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FACULTY/STAFF > DEPARTMENTS & OFFICESSCHOOL OF COMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION SYSTEMS > DEPARTMENT OF ENGLISH STUDIES AND COMMUNICATION SKILLS > COMMUNICATION SKILLS PROGRAM > GUIDE FOR REQUIRED ASSIGNMENTS
Guide for Required Assignments

As an instructor in the Communications Skills Program, you are required to submit your class syllabus at the beginning of each term to the Head, CSP. Please include your assignments with the syllabus. The collected syllabi serve for two purposes: To provide 1) data for assessment to ensure program consistency and 2) a resource for instructors who seek guidance in building their own syllabi.

How to Construct Good Assignments
When creating writing assignments, instructors should state the requirements of the assignment as explicitly as possible.
We recommend that instructors follow the ABCD criteria:

  • Define the Audience for whom the student is performing. This is especially important in the CSP program since audience is a major focus: we are committed to giving students practice in communicating with a variety of authentic audiences in their fields. Assignments, where possible, should address various representative audiences in the field, both specialists and non-specialists. Audience consideration, especially analyses should play an important role in assignments.

  • Detail the Behavior the student is to perform including length or scope of the assignment (for example, "Write a one page draft in your journal"; "Write a 2-4 page paper in which you describe and define a hero"). We strongly recommend that instructors also include instructions regarding the process which students are to follow in completing the assignment (for example, "Before drafting, use at least two of the prewriting strategies discussed in the Longman Handbook"; "Prepare a typed draft of at least two pages for peer review by next Monday").

  • the Conditions under which the student is to perform including format (title page, citation style, number of sources required, type of sources required, in class writing, out of class writing, etc.); and

  • the Degree of proficiency that the student is expected to reach. This should communicate to students the ways in which their work will be evaluated, defining assessment criteria and/or sharing with students a holistic evaluation rubric. Such criteria are important also for language-to-learn tasks so that the student knows when she has successfully completed an informal, sometimes ungraded task. The above tasks should reflect the perspectives of professionals in the field or discipline and represent authentic communications where appropriate.


Various Assignment Templates
The following short templates suggest various ways of organizing teachers' writing assignments. You should feel free to adapt and modify these organizational guidelines, combining ideas from several or deleting sections not relevant to your purposes in the course. The templates are first presented, and then are arranged according to the ABCD criteria (Audience, Behavior, Conditions, and Degree).

Bean, Engaging Ideas:
  • Task: problem or question to solve
  • Role and audience: Address your writing to....
  • Format: length, manuscript form, organizational pattern, etc.
  • Expectations about the process to be followed: time schedule for drafts, peer review, etc. What should students save and submit?
  • Criteria for evaluation: holistically? Weighted criteria?


Bean, Engaging Ideas:
  • Role and audience: Address your writing to....
  • Task: problem or question to solve
  • Format: length, manuscript form, organizational pattern, etc.
  • Expectations about the process to be followed (time schedule for drafts, peer review, etc. What should students save and submit?) and Criteria for evaluation (will the papers be scored holistically? With weighted criteria?)


Ruzich:
  • Due dates: includes both final and "in-process" due dates
  • Grading: Points the assignment is worth, grading standards, procedures, weights
  • Format: manuscript form, length, etc.
  • Topic: poses assignment question, often may also specify writer's role and audience, as well as organizational strategies
  • Process: general composing hints and reminders


Ruzich:

A & B. Topic (poses assignment question, often may also specify writer's role and audience, as well as organizational strategies)
C. Format (manuscript form, length, etc.), Due dates (including both final and "in-process" due dates) and Process (general composing hints and reminders)
D. Grading (points the assignment is worth, grading standards, procedures, weights)

Grant:
  • Purpose: contextualizes the assignment; fits it into course learning and other activities
  • Process: specific composing strategies
  • Product (format): manuscript form, length, organizational pattern, evaluation criteria
Grant:

A & B. Purpose (contextualizes the assignment; fits it into course learning and other activities)
C. Process (specific composing strategies) and Product (format) (manuscript form, length, organizational pattern) and
D. Process (evaluation criteria)

Instructor's Guide for Revising Writing Assignments

Criteria for Evaluation:
  1. Is my assignment clear? Might a student misread the assignment and produce something not anticipated? Is its purpose clear? Will a student see how it fits into course goals?
  2. Does my assignment seem interesting and challenging? From a student's perspective, how difficult is this assignment? How much time will it require?
  3. Does my assignment specify or imply a suitable audience?
  4. Are my grading criteria clear?
  5. Are the mechanics of my assignment clear (Do I provide due dates, length requirements, manuscript format, other particulars)?
  6. Is the process for students to follow as explicit as possible? Should checkpoints be built into the assignment (submission of a prospectus, abstract, peer review dates, drafts, and so forth?)
  7. How easy or difficult will this assignment be to coach and to grade?
  8. Does my assignment conform to the conventions of standard written English, providing students with a model of the teacher's expectations?