Assignment Planning: Quick Guide
If you're not used to writing coursework (another name for assignments) it can be a bit daunting. The best way to approach an assignment is to break it down into different sections.
Before You Start
- Think about feedback from previous assignments - if there anything you need to differently
- Read the question and make sure you understand what you're supposed to be doing. If you're unsure, check with your teacher
- Make sure you know the due date of the assignment and how you're supposed to submit it
- Make sure you thoroughly understand the assignment. Read it carefully and look up any words you don't understand
- Look for "instruction words" - in the assignment question, that tell you what you have to do
- If you have to choose from a list of questions, pick the topic that interests you the most.
- Break down the assignment into task and think about how much time to need to give to each task. The tasks will be
- Research your topic
- Read and take notes
- Write the assignment
- Edit the assignment.
- Usually there's a 40:60 split between the research/reading and writing/editing
- Include some time between finishing writing and starting editing. Give yourself plenty of time to make changes if they are required.
- If you're using a laptop or PC, create a folder for your assignment to keep your electronic notes together. If you're using paper, keep yur notes in ring binder or folder
- Read the question again and think about how you're going to approach it
- You can use brainstorming to generate ideas
- Freewriting: writing down, or typing out, the thoughts that come into your mind when you think about your topic
- Mindmapping: a technique for visually organising informatin (see the Getting Started page for more info)
- Think about the sources of information you'll use
- Think about how you'll go about finding information
- Have a look at these Library sections
- The Search Process discusses the steps involved in a search
- Information Sources looks at the most commonly used sources of information and the differences between them
- Evaluating Sources will help you assess the quality of your sources, particularly those available on the web.
- Search Skills looks at the techniques involved in searching library resources
Read and Take Notes
- Read with your topic in mind
- If it's hard going reading something, break it up into smaller chunks
- Try to read critically; don't take everything as gospel - does what you read seem convincing?
- Always look up words you don't know the meaning of
- Take notes
- Highlight or underline everything you think is important
- Think abut colour-coding your highlighting/underlining - using different colours for different concepts (ideas, meanings, people etc)
- Think about recording yourself reading
- Maybe you can get someone to quiz you on what you've been studying
- Go and look at the Academic Writing and the Academic Writing handbook
- You need to structure your assignment so that it has
- Introduction - provide some background and context ("this is what I'm going to say and why")
- Main body - where you answer the assignment question (say it")
- Conclusions - sum things up ("this is what I said")
- Reference List - the isources of information you;ve used to help answer the question
- If you're using a laptop or PC, save often! Backup the file to a USB key, or send it by email to yourself