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Strategies for Effective Assignment Design

As students progress through their degree programs, it becomes increasingly important for them to learn the major genres, research strategies, and writing conventions of their field. Because writing expectations vary across disciplinary and professional contexts, students benefit from transparent explanation of what those expectations are, how to achieve them, and why they’re important. This can be accomplished through carefully designed formal assignments.

Experts in Writing across the Curriculum argue that students learn most successfully when formal assignments engage them with “authentic research projects that promote disciplinary ways of inquiry and argument and are written in real disciplinary genres. [1]  from the National Survey of Student Engagement shows that deep learning depends less on the amount of writing assigned in a course than on the design of the writing assignments themselves. According to this and other research, effective assignments have the following three features: [2]  a meaning-constructing task, clear explanations of expectations, and interactive components.

Engage students in meaning-making

A meaning-constructing task asks students to bring their own critical thinking to bear on problems that matter to both the writer and the intended audience. A meaning-constructing task typically presents students with a disciplinary problem, asks them to formulate their own problems, or otherwise engages them in active critical thinking in a specific rhetorical context.

Book cover to Engaging Ideas: The Professor's Guide to Integrating Writing, Critical Thinking, and Active Learning in the Classroom

Provide clear expectations

Effective assignments clearly present the instructor’s expectations for a successful performance. Ideally, the assignment prompt also explains the purpose of the assignment in terms of the course’s learning goals and presents the instructor’s evaluation criteria.

Include interactive components

Interactive activities situate writing as a process of inquiry and discovery, promote productive talk about the writer’s emerging ideas, and encourage multiple drafts and global revision.

Create a Rhetorical Context

Creating a rhetorical context for your assignments means considering the role students will play in their writing, the audience they are meant to address, the format (or genre) of the writing task, and the task they are meant to accomplish. The mnemonic RAFT is helpful to recall these four components. [3]

Having a role helps students understand the kind of change they hope to bring about in their audience’s view of the subject matter. Without a specific role to play other than “student,” writers in your class might assume that their purpose is simply to regurgitate information to the instructor.

Specifying an audience goes hand-in-hand with establishing the student’s role. By identifying an audience, the instructor can help students see how their writing might influence a reader’s stance.


By specifying a genre (e.g., experimental report, op-ed piece, proposal), the assignment helps students transfer earlier genre knowledge to the current task and make decisions about document design, organization, and style. It also helps instructors clarify expectations about length, citation style, etc. More important still, the rhetorical awareness enabled by writing in a specific genre also creates an awareness of a discourse community at work. To students, college writing assignments often appear to be an isolated transaction between student and teacher. Students assume that strange features of the assignment reflect the idiosyncrasies of the instructor rather than the conventions of a larger community. When instructors assign authentic genres there is an opportunity to make discourse community values and expectations explicit.

Task (Problem-Focused)

The task itself sets forth the subject matter of the assignment. Unlike topic-focused tasks (e.g., research/write about X), which can lead to unfocused papers that merely report information, a truly engaging task is typically embedded in disciplinary “problems” and disciplinary ways of thinking and argumentation. A problem-focused task should give students agency to bring their own critical thinking to bear on the subject matter—that is, to engage them in making their own meaning.

Use Transparent Assignment Design

Often an assignment that seems clear to you can be confusing to your students. While designing your assignments, ask yourself what might be unclear to your students—what assumptions might you be making about their procedural or background knowledge? Scholar Mary Ann Winkelmas

Align writing activities and assignments clearly with learning objectives

The goal of transparent assignment design is to “to make learning processes explicit and equally accessible for all students” (winkelmes et al., 2019, p. 1)., make clear the purpose, task, and criteria for success., for more information visit tilt (transparency in teaching and learning).

assignment design handwriting

Example: Less Transparent

Assignment from an Introductory Communications Course

1. Select a professional in your prospective academic discipline and/or career filed that is considered an expert in an area in which you are interested 2. Secure an interview with the professional for a date and time that is convenient for both of you. 3. Prepare 8-10 questions to ask the professional about their knowledge of a particular academic discipline/career field. 4. Conduct a 20-30 minute, face-to-face interview to gather knowledge that will help you make an informed decision about the major/career you are considering. You will want to audio/video record the interview with the interviewee’s permission 5. Prepare a typed transcript of the questions and answers using the audio/ video recording 6. Write a 400-500 word reflection paper in which you address the following items: a. Who you selected and why? b. What you learned from them that is most interesting? c. What this assignment helped you learn about your major/career decision? 7. What questions you still have? 8. Submit the typed transcript and reflection paper to your instructor

Revised EXAMPLE: More Transparent

Communications 100E, Interview Assignment Used by permission of Katharine Johnson, University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Due dates: - Sept 30 - Draft interview questions - October 15 - Transcript of interviews - November 17 - Report

Purpose : The purpose of this assignment is to help you make an informed decision about the major/career you are considering.

Skills : This assignment will help you practice the following skills that are essential to your success in school and professional life: - Accessing and collecting information from appropriate primary and secondary sources - Synthesizing information to develop informed views - Composing a well-organized, clear, concise report to expand your knowledge on a subject in your major.

Knowledge : This assignment will also help you to become familiar with the following important content knowledge in this discipline: - Issues facing professionals in a field - Scholarly research formats for documenting sources and creating reference pages (i.e., bibliographies).

Task : To complete this assignment you should: 1. Secure an interview with two professionals in hour prospective academic discipline and/or career field who are considered experts. 2. Schedule the interviews with the professionals at a date and time that is convenient for both of you. 3. Prepare 8-10 questions to ask the professionals about their expertise in a particular academic or career field. The questions must be based on a review of the filed using 5 credible sources as defined by the librarian in our research module. Sources should be cited using APA formatting. 4. Conduct a 2 -3 -minute, face-to-face interview with each professional to gather knowledge that will help you make an informed decision about the major/career you are considering. You will want to audio/video record the interview with the interviewee’s permission. 5. Prepare a typed transcript of the interviews 6. Compare and contrast the information provided by both professionals in an 8-page (1.5 spaced, 12point Times New Roman font, 1 inch margins) report that documents the advantages and disadvantages of a career in the selected field.

Criteria for success : Please see the attached rubric.Type your textbox content here.

Information Literacy Skills Needed for Research Writing

Asking students to engage authentic, discipline-specific problems requires a kind of dismantling of the commonly encountered “research paper” culture in which students think of research as going to the library to find sources that can be summarized, paraphrased, and quoted. To move from “research paper” culture to a culture in which research projects are written in disciplinary genres, instructors need to help students develop the following skills related to information literacy: [4]

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Consider the Novice-Expert Framework

Consider backward design.

  • Bean and Melzer, p. 64-65 ↵
  • All of this section excerpted and paraphrased from Bean and Melzer, pp. 66-68 ↵
  • All of this section excerpted and paraphrased from Bean and Melzer, pp. 200-202 ↵
  • Bizup, Joseph. “BEAM: A Rhetorical Vocabulary for Teaching Research-Based Writing.” Rhetoric Review, 2008, Vol.27 (1), p.72-86. DOI: 10.1080/07350190701738858 ↵

Locally Sourced: Writing Across the Curriculum Sourcebook Copyright © by [email protected] is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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Assignment Design Planning Guide

This resource walks you through the creation of an effective, scaffolded writing assignment that's designed to meet your course goals. You might want to use it in conjunction with our   Designing Writing Assignments for Deep Learning  resource that provides additional learning theory and context.

Begin with the end in mind: identify your course goals.

  • What do you want students to  know  by the end of the class, i.e., content, concepts, principles (that is, declarative knowledge)?
  • What do you want students to  be able to do  by the end of the class, i.e., explain, analyze, apply (that is procedural knowledge)?
  • Which  thinking skills  do you want students to develop, i.e., ways of observing, habits of mind, types and use of evidence, questioning strategies? What ways of thinking characterize someone in your discipline?
  • What are some “ target texts ” (genres) students need to be able to  read  and  write ?
  • Are you preparing students for another course or type of work? If so, what knowledge and skills must they have for the future?
  • What will students already know/have done related to these goals (that is, prior knowledge)?

Given what students know and don’t know when they arrive in your course, and what they will need to demonstrate/do afterward, what are your learning goals for this course in terms of knowledge ( know ) and skills ( do )? In other words, complete the following sentence: In this class, students need to  learn about...  and/or  learn how to ....

Identify your assessment tool.

That is, how will you know and/or assess that students have achieved your goals? Not all goals are best assessed with writing. For declarative knowledge, a quiz or test might be more apt and quicker. To assess goals related to critical thinking or procedural knowledge, a well-designed writing assignment could be more appropriate.

But think beyond the traditional research paper, which does little to teach disciplinary ways of thinking and often results in a data dump of information. Research shows that  meaning-making tasks , such as the following, engage students in their learning and can create more authentic writing (Anderson et al, 2016):

  • problem-focused activities
  • critical thinking skills
  • case studies
  • synthesized reviews of literature
  • assigned positions of an issue
  • real world applications

To explore what meaning-making tasks students could research, solve and write about, for the assessment, think of how meaning is constructed in your own discipline. Answer the following questions to get started:

  • What types of  questions  or  problems  does your field address? 
  • What  activities  does writing mediate in your discipline, related professions, knowledge- making practices? In other words,  why do you write ? For what  purposes ?
  • What  forms  (i.e., genres) does writing take when doing this work? What kinds of documents are produced? What are its conventions?
  • To  whom  do you write?
  • What counts as  evidence  and how it is  used and/or interpreted ?

Now, considering your list of meaning-making writing activities and your goals for the course, brainstorm some possible scenarios that answer the following questions:

  • What kind of problem (that is, what kind of activity), could students solve in your course related to your course goals?
  • Who would they write to about it?
  • What form (genre) would that writing take?

Identify all the knowledge and skills students need to achieve your learning goals.

As experts, we have tacit knowledge that students don’t (Ambrose et al, 2010). This can result in vague assignment descriptions with missing steps and necessary information that make it difficult for students to complete successfully. A good way to bring this tacit knowledge to consciousness is to write down all the things you’d need to know and all the steps you’d have to take to complete the assessment task successfully. Then review your list and see if you can further break down each step. 

  • What are  all the components (knowledge and skills ) students will need in order to complete this assignment successfully?
  • What do students already know?
  • What will you need to teach them? 
  • What skills or content have students had difficulty with in the past?
  • Are there additional critical thinking skills, habits of mind, etc that students will need to develop in order to be successful?

Identify scaffolded activities to help students learn content and practice the skills needed to achieve the learning goals.

According to Ambrose et al, in order to learn and “develop mastery, students must  acquire  component skills,  practice  integrating them, and know when to  apply  what they have learned” (emphasis added, 2010).

  • How can you provide opportunities for students to  learn the content  and  practice the skills  you identified above?
  • How can students  receive feedback  from their peers, you, other audiences? At what points in the project would feedback be helpful?
  • What other interactive components can you build into the assignment to help students complete it successfully (e.g., low-to medium-stakes scaffolding activities for writing to learn content, grapple with content and problems, and learning to write in disciplinary ways)?
  • How can you help students identify and activate  prior knowledge  in useful ways? How can you help students understand the ways of knowing and writing in your discipline and how they might differ from what they’ve encountered before or in other contexts?
  • Also, consider your previous experience: what are the hardest aspects for students in this class? Where have students struggled with the material or the assignments? Where have you been disappointed with student performance? How can you increase opportunities for students to develop these skills and knowledge?

Explain expectations clearly.

Research shows that providing clear expectations can improve student engagement and the quality of their final product (Anderson et al 2016). See “ Providing Clear Expectations in Assignments ” for the information students find most helpful. Try to include these in every assignment for improved clarity and to help students meet your expectations.

Name your assignments appropriately.

Research has also indicated that giving your assignments relevant, descriptive names (rather than “Paper 1”) can improve students’ disciplinary knowledge and general learning. For more on this research and the simple steps for naming your assignments to improve learning, see “ Using Writing Assignment Names to Integrate Learning .” 

Sources Referenced:

  • Ambrose, Susan. A., Michael W. Bridges, Michele DiPietro, Marsha C. Lovett, and Marie K. Norman. 2010.  How Learning Works: Seven Research-based Principles for Smart Teaching.  San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
  • Anderson, Paul , Chris M. Anson, Robert M. Gonyea, & Charles Paine. 2016. “How to Create High-Impact Writing Assignments That Enhance Learning and Development and Reinvigorate WAC/WID Programs: What Almost 72,000 Undergraduates Taught Us.”  Across the Disciplines , 13(4).

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Designing your Syllabus: Backward Design

When you design a syllabus for any course, you begin with the outcomes that you intend for your students to achieve, and you work backwards from these to particular readings and writing assignments. This method, formalized, is called the method of backward design. Backward design is a useful method for any professor in that it ensures that all assignments, readings, and activities will connect students with the outcomes that the professor deems essential to the course.

At the first stage of backward design, writing instructors should consider two issues: what they want their students to know/experience in their courses, and what they want them to be able to do, in these courses and afterwards.  Put another way, instructors need to think both about their focusing questions and their course outcomes. 

You'll note that the first issue—what instructors want their students to know/experience—distinguishes between knowledge and experience. Indeed, this distinction is significant in a writing class, where course content (while important) does not drive the course. The best writing classes consider the students' experiential learning in their course design. To accomplish the aims of experiential learning, it's important to come up with a course question that can bring together the many smaller questions of the course and that can engage students intellectually and experientially. For instance: What is happiness? What are the roots of violence? What is the nature of the self? Technology: friend or foe? 

These are the kinds of questions that can focus course readings and class discussions. They are also the kinds of questions that students can engage with outside of the context of the writing classroom. Finally, they are the kinds of questions around which professors can build a course that is intellectually coherent. 

Even more important the the course questions, however, are the course outcomes — in other words, what students should be able to do when the course comes to an end.  In the first-year writing classes, an instructor's set of outcomes will be informed by the course outcomes (see the outcomes for Writing 2-3 , Writing 5 , or the First-Year Seminar ) . Take some time to review these outcomes, and to consider how every assignment and classroom activity might work to help students achieve them. 

Designing Your Assignment

As you design your assignments, you'll want first to determine the outcomes that each assignment will work to accomplish. If your aim is to ensure, for instance, that students learn how to shape good academic questions, you might ask them to compose, share, and then revise their questions.  If you want them to develop their research capabilities, have them take these questions to the library databases in order to look for appropriate sources.  If you want to ensure that students learn how to work with sources, ask them to compose a summary and synthesis document, in which they nutshell their sources and show how these sources are in conversation with one another.  Finally, if you want to ensure that they learn how to compose and revise, assign drafts and give them feedback.  Have their peers offer feedback as well.  Whatever you decide to assign, use the outcomes to guide you. 

Second, you'll want to scaffold your assignments, so that students can build on their capabilities.  You'll see in the examples cited in the paragraph above that each assignment builds on the one before.  Students work on one step in the process and get feedback on it (from the instructor or their peers) before moving on to the next challenge.  By scaffolding, instructors can be sure that students know how to successfully complete the final assignment.  Students can also track the evolution and transfer of their skills. 

Third, writing instructors frequently comment that Dartmouth's ten-week term is very short.  Assignments must therefore be designed to achieve multiple outcomes. Consider the first step of the assignment sequence outlined above: "Ask students to compose, share, and then revise their questions."  Several outcomes are achieved here:  students are composing, they are collaborating, and they are revising.  If you design your assignments to achieve multiple outcomes, you'll be surprised at how much your students can accomplish.  

Whatever assignments you design, do understand that simply making an assignment does not ensure that students will acquire the desired skills. For an assignment to succeed it should be transparent and progressive—that is, your students should understand your goals for the assignment, and they should be able to chart their own development in relation to these goals. The better students understand your assignments and your vision for your course, the better they'll be able to meet the course aims.

Spacing Your Assignments

When designing your syllabus, you will want to consider carefully the spacing of your writing assignments. It's important that students are given enough time to write and to revise their papers. Professors who use a writing assistant will also want to be sure that they provide the writing assistant enough time to read and respond to students' papers.

Here are some things to consider:

  • Give students time to move through the writing process. If you are teaching a first-year course whose purpose is to make students able writers, you will have to give them time to move through the various inventions, composing, and revision processes. One way of making room for these various steps in the writing process is by assigning a paper in three parts: the pre-draft (which could consist of crafting questions, writing a discovery draft, creating an outline, and so on), the first draft, and the revised final draft.
  • Give students time to revise. If we want our students to revise their papers substantively, we must give them adequate time. This means that we need to get their papers back on time, particularly the first drafts. Consider whether you'll need two days, four days, or a full week to return an assignment. Also consider whether or not you expect the student to see a writing assistant or to meet with you between drafts.
  • Try not to make a reading assignment on the day a major paper is due. Let your students focus their attention fully on their writing. Schedule writing workshops the day that a paper is due instead.
  • Long assignments (particularly those that involve research) work better if you break them up into smaller assignments. Ask students to bring in an annotated bibliography, a working thesis, an outline, etc. Scheduling these shorter assignments ensures that students remain engaged in the writing process. It also prevents them from writing the paper at the last minute.
  • Consider what's best for you. Many students and instructors like Monday due dates: students get the weekend to work on their papers, and professors keep their weekends free. Other instructors prefer for papers to come in on Thursday or Friday, so that they can use the weekends to respond.  Think of your own rhythms as you plan.

Crafting Your Assignments

Professors often wonder, when creating writing assignments, how detailed the assignments should be. Some professors don't use prompts, requiring students to come up with the topics and questions themselves. Others create detailed writing assignments, arguing that this allows students to save energy for writing their papers (as opposed to generating topics and questions). Still others craft writing prompts that offer students ideas for writing but that leave plenty of room for students to come up with ideas of their own. We'll consider the options of prompting and not prompting here.

The Open Writing Assignment

Professors who don't use writing prompts believe that an important part of scholarship is learning to raise questions that will yield a good academic argument. Instead of creating a writing prompt, these professors craft an assignment process that supports students as they work through the various challenges of scholarly inquiry. In a sense, these professors are asking students to craft their own prompts, and to write the paper that will answer the questions that they outline there. The obvious pedagogical advantage of the open assignment is that it allows students to learn to develop topics on their own. In the open assignment, students are not only permitted to pursue intellectual questions that are of interest to them, they also gain some experience in framing a topic that is neither too narrow nor too broad.

If you elect not to use prompts, you should intend to devote class and conference time to assisting students in this process. For instance, you might ask students to come up with three good academic questions about the course's reading materials. Students can post these questions on the Canvas discussion board. You can then workshop these questions, using class time to talk about which questions will (or won't) yield a good academic argument, and why. You should also comment thoroughly on the questions submitted, raising further questions for the student to consider. You might also invite students to comment on one another's questions on the Canvas site. Students can then revise their questions and resubmit them for another round of feedback before they write.

Some professors find it useful to offer students models of good academic questions. Other professors give explicit instruction regarding what the paper shouldn't do and leave it to the students to determine what they want to do within these parameters. All professors ask students to submit their prompts in advance of drafting so that they can determine, before the students proceed too far, whether or not these topics are appropriate and promising.

Whatever you decide, do note that a prompt-less writing assignment needs a good infrastructure in order to succeed. Indeed, Karen Gocsik's research assignment for Writing 2-3 has twelve steps, indicating the many moments of support and feedback that first-year students require as they work through the process of writing a research paper Your assignment need not have twelve steps to be effective; it may have four steps, for instance, or five. Craft your assignment steps according to the aims of your assignment.

Crafting a Good Prompt

Writing a good prompt for a writing assignment is a difficult task. Too often, professors write prompts for writing assignments knowing exactly what sorts of essays they want their students to produce, only to get papers that miss the mark. How can you produce writing assignments that clearly convey the tasks and questions you want your students to undertake?

Before writing your prompts, you will want to consider a few matters.

  • Consider what you want the assignment to require the students to do, in relation to the course outcomes.  What outcomes are most important at this point in your course? How can the assignment move students closer to achieving these outcomes?  
  • Consider what you want the assignment to do, in terms of the larger questions of your course. What questions, in particular, do you want your students to consider? Are these questions related closely or peripherally to topics you've been discussing in class? 
  • Consider what kinds of thinking you want students to do. Do you want your students to define, illustrate, compare, analyze, or evaluate? You will want to come up with prompts that clearly direct students as to the kind of thinking they will have to do.
  • Consider your students' writing processes. Are you focusing on teaching students to place their arguments within a larger conversation or context? If so, your prompt should address the importance of context and suggest things that you want students to consider as they write. Are you hoping to get your students to understand the mechanics of the paragraph? Your prompt might ask students to write paragraphs that summarize, then analyze, then synthesize, so that they can see how different tasks require different paragraph development.
  • If the paper involves research, consider outlining your research requirements in a way that educates students about the research process. You may want to require students to use a variety of sources, or to use certain sources that you've either put on reserve or listed in the course syllabus. Understand that students may need help with finding sources, evaluating them, and incorporating them successfully into their arguments. Craft your prompt accordingly.

Once you've determined the outcomes for your writing assignment, you're ready to craft the prompt. Here are some things to consider:

  • Break the assignment down into specific tasks. If, for example, you want students to compare the effectiveness of two political movements, you might first ask students to define the goals of each movement; then to consider the history of each movement; then to discuss how the history of the movement affected the creation of its goals; and finally, to consider how history influenced the movement's ultimate success (or failure).
  • Break the assignment down into specific questions. For example, if you want students to discuss the formal elements of a particular painting, you might, as Art Historian Joy Kenseth does, ask the students: What is the focus of the painting? How does the artist treat such things as light and shadow, line, space, and composition? How does this treatment communicate the painting's ideas? If you don't want students to answer all of the questions you put to them, but want them simply to consider these questions before writing their responses, make that clear.
  • Provide context. A writing prompt that asks students to discuss whether or not the films of Leni Riefenstahl are propagandistic does not point students to the interesting controversy surrounding Riefenstahl's work. Nor does it indicate whether they should limit themselves to discussing the formal elements of Riefenstahl's films, or whether they should include biographical detail. The more contextual information you give your students, the more precise their responses will be.
  • Craft each sentence carefully. You will want to be sure that there is no room for misunderstanding the assignment. If you ask students to analyze how a myth informed paintings and sculptors during the first century of the Renaissance, do you want students to examine the works themselves or the artists that produced them? Sometimes a slip in word choice or the careless placement of a modifier can leave students confused as to what, precisely, you are asking them to do.
  • Be clear about what you don't want. If you don't want students to discuss Virginia Woolf's personal experiences as they relate to A Room of One's Own , then be sure to instruct them not to include biographical references. In addition, explaining why such information should be excluded will help students to understand better the questions and the desired response.
  • Be clear about the paper requirements. Have you indicated the paper's due date? How many pages you require? How many sources you require? What special criteria (if any) you will use when grading this paper? If your requirements are rigid, say so. If you're flexible, let the students know. This may be the aspect of the prompt that students are most anxious about, so offer as much detail as you think is necessary.
  • Try to write (or at least to outline) the assignment yourself. If you have trouble outlining a paper based on this prompt, your students will, too. You will want to think about ways of revising the assignment to make it clearer and more manageable.
  • Discuss the assignment with the class. When you distribute the assignment to the class, take time to go over it. Ask for their questions. Make notes as to where their understanding of the assignment differs from yours so that you can improve the prompt the next time you use it.

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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

Eberly Center

Teaching excellence & educational innovation, how do i design effective writing assignments.

A key challenge in helping students learn basic writing skills is doing so without overwhelming the students or overburdening yourself. Thus you must prioritize which skills you value and design assignments accordingly,

  • prioritize which skills you value and design assignments accordingly,
  • communicate those priorities (and your specific expectations) to students, and
  • give them appropriate opportunities to practice and receive feedback .

Design assignments that isolate specific skills.

Many people find it helpful to “scaffold” writing assignments; that is, sequence assignments that break reading, analysis, and writing into component parts and give students practice developing mastery in each area, building gradually towards more complex, comprehensive writing tasks. For example, you might first ask students to summarize, in writing, the central argument of a reading and three pieces of evidence the author used to support it. At a second stage, you might ask students to write a critique of the argument in light of that evidence and alternative evidence. At a third stage, you might ask students to write an essay comparing two readings in terms of how compellingly the authors made their cases.

Use frequent, short assignments.

It is also helpful to assign more writing tasks of shorter length or smaller scope rather than fewer tasks of great length or large scope. This way, students get more opportunity to practice basic skills and can refine their approach from assignment to assignment based on feedback they receive. This strategy frees you to think beyond the term paper and be more creative in the type of writing you assign, e.g., a letter, program notes, or policy memo. For more information on designing effective assignments, see the following materials from MIT and the University of Wisconsin:

  • http://web.mit.edu/writing/Resources/Teachers/creating.html
  • http://mendota.english.wisc.edu/~WAC/category.jsp?id=12

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Teaching, Learning, & Professional Development Center

  • Teaching Resources
  • TLPDC Teaching Resources

How Do I Create Meaningful and Effective Assignments?

Prepared by allison boye, ph.d. teaching, learning, and professional development center.

Assessment is a necessary part of the teaching and learning process, helping us measure whether our students have really learned what we want them to learn. While exams and quizzes are certainly favorite and useful methods of assessment, out of class assignments (written or otherwise) can offer similar insights into our students' learning.  And just as creating a reliable test takes thoughtfulness and skill, so does creating meaningful and effective assignments. Undoubtedly, many instructors have been on the receiving end of disappointing student work, left wondering what went wrong… and often, those problems can be remedied in the future by some simple fine-tuning of the original assignment.  This paper will take a look at some important elements to consider when developing assignments, and offer some easy approaches to creating a valuable assessment experience for all involved.

First Things First…

Before assigning any major tasks to students, it is imperative that you first define a few things for yourself as the instructor:

  • Your goals for the assignment . Why are you assigning this project, and what do you hope your students will gain from completing it? What knowledge, skills, and abilities do you aim to measure with this assignment?  Creating assignments is a major part of overall course design, and every project you assign should clearly align with your goals for the course in general.  For instance, if you want your students to demonstrate critical thinking, perhaps asking them to simply summarize an article is not the best match for that goal; a more appropriate option might be to ask for an analysis of a controversial issue in the discipline. Ultimately, the connection between the assignment and its purpose should be clear to both you and your students to ensure that it is fulfilling the desired goals and doesn't seem like “busy work.” For some ideas about what kinds of assignments match certain learning goals, take a look at this page from DePaul University's Teaching Commons.
  • Have they experienced “socialization” in the culture of your discipline (Flaxman, 2005)? Are they familiar with any conventions you might want them to know? In other words, do they know the “language” of your discipline, generally accepted style guidelines, or research protocols?
  • Do they know how to conduct research?  Do they know the proper style format, documentation style, acceptable resources, etc.? Do they know how to use the library (Fitzpatrick, 1989) or evaluate resources?
  • What kinds of writing or work have they previously engaged in?  For instance, have they completed long, formal writing assignments or research projects before? Have they ever engaged in analysis, reflection, or argumentation? Have they completed group assignments before?  Do they know how to write a literature review or scientific report?

In his book Engaging Ideas (1996), John Bean provides a great list of questions to help instructors focus on their main teaching goals when creating an assignment (p.78):

1. What are the main units/modules in my course?

2. What are my main learning objectives for each module and for the course?

3. What thinking skills am I trying to develop within each unit and throughout the course?

4. What are the most difficult aspects of my course for students?

5. If I could change my students' study habits, what would I most like to change?

6. What difference do I want my course to make in my students' lives?

What your students need to know

Once you have determined your own goals for the assignment and the levels of your students, you can begin creating your assignment.  However, when introducing your assignment to your students, there are several things you will need to clearly outline for them in order to ensure the most successful assignments possible.

  • First, you will need to articulate the purpose of the assignment . Even though you know why the assignment is important and what it is meant to accomplish, you cannot assume that your students will intuit that purpose. Your students will appreciate an understanding of how the assignment fits into the larger goals of the course and what they will learn from the process (Hass & Osborn, 2007). Being transparent with your students and explaining why you are asking them to complete a given assignment can ultimately help motivate them to complete the assignment more thoughtfully.
  • If you are asking your students to complete a writing assignment, you should define for them the “rhetorical or cognitive mode/s” you want them to employ in their writing (Flaxman, 2005). In other words, use precise verbs that communicate whether you are asking them to analyze, argue, describe, inform, etc.  (Verbs like “explore” or “comment on” can be too vague and cause confusion.) Provide them with a specific task to complete, such as a problem to solve, a question to answer, or an argument to support.  For those who want assignments to lead to top-down, thesis-driven writing, John Bean (1996) suggests presenting a proposition that students must defend or refute, or a problem that demands a thesis answer.
  • It is also a good idea to define the audience you want your students to address with their assignment, if possible – especially with writing assignments.  Otherwise, students will address only the instructor, often assuming little requires explanation or development (Hedengren, 2004; MIT, 1999). Further, asking students to address the instructor, who typically knows more about the topic than the student, places the student in an unnatural rhetorical position.  Instead, you might consider asking your students to prepare their assignments for alternative audiences such as other students who missed last week's classes, a group that opposes their position, or people reading a popular magazine or newspaper.  In fact, a study by Bean (1996) indicated the students often appreciate and enjoy assignments that vary elements such as audience or rhetorical context, so don't be afraid to get creative!
  • Obviously, you will also need to articulate clearly the logistics or “business aspects” of the assignment . In other words, be explicit with your students about required elements such as the format, length, documentation style, writing style (formal or informal?), and deadlines.  One caveat, however: do not allow the logistics of the paper take precedence over the content in your assignment description; if you spend all of your time describing these things, students might suspect that is all you care about in their execution of the assignment.
  • Finally, you should clarify your evaluation criteria for the assignment. What elements of content are most important? Will you grade holistically or weight features separately? How much weight will be given to individual elements, etc?  Another precaution to take when defining requirements for your students is to take care that your instructions and rubric also do not overshadow the content; prescribing too rigidly each element of an assignment can limit students' freedom to explore and discover. According to Beth Finch Hedengren, “A good assignment provides the purpose and guidelines… without dictating exactly what to say” (2004, p. 27).  If you decide to utilize a grading rubric, be sure to provide that to the students along with the assignment description, prior to their completion of the assignment.

A great way to get students engaged with an assignment and build buy-in is to encourage their collaboration on its design and/or on the grading criteria (Hudd, 2003). In his article “Conducting Writing Assignments,” Richard Leahy (2002) offers a few ideas for building in said collaboration:

• Ask the students to develop the grading scale themselves from scratch, starting with choosing the categories.

• Set the grading categories yourself, but ask the students to help write the descriptions.

• Draft the complete grading scale yourself, then give it to your students for review and suggestions.

A Few Do's and Don'ts…

Determining your goals for the assignment and its essential logistics is a good start to creating an effective assignment. However, there are a few more simple factors to consider in your final design. First, here are a few things you should do :

  • Do provide detail in your assignment description . Research has shown that students frequently prefer some guiding constraints when completing assignments (Bean, 1996), and that more detail (within reason) can lead to more successful student responses.  One idea is to provide students with physical assignment handouts , in addition to or instead of a simple description in a syllabus.  This can meet the needs of concrete learners and give them something tangible to refer to.  Likewise, it is often beneficial to make explicit for students the process or steps necessary to complete an assignment, given that students – especially younger ones – might need guidance in planning and time management (MIT, 1999).
  • Do use open-ended questions.  The most effective and challenging assignments focus on questions that lead students to thinking and explaining, rather than simple yes or no answers, whether explicitly part of the assignment description or in the  brainstorming heuristics (Gardner, 2005).
  • Do direct students to appropriate available resources . Giving students pointers about other venues for assistance can help them get started on the right track independently. These kinds of suggestions might include information about campus resources such as the University Writing Center or discipline-specific librarians, suggesting specific journals or books, or even sections of their textbook, or providing them with lists of research ideas or links to acceptable websites.
  • Do consider providing models – both successful and unsuccessful models (Miller, 2007). These models could be provided by past students, or models you have created yourself.  You could even ask students to evaluate the models themselves using the determined evaluation criteria, helping them to visualize the final product, think critically about how to complete the assignment, and ideally, recognize success in their own work.
  • Do consider including a way for students to make the assignment their own. In their study, Hass and Osborn (2007) confirmed the importance of personal engagement for students when completing an assignment.  Indeed, students will be more engaged in an assignment if it is personally meaningful, practical, or purposeful beyond the classroom.  You might think of ways to encourage students to tap into their own experiences or curiosities, to solve or explore a real problem, or connect to the larger community.  Offering variety in assignment selection can also help students feel more individualized, creative, and in control.
  • If your assignment is substantial or long, do consider sequencing it. Far too often, assignments are given as one-shot final products that receive grades at the end of the semester, eternally abandoned by the student.  By sequencing a large assignment, or essentially breaking it down into a systematic approach consisting of interconnected smaller elements (such as a project proposal, an annotated bibliography, or a rough draft, or a series of mini-assignments related to the longer assignment), you can encourage thoughtfulness, complexity, and thoroughness in your students, as well as emphasize process over final product.

Next are a few elements to avoid in your assignments:

  • Do not ask too many questions in your assignment.  In an effort to challenge students, instructors often err in the other direction, asking more questions than students can reasonably address in a single assignment without losing focus. Offering an overly specific “checklist” prompt often leads to externally organized papers, in which inexperienced students “slavishly follow the checklist instead of integrating their ideas into more organically-discovered structure” (Flaxman, 2005).
  • Do not expect or suggest that there is an “ideal” response to the assignment. A common error for instructors is to dictate content of an assignment too rigidly, or to imply that there is a single correct response or a specific conclusion to reach, either explicitly or implicitly (Flaxman, 2005). Undoubtedly, students do not appreciate feeling as if they must read an instructor's mind to complete an assignment successfully, or that their own ideas have nowhere to go, and can lose motivation as a result. Similarly, avoid assignments that simply ask for regurgitation (Miller, 2007). Again, the best assignments invite students to engage in critical thinking, not just reproduce lectures or readings.
  • Do not provide vague or confusing commands . Do students know what you mean when they are asked to “examine” or “discuss” a topic? Return to what you determined about your students' experiences and levels to help you decide what directions will make the most sense to them and what will require more explanation or guidance, and avoid verbiage that might confound them.
  • Do not impose impossible time restraints or require the use of insufficient resources for completion of the assignment.  For instance, if you are asking all of your students to use the same resource, ensure that there are enough copies available for all students to access – or at least put one copy on reserve in the library. Likewise, make sure that you are providing your students with ample time to locate resources and effectively complete the assignment (Fitzpatrick, 1989).

The assignments we give to students don't simply have to be research papers or reports. There are many options for effective yet creative ways to assess your students' learning! Here are just a few:

Journals, Posters, Portfolios, Letters, Brochures, Management plans, Editorials, Instruction Manuals, Imitations of a text, Case studies, Debates, News release, Dialogues, Videos, Collages, Plays, Power Point presentations

Ultimately, the success of student responses to an assignment often rests on the instructor's deliberate design of the assignment. By being purposeful and thoughtful from the beginning, you can ensure that your assignments will not only serve as effective assessment methods, but also engage and delight your students. If you would like further help in constructing or revising an assignment, the Teaching, Learning, and Professional Development Center is glad to offer individual consultations. In addition, look into some of the resources provided below.

Online Resources

“Creating Effective Assignments” http://www.unh.edu/teaching-excellence/resources/Assignments.htm This site, from the University of New Hampshire's Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning,  provides a brief overview of effective assignment design, with a focus on determining and communicating goals and expectations.

Gardner, T.  (2005, June 12). Ten Tips for Designing Writing Assignments. Traci's Lists of Ten. http://www.tengrrl.com/tens/034.shtml This is a brief yet useful list of tips for assignment design, prepared by a writing teacher and curriculum developer for the National Council of Teachers of English .  The website will also link you to several other lists of “ten tips” related to literacy pedagogy.

“How to Create Effective Assignments for College Students.”  http:// tilt.colostate.edu/retreat/2011/zimmerman.pdf     This PDF is a simplified bulleted list, prepared by Dr. Toni Zimmerman from Colorado State University, offering some helpful ideas for coming up with creative assignments.

“Learner-Centered Assessment” http://cte.uwaterloo.ca/teaching_resources/tips/learner_centered_assessment.html From the Centre for Teaching Excellence at the University of Waterloo, this is a short list of suggestions for the process of designing an assessment with your students' interests in mind. “Matching Learning Goals to Assignment Types.” http://teachingcommons.depaul.edu/How_to/design_assignments/assignments_learning_goals.html This is a great page from DePaul University's Teaching Commons, providing a chart that helps instructors match assignments with learning goals.

Additional References Bean, J.C. (1996). Engaging ideas: The professor's guide to integrating writing, critical thinking, and active learning in the classroom . San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Fitzpatrick, R. (1989). Research and writing assignments that reduce fear lead to better papers and more confident students. Writing Across the Curriculum , 3.2, pp. 15 – 24.

Flaxman, R. (2005). Creating meaningful writing assignments. The Teaching Exchange .  Retrieved Jan. 9, 2008 from http://www.brown.edu/Administration/Sheridan_Center/pubs/teachingExchange/jan2005/01_flaxman.pdf

Hass, M. & Osborn, J. (2007, August 13). An emic view of student writing and the writing process. Across the Disciplines, 4. 

Hedengren, B.F. (2004). A TA's guide to teaching writing in all disciplines . Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's.

Hudd, S. S. (2003, April). Syllabus under construction: Involving students in the creation of class assignments.  Teaching Sociology , 31, pp. 195 – 202.

Leahy, R. (2002). Conducting writing assignments. College Teaching , 50.2, pp. 50 – 54.

Miller, H. (2007). Designing effective writing assignments.  Teaching with writing .  University of Minnesota Center for Writing. Retrieved Jan. 9, 2008, from http://writing.umn.edu/tww/assignments/designing.html

MIT Online Writing and Communication Center (1999). Creating Writing Assignments. Retrieved January 9, 2008 from http://web.mit.edu/writing/Faculty/createeffective.html .

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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.​

Assignment Design Basics

Here are some introductory materials to get you started with writing assignment design:

Designing and Responding to Writing Assignments: this slide deck, developed by the WAC Director for the new faculty seminar, (lightly) covers some of the core concepts in designing effective writing assignments, including scaffolding, connecting assignments to course goals, developing rubrics, and providing effective feedback.

Designing Rubrics : this handout provides a bit more detail on how to develop effective rubrics and includes a few examples of different types.

Questions for Low- and High-Stakes Assignments: this handout provides a list of questions to consider as you design low and high-stakes writing assignments for your courses.

The LTC Archive on Course Design addresses far more than writing assignments, but the general principles of transparency and accessibility that their materials emphasize are certainly applicable to writing assignment design.

For additional help…

Carleton faculty, keep in mind that George Cusack, the WAC Director, is both happy and contractually obligated to help you develop writing assignments in your courses. If you have questions or simply want some feedback on assignments in process, please feel free to email George!

Purdue Online Writing Lab Purdue OWL® College of Liberal Arts

Common Writing Assignments

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

Understanding Writing Assignments

This resource describes some steps you can take to better understand the requirements of your writing assignments. This resource works for either in-class, teacher-led discussion or for personal use.

Argument Papers

This resource outlines the generally accepted structure for introductions, body paragraphs, and conclusions in an academic argument paper. Keep in mind that this resource contains guidelines and not strict rules about organization. Your structure needs to be flexible enough to meet the requirements of your purpose and audience.

Research Papers

This handout provides detailed information about how to write research papers including discussing research papers as a genre, choosing topics, and finding sources.

Exploratory Papers

This resource will help you with exploratory/inquiry essay assignments.

Annotated Bibliographies

This handout provides information about annotated bibliographies in MLA, APA, and CMS.

Book Report

This resource discusses book reports and how to write them.


This handout provides suggestions and examples for writing definitions.

Essays for Exams

While most OWL resources recommend a longer writing process (start early, revise often, conduct thorough research, etc.), sometimes you just have to write quickly in test situations. However, these exam essays can be no less important pieces of writing than research papers because they can influence final grades for courses, and/or they can mean the difference between getting into an academic program (GED, SAT, GRE). To that end, this resource will help you prepare and write essays for exams.

Book Review

This resource discusses book reviews and how to write them.

Academic Proposals

This resource will help undergraduate, graduate, and professional scholars write proposals for academic conferences, articles, and books.

In this section


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Generative AI & Writing Assignment Design

Guides & tips.

The availability of generative AI requires writing instructors to be more deliberate about assignment design. Yet many principles we have always valued remain the same: Prompts should provide opportunities for students to use writing as a means to practice critical thinking and reflection; to engage deeply with texts, using sources to help them generate interesting questions and develop compelling arguments; and to recognize the ethical and social dimensions of writing.

We can encourage students to embrace these opportunities through tapping their intrinsic motivation—striving, as John Bradley puts it, to craft assignments that are “transformational” rather than “transactional.”   We begin with some general recommendations that draw on Mary-Ann Winkelmes’s research-based guidelines for transparent assignment design and are oriented toward this goal.

Writing assignments should include the following, ideally in about one page:

Purpose:  Begin by briefly describing the purpose of the assignment, how doing the assignment helps students reach a particular learning goal of the course. You may want to connect this goal to a future application in or beyond your course.

Tasks:  Craft a concise, specific prompt that is meaningful and relevant to students’ lives. This might mean asking students to draw on personal experiences, but it might also mean asking them to write for an authentic audience (not just you), in a genre relevant to their future professional or civic lives, or in connection to an urgent local or global challenge.

Be sure to i ncorporate a series of process steps and deadlines. This might include brainstorming activities, proposals, drafts (for peer review, in-class workshops, or conferences), and reflective writing.

Criteria:  Show students what success looks like. Offer models of effective compositions, and invite students to analyze those models to develop a critical understanding of how they work. Consider using models published in Deerfield , the Writing Program journal of outstanding undergraduate writing, or other BU student publications . 

Tell students what you will focus on in your feedback and assessment. Consider deemphasizing criteria that AI-generated prose can easily meet and emphasizing criteria like intellectual risk-taking, originality, nuance, etc. ( Note the useful distinction Kevin Gannon makes between “logistical rigor” and “cognitive rigor” —and don’t mistake the former for the latter.)

See also Anatomy of an Assignment Sheet . 

Crafting Assignments That Discourage AI Use

  • Be specific about quotation and citation expectations. Ask students to write or talk about these quotes or sources in class as part of the writing process. 
  • Have students record their reading and research process. Consider assigning a research log or using a social annotation tool like Perusall . Formal or informal stepping-stone (scaffolded) assignments can help to ensure that students are engaging in authentic research and reading deeply.
  • When assigning canonical texts that are likely already part of AI’s database, consider pairing them with less canonical texts — such as a particular response to the canonical text or a source located by the student that is available only through library subscription access — that AI might not be able to reference or discuss as easily. (Note that AI tools like Claude can “process” PDFs, and similar capacities are likely to become more common across platforms.) You might have students present orally on the source as part of the writing process.
  • Offer opportunities for students to write about their own lives and experiences, as appropriate to the assignment genre and course topics. 
  • Value creativity and difference. Invite students to explore nonstandard language and question genre conventions in a way that is relevant to your topic.

Crafting Assignments that Incorporate Generative AI

  • Be explicit about the kind of AI use you are authorizing for the assignment, and model effective prompting for this use. 
  • Consider an assignment that showcases what AI can do well and where it falls short–for example, a two-part assignment that asks students to use AI to draft, then write a critical analysis of what AI does well and poorly before they go on to revise or discard the draft.
  • Engage AI in the revision process after students have drafted an essay. Let students experiment with the ways that AI can help them reformulate, rephrase, or reorganize their ideas. Include opportunities for reflection regarding their experience working with AI as a collaborator.
  • Remember that servers which run AI, such as ChatGPT, are not always accessible during times of high demand, and plan ahead if you intend to use AI live in the classroom. For instance, if you are planning a live demonstration of AI, have it generate one or two responses to be used as backup in the event that the AI tool is not accessible during your class meeting.
  • Be explicit about how you want students to cite AI sources. For example, refer to the MLA guide on Citing Generative AI in MLA Style .

More ideas that can be incorporated into the scaffolding for a writing assignment are available here .

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  • Implement Universal Design for Learning with Assignments

by Mohammad Ahmed | May 14, 2024 | Accessibility , How-tos , Instructional design , Services , Universal Design for Learning

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This post is the second installment in a series on Universal Design for Learning. For more information, please see previous installments in this series .

When you are designing assignments to help your class practice new concepts, you can set up your students for success by implementing the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL).  This involves creating tasks that provide multiple means of representation, expression, and engagement to accommodate the diverse needs and preferences of all learners. Providing multiple options for assignments involves offering students various ways to engage with the material, demonstrate their understanding, and express their learning.

When implementing UDL in your course, be sure to explain the rationale behind different assignment formats. This will make it clear to students that through engaging with various formats they get a variety of ways to practice their knowledge and can develop far stronger skills in order to achieve greater mastery. Also highlight the link between the different formats, for example, that all of these formats contribute to the main learning objectives of the course and that one format is not “easier” or “harder”. Lastly, provide them with necessary feedback to improve their learning irrespective of the format they choose. Below are some strategies you can use to designing assignments with UDL:

  • Provide Clear Instructions: Clearly articulate the assignment objectives, expectations, and grading criteria. Consider providing written, spoken, and visual instructions to accommodate different learning preferences. A format-agnostic rubric will help to organize this, and we have resources available for you .
  • Offer Multiple Options : Provide students with choices on how they can demonstrate their understanding of the material. This could include options such as written essays, oral presentations, multimedia projects, artistic creations, or hands-on demonstrations.
  • Use Varied Formats : Present assignment materials in multiple formats to accommodate different learning styles. Offer readings in text, audio, and video formats, and provide visual aids such as diagrams, charts, and infographics to support comprehension. Allow students to choose the format in which they present their work. Options could include written reports, oral presentations, multimedia presentations (i.e. videos, audios), posters or infographics, or digital portfolios. Some tools that can support this such as Immersive Reader , Panopto Videos , and the OneButton Studio .
  • Support Accessibility : Ensure that assignment materials are accessible to all students, including those with disabilities. Use accessible document formats , provide alternative text for images, and consider the needs of students who may require accommodations such as screen readers or captioning.
  • Offer Feedback Options : Provide students with options for receiving feedback on their assignments, such as written comments, audio recordings, or face-to-face meetings. Speedgrader is a great resource for written and audio comments. Tailor feedback to individual student needs and preferences. Offer students options for receiving feedback on their assignments. Allow them to choose their preferred method of feedback, such as written comments, audio recordings, video feedback, or face-to-face meetings.
  • Promote Reflection : Incorporate opportunities for students to reflect on their learning process and evaluate their own progress. Encourage metacognitive strategies such as goal setting, self-assessment, and reflection journals.

Each one of these strategies can become overwhelming, so start small. Don’t implement all of them at once; instead choose one strategy and implement it into 1 assignment or assessment. This is what Thomas Tobin calls the +1 method 1 : one activity that you already do plus one new, easy strategy. To read more about his strategy you can download his free pdf book UDL for FET Practitioners: Guidance for Implementing Universal Design for Learning .

Let’s take feedback options, for example. After using SpeedGrader to grade the students’ exams, many faculty and instructors typically offer some text feedback; however, you can easily implement a UDL strategy by also offering verbal feedback through the recorded audio button near the bottom of the feedback panel in SpeedGrader. You can make this a 1+1 goal for the next quarter, and as you become more proficient with this strategy you can slowly increase it to monthly and then weekly implementations.

By providing multiple options for UDL assignments, you can accommodate diverse learning styles, preferences, and abilities, and empower students to take ownership of their learning experiences.

Further Resources:

  • Review Academic Technology Solutions’ full list of Teaching Tools .
  • Learn About Universal Design for Learnin g from CAST.
  • Explore the University of Chicago’s   Center for Digital Accessibility .
  • Request an instructional design consultation with LDT instructional designers.
  • Request digital media consultation and development services in support of teaching materials and the presentation of research.
  • Request custom workshops for departments or programs who want to tailor the content to their instructors or subject area.
  • Join us in office hours , virtual or hybrid, during which you can ask any questions you may have.
  • Join our online workshops on various topics related to teaching with technology.

1 Tobin, T. J. (2021). UDL for FET Practitioners. SOLAS. April 15, 2024, https://www.ahead.ie/udlforfet-guidance .

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8 Ways to Create AI-Proof Writing Prompts

C reating 100 percent AI-proof writing prompts can often be impossible but that doesn’t mean there aren’t strategies that can limit the efficacy of AI work. These techniques can also help ensure more of the writing submitted in your classroom is human-generated. 

I started seeing a big uptick in AI-generated work submitted in my classes over the last year and that has continued. As a result, I’ve gotten much better at recognizing AI work , but I’ve also gotten better at creating writing prompts that are less AI-friendly. 

Essentially, I like to use the public health Swiss cheese analogy when thinking about AI prevention: All these strategies on their own have holes but when you layer the cheese together, you create a barrier that’s hard to get through. 

The eight strategies here may not prevent students from submitting AI work, but I find these can incentivize human writing and make sure that any work submitted via AI will not really meet the requirements of the assignment. 

1. Writing AI-Proof Prompts: Put Your Prompt Into Popular AI tools such as ChatGPT, Copilot, and Bard 

Putting your writing prompt into an AI tools will give you an immediate idea of how most AI tools will handle your prompt. If the various AI chatbots do a good, or at least adequate, job immediately, it might be wise to tweak the prompt. 

One of my classes asks students to write about a prized possession. When you put this prompt into an AI chatbot, it frequently returns an essay about a family member's finely crafted watch. Obviously, I now watch out for any essays about watches. 

2. Forbid Cliché Use

Probably the quickest and easiest way to cut back on some AI use is to come down hard on cliché use in writing assignments. AI tools are essentially cliché machines, so banning these can prevent a lot of AI use. 

Equally as important, this practice will help your students become better writers. As any good writer knows, clichés should be avoided like the plague. 

3. Incorporate Recent Events

The free version of ChatGPT only has access to events up to 2022. While there are plugins to allow it to search the internet and other internet-capable AI tools, some students won’t get further than ChatGPT. 

More importantly, in my experience, all AI tools struggle to incorporate recent events as effectively as historic ones. So connecting class material and assignments to events such as a recent State of Union speech or the Academy Awards will make any AI writing use less effective. 

4. Require Quotes

AI tools can incorporate direct quotations but most are not very good at doing so. The quotes used tend to be very short and not as well-placed within essays. 

Asking an AI tool for recent quotes also can be particularly problematic for today’s robot writers. For instance, I asked Microsoft's Copilot to summarize the recent Academy Awards using quotes, and specifically asked it to quote from Oppenheimer's director Christopher Nolan’s acceptance speech. It quoted something Nolan had previously said instead. Copilot also quoted from Wes Anderson’s acceptance speech, an obvious error since Anderson wasn’t at the awards .  

5. Make Assignments Personal

Having students reflect on material in their own lives can be a good way to prevent AI writing. In-person teachers can get to know their students well enough to know when these types of personal details are fabricated. 

I teach online but still find it easier to tell when a more personalized prompt was written by AI. For example, one student submitted a paper about how much she loved skateboarding that was so non-specific it screamed AI written. Another submitted a post about a pair of sneakers that was also clearly written by a "sole-less" AI (I could tell because of the clichés and other reasons). 

6. Make Primary or Scholarly Sources Mandatory

Requiring sources that are not easily accessible on the internet can stop AI writing in its tracks. I like to have students find historic newspapers for certain assignments. The AI tools I am familiar with can’t incorporate these. 

For instance, I asked Copilot to compare coverage of the first Academy Awards in the media to the most recent awards show and to include quotes from historic newspaper coverage. The comparison was not well done and there were no quotes from historical newspaper coverage. 

AI tools also struggle to incorporate journal articles. Encouraging your students to include these types of sources ensures the work they produce is deeper than something that can be revealed by a quick Google search, which not only makes it harder for AI to write but also can raise the overall quality.  

7. Require Interviews, Field Trips, Etc. 

Building on primary and scholarly sources, you can have your students conduct interviews or go on field trips to historic sites, museums, etc. 

AI is still, thankfully, incapable of engaging in these types of behavior. This requires too much work for every assignment but it is the most effective way to truly ensure your work is human- not computer-written. 

If you’re still worried about AI use, you can even go a step further by asking your students to include photos of them with their interview subjects or from the field trips. Yes, AI art generators are getting better as well, but remember the Swiss cheese analogy? Every layer of prevention can help. 

8. Have Students Write During Class

As I said to start, none of the methods discussed are foolproof. Many ways around these safeguards already exist and there will be more ways to bypass these in the future. So if you’re really, really worried about AI use you may want to choose what I call the “nuclear option.” If you teach in person you can require students to write essays in person. 

This approach definitely works for preventing AI and is okay for short pieces, but for longer pieces, it has a lot of downsides. I would have trouble writing a long piece in this setting and imagine many students will as well. Additionally, this requirement could create an accusatory class atmosphere that is more focused on preventing AI use than actually teaching. It’s also not practical for online teaching. 

That all being said, given how common AI writing has become in education, I understand why some teachers will turn to this method. Hopefully, suggestions 1-7 will work but if AI-generated papers are still out of hand in your classroom, this is a blunt-force method that can work temporarily. 

Good luck and may your assignments be free of AI writing! 

  • 7 Ways To Detect AI Writing Without Technology
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  • My Student Was Submitting AI Papers. Here's What I Did

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6 ways to use Microsoft Copilot for end-of-school-year tasks

May 14, 2024.

By Microsoft Education Team

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The end of the school year is a hectic time for educators everywhere. Between reviewing content, completing assessments, and maintaining classroom management, it’s easy to feel the pressure of too many responsibilities and not enough time to accomplish everything.

Whether closing out the academic year in the northern hemisphere or preparing for the next one in the southern hemisphere, Microsoft Copilot offers innovative and efficient ways to complete many of the tasks that occupy these transitional times of year. From drafting student feedback to composing newsletters and offering planning suggestions for events, Copilot adapts to whatever task it’s asked. To get started, all you need is a basic understanding of how to access and use Copilot.

Start using Copilot for your end-of-school-year tasks

You can learn how to use Copilot by visiting Meet your AI assistant for education: Microsoft Copilot .

When you’re ready to get started, go to copilot.microsoft.com or download the iOS or Android mobile app.

Writing prompts for the end of the school year

Prompting Copilot to generate content requires practice. Including specific information in your prompt helps produce more relevant responses.

An effective Copilot prompt:

  • Asks the tool to take on a role called a persona .
  • Provides an objective  that tells the tool what to do or produce.
  • Defines the audience  who will be using whatever Copilot generates.
  • Includes context  that gives the tool background information.
  • Sets boundaries  that limit or constrain responses.

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Elements of a Good Prompt infographic which includes tips for writing prompts that produce more relevant responses.

Throughout this post, you’ll find sample prompts that include these components. We recommend borrowing inspiration from them and adjusting to make them fit your own classroom, or you can copy and paste the examples without modifications if you are just beginning.

Now let’s learn how Copilot can help you complete six common end-of-school-year tasks.

1. Craft student feedback at the end of the school year

Copilot can help you write end-of-school-year feedback in a style and tone that all students can understand. Simply craft a prompt that includes the subject area and details about the feedback you want to provide, and Copilot can draft a constructive, supportive statement written specifically for students. For example:

You are a fourth-grade teacher who is writing feedback on a student’s current reading skills. The student uses details to explain what text means but is unable to draw inferences in fiction. The student can identify in-text examples that illustrate a given theme but is unable to independently produce a theme without guidance. Write a short statement that explains this feedback to a student. Include a description about why using details is important and 1-2 ways to develop this skill. The paragraph should be written with plain text so that a fourth-grade student will understand.

You can always refine your prompt if the response is not what you expected. Simply include something like, “Re-write this feedback in Spanish” without selecting New topic , and Copilot will continue where you left off. Give it a try.

2. Write end-of-school-year reflections

Educators often write end-of-school-year newsletters for families, update class blogs with a final post, and draft reflections on school year goals. Copilot can assist with all these tasks and can help you create personalized, engaging visuals for your content. For example, you can use the following prompt to produce a summer newsletter for families.

You are the science department leader for a middle school in New York City. Draft a summer newsletter for families that includes an introduction that talks about the past year and 5 sections: Science Books for Young Adults, Science at Home, Science Summer Camps, Science Events in NYC, and NY Science Museums. Only include information that can be linked to a website to learn more. The newsletter should be written in plain text using an informal tone.

You can also share your experiences, memorable moments, and insights from the school year and Copilot will help you find creative ways to share this information with colleagues, families, and students.

3. Organize classroom materials at the end of the school year

The last few weeks of a school year includes packing up classrooms for the summer, collecting books and devices, and organizing materials for the next year. Copilot can create checklists or reminders for end-of-school-year tasks like these and offer suggestions that you might not even consider. For example:

You are a high school media specialist who checks out technology to administrators and educators. Write a checklist of the 3 most important things to do before returning each of the following devices: document camera, tablet, digital projector, games, and wires. Make each device a section heading and use bulleted lists for the content. Write the checklists so that the content is easily understood by people with varying levels of technological expertise.

Another way to use Copilot when you are organizing classroom materials is to ask for suggestions for efficient ways to declutter and prepare your classroom for the next school year.

4. Plan an end-of-school-year celebration

Many schools celebrate major milestones like the start of summer or moving from lower grades to higher grades with a party or ceremony. Copilot can be your personal planner and assist with brainstorming ideas for end-of-school-year events, awards ceremonies, or virtual gatherings. It can even suggest ways to be more inclusive in areas you might not have considered, like food options in the prompt below.

You are a guidance counselor in charge of helping rising eighth-grade students transition from middle school to high school. Draft a letter to middle school teachers that shares the biggest differences between middle school and high school. Include paragraphs on class schedules, touring the high school, meeting educators, extracurricular activities, and summer reading books. The letter should be written in a formal, conversational tone.

Whether you are creating invitations, planning activities, or drafting speeches, Copilot can be your creative collaborator.

5. Develop transition materials at the end of the school year

When students enter elementary school or move to middle or high school, everyone involved in the transition needs to know how to prepare for this change. Students need to know what to expect, families need to know how to support their children, and current educators need to provide relevant information. Copilot can help create transition materials so that everyone stays informed using a prompt like this example:

You can also use Copilot to write welcome letters, tips for success, or information about what to expect in the upcoming year.

6. Streamline parent communication at the end of the school year

Copilot can help you create templates for parent-teacher conferences at the end of the school year, as well as student progress updates, and letters to families. For example, you can ask Copilot to create a message to families about signing up for conferences with the following prompt.

You are a high school math teacher who teaches introductory algebra. Write a letter to families about parent-teacher conferences. Include an introductory paragraph that thanks families for their ongoing support and paragraphs about what will happen during the conferences, why conferences are important, who should attend, and how to prepare for the meeting. Conclude the letter with a paragraph about how to sign up for a conference slot. Write the letter using an approachable, informal tone.

Microsoft Copilot is a versatile AI tool for educators that adapts to your specific needs. To learn more about Microsoft’s AI solutions and resources, check out Smart learning: AI resources every educator should know and the  AI for educators learning path on Microsoft Learn. Most importantly, enjoy the end of the school year with your students and the time you saved by using Copilot. 

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Out of the Centre

Savvino-storozhevsky monastery and museum.

Savvino-Storozhevsky Monastery and Museum

Zvenigorod's most famous sight is the Savvino-Storozhevsky Monastery, which was founded in 1398 by the monk Savva from the Troitse-Sergieva Lavra, at the invitation and with the support of Prince Yury Dmitrievich of Zvenigorod. Savva was later canonised as St Sabbas (Savva) of Storozhev. The monastery late flourished under the reign of Tsar Alexis, who chose the monastery as his family church and often went on pilgrimage there and made lots of donations to it. Most of the monastery’s buildings date from this time. The monastery is heavily fortified with thick walls and six towers, the most impressive of which is the Krasny Tower which also serves as the eastern entrance. The monastery was closed in 1918 and only reopened in 1995. In 1998 Patriarch Alexius II took part in a service to return the relics of St Sabbas to the monastery. Today the monastery has the status of a stauropegic monastery, which is second in status to a lavra. In addition to being a working monastery, it also holds the Zvenigorod Historical, Architectural and Art Museum.

Belfry and Neighbouring Churches

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Located near the main entrance is the monastery's belfry which is perhaps the calling card of the monastery due to its uniqueness. It was built in the 1650s and the St Sergius of Radonezh’s Church was opened on the middle tier in the mid-17th century, although it was originally dedicated to the Trinity. The belfry's 35-tonne Great Bladgovestny Bell fell in 1941 and was only restored and returned in 2003. Attached to the belfry is a large refectory and the Transfiguration Church, both of which were built on the orders of Tsar Alexis in the 1650s.  

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To the left of the belfry is another, smaller, refectory which is attached to the Trinity Gate-Church, which was also constructed in the 1650s on the orders of Tsar Alexis who made it his own family church. The church is elaborately decorated with colourful trims and underneath the archway is a beautiful 19th century fresco.

Nativity of Virgin Mary Cathedral

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The Nativity of Virgin Mary Cathedral is the oldest building in the monastery and among the oldest buildings in the Moscow Region. It was built between 1404 and 1405 during the lifetime of St Sabbas and using the funds of Prince Yury of Zvenigorod. The white-stone cathedral is a standard four-pillar design with a single golden dome. After the death of St Sabbas he was interred in the cathedral and a new altar dedicated to him was added.

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Under the reign of Tsar Alexis the cathedral was decorated with frescoes by Stepan Ryazanets, some of which remain today. Tsar Alexis also presented the cathedral with a five-tier iconostasis, the top row of icons have been preserved.

Tsaritsa's Chambers

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The Nativity of Virgin Mary Cathedral is located between the Tsaritsa's Chambers of the left and the Palace of Tsar Alexis on the right. The Tsaritsa's Chambers were built in the mid-17th century for the wife of Tsar Alexey - Tsaritsa Maria Ilinichna Miloskavskaya. The design of the building is influenced by the ancient Russian architectural style. Is prettier than the Tsar's chambers opposite, being red in colour with elaborately decorated window frames and entrance.

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At present the Tsaritsa's Chambers houses the Zvenigorod Historical, Architectural and Art Museum. Among its displays is an accurate recreation of the interior of a noble lady's chambers including furniture, decorations and a decorated tiled oven, and an exhibition on the history of Zvenigorod and the monastery.

Palace of Tsar Alexis

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The Palace of Tsar Alexis was built in the 1650s and is now one of the best surviving examples of non-religious architecture of that era. It was built especially for Tsar Alexis who often visited the monastery on religious pilgrimages. Its most striking feature is its pretty row of nine chimney spouts which resemble towers.

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  1. Designing Effective Writing Assignments

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    Align writing activities and assignments clearly with learning objectives; The goal of Transparent Assignment Design is to "to make learning processes explicit and equally accessible for all students" (Winkelmes et al., 2019, p. 1). Make clear the purpose, task, and criteria for success. For more information visit TILT (Transparency in ...

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    When you design a syllabus for any course, you begin with the outcomes that you intend for your students to achieve, and you work backwards from these to particular readings and writing assignments. This method, formalized, is called the method of backward design. Backward design is a useful method for any professor in that it ensures that all ...

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    This is a brief yet useful list of tips for assignment design, prepared by a writing teacher and curriculum developer for the National Council of Teachers of English. The website will also link you to several other lists of "ten tips" related to literacy pedagogy. "How to Create Effective Assignments for College Students." ...

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  20. Implement Universal Design for Learning with Assignments

    Below are some strategies you can use to designing assignments with UDL: Provide Clear Instructions: Clearly articulate the assignment objectives, expectations, and grading criteria. Consider providing written, spoken, and visual instructions to accommodate different learning preferences. A format-agnostic rubric will help to organize this, and ...

  21. Text To Handwriting Converter

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  22. Report Writing Format with Templates and Sample Report

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  25. College students pitted against ChatGPT to boost writing

    New University of Nevada online courses aim to teach future educators about AI limitations through competition. Amid the swirl of concern about generative artificial intelligence in the classroom, a Nevada university is trying a different tactic by having students compete against ChatGPT in writing assignments. Students in two courses at the University of Nevada, Reno, are going head-to-head ...

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    Now let's learn how Copilot can help you complete six common end-of-school-year tasks. 1. Craft student feedback at the end of the school year. Copilot can help you write end-of-school-year feedback in a style and tone that all students can understand. Simply craft a prompt that includes the subject area and details about the feedback you ...

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  30. Savvino-Storozhevsky Monastery and Museum

    The Nativity of Virgin Mary Cathedral is the oldest building in the monastery and among the oldest buildings in the Moscow Region. It was built between 1404 and 1405 during the lifetime of St Sabbas and using the funds of Prince Yury of Zvenigorod. The white-stone cathedral is a standard four-pillar design with a single golden dome.