Create Good Writing Assignments
If you’re asked to create a writing assignment, begin by considering what you want your students to learn.
- Do you want them to consider an important question in your discipline?
- Do you want them to compare accounts of an event?
- Do you want them to solve a particular problem?
Choosing a polemic in your field can be helpful in giving students something exciting to argue or investigate.
Once you have a goal for the assignment, determine which texts or materials best serve that end.
The assignment sheet should clearly present the prompt’s central question and guidelines; it should specify the materials students are expected, required, and/or prohibited from using.
If students can revise their work, which is ideal, plot out the revision schedule in the syllabus. Try to give them about a week to revise their drafts.
Sequence your assignments through the term. Begin with more straightforward prompts that build through the quarter in complexity and length.
(See Identify the assignment’s goal and purpose for a fuller discussion of an assignment’s intellectual objective and relevance. See Determine where students will get into trouble with the assignment for ideas about what to include on the assignment handout.)