How to Write a Good Assignment
How to Write a Good Assignment
1. General planning
One of the main reasons why students submit unsatisfactory assignments is that they don’t plan in advance and they don’t use their time effectively. The most common mistake is to allow too little time to complete assignments, with the result that the final product is put together without much thought. Phase 1: 60 percent of your available time: Preparation for writing your assignment, that is planning the basic structure, preparatory reading following from your planning, making summaries, etc. 30 percent of your available time: Writing your assignment in a rough form and making the necessary adjustments. 2 percent of your available time: Rumination; this means you put your assignment aside for a while, and continue with other work. The reason for this is that you can get too involved with a topic with the result that you overlook your mistakes. The brain tends to take for granted certain relationships that are not made completely clear in the written work. If you give yourself a rest period, you’ll approach the assignment with a new, fresh perspective and you can then make adjustments based on logic or insight, as necessary. 8 percent of your available time: Make final adjustments and write the assignment in its final form for submission.
With these guidelines in mind you should draw up a schedule to ensure that you allow yourself enough time for completing the assignment. 2. Understanding the question
Understanding the question is extremely important. You need to ● read the question carefully ● identify the key words in the question ● draw up an outline
How to Write a Good Assignment 2.1. Read the question carefully
It is very important to read the question carefully and to determine what is expected of you. Read the question several times to make sure that you have not misinterpreted it. As you read the question, you will need to work out what facts are required. Remember that your assignment has to focus on the question and it is therefore important to understand the question. If the question is difficult to understand, read it through a few times. Rewrite the key words in the question. Since questions tell you exactly what is expected of you, analyse the action words to determine what type of answer you need to give. Here is a very short list of some of the action words that you might come across in assignment questions. ● ● ● ●
Analyse: Divide the material into sections or elements and discuss these in full. Compare: Identify the similarities and/or differences between ideas, facts, viewpoints, etc. Contrast: Point out the differences between certain objects or characteristics. Criticise: Point out good and bad characteristics, and give your own opinion after taking all the facts into account.
You could add more action words to this list when you see them in an assignment question. Make sure that you know exactly what each one requires you to do. Once you have analysed the action word/s, you should pay attention to the key words in the question. 2.2. Identify the key words in the question
To understand the question clearly, you have to find the key words in the question. After you have read the question carefully, underline the major key words. Remember that the key words are there to help you to organise your answer logically. From these key words, you can identify the theme of the question. The next step is to draw up an outline by using key words you have identified as a guide. 2.3. Draw up an outline
You should focus on the key words in the question to help you to draw up an outline. An outline helps you to: ● identify the main points which you will develop in your assignment ● organise your writing ● identify specific facts that you have omitted ● identify irrelevant material which does not fit in your outline. Once you have written down the broad outline, you...
Citations: Bibliographies and Plagiarism 3.4. Questions for students who plagiarise
1. What learning can take place when a student merely “cuts and pastes”? There is no evidence that the student understands the material until the student explains the information he/she is researching in his own words. 2. What learning takes place when the focus is to cut and paste pieces of information that the student believes would deceive the assessor into thinking these are his/her own words? 3. What thinking skills have been developed when someone else’s words are used as one’s own? 4. Often, students who deliberately plagiarise are not interested in developing a research strategy that assures them they have access to quality research material. 5. Naturally, students who merely cut and paste the thoughts of others are not developing their own ability to communicate in writing.
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