If there is anything that is dreaded by university students it has to be Assignments or Homework. Every student who has undertaken a higher education course from any accredited university in the world, needs to submit assignments at the end of every semester. These assignments can be in form of thesis, essays, term projects, dissertation, book review, article review Et.al. Each of these assignments has a separate set of guidelines and requirements that the student has to follow. With different levels of complexity and length, every assignment demands customised approach. However, students do not get ample time to complete the assignments and are often distracted by other academic projects, exam preparation and even part-time jobs that they take up during university breaks. This is why it is advised to adopt a smarter and more efficient approach to writing assignments.
Where to Begin?
Regardless of the type of assignment you receive (whether dissertation or book review), you need to follow two very simple habits, i.e.
- Read and re-read the assignment brief carefully as soon as you receive it and
- Ask your professor or TA about anything that you don’t understand, ask for additional information and understand what the professor requires you to do
It is very important to understand your assignment expectations before you even begin to write. If you understand the marking rubric and the assignment deliverables, half your job is done. Here is a step by step approach to any assignment:
Unpacking the Assignment Question
First things first, you need to understand what the assignment requires you to do. You can understand the requirements by reading and re-reading the specific deliverable requirements. Below are two separate assignment samples with specific deliverable requirements.
I. Specific Deliverable Requirement, Sample 1
II. Specific Deliverable Requirement, Sample 2
Applying Critical Analysis
Once you have understood the exact deliverables required from your assignment, you can move on to apply critical analysis to the assignment topic. There is a two-step approach to applying critical analysis:
- Critical Reading: Discovering ideas and information in-text and figuring out what something in a text means.
- Critical Thinking: Evaluating ideas and information and deciding what to accept and believe. Deciding whether to accept an argument presented in the supplementary literature or not.
Comparative Critical Analysis
There are two approaches to comparative critical analysis. The classical approach gives equal weight to each paper in your assessment, Lens comparison, on the other hand, uses one paper as a lens through which you view the other. Therefore, you give less weightage to the lens paper and more weightage to the paper you are examining.
Planning Your Assignment
There are five points that you absolutely need to keep in mind while writing your assignments. These points are;
- Ground for Comparison
- Frame of Reference
- Organisational Scheme
- Linking the two paper together and to the thesis
III. Sample 1: Understanding Business problems (Underlined)
IV. Sample 2: Possible Suggestions (Underlined)
Understanding Task Words, Content Words and Limiting Words
If you understand the task words, content words and limiting words, writing the assignment will be a breeze.
Task words tell you what to do in order to answer the question. Task words are usually verbs. Here is a sample for your understanding.
V. Sample of Task Words (Approaching an Assignment)
Content words tell you what the topic areas are and help you focus your research only in the topic area. Given below is a sample of content words for your understanding.
VI. Sample of Content Words (Approaching an Assignment)
Limiting words define the topic area and indicate aspects of topic area you should focus on. Given below is an example of limiting words for your understanding.
VII. Sample of Limiting Words (Approaching an Assignment)
Using the above assignment snapshot as our sample, let’s take a look at how to form keywords for your research in Google, Google Books, Google Scholar and your University Database.
- Definition of boutique hotels (as mentioned in sample) – Books, journal articles etc.
- Difference between boutique hotels and mainstream hotels
- Automated process in Australian Hotel Industry
- Automated practices in global hotel industry
- Examples of automation in Australian hotel industry and hotel industry in general
Samples of Different Resources to search your topic from:
VIII. Search 1 – Understanding the terms from Normal Search
IX. Search 2 – Understanding the term from Google Books Search
X. Search 3 – Understanding the term from Google Scholar
XI. Understanding the term from PDF and journals
Retrospection of the Content
Retrospection is important. Without retrospection you won’t be able to write a clear and precise assignment. In your retrospection, ask yourself the following questions:
- Who is my audience?
- Am I making a point?
- What kind of evidence do I need to support my idea/theory or argument?
- What are the non-negotiable rule of this assignment?
If you are able to answer these four questions, congratulations, you can now write an error-free and well-researched assignment that follows the guidelines to the last word. Let’s move on to the formatting and delivery part.
Formatting guidelines include information such as font, font size and spacing, length and referencing system. You also need to keep the mark allocation or marking rubric in mind.
Final Proofreading and Submission Checklist
Before you submit your assignment you need to proofread the entire assignment and eliminate all minor and major typographical and grammatical errors. You also need to match it with your submission checklist to ensure all essential guidelines have been followed. Here is a list of things you can keep in your final submission checklist:
- Ensure there is a title, body and a conclusion in your assignment write-up.
- Ensure all questions and sub-questions are answered.
- Ensure you have provided a source of evidence for all your claims. Re-read your text and underline all claims, make sure there is evidence for each claim.
- Ensure all tables and figures have references.
- List down all the references used at the end of the assignment
- Check for Plagiarism on Turintin
- Ensure there is a cover sheet for the course
- Ensure you have written the name, course code and assignment topic where required.
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