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Assignments: The Basics

Assignments should reflect the desired learning outcomes you have for your course and your students. Assignments should complement classwork and prepare for the testing and exam process.

Before you design your assignments

Plan and organize your course, first, then design assignments & write the syllabus.  Here's a good planning outline:

Course Design

Components of a Great Assignment

Four main tips for creating assignments and exams:

  1. Decide on a small number of “desired outcomes” for your course.

  2. Align your assignments and exams with your desired outcomes.  
  3. Offer students a rationale for the choices you make in assigned readings.
  4. Many short assignments and exams spread throughout the semester produce better learning than a long paper and final exam at the end, especially if returned with adequate comments.

Read the complete article "Creating Assignments & Exams" by Jim Wilkinson at  The Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning, Harvard University

Copyright © 2007-2010, Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning, used by permission.

How To

The Teaching Commons recommends these steps in designing assignments:

Determine student activities that support learning.
The best student assignments engage students in specific skills and practices that instructors want students to develop.

Locate example assignments.
Browse through assignments others have used.  Discuss assignments with colleagues. Really think about what you want students to know and be able to do when they complete your course.  Examples will stimulate your thinking.

Think about time, resource and space limitations.
There are many resources available to students, but they are not endless. Be frugal about available time, resources and space, but do not allow these limitations to limit creativity when you know student learning will benefit.

Ask students for feedback
In addition to teaching colleagues, students are a wonderful resource for determining how well our assignments have supported learning outcomes.

Summarized from: http://teachingcommons.cdl.edu/cdip/facultyteaching/Designingassignments.html

Helpful Assignment Website