Writing Assignments

Commonly, writing assignments focus students' attention on four types of learning tasks:

  • analyzing and organizing information for ones' self,
  • communicating information to an audience in writing, possibly including visual aids,
  • generating an entire document in a prescribed format, and
  • perhaps, designing and delivering a related oral presentation.

The list below includes variations on these traditional themes: tasks designed to focus students' attention on specific mental processes involved in communicating information in writing and tasks in which the student writes for themselves for the purpose of facilitating their own learning.

Ideas for Learning Tasks (i.e., Assignments) that Support Assessment

Writing to communicate to an audience

Writing to facilitate one's own learning

  • Writing to clarify one's own ideas
    • Notes on reading
    • Written response to questions
      • 1-2 paragraphs about a reading, a lecture point, or a future topic, defining, explaining, evaluating or criticizing, proposing or recommending.
    • Synthesis or analysis
      • 1-3 pages synthesizing or analyzing readings, reviewing articles or book chapters, class notes, or other material
    • Benchmark paper
      • 1-3 page paper demonstrating the knowledge students have about a course topic before instruction begins
    • Review of a book, technical article, website, etc.
    • Description of a physical or manufacturing process
    • Design log books
    • Project notebooks or logbooks
  • Writing to make connections between different ideas
  • Writing to reflect on one's own learning process (The role of reflection in learning)(pdf)
    • Design log books with reflections on the learning process
    • Project notebooks or logbooks with reflections on the learning process
    • Reflective essays
    • Narrative account of a learning process
    • Learning diary

Making Scoring/Grading Useful for Assessment