The construction of a well-thought-out assignment is the foundation of a productive writing/learning experience in any course. Teacher expectations in an assignment should be stated clearly enough that class discussion of an assignment can specify the criteria on which the ultimate writing product will be judged. These criteria also enable teacher and peers to provide more direct helpful formative response in the development of a piece of writing.
Because the purpose of a written assignment is to inform students of teacher expectation, the teacher needs to present these expectations as explicitly as possible. Minimally, an assignment should address these issues:
Like any other writing, assignments can be improved through revision based on feedback from readers. Hence, presenting our assignments to students and asking for their questions and for what they need clarified will improve assignments. Dialoguing with students to improve our assignments lets us practice what we preach about the value of asking for feedback and then revising.
The following article originally appeared in our Teaching with Writing Across the Curriculum newsletter.