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Center For Academic Excellence

Writing Center | Creating a Successful Writing Assignment

There's nothing more frustrating than thinking you have given a writing assignment that will bring a major part of the course into focus, and finding, as you grade the fourth or fifth paper, that no one in the class got the message! Following are some guidelines that will help you avoid such a situation:

  • Specify the topic (but note that the topic is not the complete assignment.
  • Specify the question or problem raised by the topic.
  • Specify the necessary research: authors, titles, journal, location of the information.
  • State the assignment.
  • Specify the purpose of the assignment:

to evaluate sources
to synthesize data
to solve an unknown
to argue for an interpretation
to refute an opinion or argument
to explain a process.

  • Specify the audience.
  • Specify the format: critical essay, book review, term paper, informal essay, letter. Also specify length and type of documentation.
  • Specify time: when each step in the process is due, when you will read a draft.
  • Specify evaluation procedures.

Produced by MUSC's Writing Center - Under the direction of Professor Tom Waldrep

Jennie Ariail, Ph.D. - Director
Tom Waldrep, Ph.D. - Director (retired)

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