The Writing Center • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Understanding Assignments

What this handout is about.

The first step in any successful college writing venture is reading the assignment. While this sounds like a simple task, it can be a tough one. This handout will help you unravel your assignment and begin to craft an effective response. Much of the following advice will involve translating typical assignment terms and practices into meaningful clues to the type of writing your instructor expects. See our short video for more tips.

Basic beginnings

Regardless of the assignment, department, or instructor, adopting these two habits will serve you well :

  • Read the assignment carefully as soon as you receive it. Do not put this task off—reading the assignment at the beginning will save you time, stress, and problems later. An assignment can look pretty straightforward at first, particularly if the instructor has provided lots of information. That does not mean it will not take time and effort to complete; you may even have to learn a new skill to complete the assignment.
  • Ask the instructor about anything you do not understand. Do not hesitate to approach your instructor. Instructors would prefer to set you straight before you hand the paper in. That’s also when you will find their feedback most useful.

Assignment formats

Many assignments follow a basic format. Assignments often begin with an overview of the topic, include a central verb or verbs that describe the task, and offer some additional suggestions, questions, or prompts to get you started.

An Overview of Some Kind

The instructor might set the stage with some general discussion of the subject of the assignment, introduce the topic, or remind you of something pertinent that you have discussed in class. For example:

“Throughout history, gerbils have played a key role in politics,” or “In the last few weeks of class, we have focused on the evening wear of the housefly …”

The Task of the Assignment

Pay attention; this part tells you what to do when you write the paper. Look for the key verb or verbs in the sentence. Words like analyze, summarize, or compare direct you to think about your topic in a certain way. Also pay attention to words such as how, what, when, where, and why; these words guide your attention toward specific information. (See the section in this handout titled “Key Terms” for more information.)

“Analyze the effect that gerbils had on the Russian Revolution”, or “Suggest an interpretation of housefly undergarments that differs from Darwin’s.”

Additional Material to Think about

Here you will find some questions to use as springboards as you begin to think about the topic. Instructors usually include these questions as suggestions rather than requirements. Do not feel compelled to answer every question unless the instructor asks you to do so. Pay attention to the order of the questions. Sometimes they suggest the thinking process your instructor imagines you will need to follow to begin thinking about the topic.

“You may wish to consider the differing views held by Communist gerbils vs. Monarchist gerbils, or Can there be such a thing as ‘the housefly garment industry’ or is it just a home-based craft?”

These are the instructor’s comments about writing expectations:

“Be concise”, “Write effectively”, or “Argue furiously.”

Technical Details

These instructions usually indicate format rules or guidelines.

“Your paper must be typed in Palatino font on gray paper and must not exceed 600 pages. It is due on the anniversary of Mao Tse-tung’s death.”

The assignment’s parts may not appear in exactly this order, and each part may be very long or really short. Nonetheless, being aware of this standard pattern can help you understand what your instructor wants you to do.

Interpreting the assignment

Ask yourself a few basic questions as you read and jot down the answers on the assignment sheet:

Why did your instructor ask you to do this particular task?

Who is your audience.

  • What kind of evidence do you need to support your ideas?

What kind of writing style is acceptable?

  • What are the absolute rules of the paper?

Try to look at the question from the point of view of the instructor. Recognize that your instructor has a reason for giving you this assignment and for giving it to you at a particular point in the semester. In every assignment, the instructor has a challenge for you. This challenge could be anything from demonstrating an ability to think clearly to demonstrating an ability to use the library. See the assignment not as a vague suggestion of what to do but as an opportunity to show that you can handle the course material as directed. Paper assignments give you more than a topic to discuss—they ask you to do something with the topic. Keep reminding yourself of that. Be careful to avoid the other extreme as well: do not read more into the assignment than what is there.

Of course, your instructor has given you an assignment so that they will be able to assess your understanding of the course material and give you an appropriate grade. But there is more to it than that. Your instructor has tried to design a learning experience of some kind. Your instructor wants you to think about something in a particular way for a particular reason. If you read the course description at the beginning of your syllabus, review the assigned readings, and consider the assignment itself, you may begin to see the plan, purpose, or approach to the subject matter that your instructor has created for you. If you still aren’t sure of the assignment’s goals, try asking the instructor. For help with this, see our handout on getting feedback .

Given your instructor’s efforts, it helps to answer the question: What is my purpose in completing this assignment? Is it to gather research from a variety of outside sources and present a coherent picture? Is it to take material I have been learning in class and apply it to a new situation? Is it to prove a point one way or another? Key words from the assignment can help you figure this out. Look for key terms in the form of active verbs that tell you what to do.

Key Terms: Finding Those Active Verbs

Here are some common key words and definitions to help you think about assignment terms:

Information words Ask you to demonstrate what you know about the subject, such as who, what, when, where, how, and why.

  • define —give the subject’s meaning (according to someone or something). Sometimes you have to give more than one view on the subject’s meaning
  • describe —provide details about the subject by answering question words (such as who, what, when, where, how, and why); you might also give details related to the five senses (what you see, hear, feel, taste, and smell)
  • explain —give reasons why or examples of how something happened
  • illustrate —give descriptive examples of the subject and show how each is connected with the subject
  • summarize —briefly list the important ideas you learned about the subject
  • trace —outline how something has changed or developed from an earlier time to its current form
  • research —gather material from outside sources about the subject, often with the implication or requirement that you will analyze what you have found

Relation words Ask you to demonstrate how things are connected.

  • compare —show how two or more things are similar (and, sometimes, different)
  • contrast —show how two or more things are dissimilar
  • apply—use details that you’ve been given to demonstrate how an idea, theory, or concept works in a particular situation
  • cause —show how one event or series of events made something else happen
  • relate —show or describe the connections between things

Interpretation words Ask you to defend ideas of your own about the subject. Do not see these words as requesting opinion alone (unless the assignment specifically says so), but as requiring opinion that is supported by concrete evidence. Remember examples, principles, definitions, or concepts from class or research and use them in your interpretation.

  • assess —summarize your opinion of the subject and measure it against something
  • prove, justify —give reasons or examples to demonstrate how or why something is the truth
  • evaluate, respond —state your opinion of the subject as good, bad, or some combination of the two, with examples and reasons
  • support —give reasons or evidence for something you believe (be sure to state clearly what it is that you believe)
  • synthesize —put two or more things together that have not been put together in class or in your readings before; do not just summarize one and then the other and say that they are similar or different—you must provide a reason for putting them together that runs all the way through the paper
  • analyze —determine how individual parts create or relate to the whole, figure out how something works, what it might mean, or why it is important
  • argue —take a side and defend it with evidence against the other side

More Clues to Your Purpose As you read the assignment, think about what the teacher does in class:

  • What kinds of textbooks or coursepack did your instructor choose for the course—ones that provide background information, explain theories or perspectives, or argue a point of view?
  • In lecture, does your instructor ask your opinion, try to prove their point of view, or use keywords that show up again in the assignment?
  • What kinds of assignments are typical in this discipline? Social science classes often expect more research. Humanities classes thrive on interpretation and analysis.
  • How do the assignments, readings, and lectures work together in the course? Instructors spend time designing courses, sometimes even arguing with their peers about the most effective course materials. Figuring out the overall design to the course will help you understand what each assignment is meant to achieve.

Now, what about your reader? Most undergraduates think of their audience as the instructor. True, your instructor is a good person to keep in mind as you write. But for the purposes of a good paper, think of your audience as someone like your roommate: smart enough to understand a clear, logical argument, but not someone who already knows exactly what is going on in your particular paper. Remember, even if the instructor knows everything there is to know about your paper topic, they still have to read your paper and assess your understanding. In other words, teach the material to your reader.

Aiming a paper at your audience happens in two ways: you make decisions about the tone and the level of information you want to convey.

  • Tone means the “voice” of your paper. Should you be chatty, formal, or objective? Usually you will find some happy medium—you do not want to alienate your reader by sounding condescending or superior, but you do not want to, um, like, totally wig on the man, you know? Eschew ostentatious erudition: some students think the way to sound academic is to use big words. Be careful—you can sound ridiculous, especially if you use the wrong big words.
  • The level of information you use depends on who you think your audience is. If you imagine your audience as your instructor and they already know everything you have to say, you may find yourself leaving out key information that can cause your argument to be unconvincing and illogical. But you do not have to explain every single word or issue. If you are telling your roommate what happened on your favorite science fiction TV show last night, you do not say, “First a dark-haired white man of average height, wearing a suit and carrying a flashlight, walked into the room. Then a purple alien with fifteen arms and at least three eyes turned around. Then the man smiled slightly. In the background, you could hear a clock ticking. The room was fairly dark and had at least two windows that I saw.” You also do not say, “This guy found some aliens. The end.” Find some balance of useful details that support your main point.

You’ll find a much more detailed discussion of these concepts in our handout on audience .

The Grim Truth

With a few exceptions (including some lab and ethnography reports), you are probably being asked to make an argument. You must convince your audience. It is easy to forget this aim when you are researching and writing; as you become involved in your subject matter, you may become enmeshed in the details and focus on learning or simply telling the information you have found. You need to do more than just repeat what you have read. Your writing should have a point, and you should be able to say it in a sentence. Sometimes instructors call this sentence a “thesis” or a “claim.”

So, if your instructor tells you to write about some aspect of oral hygiene, you do not want to just list: “First, you brush your teeth with a soft brush and some peanut butter. Then, you floss with unwaxed, bologna-flavored string. Finally, gargle with bourbon.” Instead, you could say, “Of all the oral cleaning methods, sandblasting removes the most plaque. Therefore it should be recommended by the American Dental Association.” Or, “From an aesthetic perspective, moldy teeth can be quite charming. However, their joys are short-lived.”

Convincing the reader of your argument is the goal of academic writing. It doesn’t have to say “argument” anywhere in the assignment for you to need one. Look at the assignment and think about what kind of argument you could make about it instead of just seeing it as a checklist of information you have to present. For help with understanding the role of argument in academic writing, see our handout on argument .

What kind of evidence do you need?

There are many kinds of evidence, and what type of evidence will work for your assignment can depend on several factors–the discipline, the parameters of the assignment, and your instructor’s preference. Should you use statistics? Historical examples? Do you need to conduct your own experiment? Can you rely on personal experience? See our handout on evidence for suggestions on how to use evidence appropriately.

Make sure you are clear about this part of the assignment, because your use of evidence will be crucial in writing a successful paper. You are not just learning how to argue; you are learning how to argue with specific types of materials and ideas. Ask your instructor what counts as acceptable evidence. You can also ask a librarian for help. No matter what kind of evidence you use, be sure to cite it correctly—see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial .

You cannot always tell from the assignment just what sort of writing style your instructor expects. The instructor may be really laid back in class but still expect you to sound formal in writing. Or the instructor may be fairly formal in class and ask you to write a reflection paper where you need to use “I” and speak from your own experience.

Try to avoid false associations of a particular field with a style (“art historians like wacky creativity,” or “political scientists are boring and just give facts”) and look instead to the types of readings you have been given in class. No one expects you to write like Plato—just use the readings as a guide for what is standard or preferable to your instructor. When in doubt, ask your instructor about the level of formality they expect.

No matter what field you are writing for or what facts you are including, if you do not write so that your reader can understand your main idea, you have wasted your time. So make clarity your main goal. For specific help with style, see our handout on style .

Technical details about the assignment

The technical information you are given in an assignment always seems like the easy part. This section can actually give you lots of little hints about approaching the task. Find out if elements such as page length and citation format (see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial ) are negotiable. Some professors do not have strong preferences as long as you are consistent and fully answer the assignment. Some professors are very specific and will deduct big points for deviations.

Usually, the page length tells you something important: The instructor thinks the size of the paper is appropriate to the assignment’s parameters. In plain English, your instructor is telling you how many pages it should take for you to answer the question as fully as you are expected to. So if an assignment is two pages long, you cannot pad your paper with examples or reword your main idea several times. Hit your one point early, defend it with the clearest example, and finish quickly. If an assignment is ten pages long, you can be more complex in your main points and examples—and if you can only produce five pages for that assignment, you need to see someone for help—as soon as possible.

Tricks that don’t work

Your instructors are not fooled when you:

  • spend more time on the cover page than the essay —graphics, cool binders, and cute titles are no replacement for a well-written paper.
  • use huge fonts, wide margins, or extra spacing to pad the page length —these tricks are immediately obvious to the eye. Most instructors use the same word processor you do. They know what’s possible. Such tactics are especially damning when the instructor has a stack of 60 papers to grade and yours is the only one that low-flying airplane pilots could read.
  • use a paper from another class that covered “sort of similar” material . Again, the instructor has a particular task for you to fulfill in the assignment that usually relates to course material and lectures. Your other paper may not cover this material, and turning in the same paper for more than one course may constitute an Honor Code violation . Ask the instructor—it can’t hurt.
  • get all wacky and “creative” before you answer the question . Showing that you are able to think beyond the boundaries of a simple assignment can be good, but you must do what the assignment calls for first. Again, check with your instructor. A humorous tone can be refreshing for someone grading a stack of papers, but it will not get you a good grade if you have not fulfilled the task.

Critical reading of assignments leads to skills in other types of reading and writing. If you get good at figuring out what the real goals of assignments are, you are going to be better at understanding the goals of all of your classes and fields of study.

You may reproduce it for non-commercial use if you use the entire handout and attribute the source: The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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How to Start an Assignment

Last Updated: January 29, 2024 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Michelle Golden, PhD . Michelle Golden is an English teacher in Athens, Georgia. She received her MA in Language Arts Teacher Education in 2008 and received her PhD in English from Georgia State University in 2015. There are 8 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 107,103 times.

Getting started on an assignment or homework can often times be the hardest step. Putting off the assignment can make the problem worse, reducing the time you have to complete the task and increasing stress. By learning how to get started and overcome the urge to procrastinate, you can get your assignments done on schedule and with less stress, opening up more free time.

Restructuring Your Assignment

Man with headphones on working on his assignment.

  • For example, you might research areas of a report that you find most interesting before moving on to other areas.
  • If your math assignment has different types of questions, try doing those that you enjoy the most before moving on to the others.
  • You might also try tackling smaller or easier tasks first so you can cross a few items off your list. Seeing that you've already made progress may help you feel motivated to continue.

Step 2 Start working for five minutes.

  • Promise yourself that you will meet your goal of working for five minutes on the assignment.
  • Once you get started, you may find that you don't want to stop working. Otherwise, you can take a break and come back to the assignment, knowing you're at least five minutes closer to finishing than you were before.

Step 3 Break up your time.

  • Try to set reasonable periods of time that you know you can meet. For example, you might set aside two hours on a Friday to dedicate to your assignment. If you don't have that much time all at once, try to carve out a few 20- or 30-minute blocks.
  • You may or may not wish to continue working after your time limit has gone by.
  • Have a realistic understanding of how fast you can write and plan your schedule accordingly.

Step 4 Get started.

  • It can help to read the assignment as soon as you get it and then ask any questions you might have.
  • If you're not sure if you understand the assignment, try rewriting it in your own words or explaining it to someone else. If you find you can't or have a lot of questions, you may need more information.
  • You should have an overview of the assignment, understand the main task, and understand the technical and stylistic requirements.
  • Look for important words in the instructions to understand the assignment. These words might include define, explain, compare, relate, or prove.
  • Keep your audience in mind and write a paper that would best deliver information to them.

Step 6 Make sure your goals are manageable.

  • Goals that are too big or not well defined can be difficult to start working towards.
  • Smaller and well defined goals can seem easier to achieve than larger ones.
  • For example, you could break a research paper down into several smaller tasks: 1) do preliminary research, 2) write an outline, 3) draft an introduction, 4) draft body paragraphs, 5) write conclusion, 6) revise. Each of these is much more do-able on its own.

Changing Your Focus

Step 1 Change your mood.

  • You might want to go for a quick walk after working for a set amount of time.
  • Try reading a website or book that you enjoy for a few minutes after working.
  • Alternatively, try a quick burst of exercise before setting to work. Exercise releases feel-good chemicals called endorphins and can also help boost your memory. [8] X Research source

Step 2 Stay positive.

  • Instead of dreading your work, focus on how good it will feel to make progress. You won't have it hanging over your head. You can actually enjoy the weekend instead of feeling guilty.
  • Keeping your eye on long-term rewards can help you stay motivated to finish your assignment.

Step 3 Avoid procrastination while working.

  • Avoid moving your workspace constantly.
  • Don't get lost on tangential research.
  • Don't take constant breaks to get a snack.

Step 4 Create some consequences for procrastination.

  • For every hour you waste procrastinating, you can limit how much television you watch that night.
  • If you waste too much time procrastinating, you might deny yourself a favorite snack later on.

Step 5 Don't worry about perfection.

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About This Article

Michelle Golden, PhD

To start an assignment, try working on the most enjoyable or easiest parts of the assignment first to get the ball rolling. Even if no part of the assignment seems enjoyable or easy, set a timer and try to make yourself work for at least 5 minutes, which is usually enough time to build momentum and overcome procrastination. You can also try breaking your assignment up into smaller, more manageable tasks and scheduling yourself regular breaks so it doesn't seem as overwhelming. To learn how to stay positive and avoid procrastination while working on your homework, scroll down! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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Planning an assignment

Planning and organising your first assignment may seem daunting to students who are new to academic study. This short video walks you through in easy to follow steps, how to analyse the assessment task, read and take notes and plan your assignment.

Planning an assignment.

When you get an assignment, it is not effective just to sit down and write. You need to plan, and here are three important steps for planning an assignment.

You need to analyse the task, so that you know exactly what you are being asked to do. You need to read and take notes in an organised way. And, you need to plan the structure of your writing.

First, read the task really carefully to work out what the topic is and how they want you to write the assignment. Here is an example. First, find the topic through the content words. Then, look for instructional words that tell you how to write the assignment.

Now, think carefully about what this means. Having two instructional words in the question probably means two parts to the essay. It’s helpful to rewrite the question in your own words to really understand it. Getting it right at this point can save a lot of pain later on. Then, you need to find all the information you need. You need to read a lot and take notes. This takes lots of time. This is why you cannot leave things to the last minute.

Read the general stuff first, and then the more specific. Reading generally is really important if you are not familiar with the topic. Start with books. Academic journal articles tend to be quite specific – these need some general understanding before you read them. Writing notes is important, too, because it helps you remember. But you need to keep your notes organised so you can easily find information and the sources they come from.

Here is a system. The left-hand margin is for scanning the page, and if you organise it like this, you can keep a record of your references. Once you have all the information you need, plan by using a mind map. Mind maps have three steps: (1) brainstorm everything you know about the topic, (2) group, prioritise, and maybe even delete some of the ideas, (3) organise all of this and show the connections between the ideas.

But the last step in planning is turning this mind map into a linear plan. Work out the structure of the body first before any other section. This can take a lot of thought. Work from big structures like sections, to finer structures like paragraphs, finding the most logical order for everything can be quite tricky, too. After all of this is done, then write your assignment.

Assignment slammer This short tutorial walks you through the process of preparing, planning and writing an assignment with quick links to the resources you can use at each stage.

Assignment planner The library has a great assignment planning tool that is easy to use and provides you with step-by-step plan, withs links to lots of resources to help you stay on task.

Understanding an assignment topic (PDF 262KB)

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first assignment is

Guidelines for First Assignments

Why the first paper matters.

The first paper you assign in a First-Year Writing Seminar provides a unique opportunity to capture student attention and interest; to set a tone for the class; and to help students experiment with the writing and thinking practices you hope will characterize student work throughout the semester (and beyond). The first paper can provide insights into what your students can and cannot do as writers; these insights may help you adjust your learning goals, lesson plans, and assignments. Finally, the first paper serves the larger diagnostic needs of the FWS program as we work to identify students who may need help securing tutoring or mentoring support or finding a FWS that is a more comfortable fit. The  FWS Instructor Referral  process described in  The Indispensable Reference for Teachers of First-Year Writing Seminars  works best when FWS instructors participate actively during the first 10 days of the semester.

Since writing should be the focus of every FWS, this first paper should begin when the semester begins. Preparation for this first paper can begin with in-class activities as early as the first class meeting. An integrated sequence of classwork and homework can move students through a quick cycle of drafting—and possibly revision—within the first few classes. A full-length draft should be complete no later than the end of the second week of classes—even if a further round of revisions is planned.

Logistics of a first paper

First Papers should be…

  • Assigned during the first week of classes;
  • Read and assessed quickly, no later than the fourth class meeting;
  • Low-stakes;
  • Challenging, pushing students to practice analytical thinking and writing;
  • Engaged with texts and/or concepts characteristic of your course;
  • Between one and three pages long;
  • Small in scope;
  • Intellectually engaging and also fun.

Functions of a first paper

A first paper assignment can do the following:

  • Introduce students to the intellectual work of the course.
  • Give students a sense of course expectations.
  • Provide insights into how students will manage the substance of your course.
  • Provide students with opportunities to experiment with writing practices you hope students will use in your course (and beyond). These might include textual analysis, revision, peer review, and scaffolding.
  • Capture student attention in the period before exams and other high-stakes assessments begin to dominate academic life.
  • Help you get to know your students. 
  • Help your students get to know you. 
  • Identify students who might benefit from additional support. If they struggle with the first assignment they might struggle with other aspects of the course.

Examples of Useful First Assignments 

There are many options for what a successful first paper assignment might ask students to write. Below are a few ideas that are both small in scope and challenging. If you come up with an alternative option, please share it with us, so we can highlight it in our training materials. 

  • Pull a particularly interesting longer quote on your course topic, perhaps from a reading you will assign. Ask writers to first explain what the quote means and then apply it to their own experiences with the subject. 
  • Pick two quotes that represent competing views that relate to your course theme. Ask writers to explain each perspective and evaluate the perspectives, being sure to provide evidence from their own experiences in their analysis. 
  • Pick a photograph, a piece of art, or some other artifact that relates to your course theme. Pose a question that encourages students to analyze the image in relation to some of the key questions you hope to explore in the class. Encourage students to use the image as evidence in their answers. 
  • Ask students to complete a short reading that relates to your course theme. Ask them to first explain what they think the reading means. Then you could: 1. Ask a specific question they should use the reading to help answer; 2. Use the reading the analyze their own experiences with the issue; or, 3. Pose questions or evidence that complicates specific points in the reading.

Additional Support for Student Writers: 

The Knight Institute offers support to writers through the  Cornell Writing Centers  and the  KNIGHT WRITERS Mentor Program , and accepts a small number of students each semester into  Writing 1370/1380: Elements of Academic Writing —a lower enrollment FWS that includes weekly individual teacher/student conferences. All sections of Writing 1370 and 1380 are taught by Knight Institute writing specialists. 

A first FWS assignment should help instructors identify students who might benefit from additional support: in most cases this will not include having students transfer from their current FWS into Writing 1370/80. (Enrollment capacity in Elements of Academic Writing is limited. Cornell offers more than 220 FWSs during the fall semester. Only ten of these are sections of Writing 1370).

FWS Instructor Referral Guidelines

Frequently Asked Questions about Revised Guidelines for First Assignments

The last time I taught an FWS, we were supposed to assign “diagnostic essays.” Does the paper described in these guidelines replace the “diagnostic”?

The first paper described in these guidelines should take the place of the diagnostic essay in your course plan. While the first paper retains diagnostic functions, these revised guidelines highlight some of the other teaching goals for first assignments in a writing seminar, as well as the fact that the first paper assignment should be considered an essential part of the course’s curriculum, not a task that stands apart.

Does this paper count as one of my course’s five “formal” papers?

Your first assignment can count as one of your five “formal” papers. You can also treat it as a draft that will lead to a more formal assignment. Or you can treat it is an informal assignment. Consider what will work best with plans for subsequent classes and assignments as well as your learning goals.

Are personal narratives acceptable?

If you wish to build a first assignment around a personal narrative, be sure to include some elements that push students to do the kind of thinking and writing that will be characteristic of the course. For example, you could ask students to engage with a concept articulated in an early reading assignment.

Personal narratives can help students bring an individual point of view to the subject matter. Personal narratives can also help students identify their own stake in some aspect of the course material. However, an assignment that asks students to work exclusively from personal history or personal experience will not necessarily test students’ ability to read, analyze, or interpret texts, concepts, data, or images. Thinking and writing skills like close reading, analysis, and interpretation are likely to be central to the writing you ask students to do. Your first assignment should introduce students to some aspect of the writing skills and practices you will be teaching. If you can integrate aspects of these skills and practices into a personal narrative there is no reason not to design such an assignment at this point in the semester (or later on).

Should this paper be graded?

Try to keep the stakes low for this first assignment: this may mean not assigning a letter grade. How you keep the stakes low should depend, in part, on your larger grading strategies for the course. 

You are most likely to get the course off to a good start if conversations with students about their first assignment focus on content and style rather than a grade. Students also grow as writers when they feel comfortable experimenting and taking risks. Taking risks can be hard when the grade stress gets in the way. 

Even if the paper is not graded, it should still count. You want students to take the assignment seriously. One of the challenges inherent in teaching writing is figuring out how to help students discover their own investments in the subject matter, even as teachers evaluate their work and assign letter grades for their semester’s work. A particular challenge of the first assignment is finding a way to lower the stakes enough so students feel comfortable experimenting, while still keeping the stakes high enough so students take it seriously.

Should my assignment include revision?

Teaching revision is central to the FWS curriculum. Writers get better at revising if they have multiple opportunities to practice. Some of the most productive conversations instructors and students have about writing emerge from assignments built around guided revision. If it makes sense to incorporate revision, even on a small scale, into the first paper assignment, do so. If you would rather wait until a later assignment, that is also acceptable.

Should my assignment include footnotes or other citations?

Using sources responsibly should be integrated into the learning goals for FWS teachers. If it makes sense to begin working on responsible use of sources as part of your first assignment, do so. If it makes sense to introduce it later, that is also acceptable. (The repetition creeping into the last few responses indicates that we’ve entered the realm of instructor choice).

Should we do peer review as part of this assignment?

If it makes sense to help students work in peer groups—or read one another’s work—as part of your first assignment, do so. If it makes sense to introduce these practices later, that is also acceptable.

Should I schedule a conference after this paper?

Some instructors like to schedule a round of conferences within the first two weeks to get to know their students. Others like to wait until students have produced a larger body of work to discuss. Either approach is acceptable.

The last time I taught an FWS, I had students adding and dropping during the first few classes. How can I assign a paper starting in the first class or the first week when I have students switching in and out?

We always recommend thinking of a paper assignment as a sequence of several activities. Even for a short paper, a sequence could include: in-class work; informal writing completed in or out of class; a group activity; and the “formal” final draft of a paper. (These are possibilities, not requirements).

If you design a sequence with several elements that structures the first few classes of the semester, think about entry points for students who might add the class before the second meeting, or the third, or the fourth. As students add, you can communicate which things they can do to complete the assignment alongside their classmates. For instance, if the sequence begins with an in-class, informal writing assignment, a student who joins after the first class meeting could complete this informal assignment at home. If students watch a short video during the first class and respond to a discussion question, make the video and the questions available to students who add later so they can watch it on their own and respond to questions as an informal writing assignment. (For more information on dealing with unstable enrollments in the opening weeks, see  KNIGHTLYnews  post: “ Expecting, and Accepting, Fluctuating FWS Enrollment .” 

For more on the topic of first writing assignments, follow this link to Elliot Shapiro's KNIGHTLYnews post titled  Updated Guidelines for First FWS Assignment .

Purdue Online Writing Lab Purdue OWL® College of Liberal Arts

Understanding Writing Assignments

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How to Decipher the Paper Assignment

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

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

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

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

(Notes on prompts made in blue )

Poster or Song Analysis: Poster or Song? Poster!

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

Things to Consider: ah- talking points

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

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

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

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

Academic Argument Essay

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

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

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

Remember this! I missed the deadline last time

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

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

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

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

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

first assignment is

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Undergraduate Writing: Understanding the Assignment

Introduction, common writing terms.

Analyze = explain a multifaceted text or idea by breaking it into its parts.

Example: Analyze the relationship between hand sanitizer and disease transmission in hospitals.

Tips: Remember to state what the relationship is, but also why . The why involves critical thinking to determine all the factors in the scenario.

Assess or evaluate = determine the significance or value of something by examining it closely.

Example: Evaluate whether hand sanitizer decreases disease transmission.

Tips: Come to an overall, educated opinion on the issue based on course readings, other research, and reasoning. Write a thesis statement at the beginning of your paper to tell the reader what that opinion is.

Compare and contrast = to examine two items to discover similarities and differences.

Example : Compare and contrast three brands of hand sanitizer for effectiveness and cost.

Tips : To provide a well-rounded comparison, give equal attention to the similarities and the differences. Follow our compare/contrast guidelines before submission.

Paraphrase =  restate a passage in your own words.

Example : Paraphrase the CDC's recent announcement on the use of hand sanitizer.

Tips : It can be tempting to directly quote the statement, but paraphrasing builds your academic skills. Read the announcement carefully and then open a new document on your computer. Without looking back, reword the announcement using your own vocabulary. Finally, compare yours to the original.

Reflect =  think about an idea deeply and consider its impact.

Example : Reflect on your own use of hand sanitizer in the medical profession.

Tips : You might find that sitting in a quiet place, away from the computer, allows you to think easier. Even if you are reflecting on a bad situation in your workplace, remain neutral and objective when writing about the incident. 

Summarize =  express the main points of a reading in a shorter form.

Example : Summarize Chapter 3 of your course text on disease transmission.

Tips : While reading, pay attention to the who, what, why, where, and how in the text. It could be helpful to take notes or highlight the important information that jumps out at you.

Support your work/ideas =  justify your point of view by providing evidence.

Tips : Evidence can come in the form of statistics, examples, or other research. Such evidence is usually accompanied by a citation crediting the original source.

Once you understand the assignment instructions, jot down each component or outline the paper. Keep these tools handy as you write.

Still unsure what a word or concept means? Look it up in Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary .

Related Resources


Didn't find what you need? Email us at [email protected] .

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  • Academic Skills
  • Getting started

Why is your first assignment so important?

Find out what teachers say about their students' first assignments in this short video.

Two people looking over study materials

Looking for one-on-one advice?

Get tailored advice from an Academic Skills Adviser by booking an Individual appointment, or get quick feedback from one of our Academic Writing Mentors via email through our Writing advice service.

Go to Student appointments


Preparing for your first assignment


Simple steps to help you tackle your first assignment.

It won't be long before you'll be working on your first assignment. These simple steps will help you understand how to tackle it and find out more about the support on offer. 

  • Understand the assignment  and its format.
  • Familiarise yourself with the assessment criteria . 
  • Plan for your assignment. Make sure you ask any questions that you have. 
  • Check out UCL Library Services resources on assignments.
  • Understand what is meant by academic integrity .
  • Understand how to engage AI in your education and assessments. 
  • Gather materials and information   effectively. 
  • Draft  your answer first, then refine in subsequent drafts.
  • Develop your academic voice . 
  • Proofread and submit your assignment, often using the  TurnItIn  tool. 

Understanding and using Feedback

Once you've handed in your assignment, you'll get feedback on it. Understanding and using the feedback from your assignment is just as important as doing the assignment itself. It will help you understand what you have done well and what you need to do to improve. You may also want to discuss your feedback with someone, like your personal tutor.

  • Responding to Feedback , UCL IOE Writing Centre.
  • Giving and Receiving Feedback , LinkedIn Learning.

Planning for assessments and exams

We recommend you make a start with our  Assessment Planning: a guide for UCL students . This walks you through how to plan your time for the year.

Looking after yourself

Assignments and exams can be stressful and intense. Make sure you pay attention to your Mental Health and Wellbeing and  seek support  if you need it. 

Wellbeing events

The Student Support and Wellbeing team put on a host of  wellbeing events  throughout the year to help you look after your wellbeing whilst at university. We recommend you take a look at 'Your Guide to Thrive' and 'Exam Season Toolkit'

Project Active

Project Active  is a collaboration between UCL and the Student Union and offers UCL students a wide range of inclusive, beginner-friendly opportunities to get active.

Managing stress

Check out UCL’s advice on how to  manage exam stress  or use our assessment wellbeing guide , which will help you look after yourself before, during and after your exams.

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Writing Assignments

Kate Derrington; Cristy Bartlett; and Sarah Irvine

Hands on laptop


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

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

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

Task Analysis and Deconstructing an Assignment

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

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

Table 19.1 Parts of an Assignment Question

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

Table 19.2 Task words

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

The task or criteria sheet will also include the:

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

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

Preparing your ideas

Concept map on whiteboard

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

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

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

What is academic writing?

Academic writing tone and style.

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

Table 19.3 Comparison of academic and non-academic writing

Thesis statements.

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

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

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

Planning your assignment structure

Image of the numbers 231

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

Writing introductions and conclusions

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

Writing introductions

Start written on road

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Writing conclusions

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

Conclusion checklist 

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

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

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

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

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

Writing paragraphs

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

Topic Sentence 

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

Explanation/ Elaboration

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

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

Concluding sentence (critical thinking)

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

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

Paragraph checklist

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

Writing sentences

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

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

Paraphrasing and Synthesising

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

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

What is paraphrasing?

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

Table 19.4 Paraphrasing techniques

Example of paraphrasing.

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

Original text

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

Poor quality paraphrase example

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

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

A good quality paraphrase example

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

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

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

What is synthesising?

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

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

Table 19.5 Synthesising techniques

Example of synthesis

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

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

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

Creating an argument

What does this mean.

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

What skills do you need to create an argument?

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

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

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

A formula for a good argument

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

What does an argument look like?

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

Table 19.6 Argument

Editing and proofreading (reviewing).

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

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

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

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

Editing checklist

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

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

Proofreading checklist

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

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

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

Academic Skills Centre. (2013). Writing an introduction and conclusion . University of Canberra, accessed 13 August, 2013,

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

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

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

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

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Assignments usually ask you to demonstrate that you have immersed yourself in the course material and that you've done some thinking on your own; questions not treated at length in class often serve as assignments. Fortunately, if you've put the time into getting to know the material, then you've almost certainly begun thinking independently. In responding to assignments, keep in mind the following advice.

  • Beware of straying.  Especially in the draft stage, "discussion" and "analysis" can lead you from one intrinsically interesting problem to another, then another, and then ... You may wind up following a garden of forking paths and lose your way. To prevent this, stop periodically while drafting your essay and reread the assignment. Its purposes are likely to become clearer.
  • Consider the assignment in relation to previous and upcoming assignments.  Ask yourself what is new about the task you're setting out to do. Instructors often design assignments to build in complexity. Knowing where an assignment falls in this progression can help you concentrate on the specific, fresh challenges at hand.

Understanding some key words commonly used in assignments also may simplify your task. Toward this end, let's take a look at two seemingly impenetrable instructions: "discuss" and "analyze."

1. Discuss the role of gender in bringing about the French Revolution.

  • "Discuss" is easy to misunderstand because the word calls to mind the oral/spoken dimension of communication. "Discuss" suggests conversation, which often is casual and undirected. In the context of an assignment, however, discussion entails fulfilling a defined and organized task: to construct an argument that considers and responds to an ample range of materials. To "discuss," in assignment language, means to make a broad argument about a set of arguments you have studied. In the case above, you can do this by
  • pointing to consistencies and inconsistencies in the evidence of gendered causes of the Revolution;
  • raising the implications of these consistencies and/or inconsistencies (perhaps they suggest a limited role for gender as catalyst);
  • evaluating different claims about the role of gender; and
  • asking what is gained and what is lost by focusing on gendered symbols, icons and events.

A weak discussion essay in response to the question above might simply list a few aspects of the Revolution—the image of Liberty, the executions of the King and Marie Antoinette, the cry "Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite!" —and make separate comments about how each, being "gendered," is therefore a powerful political force. Such an essay would offer no original thesis, but instead restate the question asked in the assignment (i.e., "The role of gender was very important in the French Revolution" or "Gender did not play a large role in the French Revolution").

In a strong discussion essay, the thesis would go beyond a basic restatement of the assignment question. You might test the similarities and differences of the revolutionary aspects being discussed. You might draw on fresh or unexpected evidence, perhaps using as a source an intriguing reading that was only briefly touched upon in lecture.

2. Analyze two of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, including one not discussed in class, as literary works and in terms of sources/analogues.

The words "analyze" and "analysis" may seem to denote highly advanced, even arcane skills, possessed in virtual monopoly by mathematicians and scientists. Happily, the terms refer to mental activity we all perform regularly; the terms just need decoding. "Analyze" means two things in this specific assignment prompt.

  • First, you need to divide the two tales into parts, elements, or features. You might start with a basic approach: looking at the beginning, middle, and end. These structural features of literary works—and of historical events and many other subjects of academic study—may seem simple or even simplistic, but they can yield surprising insights when examined closely.
  • Alternatively, you might begin at a more complex level of analysis. For example, you might search for and distinguish between kinds of humor in the two tales and their sources in Boccaccio or the Roman de la Rose: banter, wordplay, bawdy jokes, pranks, burlesque, satire, etc.

Second, you need to consider the two tales critically to arrive at some reward for having observed how the tales are made and where they came from (their sources/analogues). In the course of your essay, you might work your way to investigating Chaucer's broader attitude toward his sources, which alternates between playful variation and strict adherence. Your complex analysis of kinds of humor might reveal differing conceptions of masculine and feminine between Chaucer and his literary sources, or some other important cultural distinction.

Analysis involves both a set of observations about the composition or workings of your subject and a critical approach that keeps you from noticing just anything—from excessive listing or summarizing—and instead leads you to construct an interpretation, using textual evidence to support your ideas.

Some Final Advice

If, having read the assignment carefully, you're still confused by it, don't hesitate to ask for clarification from your instructor. He or she may be able to elucidate the question or to furnish some sample responses to the assignment. Knowing the expectations of an assignment can help when you're feeling puzzled. Conversely, knowing the boundaries can head off trouble if you're contemplating an unorthodox approach. In either case, before you go to your instructor, it's a good idea to list, underline or circle the specific places in the assignment where the language makes you feel uncertain.

William C. Rice, for the Writing Center at Harvard University

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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” 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. 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://     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” 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.” 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

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

MIT Online Writing and Communication Center (1999). Creating Writing Assignments. Retrieved January 9, 2008 from .

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Steps and tips for completing an academic assignment

Whether you’re a university student or in secondary school, you’ll inevitably be given a writing assignment. to get good grades on writing assignments, it’s important to follow a few steps as you complete the work. to help you as you complete your assignment, we’ve listed some important steps and provided some useful tips., steps for completing an assignment.

  • First, carefully read the assignment. Make sure you understand what your instructor is looking for in terms of content, formatting and structure. It’s also vital that you know when the assignment is due and start working on it well before the due date. If you have any questions about the assignment, ask your instructor as soon as possible so he or she has sufficient time to give you an answer.
  • Conduct any necessary research to find information to include in your assignment. Make sure you keep notes from your research, including the publication information for each source.
  • Make some notes and create a draft outline of the information you need to include in the assignment. For example, if your teacher has asked you to write about Albert Einstein’s most important accomplishments, create a chronological list of those accomplishments so you don’t forget to include any. This step also helps you organize the information so it flows clearly and coherently.
  • Once your draft outline is complete, begin writing your text. Some people like to start with the introduction, which lays out your topic and explains what you’re writing about. Others like to start with the body of the document, which includes the main part of the text, and then return to complete the introduction once the body is complete. If you’re not sure which approach will work best for you, try writing the introduction first. If you struggle to come up with content, switch to writing the body of the document.
  • Once your introduction and the body of the document are complete, write your conclusion, which sums up everything you’ve written about so far. Remember that the conclusion should not introduce any new information or ideas that were not discussed in the body of the text.
  • If your instructor requires a list of references, create a list at the end of the document and make sure you have in-text citations to each source. Make sure to follow your instructor’s preferred style guide for the citations and references.
  • Before you turn the assignment in, make sure you edit and proofread the text to ensure that there are no lingering errors in the text and that the text makes sense. It might help to have someone else look over the document to point out text that isn’t clear.

Tips for completing an academic assignment

  • Before you begin writing, think about where you work best. Most of us do not work well when we are distracted by loud noises, conversations, the TV, etc. Find a quiet, comfortable place to write.
  • Remember that academic assignments almost always require formal academic language. Unless your teacher specifically asks you to write informally, remember to use a formal writing style. For help with formal academic writing, see our introduction to academic writing.
  • Remember that each paragraph in your work should discuss one main topic or idea. You should present that idea in the first sentence of the paragraph, and all the following information in that paragraph should support the main idea of the paragraph. Don’t combine two disparate ideas into one paragraph.

You should never plagiarise another author’s work. If you get information from another source, you must acknowledge that the information came from someone else. Furthermore, you should absolutely never copy and paste text from another author into your assignment and try to submit it as your own work.

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6 tips on how to start your assignment

Sarah Crossing

Sarah Crossing

Mar 11, 2024

We all know the feeling when someone mentions the word ‘ assignment ’ and dread sweeps over you. Maybe you put it aside for now. After all, the due date is three whole weeks away.

Sound familiar?

Don’t sweat, it’s all about how you approach it. Doing an assignment is a process, these tips might help get you started and hopefully avoid last-minute stress and struggles.

1. Set realistic goals and reminders

Make goals for your study - how many days do you have, and what will you get done each day or each week? Today, will you get your plan done? Two hundred words finished? Break it down into achievable chunks. Be realistic and update your plan as you go. Things change, you might have to make room for a family dinner, holiday, or another assignment.

When’s the due date? Put it on a calendar. Put another reminder a week before that. And also a reminder the week before that. Don’t put pressure on your memory. You’ve got other things to remember. Make that date and your goals visible.  If you're prepared, it won't sneak up on you. You can always use our quick and simple free calculator tool, too.

>> Check out our free Assignment Calculator

2. Start when you're feeling fresh

Make it easier on yourself - start when you’re fresh and focused. This might be different for everyone. Some people are fresher after soccer practice or after dinner, and some prefer early mornings. Find the best time and make it regular. Recent studies suggest that it’s better to do work in short blocks (say 50 minutes), more often. This will help you stay fresh and work productively. 


3. Clarify what is required

Make sure you start by understanding the question. Break it down and circle or highlight the key words. Identify the key concepts and ideas in your topic and if you're unsure or anything, ask someone - a teacher, your parents, a friend or an expert . Knowing what is required right from the start - even reading the question out loud - will help you source the right research material, feel more confident, and form your own ideas and work.

4. Be flexible and learn as you go

Are you keeping the assignment question in mind? As you start your research and re-read texts, you might discover new things that change what you think about the answer to the question. You can’t change evidence, but you can change your point of view, or acknowledge a different perspective. 

Insta posts- motivational quotes13 copy

5. Get something on paper

If you're really stuck and just can't get that first sentence out, start by writing notes and ideas down. Here are some creative tasks that might help you start:

Take notes under common headings and find themes in your notes

Brainstorm your ideas on paper around keywords in the question

Write ideas on notecards and group them into piles or columns to create your assignment structure and paragraphs

  • Read the question, then read your planned responses out loud as if answering someone in front of you.

6. Get feedback

 Once you've got something written down, get feedback early and often. Log into your Studiosity account, via your institution's student portal, and upload your draft. You'll get fast feedback on your critical thinking, structure, language, spelling and grammar, and referencing, which you can apply to your work before submitting it. Getting feedback is an integral part of your learning journey, and you will see your confidence flourish, the more you receive and apply to your own work. 

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Home » Assignment – Types, Examples and Writing Guide

Assignment – Types, Examples and Writing Guide

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Assignment is a task given to students by a teacher or professor, usually as a means of assessing their understanding and application of course material. Assignments can take various forms, including essays, research papers, presentations, problem sets, lab reports, and more.

Assignments are typically designed to be completed outside of class time and may require independent research, critical thinking, and analysis. They are often graded and used as a significant component of a student’s overall course grade. The instructions for an assignment usually specify the goals, requirements, and deadlines for completion, and students are expected to meet these criteria to earn a good grade.

History of Assignment

The use of assignments as a tool for teaching and learning has been a part of education for centuries. Following is a brief history of the Assignment.

  • Ancient Times: Assignments such as writing exercises, recitations, and memorization tasks were used to reinforce learning.
  • Medieval Period : Universities began to develop the concept of the assignment, with students completing essays, commentaries, and translations to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of the subject matter.
  • 19th Century : With the growth of schools and universities, assignments became more widespread and were used to assess student progress and achievement.
  • 20th Century: The rise of distance education and online learning led to the further development of assignments as an integral part of the educational process.
  • Present Day: Assignments continue to be used in a variety of educational settings and are seen as an effective way to promote student learning and assess student achievement. The nature and format of assignments continue to evolve in response to changing educational needs and technological innovations.

Types of Assignment

Here are some of the most common types of assignments:

An essay is a piece of writing that presents an argument, analysis, or interpretation of a topic or question. It usually consists of an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion.

Essay structure:

  • Introduction : introduces the topic and thesis statement
  • Body paragraphs : each paragraph presents a different argument or idea, with evidence and analysis to support it
  • Conclusion : summarizes the key points and reiterates the thesis statement

Research paper

A research paper involves gathering and analyzing information on a particular topic, and presenting the findings in a well-structured, documented paper. It usually involves conducting original research, collecting data, and presenting it in a clear, organized manner.

Research paper structure:

  • Title page : includes the title of the paper, author’s name, date, and institution
  • Abstract : summarizes the paper’s main points and conclusions
  • Introduction : provides background information on the topic and research question
  • Literature review: summarizes previous research on the topic
  • Methodology : explains how the research was conducted
  • Results : presents the findings of the research
  • Discussion : interprets the results and draws conclusions
  • Conclusion : summarizes the key findings and implications

A case study involves analyzing a real-life situation, problem or issue, and presenting a solution or recommendations based on the analysis. It often involves extensive research, data analysis, and critical thinking.

Case study structure:

  • Introduction : introduces the case study and its purpose
  • Background : provides context and background information on the case
  • Analysis : examines the key issues and problems in the case
  • Solution/recommendations: proposes solutions or recommendations based on the analysis
  • Conclusion: Summarize the key points and implications

A lab report is a scientific document that summarizes the results of a laboratory experiment or research project. It typically includes an introduction, methodology, results, discussion, and conclusion.

Lab report structure:

  • Title page : includes the title of the experiment, author’s name, date, and institution
  • Abstract : summarizes the purpose, methodology, and results of the experiment
  • Methods : explains how the experiment was conducted
  • Results : presents the findings of the experiment


A presentation involves delivering information, data or findings to an audience, often with the use of visual aids such as slides, charts, or diagrams. It requires clear communication skills, good organization, and effective use of technology.

Presentation structure:

  • Introduction : introduces the topic and purpose of the presentation
  • Body : presents the main points, findings, or data, with the help of visual aids
  • Conclusion : summarizes the key points and provides a closing statement

Creative Project

A creative project is an assignment that requires students to produce something original, such as a painting, sculpture, video, or creative writing piece. It allows students to demonstrate their creativity and artistic skills.

Creative project structure:

  • Introduction : introduces the project and its purpose
  • Body : presents the creative work, with explanations or descriptions as needed
  • Conclusion : summarizes the key elements and reflects on the creative process.

Examples of Assignments

Following are Examples of Assignment templates samples:

Essay template:

I. Introduction

  • Hook: Grab the reader’s attention with a catchy opening sentence.
  • Background: Provide some context or background information on the topic.
  • Thesis statement: State the main argument or point of your essay.

II. Body paragraphs

  • Topic sentence: Introduce the main idea or argument of the paragraph.
  • Evidence: Provide evidence or examples to support your point.
  • Analysis: Explain how the evidence supports your argument.
  • Transition: Use a transition sentence to lead into the next paragraph.

III. Conclusion

  • Restate thesis: Summarize your main argument or point.
  • Review key points: Summarize the main points you made in your essay.
  • Concluding thoughts: End with a final thought or call to action.

Research paper template:

I. Title page

  • Title: Give your paper a descriptive title.
  • Author: Include your name and institutional affiliation.
  • Date: Provide the date the paper was submitted.

II. Abstract

  • Background: Summarize the background and purpose of your research.
  • Methodology: Describe the methods you used to conduct your research.
  • Results: Summarize the main findings of your research.
  • Conclusion: Provide a brief summary of the implications and conclusions of your research.

III. Introduction

  • Background: Provide some background information on the topic.
  • Research question: State your research question or hypothesis.
  • Purpose: Explain the purpose of your research.

IV. Literature review

  • Background: Summarize previous research on the topic.
  • Gaps in research: Identify gaps or areas that need further research.

V. Methodology

  • Participants: Describe the participants in your study.
  • Procedure: Explain the procedure you used to conduct your research.
  • Measures: Describe the measures you used to collect data.

VI. Results

  • Quantitative results: Summarize the quantitative data you collected.
  • Qualitative results: Summarize the qualitative data you collected.

VII. Discussion

  • Interpretation: Interpret the results and explain what they mean.
  • Implications: Discuss the implications of your research.
  • Limitations: Identify any limitations or weaknesses of your research.

VIII. Conclusion

  • Review key points: Summarize the main points you made in your paper.

Case study template:

  • Background: Provide background information on the case.
  • Research question: State the research question or problem you are examining.
  • Purpose: Explain the purpose of the case study.

II. Analysis

  • Problem: Identify the main problem or issue in the case.
  • Factors: Describe the factors that contributed to the problem.
  • Alternative solutions: Describe potential solutions to the problem.

III. Solution/recommendations

  • Proposed solution: Describe the solution you are proposing.
  • Rationale: Explain why this solution is the best one.
  • Implementation: Describe how the solution can be implemented.

IV. Conclusion

  • Summary: Summarize the main points of your case study.

Lab report template:

  • Title: Give your report a descriptive title.
  • Date: Provide the date the report was submitted.
  • Background: Summarize the background and purpose of the experiment.
  • Methodology: Describe the methods you used to conduct the experiment.
  • Results: Summarize the main findings of the experiment.
  • Conclusion: Provide a brief summary of the implications and conclusions
  • Background: Provide some background information on the experiment.
  • Hypothesis: State your hypothesis or research question.
  • Purpose: Explain the purpose of the experiment.

IV. Materials and methods

  • Materials: List the materials and equipment used in the experiment.
  • Procedure: Describe the procedure you followed to conduct the experiment.
  • Data: Present the data you collected in tables or graphs.
  • Analysis: Analyze the data and describe the patterns or trends you observed.

VI. Discussion

  • Implications: Discuss the implications of your findings.
  • Limitations: Identify any limitations or weaknesses of the experiment.

VII. Conclusion

  • Restate hypothesis: Summarize your hypothesis or research question.
  • Review key points: Summarize the main points you made in your report.

Presentation template:

  • Attention grabber: Grab the audience’s attention with a catchy opening.
  • Purpose: Explain the purpose of your presentation.
  • Overview: Provide an overview of what you will cover in your presentation.

II. Main points

  • Main point 1: Present the first main point of your presentation.
  • Supporting details: Provide supporting details or evidence to support your point.
  • Main point 2: Present the second main point of your presentation.
  • Main point 3: Present the third main point of your presentation.
  • Summary: Summarize the main points of your presentation.
  • Call to action: End with a final thought or call to action.

Creative writing template:

  • Setting: Describe the setting of your story.
  • Characters: Introduce the main characters of your story.
  • Rising action: Introduce the conflict or problem in your story.
  • Climax: Present the most intense moment of the story.
  • Falling action: Resolve the conflict or problem in your story.
  • Resolution: Describe how the conflict or problem was resolved.
  • Final thoughts: End with a final thought or reflection on the story.

How to Write Assignment

Here is a general guide on how to write an assignment:

  • Understand the assignment prompt: Before you begin writing, make sure you understand what the assignment requires. Read the prompt carefully and make note of any specific requirements or guidelines.
  • Research and gather information: Depending on the type of assignment, you may need to do research to gather information to support your argument or points. Use credible sources such as academic journals, books, and reputable websites.
  • Organize your ideas : Once you have gathered all the necessary information, organize your ideas into a clear and logical structure. Consider creating an outline or diagram to help you visualize your ideas.
  • Write a draft: Begin writing your assignment using your organized ideas and research. Don’t worry too much about grammar or sentence structure at this point; the goal is to get your thoughts down on paper.
  • Revise and edit: After you have written a draft, revise and edit your work. Make sure your ideas are presented in a clear and concise manner, and that your sentences and paragraphs flow smoothly.
  • Proofread: Finally, proofread your work for spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors. It’s a good idea to have someone else read over your assignment as well to catch any mistakes you may have missed.
  • Submit your assignment : Once you are satisfied with your work, submit your assignment according to the instructions provided by your instructor or professor.

Applications of Assignment

Assignments have many applications across different fields and industries. Here are a few examples:

  • Education : Assignments are a common tool used in education to help students learn and demonstrate their knowledge. They can be used to assess a student’s understanding of a particular topic, to develop critical thinking skills, and to improve writing and research abilities.
  • Business : Assignments can be used in the business world to assess employee skills, to evaluate job performance, and to provide training opportunities. They can also be used to develop business plans, marketing strategies, and financial projections.
  • Journalism : Assignments are often used in journalism to produce news articles, features, and investigative reports. Journalists may be assigned to cover a particular event or topic, or to research and write a story on a specific subject.
  • Research : Assignments can be used in research to collect and analyze data, to conduct experiments, and to present findings in written or oral form. Researchers may be assigned to conduct research on a specific topic, to write a research paper, or to present their findings at a conference or seminar.
  • Government : Assignments can be used in government to develop policy proposals, to conduct research, and to analyze data. Government officials may be assigned to work on a specific project or to conduct research on a particular topic.
  • Non-profit organizations: Assignments can be used in non-profit organizations to develop fundraising strategies, to plan events, and to conduct research. Volunteers may be assigned to work on a specific project or to help with a particular task.

Purpose of Assignment

The purpose of an assignment varies depending on the context in which it is given. However, some common purposes of assignments include:

  • Assessing learning: Assignments are often used to assess a student’s understanding of a particular topic or concept. This allows educators to determine if a student has mastered the material or if they need additional support.
  • Developing skills: Assignments can be used to develop a wide range of skills, such as critical thinking, problem-solving, research, and communication. Assignments that require students to analyze and synthesize information can help to build these skills.
  • Encouraging creativity: Assignments can be designed to encourage students to be creative and think outside the box. This can help to foster innovation and original thinking.
  • Providing feedback : Assignments provide an opportunity for teachers to provide feedback to students on their progress and performance. Feedback can help students to understand where they need to improve and to develop a growth mindset.
  • Meeting learning objectives : Assignments can be designed to help students meet specific learning objectives or outcomes. For example, a writing assignment may be designed to help students improve their writing skills, while a research assignment may be designed to help students develop their research skills.

When to write Assignment

Assignments are typically given by instructors or professors as part of a course or academic program. The timing of when to write an assignment will depend on the specific requirements of the course or program, but in general, assignments should be completed within the timeframe specified by the instructor or program guidelines.

It is important to begin working on assignments as soon as possible to ensure enough time for research, writing, and revisions. Waiting until the last minute can result in rushed work and lower quality output.

It is also important to prioritize assignments based on their due dates and the amount of work required. This will help to manage time effectively and ensure that all assignments are completed on time.

In addition to assignments given by instructors or professors, there may be other situations where writing an assignment is necessary. For example, in the workplace, assignments may be given to complete a specific project or task. In these situations, it is important to establish clear deadlines and expectations to ensure that the assignment is completed on time and to a high standard.

Characteristics of Assignment

Here are some common characteristics of assignments:

  • Purpose : Assignments have a specific purpose, such as assessing knowledge or developing skills. They are designed to help students learn and achieve specific learning objectives.
  • Requirements: Assignments have specific requirements that must be met, such as a word count, format, or specific content. These requirements are usually provided by the instructor or professor.
  • Deadline: Assignments have a specific deadline for completion, which is usually set by the instructor or professor. It is important to meet the deadline to avoid penalties or lower grades.
  • Individual or group work: Assignments can be completed individually or as part of a group. Group assignments may require collaboration and communication with other group members.
  • Feedback : Assignments provide an opportunity for feedback from the instructor or professor. This feedback can help students to identify areas of improvement and to develop their skills.
  • Academic integrity: Assignments require academic integrity, which means that students must submit original work and avoid plagiarism. This includes citing sources properly and following ethical guidelines.
  • Learning outcomes : Assignments are designed to help students achieve specific learning outcomes. These outcomes are usually related to the course objectives and may include developing critical thinking skills, writing abilities, or subject-specific knowledge.

Advantages of Assignment

There are several advantages of assignment, including:

  • Helps in learning: Assignments help students to reinforce their learning and understanding of a particular topic. By completing assignments, students get to apply the concepts learned in class, which helps them to better understand and retain the information.
  • Develops critical thinking skills: Assignments often require students to think critically and analyze information in order to come up with a solution or answer. This helps to develop their critical thinking skills, which are important for success in many areas of life.
  • Encourages creativity: Assignments that require students to create something, such as a piece of writing or a project, can encourage creativity and innovation. This can help students to develop new ideas and perspectives, which can be beneficial in many areas of life.
  • Builds time-management skills: Assignments often come with deadlines, which can help students to develop time-management skills. Learning how to manage time effectively is an important skill that can help students to succeed in many areas of life.
  • Provides feedback: Assignments provide an opportunity for students to receive feedback on their work. This feedback can help students to identify areas where they need to improve and can help them to grow and develop.

Limitations of Assignment

There are also some limitations of assignments that should be considered, including:

  • Limited scope: Assignments are often limited in scope, and may not provide a comprehensive understanding of a particular topic. They may only cover a specific aspect of a topic, and may not provide a full picture of the subject matter.
  • Lack of engagement: Some assignments may not engage students in the learning process, particularly if they are repetitive or not challenging enough. This can lead to a lack of motivation and interest in the subject matter.
  • Time-consuming: Assignments can be time-consuming, particularly if they require a lot of research or writing. This can be a disadvantage for students who have other commitments, such as work or extracurricular activities.
  • Unreliable assessment: The assessment of assignments can be subjective and may not always accurately reflect a student’s understanding or abilities. The grading may be influenced by factors such as the instructor’s personal biases or the student’s writing style.
  • Lack of feedback : Although assignments can provide feedback, this feedback may not always be detailed or useful. Instructors may not have the time or resources to provide detailed feedback on every assignment, which can limit the value of the feedback that students receive.

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First Assignment

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First Assignment is the second story quest available in Dying Light . [1]

  • 1 Objectives
  • 3 Walkthrough
  • 4 References

Objectives [ ]

Objective icon

Rewards [ ]

  • 3 250 survivor points
  • Next story quest Airdrop starts

Dying Light 2 Review: Look Before You Leap

02 February 2022

Dying Light: The Following Review

12 February 2016

Dying Light Review

30 January 2015

Walkthrough [ ]

Speak with Spike . He gives a briefing on the two types of airdrops - Antizin and Supplies. There's two Antizin drops incoming, and you need to set up traps so that Brecken and his team can safely obtain the supply drop at night.

Head to the front of the Tower, and prime the car trap. Jade will contact you afterwards to ask you to clear a safe house where a runner has been attacked by Infected.

Head to the Safe Zone location, which is north of your location. You can enter by jumping onto the white van, and onto the bent fencing. There's two infected here, banging on the door of the safe house, which you need to kill. Open the door to the room, and kill the last infected, the runner who didn't make it. Be sure to also get the 230V blueprint and one of Marvin Zucker's Battle Journals while in the room. After clearing and activating the Safe Zone the GRE attempts to contact you. Climb a bit higher to get a proper signal and give a status report.

Approach the car traps and find them surrounded by the infected. A good time to test out the firecrackers and distract them to get a chance to activate the two car traps. After doing so, head towards the slums near the train tracks where the four light traps are located and activate those. One of the voltage boxes can only be accessed by jumping from the railwaystation towards it. The final light trap is located northeast of the railwaystation, but activating it instead causes the powerlines to go out instead of activating the trap itself.

In order to resolve the issue, Spike sends you to a nearby power substation to get the power back online. A distributor box with a blinking red light on it is the intended goal, but before it can be used a goon attacks, breaking out of the substation itself. Because weapons in the early game are relatively weak, and the goon himself deals a lot of damage, firecrackers are a great way to district the goon while getting the power back online. The correct powerbox to open is located within the substation building, as opposed to the distributor box outside.

Head back to the safe zone. Before the building can be accessed, Crane is disturbed by a nearby noise, which was caused by a Bolter running away. In response, Crane contacts Dr. Zere . After doing so, spend the night and wake up to get contacted by Spike. Something bad happened, so make your way over to Spike to get more details. After this, you have completed the prologue.

References [ ]

  • ↑ First Assignment - Quest log ( Dying Light )
  • Dying Light
  • 3 Kyle Crane

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Examining Sample Assignment 1: Summary and Analysis

In this chapter and in the next three, I walk through example assignments and how you might analyze them to better understand your task.

This assignment comes from one of my first-year writing classes. It’s a fairly typical early assignment in my first-year writing classes, one that asks students to read a text and engage with it in some way. In this case, the readings include the same one I use as a model in the first section of this book , though the actual assignment differs a bit.

The ability to read critically and summarize accurately is a crucial academic skill. The ability to use ideas from one text to guide understanding in another text is similarly crucial. This assignment helps you practice both of these skills.

Your summary will need to explain the key concepts in Mitchell’s article and to explain the main points in the article that you choose to work with. In class, we will work specifically on critical reading strategies to understand how authors make claims and connect those claims to one another. We will also work on techniques for writing strong summaries that accurately represent an author’s work.

Your summaries of these texts should be between 300 and 400 words of your final paper.

In this part of your paper, you will make connections between Mitchell’s concepts and the specific situation described in the article you have chosen. Specifically, you must try to explain the situation in your article using the terms “segregated coexistence” and “living in community” as Mitchell explains them. Think about questions like the following:

  • Does the article you have chosen describe a situation that could be considered “segregated coexistence”? If so, what is that situation and how well does it align with “segregated coexistence” as Mitchell describes it?
  • Similarly, does the article you have chosen describe a situation that could be considered “living in community”? If so, what is that situation and how well does it align with “living in community” as Mitchell describes it?
  • Are there ways in which Mitchell’s terms don’t apply or don’t cover the issue well enough? How so?

Note that this part of your paper should be between 400 and 500 words long, longer than your summaries. While accurately summarizing is important, readers at the college level are more interested in seeing your thinking, so this part should be longer than your summary.

When I comment on your summary and analysis, I will be looking to see how well you have met the goals of the assignment. That is, I will be looking for how accurately and thoroughly you have summarized the articles and how well you have explained and provided support for your analysis. If you only provide summaries of the articles without analysis, your project will not be successful. Instead, your project should demonstrate your critical reading and thinking skills.

Your summary and analysis will also need to meet the standard expectations of good college-level academic writing, which we will be working on during the term. Your purpose and focus will need to be clear and well explained. You will need to provide your reader with sufficient detail in your summary and your response so that your explanations are clear and thorough. You will also need to provide structural cues that enable your reader to follow the logic of your thinking. And your prose will need to be well written both stylistically and grammatically.

Examining the Verbs in Key Sentences

When I read this assignment, I find three key sentences that tell us what we’re supposed to do in this assignment.

Before going on, try to find the key sentences in the Summary and Analysis assignment. Then, read on to see if you agree with my choices.

Let’s look at them.

First Sentence for Examination

To start, there is a sentence summarizing the assignment at the top. Sentences pulled out like this are often important:

Summarize the ideas of “segregated coexistence” and “living in community” from Mitchell’s essay and analyze how those ideas apply to the situation described in an additional article (see sources below).

The verbs here are pretty direct: summarize and analyze.

  • What are you summarizing? Mitchell’s ideas
  • What are you analyzing? How those ideas apply to the situation in the second article you have chosen

Second Sentence for Examination

There’s another key sentence at the beginning of the “Summaries” section:

Your summary will need to explain the key concepts in Mitchell’s article and to explain the main points in the article that you choose to work with.

The verbs here are less helpful, at least until we look at the words around them.

When someone tells you that you “will need” to do something, you know that they mean that you “must” do it. If we substitute “must” for “will need,” we get a bit more help:

Your summary must explain the key concepts in Mitchell’s article and must explain the main points in the article that you choose to work with.

“Choose” is not terribly important for our purposes because it’s just identifying the second source that we are working with. “Explain,” however, seems to be very important.

Here we get a focus for our summary work:

  • Explain the key concepts in Mitchell’s article (which have been identified in the first sentence we analyzed)
  • Explain the main points in the article we’ve chosen

In this sentence, we have more detail about what “summarizing” looks like for this assignment.

Third Sentence for Examination

To understand the “analyzing” part of the assignment, we have a couple of sentences at the beginning of the “Analysis” section. I’m including two sentences since the second sentence begins with “specifically,” which indicates that it’s providing more detail about the first:

In this part of your paper, you will make connections between Mitchell’s concepts and the specific situation described in the article you have chosen . Specifically, you must try to explain the situation in your article using the terms “segregated coexistence” and “living in community” as Mitchell explains them.

These verbs require a bit of adjustment before our task will be clear. “Will make” doesn’t tell us much without the following word “connections,” without which we don’t know what we are making. However, “will make connections” can also be understood as simply “connect.” Here’s the sentence with this adjustment (eliminating a few more words to make the sentence grammatically correct:

In this part of your paper, you will connect Mitchell’s concepts and the specific situation described in the article you have chosen . Specifically, you must try to explain the situation in your article using the terms “segregated coexistence” and “living in community” as Mitchell explains them.

Similarly, “must try” doesn’t help us until we look at the words that tell us what we are trying to do. In this case, “must try to explain” is the idea we need to focus on. “Must try” in this sentence is an indication that our professor wants us to make effort, but explaining is really the work here:

In this part of your paper, you will connect Mitchell’s concepts and the specific situation described in the article you have chosen . Specifically, you must explain the situation in your article using the terms “segregated coexistence” and “living in community” as Mitchell explains them.

As with the sentence earlier, “have chosen” just indicates our second article, which is why I skipped that one.

The last “explains” is worth looking at in a bit more detail. In this case, the verb is not about your doing the explaining, but rather the fact that Mitchell has done some. From this sentence, we know that we must use the two identified terms in the same way that Mitchell does.

So, in the analysis part of our paper, we need to do the following:

  • Connect Mitchell’s concepts, which we summarized in the summary section of the paper, to the situation in our second article.
  • To do this effectively, we need to use Mitchell’s terms.

Applying Bloom

Having done this analysis, we now have a better sense of the intellectual work of this assignment:

  • Summary Part 1: Explain Mitchell’s key ideas
  • Summary Part 2: Explain the main points in our second article
  • Analysis: Use Mitchell’s ideas to explain the situation in our second article.

Before jumping into the next section, take what you know about the task in the sample assignment and see which types of knowledge and which cognitive processes you believe the assignment is looking for.

After you read the rest of this chapter, decide whether or not you agree with my analysis.

Kinds of Cognitive Processes

First, the verbs.

The summary section of the assignment focused on explaining the key ideas in both articles. It can be helpful to move “up” the pyramid or the side of the grid with the cognitive processes to help us figure this out.

We aren’t being asked to remember, since we can look up the information, but we are being asked to understand both Mitchell’s concepts and the main points from the second article. Notice that on the grid version, summarizing appears at the intersection of factual knowledge and the cognitive process of understanding.

When we look at connections, though, “understanding” doesn’t seem to be enough. Yes, we have to understand, but we’re trying to make those connections (remember the original wording?), and “understanding” seems to be more about making sense of ideas that others have already put together.

The next step is “ applying .” If we look only at the grid, applying doesn’t seem to work, but the pyramids explain this one a bit differently. If applying means to “use information in new situations” or “use information in a new (but similar) form,” the term seems to work, right? The assignment asks us to use Mitchell’s terms to explain the situation in the second article. That sounds like an application to me!

But what about “analysis” in the title of the assignment? Look at the explanation of analyzing on the grid: “Break material into constituent parts and determine how parts relate to one another and to an overall structure of purpose.” Similarly, the pyramids describe analyzing as making connections and exploring relationships.

We aren’t doing this kind of work if we look only at Mitchell’s article; there, we are simply explaining what Mitchell means (i.e., summarizing). But when we get to the second article, we have to do more than just apply Mitchell’s terms. We have to divide up the ideas in that article into ideas that are connected to “segregated coexistence” and ideas that are connected to “living in community.”

To do this successfully, we need to explain how these connections work. This means that it’s not enough to identify specific ideas as either one or the other. We also need to make those connections clear to our reader. Those explanations are kinds of analysis .

The verbs in the assignment do not ask us to make arguments or critique ideas, so Bloom’s “evaluate” doesn’t apply in this assignment. Similarly, we aren’t really “creating” something new, beyond the vague idea that what we write should be in our own words for the most part. These two cognitive processes don’t apply much, if at all, here.

To summarize, looking at the verbs and assignment, we seem to be working in the cognitive realms of understanding, applying, and analyzing.

Kinds of Knowledge

While the verbs tell us about the cognitive processes that we are being asked to use, the examination of those key sentences can also help us focus on the information that we will need to complete the task. While much of this was obvious as we explored the verbs, I’ll break it down a bit here to complete the example.

In this case, we will need to know/understand the following:

  • Mitchell’s key terms (“segregated coexistence” and “living in community”)
  • The main ideas in our second article
  • The connections between Mitchell’s concepts and the ideas in our second article

The first two would be factual knowledge, according to Bloom’s Taxonomy. We should be able to go to the article and find those ideas. We aren’t developing those terms or ideas; we are simply recording them. To do that, we have to understand them, but that’s a cognitive process, and we’ll come back to that in a minute.

The connections, however, aren’t factual. Our chosen article doesn’t use Mitchell’s terms directly, so we have to create those connections ourselves. If you look at the descriptions, you’ll see that this type of knowledge is called “ conceptual ,” which specifically is about organizing factual knowledge.

I don’t see anything here that is asking us to work with procedural (how to) knowledge or metacognition (thinking about thinking), so we are just working with the first two types of information.

Putting It Together

In this assignment, we are being asked to use factual and conceptual knowledge to understand, apply, and analyze.

The assignment comes in two parts. The first part is focused on summarizing Mitchell’s two key concepts and the main points from the second article. This part, then, stays firmly in the factual realm. We’re not supposed to talk about our opinions of any of these ideas or start making connections between them in this section. If we fail to present the factual information (e.g., we are missing one summary or the other; or we misread the article so our summary isn’t accurate), we will not succeed at this part. Also, because this is the more basic part of the assignment (lower on the pyramids and grid), if we don’t do this part accurately, odds are good that our analysis part won’t be as successful as we would like.

The second part, what the assignment calls “analysis,” is really a combination of applying and analyzing. We have to understand the main points, too, but mostly, we would do that in the first part of the assignment. In the “analysis,” we need to explain how the ideas in the second article can be categorized using Mitchell’s terms. We’re applying Mitchell, but we also have to explain if our assignment is going to be successful.

At this point, I have beaten this assignment into submission, but I’m hoping you can see the value in taking an assignment apart like this.

Reading and Writing Successfully in College: A Guide for Students Copyright © 2023 by Patricia Lynne is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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for managers of staff employees

  • Before Start Date
  • New Employee Orientation / First Day in Unit
  • First Month
  • First 3 Months
  • First 6 Months
  • The First Assignment

The first assignment is significant for several reasons. When all goes well, it builds confidence in the new role, positions the employee for a successful start and helps to establish trusting relationships between the employee, the manager and co-workers.

First assignment steps

To ensure the first assignment is successful, follow these steps to set expectations and outcomes.

Define the assignment.

  • Describe how it aligns with the university and department/unit goals, priorities, values and initiatives.
  • What impact will this assignment have on the university, department/unit?
  • Who will benefit from the outcome (students, faculty, staff, alumni, donors, volunteers, others)?

Share expectations of the assignment.

  • What are the expectations for this assignment?
  • What is the priority of the assignment for the employee?
  • What will be the end result of the assignment? Will it be newly created or updated?
  • What will the desired outcome look like? (Provide examples, if possible.)
  • How will success be measured?

Describe the parameters of the assignment.

  • What actions or steps are required?
  • What resources will be needed?
  • What resource limitations may apply?
  • What are the deadlines? Will there be milestones to meet prior to the final deadline?
  • How will progress be monitored?
  • How often should progress be shared?

Define the decision-making process.

  • Should the employee carry out exact instructions?
  • Should the employee bring recommendations to be decided by you, as the manager?
  • What recommendations should the two of you decide together?
  • If the new employee has the authority to make decisions, should they inform you before acting?
  • Will the new employee have the authority to make decisions, act, and inform you of the outcome?
  • Who else is impacted by the decisions and needs to be included in the conversation?

Determine partnerships.

  • Who can influence success?
  • Who will the employee need to consult? (Ensure they know how to contact relevant individuals.)
  • Who will the employee need to ask for resources?

Identify potential challenges and determine how they will be addressed.

  • What could possibly interrupt or stand in the way of success in this assignment?
  • How should any potential barrier be resolved?

During the assignment

Continue to check in to ensure clear expectations are established and understood. Encourage questions and clarify how you will support their success. Celebrate milestone successes along the way.

Following completion of the assignment

Debrief with the new employee to gain their perspective on what went well and what was challenging. The employee should also share what they learned and perhaps a new skill they developed through the process. The conversation should include the assignment’s outcomes, how their interaction with other employees went and what may have been done differently. This follow-up conversation is important to continue to build your relationship and will help shape the success of the next assignment.

first assignment is

Manager Resources

  • Conversation Guide: Engage in Conversation
  • Developing an Onboarding Partner Relationship
  • Guidelines for the Onboarding Partner
  • Manager Templates

We just became doctors. Our first assignment is the coronavirus.

Medical residents spend years training to turn calamities into victories, but the scale of the COVID-19 crisis has been daunting.

a doctor

Emma Rogers, a first-year resident in emergency medicine photographed outside Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, in Philadelphia, says the COVID-19 outbreak has been chilling at times, but the local community has rallied around the hospital.

Vicki Zhou spent New Year’s Eve in an emergency room—not as a patient, but as part of her first year as a doctor. The 27-year-old Zhou was wrapping up another eight-hour shift on the ER staff at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and had to rush to a friend’s rooftop for the midnight fireworks.

“I made it in the nick of time,” Zhou says. “You could see all the skyscrapers, and we have fireworks on each side of the two rivers that border Philly.” But as she was enjoying the celebration, a contagion was rapidly multiplying inside the lungs of people in Wuhan, China. The year of coronavirus disease had begun.

Even without a global plague, it’s a huge jump from being a medical student to doing a residency, the professional apprenticeship that follows medical or nursing school.

a doctor

"I trained my whole life for this," says Jonathan Bar, who has been immersed in emergency preparedness since the age of 16, when he became an emergency medical technician (EMT) cadet. Now a third-year resident in emergency medicine, Bar serves in the tent outside Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, where COVID-19 patients are triaged.

“The first six months are a big challenge, because as an intern, you’re sort of the workhorse of the hospital,” Zhou says. “You’re the one who gets there the earliest, who writes all the notes, who is put on the spot to present to more senior doctors.”

Zhou says she was just getting used to the experience as the novel coronavirus began to rise in China. She was reading the news like everyone else, and hearing on-the-ground accounts from her grandparents, who live in Shanghai. “But it was so far away. I wasn’t seeing effects in our hospitals, definitely not in January,” she says.

Now, newly minted medical professionals such as Zhou and her colleagues have been thrust into a once-in-a-century pandemic.

For Hungry Minds

Coronavirus crash course.

Unrelated to the coronavirus, Penn Presbyterian Medical Center began the new decade by preparing for disaster. During the first two months of 2020, the medical center had started conducting a hospital-wide emergency drill, which recruited staff from various departments—trauma service, inpatient services, the intensive care unit—to practice what the response might be during a situation with mass casualties.

a doctor

“As an emergency room doctor, you're in an interesting position where you can help treat anybody, no matter what they come in with,” says Victoria (Vicki) Zhou, a first-year emergency medicine resident. “No matter who you are, we’re going to help try and figure it out.”

“We were thinking about dirty bombs. We were thinking about the Las Vegas mass shooter. We had thought about Ebola,” says Jonathan Bar, 29, a third-year medical resident in the emergency department who helped run the exercise. “We had medical students acting as both first responders and patients for the drill. The FBI even came to visit and watched.”

As part of the drill, the hospital staff set up a decontamination tent, which ended up being temporarily repurposed for COVID-19 patients as the U.S. outbreak began to grow. A senior resident, Bar is now part of the tent crew, which serves as the hospital’s first layer of defense. The team screens incoming patients for signs of the respiratory disease. Suspected cases receive a mask and color-coded tag, so they can be sorted away from uninfected patients inside the emergency room.

“We don't want the people who are potentially infected mixing with the guy who came here just ‘cause he broke his ankle,” Bar says.

One of the hardest transitions has been telling people that they can’t be with their critically ill loved ones, says Zhou. After Pennsylvania recorded its first coronavirus cases on March 6 , the hospital switched to crisis protocols, and only essential personnel are allowed into rooms housing patients with respiratory complaints. It’s a precaution that takes an emotional toll on families and medical staff alike.

It’s hard for me, as somebody taking care of a patient, to tell them, I’m sorry. I can’t let your loved one be here with you. Vicki Zhou , Penn Medicine

“You should not be in hospital if you don’t have to be,” Zhou says. “But it’s a hard pill to swallow. It’s hard for me, as somebody taking care of a patient, to tell them, I’m sorry. I can’t let your loved one be here with you.”

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During their limited downtime, the emergency team conducts practice exercises for basic activities, from clearing a patient’s airways to donning personal protective equipment (PPE). This roleplay may sound rudimentary, but it is essential to managing cases during a crisis. For example, air-purifying helmets, called pappers, can be cumbersome to wear and difficult to talk through at first. Practice made it easier to communicate when worried patients started arriving with COVID-19 symptoms.

Emma Rogers, 28 and a first-year resident, says the early days of the crisis were especially difficult due to the absence of COVID-19 tests. “We were having to make a lot of decisions not having a ton of data to go off of,” she says. “It's not really something that they can always teach you in med school.”

Everyone at the hospital—both seasoned and starting out—is coping with this crash course. They’re learning new lessons as they go, such as how to spot patients who arrive with run-of-the-mill respiratory complaints but actually have a raging pneumonia brewing inside.

Surge of emotion

For the medical residents, the COVID-19 experience comes with mixed emotions. They’ve spent years training for the opportunity to turn calamities into victories.

“Even though it’s still early in my career, an experience like this may never happen again,” Zhou says. “Maybe 40 years from now I can say, Back when I was in my first year of residency, you wouldn’t believe what I saw.”

On the flipside, the scale of the crisis is daunting, especially due to equipment shortages. And all of the epidemiology models say the worst days are ahead; Philadelphia is already leading the state in COVID-19 cases, and as of writing, more than half of the city’s ventilators are already in use .

It’s been really nice seeing how everyone has come together because we definitely can’t do this in health care just on our own. Emma Rogers , Penn Medicine

So far, hospital staff have been working eight-hour rotations, but that is due to change as a “surge schedule” is implemented for the coming weeks and months. “Right now, it's sort of an ‘all hands on deck’ situation, where we can't be too far from the hospital at any time,” Rogers says.

Through the COVID cloud, moments of brightness do appear. Members of the Philadelphia community have had food delivered to the hospital. Zhou says family friends from China have been sending large packages of surgical masks to donate to the hospital, returning the favor after her U.S.-based parents shipped supplies to China earlier this year. Rogers’s neighbors have posted letters of encouragement on her door and offered to walk her dog while she works her shifts.

“It’s been really nice seeing how everyone has come together,” Rogers says, “because we definitely can’t do this in health care just on our own.”

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Sean Murphy hits long homer on first swing of rehab; sputtering Braves could sure use him

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - MAY 21: Ronald Acuña Jr. #13 of the Atlanta Braves leaps to make a catch in the eighth inning against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on May 21, 2024 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Griffin Quinn/Getty Images)

CHICAGO — The wind was howling out at Wrigley Field in excess of 20 mph at the Atlanta Braves’ game Tuesday night, and Orlando Arcia took advantage with a two-run homer off Javier Assad in the second inning to put the Braves up early.

But back in Lawrenceville, Georgia, just north of Atlanta, there was barely a breeze, no wind to aid a monster home run that Braves catcher Sean Murphy hit in the first at-bat of his injury-rehab assignment with Triple-A Gwinnett. From the look of things, it might not be a long assignment.


The 449-foot drive caromed off the batter’s-eye backdrop in center field in the first inning. Pure power generated by Murphy, with the kind of violent swing he became known for last year in his first season with the Braves, when he had 17 homers, 55 RBIs and a .999 OPS in 67 games before the break and was one of eight Braves on the NL All-Star team.

Those big swings by Murphy made it especially important for the Braves to be methodical with his return from a strained oblique in his left side, which he injured taking a swing on a foul tip on Opening Day. Now he’s finally back playing. And the Braves, who went 0-for-14 with runners in scoring position in a 10-inning, 4-3 loss to the Cubs on Tuesday night, could use him. The sooner, the better.

A MURPHY MASH 💣 Sean Murphy drills a @SoFi NO-DOUBT blast 449 feet in his first rehab at bat with the Stripers! — Gwinnett Stripers (@GoStripers) May 21, 2024

Nico Hoerner ’s high-bouncing infield single off reliever Aaron Bummer with one out in the 10th handed Atlanta its fifth loss in six games and 11th in 19 games. The Braves have hit .214 and averaged 3.0 runs during that 19-game stretch, and they’ve scored more than five runs just once in the past 21 games.

“We just didn’t do a real good job with guys in scoring position,” Brian Snitker said. “We needed a couple of hits, and it’s been tough to come by lately. Eventually, we’re going to get a big hit. When you get in situations like this, they get up there and human nature is to try too hard, probably, instead of relaxing and just letting it flow. They all want to be the guy to do it.”

Murphy suffered a Grade 1 strain, the least severe of a four-grade rating system. But the Braves wanted to do all they could to assure he didn’t return too soon and risk reinjuring it and having it linger all season, as oblique strains have been known to do.

Snitker said Tuesday afternoon that Murphy was scheduled to catch four innings in his first rehab game, but a few hours later Murphy was behind the plate for seven innings and went 1-for-3 with the homer plus a walk and two runs scored. Before the Braves’ game in Chicago, Snitker was told that Murphy had hit a long homer in the first inning of the Triple-A game.

“How many innings did he catch?” Snitker asked reporters after the game. Told it was seven innings, Snitker smiled and said, “He was only supposed to go four. He must be feeling good. Awesome. That’s good news.”

Murphy also threw out the only runner who attempted to steal against him.

“He’s off (Wednesday), then he plays five or six (innings), I think, and DHs (a game),” Snitker said Tuesday afternoon before Murphy strayed from that tentative plan by going seven innings. “I think if everything goes well, he gets through this week, and we’ll see how he feels. It’ll be good to get him out there swinging live, to tell what’s really going on with him.

“But I think he did everything that he could possibly do in preparation for this. Everybody feels really good about where he’s at.”

They surely felt even better after Murphy mashed a tape-measure homer on his first swing since March 29, the day he got hurt in the season opener.

Murphy was slowed by a hamstring injury last June and faded in the second half of his first season with Atlanta, possibly from playing in far more extreme heat and humidity than during his four seasons with Oakland . But he showed what he can do for a lineup with his torrid offense before the All-Star break.

And the Braves are eager to add him back to a lineup that has sputtered for the better part of a month, with Atlanta scoring the third-fewest runs per game in the majors over the past 30 days. They are 26th in team OPS (.650) in that period — behind the Miami Marlins and Chicago White Sox , among others — despite two homers from Marcell Ozuna in Monday’s doubleheader that raised his NL-leading total to 14, and homers from Arcia and Michael Harris II in Tuesday’s loss.

Veteran catcher Travis d’Arnaud and backup Chadwick Tromp have held things together in Murphy’s absence. They’re doing a terrific job handling the pitching staff and keeping opponents’ running games largely in check with 35-year-old d’Arnaud throwing out seven of 25 would-be base stealers and Tromp throwing out five of 14.

The defense has been strong, though a passed ball charged to d’Arnaud let in the tying run in the second inning Tuesday. The Cubs scored another unearned run in the fifth inning after third baseman Zack Short , who’s been filling in for injured Austin Riley , dropped a routine pop fly to start the inning.

When Murphy returns to primary catching duties with d’Arnaud as the second catcher, it could boost a Braves’ offense that has sputtered lately.

D’Arnaud had five homers and 10 RBIs in a four-game stretch in mid-April, including a three-hit, six-RBI game on April 19 against Texas . Since then, he’s had no homers and three RBIs in 20 games including 17 starts.

Tromp doubled in all three games he played against San Diego during the four-game series that ended Monday, when he started consecutive games after d’Arnaud had dizziness from a foul ball off his mask. But Tromp has hit a modest .244 with no homers and a .633 OPS in 17 games including 14 starts filling in for Murphy, and has one RBI in his past 11 games.

Braves catchers, after ranking fourth in the majors with a .783 OPS in 2023, still are a more-than-respectable eighth with a .767 OPS this season. But after leading the majors with 32 homers and ranking second with 102 RBIs in 2023, Atlanta catchers are tied for 11th with five homers and tied for 14th with 23 RBIs.

Murphy’s big bat has been missed.

In his first game of any kind in nearly two months, his first swing connected with a 2-0 cutter from Jacksonville right-hander Kyle Tyler that was up in the zone. The pitch came out of Tyler’s hand at 90 mph and left Murphy’s bat at 111 mph.

Even after eight weeks away from competitive action, Murphy was too much for a Jumbo Shrimp. And by the end of their six-game trip that began Tuesday, the Braves could have him back in their lineup.

Riley takes first swings

Austin Riley took another step in his recovery from a side strain when he hit soft-tossed baseballs in the batting cage Tuesday afternoon at Wrigley Field. But at this point, it’s not a certainty he’ll make it back to the lineup before Murphy does.

Riley has been sidelined since straining an intercostal muscle near the lowest rib on his left side while swinging through a pitch on May 12 against the Mets in New York. He’s not on the 10-day injured list, but if the Braves had known the third baseman would miss this much time they would’ve put him on it immediately after the injury.

“This has been driving me nuts,” Riley said. “I love being out there competing with the guys. (Going) from playing every day to not playing at all, it’s tough for me. But I also understand I want to get this thing right and not have any setbacks, where it could pop up again.”

Riley didn’t have soreness or other issues when he took groundballs between games of Monday’s doubleheader and was cleared to begin swinging the bat. Riley said he would take controlled swings in the cage Monday and didn’t know how soon he would be given the green light to start taking harder swings and then facing pitches thrown from the mound, but it’s an incremental process. He also took groundballs during batting practice and made some longer throws Tuesday.

“We’re headed in the right direction,” Snitker said. “He’s still gonna be a while. He’s got to go through the steps.”

Asked if the IL was still a possibility for Riley, Snitker said, “I think it’s always going to be, until it’s not, really. Just have to wait and see.”

(Photo of Ronald Acuña Jr. leaping to make a catch: Griffin Quinn / Getty Images)

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David O'Brien

David O'Brien is a senior writer covering the Atlanta Braves for The Athletic. He previously covered the Braves for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and covered the Marlins for eight seasons, including the 1997 World Series championship. He is a two-time winner of the NSMA Georgia Sportswriter of the Year award. Follow David on Twitter @ DOBrienATL

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Houston Astros' José Abreu 'looks like he's ready to go' as minor league assignment winds down

J osé Abreu is nearing a return to the Astros, but the veteran first baseman is expected to continue to be on a minor league rehab assignment through the weekend.

Manager Joe Espada said before Wednesday’s series finale against the Angels that “there’s a possibility” Abreu could join the Astros during their weekend series at Oakland. That three-game series beginning Friday commences a seven-game road trip that concludes in Seattle.

But the more immediate plan is for Abreu to play games Wednesday and Thursday at the Astros’ complex in West Palm Beach, Fla.

Espada said the team also planned for Abreu to play for Triple-A Sugar Land over the weekend. The Space Cowboys are playing a home series against Round Rock through Sunday.

“We want him to play nine innings to make sure he’s ready to go when he gets out there,” Espada said.

Abreu was optioned to the Astros’ spring facility May 1 after hitting .099 in the season’s first 22 games. Entering Wednesday, Abreu had played four games in the Florida Complex League, hitting .333 (6 for 18) with two doubles and a pair of RBIs. He’s struck out twice in 20 plate appearances.

“He’s having some really good at-bats,” Espada said. “Got some videos of his at-bats (and on) defense, he’s moving around really well. It looks like he’s ready to go.”

José Abreu appears poised to rejoin the Astros on their upcoming road trip after spending three weeks at the team's spring training facility in Florida.

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MLB Trade Rumors

Cardinals Designate Alfonso Rivas For Assignment

By Steve Adams | May 20, 2024 at 2:10pm CDT

The Cardinals announced Monday that they’ve designated first baseman/outfielder Alfonso Rivas for assignment. His spot on the 40-man roster will go to right-hander Ryan Loutos , whose previously reported selection to the MLB roster has now been confirmed by the club. Righty Chris Roycroft was optioned to Triple-A Memphis to open space for Loutos on the active roster.

Rivas was claimed off waivers out of the Angels organization back in January. The 27-year-old has continued to show his typical keen eye at the plate in Memphis this season, walking at a hearty 12.8% rate, but he hasn’t hit for his usual average or power. Overall, he’s batting just .246/.364/.323 in 158 plate appearances with the Redbirds.

The well-traveled Rivas played sparingly in the majors each year from 2021-23, spending time with the Cubs, Pirates and Padres. He’s a .243/.324/.349 hitter in 459 big league plate appearances to this point in his career.

Tepid as his output in Memphis has been, Rivas entered the season with a lifetime .313/.424/.492 batting line in parts of four Triple-A seasons. He’s walked in nearly 15% of his plate appearances across five campaigns at the Triple-A level, and while he’s more of a gap hitter than true slugger — 48 doubles to just 15 homers in nearly 800 Triple-A plate appearances — he’s nevertheless been quite productive there outside this season.

Rivas has primarily been a first baseman in the minors but has a few hundred innings of corner outfield experience as a professional. He’s in the final of three minor league option seasons and is still two seasons shy of even reaching arbitration eligibility. A club looking for a left-handed bat with strong on-base skills could potentially take a look. Rivas has been designated for assignment three prior times in his career but has never made it through waivers, so MLB clubs are clearly intrigued by his bat — even if he hasn’t yet been all that productive in the majors.

The Cardinals will have a week to trade Rivas or attempt to pass him through outright waivers. If they can succeed in getting him through waivers, they can keep him in the organization without needing to dedicate a 40-man roster spot to him. Rivas has neither the MLB service time nor the prior outright assignment required to reject an outright to the minors after going unclaimed on waivers.


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Lol at the Cardinals. Someone is gonna have to start asking some of their players if they were juicing

' src=

I had no idea this guy was even on the 40 man roster.

' src=

Ya. This move is overdue. There was no justification for wasting a roster spot on back-up AAA first baseman.

' src=

Time to designate the GM and manager as well….

' src=

I have defended Marmol and others at times, but the line-up construction on the final game of the Red Sox series needs some explanation. Yes, players need rest, especially older guys,and after winning the first 2 games of then series some subs might be understandable, but the Cards have no cushion. They are 5 games under .500. Starting to play well, and have some momentum. It is not a time to punt a game. It is May not August. And with Liberatore starting they need all the defense and offense they can muster. It send the wrong signal to the players.

' src=

What can we get for Mozeliak? He has all this year and signed thru 2025. Now would be the time to trade him.

Funny post, but I don’t think they would get much in return.

' src=

I didn’t know Rivas was with St. Louis.

' src=

We were wasting a roster spot on Rivas I am ready for the gm and manager to go also

' src=

Goord lord, Steve Adams needs to learn how to write in proper English. “Tepid as his output in Memphis has been” is obviously grammatically incorrect. You can’t just leave “as” out at the start of the sentence. It’s not optional.

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This Week 1 NFL game will be Tom Brady's first broadcasting assignment

Tom brady will be on the call in week 1., by sanjesh singh • published may 13, 2024.

Tom Brady is returning to NFL stadiums in 2024 -- just in a different capacity.

Brady's first year as FOX's No. 1 NFL analyst begins in the 2024 campaign, and now it's known which game will be his debut in the booth.

Streaming 24/7: Watch NBC 5 local news and weather for free wherever you are

That game will be the Cleveland Browns hosting the Dallas Cowboys in Week 1, the third NFL contest announced by the league.

Fox analyst Tom Brady’s first broadcasting assignment will be in Cleveland, for the Cowboys at the Browns game that the team already has announced. — Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) May 13, 2024
Get DFW local news, weather forecasts and entertainment stories to your inbox. Sign up for NBC DFW newsletters .

Cowboys at Browns is slated for Sunday, Sept. 8, at 4:25 p.m. ET/1:25 p.m. PT. The Browns rode an elite defense to the playoffs last season with Joe Flacco under center for most of the campaign.

Dallas was the No. 2 seed in the NFC but became the first to lose to a No. 7 seed.

The first known game on the 2024 calendar was the Green Bay Packers at the Philadelphia Eagles in Brazil on Friday of Week 1.

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When are NFL OTAs in 2024? Every team's key dates for offseason

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Lions sign QB Jared Goff to 4-year, $212 million contract extension: Report

The second, which also released on Monday, was the Baltimore Ravens at the Kansas City Chiefs to kick off the regular season on Thursday.

The full NFL schedule will be released on Wednesday, May 15.

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Red Sox's Isaiah Campbell: Starting rehab assignment

Share video.

Campbell (shoulder) will begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Worcester on Wednesday, Chris Cotillo of The Springfield Republican reports.

Campbell has been out since mid-April with a right shoulder impingement but has been cleared for game action. He will likely need multiple rehab appearances before rejoining Boston's bullpen.

Red Sox's Isaiah Campbell: Throwing from 90 feet

Red sox's isaiah campbell: placed on injured list, red sox's isaiah campbell: rough series against o's, red sox's isaiah campbell: charged with blown save, red sox's isaiah campbell: shipped to boston, mariners' isaiah campbell: grabs save in season finale, our latest fantasy baseball stories.


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Sports. Honestly. Since 2011

Injured brewers pitcher begins rehab assignment.

  • May 20, 2024

Jeff Hagenau

first assignment is

Injured Milwaukee Brewers pitcher DL Hall began a highly-anticipated rehab assignment Sunday afternoon.

Brewers Pitcher DL Hall Begins Rehab Assignment

Left-hander has successful first outing.

The hard-throwing left-hander shined in his first rehab start with the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, Milwaukee’s Single-A affiliate. Throughout just one scoreless inning of work, Hall retired the side in order, threw 11 pitches, registered a strikeout, and twice topped out at the 95 MPH mark.

DL Hall with a great outing with the T-Rats. Sky Carp 0 | Sky Carp 0 #tratnation — Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (@TimberRattlers) May 19, 2024

It was a significant step for Hall, 25, who went on the injured list on April 21 following a severe left knee sprain. The injury happened as he was fielding a bunt in the bottom of the second inning in a 12-5 road victory over the St. Louis Cardinals. The promising 6-foot-2, 203-pounder was off to a tough start since his acquisition from the Baltimore Orioles. He was part of a controversial, highly-publicized offseason trade for former NL Cy Young Award winner Corbin Burnes . Hall was 0-1 with a 7.71 earned run average in four starts this season. He allowed 14 earned runs on 27 hits with 13 strikeouts and 10 walks through 16 1/3 innings of work.

Prior to the frustrating April setback, Hall had utilized a four-seam fastball, changeup, curveball, and slider ranging in speed from 83.3 to 92.3 MPH, according to Baseball Savant. His eventual return to the Brewers’ starting rotation would bring a much-needed boost to the team’s starting pitching depth. He would potentially rejoin the likes of newly anointed ace Freddy Peralta, Colin Rea, Joe Ross, Bryse Wilson, and Robert Gasser.

The National League Central-leading Brewers, 27-19 overall, are currently 10th in the NL and 17th in Major League Baseball in team pitching with a 4.07 ERA through 407 innings.

Hall was on 🔥 today. #tratnation x #thisismycrew — Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (@TimberRattlers) May 19, 2024

Injured Brewers Pitcher Staying Positive About Progress

The former 2017 first-round draft pick of the Baltimore Orioles is taking a positive, gradual approach to the rehab assignment. “I’m making some big strides forward,” said an upbeat Hall in a postgame interview following the appearance. “It wasn’t exactly perfect or where I want to be yet as an end result. That’s why I have a few more weeks on this rehab assignment to keep building. Today was a huge step in the right direction. I’m feeling super good and stable on my leg so now just want to keep building off of it. I’ve always thrown really hard so being able to consistently top out in the mid-90s remains a point of emphasis. The multiple 95’s was the best I’ve had all season so hopefully it just keeps picking up in the weeks to come.”

Hear what @Brewers player DL Hall had to say about his rehab with the Timber Rattlers 🎤 #tratnation — Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (@TimberRattlers) May 19, 2024

With the injury coming to Hall’s push-off knee, attempting to restore his velocity has been a slow, steady process. “I’ve always been a super big leg driver,” added Hall, who has struggled with his left knee since 2021 but continued to play through it until tweaking it again this year. “It’s where my velocity came from and has taken stress off my throwing arm. Having a super stable and strong lower body has been important. To add that missing link will be a key to my development. Now it’s all about continuing to build strength. With that the velocity should improve.”

Hall made his MLB debut on August 13, 2022 with the Orioles. Following the positive rehab outing, Hall’s next appearance is expected to be with the Brewers’ Triple-A affiliate, the Nashville Sounds.

Photo Credit: © Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Jeff Hagenau

Blue Jays Catcher Has a Banner Day Batting Second for the First Time

The Toronto Blue Jays continue to shake up their lineup in hopes of generating more offense. Catcher Danny Jansen was slotted in to bat second

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Reds Infielder On Track for 3rd 100-Steal Season in Franchise History

Cincinnati Reds infielder Elly De La Cruz already has 30 stolen bases, more than 18 MLB teams, and is on pace to swipe 110 for

MLB Suspensions are not common, but there are some that fans will always remember.

Toughest MLB Suspensions Handed Down in Baseball History

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The Emerging AL MVP Dark Horse

Major League Baseball just passed the quarter-mark of the regular season, and three notable candidates have emerged for the AL MVP in the early running.

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Royals designate Rule 5 Draft pick for assignment

Kansas City Royals relief pitcher Matt Sauer throws during the ninth inning of a baseball game...

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - The Kansas City Royals designated a struggling reliever selected in last year’s Rule 5 Draft for assignment on Monday.

Right-handed reliever Matt Sauer was designated for assignment Monday, Kansas City announced. The move came after Sauer appeared twice out of the bullpen for the Royals in this past weekend’s three-game sweep of the Oakland Athletics.

In an appearance Friday and Sunday, the 25-year-old Sauer pitched an inning each, allowing 2 and 3 earned runs apiece, including a 2-out, 3-run home run in the ninth inning Sunday that cut Kansas City’s 8-1 lead into an 8-4 win.

Sauer was drafted by Kansas City in the 2023 Rule 5 Draft from the Yankees organization. He appeared in 14 games for the Royals in 2024 and pitched 16.1 innings, amassing a 7.71 ERA.

In a corresponding move, the Royals announced that left-handed reliever Sam Long will be promoted from Triple-A Omaha.

Long is 3-5 in his career with a 4.92 ERA in portions of three seasons with the San Francisco Giants and Oakland Athletics. He signed as a free agent with Kansas City on Dec. 10, 2023.

Copyright 2024 KCTV. All rights reserved.

The severe risk for Tuesday includes gusty winds, hail, heavy rainfall and a high tornado threat.

FIRST WARN WEATHER DAY: Tornado warning issued for Pettis and Henry counties

"Free Fishing Days" will not require Missouri fishers to have a permit on June 8 and 9.

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High school celebrates an entire year with no fights due to principal’s challenge

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Kansas City Royals' Bobby Witt Jr. celebrates in the dugout after hitting a three-run home run...

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