters

Effective design is guided by certain rules and it’s important to understand essential web design skills before you start. There are standard practices that will simplify the process and make for a more refined final product. 

If you want to design and build websites, understanding good layout is key. We suggest keeping things minimal and working with only a few elements to focus on the perfect placement.

When you first start designing, think grids. Grids align elements, like div blocks and images on a web page, in a way that creates order. 

The structure of a layout should follow a visual hierarchy. What are the important ideas you want people to see and in what order? Visual hierarchy needs to adhere to the common patterns people use when reading. There are two paths people’s eyes generally follow on the web: the F-pattern and the Z-pattern. Being familiar with how these patterns work will help you organize your own content. 

The F-pattern is more common for designs with dense blocks of content. People’s eyes will scan down the left side of a layout until things catch their attention and then read from left to right. Imagine looking through the menu at a restaurant — you may skip over the bold names of dishes aligned on the left until you come to something that grabs you, which will prompt you to read the supporting details explaining that specific dish.

Most people will read through something like a blog post in this F-pattern. With left-aligned text and bulleted sentences, Nelson Abalos takes advantage of this design technique, making his posts easy to navigate and follow.

design assignment layout

The Z-pattern is associated with less text-heavy design. Many landing pages conform to this pattern. All the major elements on the Conservation Guide site adhere to the Z-pattern. If you’re a beginner web designer, this is a simple layout trick to help usability.

design assignment layout

You have the colors of the rainbow and beyond available to you. And we all know that "with great power comes great responsibility." The power of the color picker can be wielded for good or evil.

Here are a couple straightforward approaches in choosing a color scheme for your first website.

Use a single color as the base, vary the amount of saturation, include lights and darks, and play with various hues for a uniform color scheme. Regardless of your niche, a monochrome site is a smart design choice. And remember, whatever color you choose for the text, make sure you’re thoughtful about readability .

In this example from Unique , each section is delineated by a monochromatic color scheme. You don’t have to get this fancy in your beginner designs, but it’s nice to see their use of different monochromatic color variations. Notice how each section is made of colors related to the featured bags? This is a nice design trick that makes for a harmonious color scheme.


Take colors that are opposite on the color wheel and combine them. Easy enough, right?

Use complementary colors with care. In this design below from the Ignisis website, the designer used blue and orange in different combinations along with whitespace and greys for a layout that never tires the eyes. The contrast feels crisp and refreshing.

Typography is two-dimensional architecture, based on experience and imagination, and guided by rules and readability.

-Hermann Zapf

So what are the rules that you, the neophyte designer, need to know?

Typography informs tone

Think of a wedding invitation or a funeral announcement. Both are profound life events — one a joyful celebration and the other typically more somber. Where an ornate flowery typeface works well for a wedding, it’s not well-suited for a funeral. 

When designing your first website, keep tone in mind. If you’re going for a lighthearted vibe, like a food blog, weaving in playful fonts makes sense. But if you’re crafting a website for a law firm, stick to more professional typefaces .

Serifs versus non-serifs

A common mistake of new designers is to mix up serif and non-serif fonts. You can tell them apart because the ends of serif letters have an extra line or stroke added vertically or horizontally. 

Check out the differences between PT Serif and PT Sans (without the serif).

Here’s PT Serif:

design assignment layout

And here’s PT Sans:

design assignment layout

Serifs are an artifact from the time of printing presses when most of the words we read were printed with ink on paper. Serifs anchored words onto the page and made them easier to read. In the earlier days of the web, serifs were shunned by web designers because lower screen resolutions diluted them. Now that screens are better optimized for typography with serifs, they’ve made a comeback.

Those small lines make a huge difference. You’ll notice the above PT Serif typeface feels more formal and the sans-serif version seems lighter and looser. 

Since serif fonts are more complicated, they’re best used in moderation. Headers are an ideal place for serif fonts, and larger blocks of content benefit from a more simplified font without serifs.

Ornamentation versus practicality

The loops and whorls of a flourished font will add personality and elegance to a design, but don’t overuse frilly fonts. A website is about communicating to an audience through content. As Hermann Zapf said, readability is one of a font’s most important characteristics. 

Typography technicalities

There’s a lot to learn with typography. As you progress as a designer, you’ll need to know how to use line height, kerning, and different weights in your typography. But don’t get too caught up in tweaking all the intricacies for your first site. Focus on making sure everything is readable — you can experiment fine-tuning the details later. 

Start designing 

Tutorials and research are invaluable to your learning, but you’ll eventually just need to dig in and get designing. Even if you create something no one will ever see, it's still an exercise problem solving and applying what you've learned. Don't worry if it's not amazing. But be proud of crossing that threshold from aspiring designer to actually being one — you’re on your way! 

Get feedback 

You finished your first design — congratulations! You worked hard and you’re ready to show it to the world. But before you hit publish, get some outside perspective on what you made.

Getting constructive criticism can be uncomfortable. Creating something, whether it’s an essay, a painting, or a website is an act of vulnerability. The things you put into the world are an extension of who you are and what you’re capable of. To be told what you made could be better or is wrong might feel like a personal attack.

In web design, feedback is a normal and necessary part of the process. Learn how to set your ego aside and separate the feedback from your self-worth. As you gain experience, you’ll be able to identify and implement practical, useful feedback and let go of the rest. You’ll find that more experienced designers know what it’s like to be a beginner — they’re excited to see less-experienced designers succeed.

If you’re designing with Webflow, share your work in the Webflow Showcase or request help in the Webflow design forum . As you progress, you’ll want to submit to places like Dribbble and Behance to get more eyes on your work. Not only will you get constructive criticism, you’ll get feedback on what you’re doing well — which always feels great.

Webflow makes web design for beginners accessible

Gone are the days of having to learn complex front-end code to build a website. In the past, you had to depend on a developer to bring your designs to life. Today, you can design, build, and launch complex websites in just a few hours using Webflow . 

Knowing a few key concepts, and being able to know the difference between good and bad design will give you the confidence and skills to craft your first website. Webflow frees you up from having to code, opens up your creative bandwidth, and let’s you start designing immediately. 

Build completely custom, production-ready websites — or ultra-high-fidelity prototypes — without writing a line of code. Only with Webflow.

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Design a Successful Advertisement Assignment: A Step-by-Step Guide

Define your advertisement objectives, identify your target audience, establish advertising goals, determine your unique selling proposition, create your advertisement concept, brainstorm ideas, choose the right ad format, develop visuals and copy, design your advertisement layout, apply layout principles, select a color scheme, choose typography, create your own advertisement assignment, utilize ad creation tools, test different ad versions, gather feedback, measure your advertisement success, identify key performance indicators, analyze results, optimize your ad campaign.

Designing a successful advertisement assignment doesn't have to be an intimidating task. In this step-by-step guide, we will walk you through the entire process to create your own advertisement assignment that will effectively reach your target audience and achieve your advertising goals. Let's dive in!

Before you start designing your ad, it's important to have a clear understanding of what you want to achieve with your advertisement assignment. This involves identifying your target audience, establishing advertising goals, and determining your unique selling proposition.

Knowing who you want to reach with your ad is essential for creating a successful campaign. Consider the following factors when identifying your target audience:

  • Demographics: age, gender, location, income, etc.
  • Interests: hobbies, preferences, needs, etc.
  • Behavior: online habits, purchasing patterns, etc.

Having a clear idea of who your target audience is will help you tailor your ad to resonate with them and increase its effectiveness.

Setting goals for your advertisement assignment will help you measure its success and guide your design choices. Common advertising goals include:

  • Increasing brand awareness
  • Driving website traffic
  • Generating leads or sales
  • Encouraging customer engagement

Choose the goals that align with your overall marketing strategy and ensure they are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART).

Your unique selling proposition (USP) is what sets your product or service apart from your competitors. It's the reason why customers should choose you over other options. To determine your USP, consider:

  • What makes your product or service unique
  • The benefits your customers will receive
  • How your product or service solves a problem or fulfills a need

Once you've identified your USP, make sure to emphasize it in your advertisement assignment to effectively communicate your value proposition to your target audience.

Now that you've defined your objectives, it's time to get creative! In this section, we'll explore how to brainstorm ideas, choose the right ad format, and develop engaging visuals and copy to create an advertisement concept that captures your target audience's attention and achieves your goals.

Before diving into ad design, take some time to brainstorm ideas for your advertisement assignment. Here are some tips to help you get started:

  • Think about your target audience's interests and preferences. What type of content would they find appealing?
  • Consider your unique selling proposition (USP) and how it can be incorporated into the ad concept.
  • Try using mind mapping or free-writing techniques to generate a list of ideas.
  • Take inspiration from successful ads in your industry, but remember to put your own spin on it and stay true to your brand.

Don't be afraid to think outside the box—sometimes, the most memorable ads are the ones that break the mold!

There are various ad formats available, each with its own strengths and limitations. When choosing the right format for your advertisement assignment, consider the following:

  • Print ads: These include newspapers, magazines, and billboards. They're ideal for reaching a local audience or targeting a specific demographic.
  • Online ads: From display banners to social media ads, online advertising offers a wide range of options to reach your target audience on various platforms.
  • Video ads: With the rise of platforms like YouTube, video ads are an engaging way to tell your story and showcase your product or service.
  • Audio ads: Whether it's a traditional radio spot or a podcast ad, audio ads are a great way to reach people who are on the go or multitasking.

Consider the preferences of your target audience and the nature of your product or service when selecting the most suitable ad format for your campaign.

Once you've settled on an ad format, it's time to bring your advertisement concept to life with compelling visuals and copy. Here's what you need to keep in mind:

  • Visuals: Choose images or graphics that are eye-catching and relevant to your product or service. Ensure they align with your brand identity and resonate with your target audience. Don't forget to consider the principles of design, such as contrast, balance, and hierarchy, to create a visually appealing ad.
  • Copy: Write clear and concise copy that communicates your unique selling proposition and encourages your target audience to take action. Use persuasive language, but avoid over-hyping your product or service. Remember to include a strong call-to-action (CTA) that tells your audience what you want them to do next.

By combining well-designed visuals and engaging copy, you're well on your way to create your own advertisement assignment that stands out and achieves your advertising goals.

With your advertisement concept in place, it's time to focus on designing an attention-grabbing layout that will showcase your visuals and copy effectively. In this section, we'll discuss how to apply layout principles, select a color scheme, and choose typography to create your own advertisement assignment that stands out and engages your target audience.

To create a visually appealing and functional ad layout, you'll need to consider several design principles. These principles will help guide your design choices and ensure your ad effectively communicates your message:

  • Balance: Distribute visual elements evenly across your ad to create a sense of harmony and stability. This can be achieved through symmetrical or asymmetrical layouts.
  • Contrast: Use contrasting colors, shapes, and sizes to differentiate between elements and draw attention to key sections of your ad.
  • Hierarchy: Organize your ad's elements in a way that guides the viewer's eye through the most important information first. This can be done by varying the size, color, or position of elements.
  • Whitespace: Don't be afraid to leave some empty space in your layout. Whitespace can help your ad feel less cluttered and make it easier for the viewer to focus on your message.

By applying these layout principles, you'll be able to create a well-organized and visually striking advertisement that effectively communicates your message to your target audience.

Color plays a significant role in creating an eye-catching and memorable advertisement. When selecting a color scheme for your ad, consider the following:

  • Brand consistency: Use colors that align with your brand identity to create a cohesive look and establish brand recognition.
  • Emotional impact: Different colors can evoke different emotions in viewers. Choose colors that elicit the desired emotional response from your target audience.
  • Contrast: As mentioned earlier, contrast is essential for drawing attention to specific elements in your ad. Make sure your color choices provide enough contrast to make your text and visuals stand out.

By carefully selecting a color scheme, you'll be able to create an advertisement assignment that not only looks visually appealing but also resonates with your audience on an emotional level.

Typography is another crucial aspect of your ad's overall design. The right font choices can greatly impact your ad's readability and aesthetic appeal. When selecting typography for your advertisement assignment, keep these tips in mind:

  • Legibility: Choose fonts that are easy to read, especially for the most important information in your ad.
  • Font pairing: Use a combination of complementary fonts to create a visually interesting and balanced design. Typically, this involves using one font for headlines and another for body copy.
  • Consistency with your brand: Select fonts that are consistent with your brand's identity and messaging to maintain a cohesive look across all your marketing materials.

With the right typography choices, your ad will not only look visually appealing but also ensure that your message is easily understood by your audience.

Moving through these steps, you're well on your way to create your own advertisement assignment that stands out and communicates your message effectively. Remember, a well-designed ad is a powerful tool to engage your target audience and achieve your advertising goals.

Now that you've designed your advertisement layout, it's time to bring your concept to life and create your own advertisement assignment. In this section, we'll cover how to utilize ad creation tools, test different ad versions, and gather feedback to ensure that your advertisement is as effective as it can be. Let's dive in!

Creating your advertisement doesn't have to be a daunting task. Many tools are available that can help you bring your design to life, even if you're not a professional designer. Some popular options include:

  • Canva: A user-friendly online design platform where you can create eye-catching ads using customizable templates, graphics, and fonts.
  • Adobe Spark: Another online design tool that offers a variety of templates and design elements to help you create professional-looking ads.
  • Google Web Designer: A free tool from Google that allows you to create HTML5 ads with animations and interactive elements.

By leveraging these tools, you'll be able to create your own advertisement assignment without having to worry about mastering advanced design skills.

Once you have your ad design, it's important to test different versions of your ad to determine which one performs best. This process, known as A/B testing, involves creating two or more variations of your ad and measuring their performance based on key metrics. To conduct an effective A/B test, consider the following tips:

  • Test one element at a time, such as headlines, images, or calls to action, to identify which specific changes lead to better results.
  • Run your tests for a sufficient amount of time and ensure that you have enough data to make informed decisions.
  • Analyze your test results and implement changes based on your findings. Remember, the goal is to continuously improve your ad's performance.

This process of testing different ad versions will help you optimize your advertisement assignment and maximize its effectiveness.

Finally, don't forget to gather feedback from your target audience. It's essential to understand how your ad is being received and if it's resonating with your audience. Here are some ways to gather valuable feedback:

  • Focus groups: Organize a group of people from your target audience and show them your ad. Encourage them to share their thoughts and opinions on its effectiveness, design, and messaging.
  • Surveys: Distribute surveys to your target audience asking for their opinions on your ad. This can provide you with quantitative data and specific insights to help you make improvements.
  • Social media: Share your ad on social media platforms and monitor comments and reactions. This can give you a real-time understanding of how your audience is responding to your ad.

By gathering feedback from your audience, you'll have a better understanding of what works and what doesn't, allowing you to refine your advertisement assignment and make it even more effective.

With these steps, you're well-equipped to create your own advertisement assignment that stands out and captivates your target audience. Remember, the key to a successful ad is continuous improvement, so don't be afraid to test, gather feedback, and make adjustments as needed. Good luck on your advertising journey!

After creating your own advertisement assignment, the next step is to measure its success. Analyzing your ad's performance will help you understand what's working, what's not, and how you can improve your advertising strategy. In this section, we'll discuss how to identify key performance indicators (KPIs), analyze results, and optimize your ad campaign. So, let's get started!

Key performance indicators (KPIs) are measurable values that help you determine whether your advertisement is on track to achieve its goals. To effectively measure your ad's success, you'll need to identify the most relevant KPIs for your advertising objectives. Some common KPIs include:

  • Click-through rate (CTR): The percentage of people who click on your ad after seeing it. A higher CTR indicates that your ad is resonating with your audience and driving them to take action.
  • Conversion rate: The percentage of users who complete a desired action after clicking on your ad, such as making a purchase or signing up for a newsletter. This metric helps you understand how effective your ad is at encouraging users to take action.
  • Return on ad spend (ROAS): The revenue generated from your ad campaign divided by the amount you've spent on it. This KPI helps you determine whether your advertising investment is paying off.

By focusing on the right KPIs, you'll be able to accurately measure the success of your advertisement assignment and make data-driven decisions to improve its performance.

Once you've identified your KPIs, it's time to analyze the results of your ad campaign. Regularly monitoring your ad's performance will help you spot trends, identify areas for improvement, and make informed decisions about your advertising strategy. Here are a few tips for effective analysis:

  • Track your KPIs: Use advertising platforms like Google Ads or Facebook Ads Manager to monitor your KPIs and gather data about your ad's performance.
  • Compare results: Look at how your ad is performing compared to previous campaigns or industry benchmarks. This will help you understand whether your ad is meeting or exceeding expectations.
  • Identify patterns: Look for trends in your data, such as certain days of the week or times of day when your ad performs better. This information can help you optimize your ad schedule for maximum impact.

By analyzing your ad's results, you'll gain valuable insights into its performance and be better equipped to create your own advertisement assignment that drives success.

Now that you've analyzed the results of your ad campaign, it's time to optimize it for even better performance. Optimization involves making adjustments to your ad based on your findings to improve its effectiveness. Here are some ways to optimize your ad campaign:

  • Refine your targeting: If your ad isn't resonating with your target audience, consider adjusting your audience targeting to better reach potential customers who are more likely to be interested in your product or service.
  • Test different ad elements: As discussed earlier, A/B testing different versions of your ad can help you identify what works best and improve your ad's performance. Keep testing and iterating to find the most effective combination of visuals, copy, and calls to action.
  • Adjust your ad budget: If you find that your ad is performing well, consider increasing your budget to reach more potential customers. Conversely, if your ad is underperforming, you may need to reevaluate your budget and allocate resources more effectively.

Optimizing your ad campaign is an ongoing process that requires regular analysis and adjustments. By doing so, you'll continue to improve your ad's performance and make your advertisement assignment even more successful.

In conclusion, measuring your advertisement's success is a crucial part of the advertising process. By identifying the right KPIs, analyzing your results, and optimizing your ad campaign, you'll be well on your way to creating your own advertisement assignment that achieves your desired goals. Remember, advertising is an iterative process, so keep learning, experimenting, and improving to ensure your ads reach their full potential. Happy advertising!

If you're looking to further enhance your advertising skills after reading our step-by-step guide, don't miss the workshop ' What Makes a Memorable Advertisement? ' by Jessy Moussallem. This workshop will provide you with valuable insights on creating impactful and unforgettable advertisements that will resonate with your target audience.

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A multi-stages multi-objective assignment for facilities layout design

Profile image of Wakas S Khalaf

2020, Periodicals of Engineering and Natural Sciences (PEN)

Al-Ma'amun factory of the General Company for Food Products suffers from inefficient facilities layout of its production departments and warehouses of both types (warehouses of raw materials and warehouses of finished products), which causes a lot of waste of time, resources and effort in the process of transporting raw materials or even individuals, which is leads to an increase in the costs of handling materials and not providing the service in time. Therefore, this study came to solve the problem by constructing a mathematical model based on the method of multi-stage assignment to find the optimal assignment, since the management of the factory has many goals, it was necessary to use an efficient mathematical method which is goal programming. Therefore, a multi-stage multi-objectives assignment method is applied in two stages, the first of which includes the process of transporting raw materials from raw material warehouses to the production departments to carry out the manuf...


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Using Compose in Views

You can add Compose-based UI into an existing app that uses a View-based design.

To create a new, entirely Compose-based screen, have your activity call the setContent() method, and pass whatever composable functions you like.

class ExampleActivity : ComponentActivity() { override fun onCreate(savedInstanceState: Bundle?) { super.onCreate(savedInstanceState) setContent { // In here, we can call composables! MaterialTheme { Greeting(name = "compose") } } } } @Composable fun Greeting(name: String) { Text(text = "Hello $name!") } InteroperabilityAPIsSnippets.kt

This code looks just like what you'd find in a Compose-only app.

ViewCompositionStrategy for ComposeView

ViewCompositionStrategy defines when the Composition should be disposed. The default, ViewCompositionStrategy.Default , disposes the Composition when the underlying ComposeView detaches from the window, unless it is part of a pooling container such as a RecyclerView . In a single-Activity Compose-only app, this default behavior is what you would want, however, if you are incrementally adding Compose in your codebase, this behavior may cause state loss in some scenarios.

To change the ViewCompositionStrategy , call the setViewCompositionStrategy() method and provide a different strategy.

The table below summarizes the different scenarios you can use ViewCompositionStrategy in:

ComposeView in Fragments

If you want to incorporate Compose UI content in a fragment or an existing View layout, use ComposeView and call its setContent() method. ComposeView is an Android View .

You can put the ComposeView in your XML layout just like any other View :

In the Kotlin source code, inflate the layout from the layout resource defined in XML. Then get the ComposeView using the XML ID, set a Composition strategy that works best for the host View , and call setContent() to use Compose.

class ExampleFragmentXml : Fragment() { override fun onCreateView( inflater: LayoutInflater, container: ViewGroup?, savedInstanceState: Bundle? ): View { val view = inflater.inflate(R.layout.fragment_example, container, false) val composeView = view.findViewById<ComposeView>(R.id.compose_view) composeView.apply { // Dispose of the Composition when the view's LifecycleOwner // is destroyed setViewCompositionStrategy(ViewCompositionStrategy.DisposeOnViewTreeLifecycleDestroyed) setContent { // In Compose world MaterialTheme { Text("Hello Compose!") } } } return view } } InteroperabilityAPIsSnippets.kt

Alternatively, you can also use view binding to obtain references to the ComposeView by referencing the generated binding class for your XML layout file:

class ExampleFragment : Fragment() { private var _binding: FragmentExampleBinding? = null // This property is only valid between onCreateView and onDestroyView. private val binding get() = _binding!! override fun onCreateView( inflater: LayoutInflater, container: ViewGroup?, savedInstanceState: Bundle? ): View { _binding = FragmentExampleBinding.inflate(inflater, container, false) val view = binding.root binding.composeView.apply { // Dispose of the Composition when the view's LifecycleOwner // is destroyed setViewCompositionStrategy(ViewCompositionStrategy.DisposeOnViewTreeLifecycleDestroyed) setContent { // In Compose world MaterialTheme { Text("Hello Compose!") } } } return view } override fun onDestroyView() { super.onDestroyView() _binding = null } } InteroperabilityAPIsSnippets.kt

Two slightly different text elements, one above the other

Figure 1. This shows the output of the code that adds Compose elements in a View UI hierarchy. The "Hello Android!" text is displayed by a TextView widget. The "Hello Compose!" text is displayed by a Compose text element.

You can also include a ComposeView directly in a fragment if your full screen is built with Compose, which lets you avoid using an XML layout file entirely.

class ExampleFragmentNoXml : Fragment() { override fun onCreateView( inflater: LayoutInflater, container: ViewGroup?, savedInstanceState: Bundle? ): View { return ComposeView(requireContext()).apply { // Dispose of the Composition when the view's LifecycleOwner // is destroyed setViewCompositionStrategy(ViewCompositionStrategy.DisposeOnViewTreeLifecycleDestroyed) setContent { MaterialTheme { // In Compose world Text("Hello Compose!") } } } } } InteroperabilityAPIsSnippets.kt

Multiple ComposeView instances in the same layout

If there are multiple ComposeView elements in the same layout, each one must have a unique ID for savedInstanceState to work.

class ExampleFragmentMultipleComposeView : Fragment() { override fun onCreateView( inflater: LayoutInflater, container: ViewGroup?, savedInstanceState: Bundle? ): View = LinearLayout(requireContext()).apply { addView( ComposeView(requireContext()).apply { setViewCompositionStrategy( ViewCompositionStrategy.DisposeOnViewTreeLifecycleDestroyed ) id = R.id.compose_view_x // ... } ) addView(TextView(requireContext())) addView( ComposeView(requireContext()).apply { setViewCompositionStrategy( ViewCompositionStrategy.DisposeOnViewTreeLifecycleDestroyed ) id = R.id.compose_view_y // ... } ) } } InteroperabilityAPIsSnippets.kt

The ComposeView IDs are defined in the res/values/ids.xml file:

Preview composables in Layout Editor

You can also preview composables within the Layout Editor for your XML layout containing a ComposeView . Doing so lets you see how your composables look within a mixed Views and Compose layout.

Say you want to display the following composable in the Layout Editor. Note that composables annotated with @Preview are good candidates to preview in the Layout Editor.

@Preview @Composable fun GreetingPreview() { Greeting(name = "Android") } InteroperabilityAPIsSnippets.kt

To display this composable, use the tools:composableName tools attribute and set its value to the fully qualified name of the composable to preview in the layout.

Composable displayed within layout editor

Now that you know the interoperability APIs to use Compose in Views, learn how to use Views in Compose .

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Content and code samples on this page are subject to the licenses described in the Content License . Java and OpenJDK are trademarks or registered trademarks of Oracle and/or its affiliates.

Last updated 2024-03-25 UTC.

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Create fully customized email campaigns using new layout editor tool

What’s changing.

Create fully customized email campaigns using new layout editor tool

Who’s impacted 

Why you’d use it , getting started .

  • Admins:  
  • Customized layouts are ON by default at the domain level. You can turn layouts ON or OFF for specific domains, OUs, or groups by going to the admin panel for Gmail. 
  • If you don't want users to use Docs, Sheets, Slides, Drawings, Forms, and email layouts, but to still use Drive for file management, leave Drive turned ON and turn OFF Docs creation.
  • Visit the Help Center to learn more about managing Gmail settings for your users , customizing access policies for different organizational units or groups , and turning Docs creation ON or OFF.
  • End users: If enabled by your admin, visit the Help Center to learn more about using layouts in Gmail and Drive. 
  • Gmail:  
  • You can access custom email layouts in Gmail from the layout icon in your Compose toolbar.

gmail - compose toolbar

  • You can then open the full screen editor from the embedded editor in Gmail using the “Edit in full screen” button in the top-right:

gmail - edit in full screen

  • You can open an email layout that you have in Drive (an email layout created previously or an email layout shared with you) by double clicking the email layout file in Drive.

email layout in drive

  • Your custom layouts are stored in Drive as a special file type associated with the layouts editor.  You can find email layouts in Drive by searching: “type:email-layouts”
  • You can also access the standalone editor by going to docs.google.com/email-layouts/create?title=newDoc .
  • Mail-merge tags work with email layouts when enabled in Gmail. You can insert mail merge tags in email layouts. Visit the Help Center to learn more about sending personalized emails with mail merge.

Rollout pace 

  • Rapid Release domains : Gradual rollout (up to 15 days for feature visibility) starting on March 12, 2024 
  • Scheduled Release domains : Gradual rollout (up to 15 days for feature visibility) starting on April 8, 2024 
  • Rapid Release domains : Gradual rollout (up to 15 days for feature visibility) starting on March 25, 2024
  • Scheduled Release domains : Gradual rollout (up to 15 days for feature visibility) starting on April 15, 2024 


  • Available to Workspace Business Standard, Business Plus, Enterprise Standard, Enterprise Plus, Education Standard, Education Plus and Workspace Individual subscribers 


  • Google Workspace Admin Help: Manage Gmail settings for your users 
  • Google Workspace Admin Help: Turn Docs creation on or off
  • Google Help: Create branded emails with customized layouts
  • Google Workspace Updates Blog: New integrated email marketing tools for Gmail 
  • The Google Workspace blog: Helping small businesses manage their time and connect with their customers

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Subscribe by feed, subscribe by email, localized google workspace updates, useful links, join the official community for google workspace administrators.

In the Google Cloud Community, connect with Googlers and other Google Workspace admins like yourself. Participate in product discussions, check out the Community Articles, and learn tips and tricks that will make your work and life easier. Be the first to know what's happening with Google Workspace.


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NCAA Women's Tournament bracket 2024: Printable bracket, games, matchups for Elite Eight of March Madness

The tournament is winding down, but the action is heating up as we reach the elite eight.

And then there were eight. The 2024 NCAA Women's Tournament is near its conclusion with the Elite Eight now officially set for tip off. All four No. 1 seeds are still alive and vying to reach the Final Four. That includes top overall seed South Carolina, who maintains its undefeated record, looking to become the 10th team to complete an undefeated season as national champions. Plus, Iowa, Texas and USC are all still in the mix.

The other four teams are just as deserving to this point, but interestingly no No. 2 seeds made it to this point. In fact, each No. 1 seed will take on the No. 3 seed in their region. Oregon State, NC State, LSU and UConn all made it through their first three games to reach this point and have a chance to score the upset and make the Final Four.

Sunday will see two teams punch their ticket to the Final Four in Cleveland. Things get underway with South Carolina taking on Oregon State in Albany, New York. Then, attention turns out west with Texas battling NC State from Portland, Oregon. 

Below you will find a viewable/printable 2024 NCAA Women's Tournament bracket. Thanks for stopping by, but don't forget to continue to checking in throughout the next three weeks. CBS Sports will offer complete coverage of the events with the latest news, results and breakdowns of the biggest matchups.

March Madness® is better with friends, especially when you beat them!  Get your bracket pools ready now  and invite your friends, family and co-workers to play.

As usual, we'll have a variety of methods in which you can view the bracket on the device of your choice. And you absolutely want to make sure you join our Bracket Games where you can compete against the public or create a bracket group to battle your family, friends and/or co-workers.


Click here to enlarge and print the blank 2024 NCAA Women's Tournament bracket. 

Our Latest Women's College Basketball Stories


South Carolina vs. Oregon State: How to watch, preview

Erica ayala • 2 min read.


2024 NCAA Women's Tournament scores, TV schedule

Wajih albaroudi • 5 min read.


Staley feeling 'uncomfortably comfortable' about team


Texas vs. NC State: How to watch, preview

Isabel gonzalez • 2 min read.


UConn men's and women's hoops head to Elite Eight


LSU, Iowa prepare for Elite Eight rematch

Erica ayala • 3 min read, share video.

design assignment layout

Printable 2024 NCAA Women's Tournament bracket

design assignment layout

Staley 'worried every day' about SC

design assignment layout

Clark's records spotlight past, future

design assignment layout

Ranking Clark's assists vs. Colorado

design assignment layout

LSU, Iowa set for title game rematch in Elite Eight

design assignment layout

Clark, Iowa cruise past Colorado to Elite Eight

design assignment layout

Watkins leads USC past Baylor and into Elite Eight

design assignment layout

Notre Dame coach speaks on Hidalgo nose ring situation

design assignment layout

Elite Eight expert picks: Who advances to Phoenix?


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