Assignment Heuristic

This document prompts faculty to articulate the types of things they would like their students to do in the assignments, and tries to help the faculty get at the reasons why.

What is the name of the assignment, when is it due and how does the assignment fit in with the goals and objectives of your course?

What is the main purpose of the assignment?

To demonstrate:

  • Critical Thinking skills
  • Innovative or creative thinking
  • Content knowledge
  • An understanding of disciplinary conventions
  • Other

What types of student perspectives or opinions can be incorporated into this assignment?

  • None
  • Changes since starting course
  • Personal values
  • Values synthesized with facts and sources

How pervasive should student opinion be in this assignment?

  • It should not be included
  • It should frame the assignment
  • It should be present only as an addition to other perspectives

What kinds of perspectives and positions might be integrated into the analysis of the issue?

  • Expert perspectives in the field of study
  • Popular opinion
  • Other

How do you want the student to integrate perspectives and positions into the analysis of the issue or problem solution?

  • Not at all
  • Through referencing
  • As examined through a predetermined structure
  • As examined through a student-determined structure
  • As examined through one or more overt theoretical frameworks

What kinds of assumptions do you want students to recognize with regard to this issue or in their approach to the problem?

  • None needed
  • Student's personal bias
  • Predominant Cultural biases
  • Awareness of views of different sub-groups
  • Awareness of evidence
  • Different theoretical frameworks
  • Limits or constraints to the observation of the problem or issue
  • Awareness of credibility of sources

What do you want students to do with their recognition of assumptions?

  • Nothing
  • Describe
  • Analyze
  • Explain relevance

What kinds of supporting evidence is appropriate?

  • Personal anecdote
  • Interview
  • Researched materials
  • Books
  • Internet materials (limits?)
  • Scholarly periodicals
  • Popular culture materials
  • Newspapers
  • Other

How do you want students to use their evidence?

  • Summarize to compare it with evidence from other sources
  • Synthesize evidence from various sources to support generalizations and prove a point
  • Extrapolate issues to draw conclusions (inductively or deductively)

What do you want the student to do to conclude the assignment?

  • Summarize main points
  • Consider personal implications
  • Consider social-cultural implications
  • Give the reader instructions or directions for additional thought or action
  • Draw plausible connections which support larger principles or theories
  • Other

What rhetorical (communicative) mission does this piece of writing have?

  • To teach
  • To persuade
  • To entertain

Who is the intended audience for this piece of writing?

  • Professor
  • Peers, friends, family
  • Classmate
  • Layperson
  • Professional in the field
  • Child
  • other

How long should the piece of writing be and how does this length support the assignment?

  • 1-2 pages
  • 3-5 pages
  • 6-8 pages
  • 8-12 pages
  • 12-20 pages
  • Other

Additional Details to consider:

  • Formatting requirements
  • Number of expected drafts or options for revision
  • Opportunities for extra-credit
  • The appropriateness of group work
  • Would the assignment be better if given in parts or stages?
  • Are there activities that could accompany the assignment?