How to Fashion the Perfect Assignment

Today's blog posting is based on a recent article from The Teaching Professor.  Assignments require a great deal of thought when being designed so student learning is impacted in terms of both content and process.  One should give thought as to how the assignment fits into the course and what objectives will be met by the completion of the assignment. Such alignment between the goals of the course and the goals of the assignment are critical. 

There are five main areas to consider: purpose, skills, knowledge, tasks, and assessment.  A template available here 
examines each of these areas with the example of a personal statement regarding the syllabus for a class.  The purpose clearly explains what students will be expected to do overall.  The skills area defines what skills the student will develop by completing the assignment.  The knowledge area defines what knowledge will be gained by completing this assignment.  The task area is a checklist of items that students can use to identify whether or not they have followed all the instructions for the assignment. Lastly, is the assessment area which is a set of criteria that the assignment will be evaluated on and given a grade.  It is important to provide this information to your students from the outset so they know your expectations. 

Students need to know what the purpose of the assignment is and what they will gain by completing it.  They need to know the sequence of tasks and how they are to be completed which helps answer the question as to what we as instructors want from them.  Finally, they need to know what they will be graded on and how many points will be assigned to each criterion they are required to meet.  Without such knowledge up front students can easily begin to see assignments as just a means to a grade or worse yet as busy work.

 

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