Assignment Type and Purpose
Assignment Type and Purpose
Assignments frame student learning. A well designed assignment will motivate students to take control of their learning, creating space for creativity, risk-taking and growth.
- How are the professional industries related to the course evolving and how do assignments reflect these changes?
- How do assignments provide opportunities for students to contribute something creative, original or authentic?
- Which research and/or professional skills or attributes should students develop through an assignment?
- How do assignments challenge students to grow and reflect?
- How will students be supported with skills development, e.g. writing, design, software or presentation?
- How do assignments and marking criteria work together across the course?
Solent best practice
Framing an assignment around an authentic research task.
Esther Snell describes how she gets Level 6 students to research a historical crime of their choice using the Old Bailey Online archive.
Introducing students to a single archive enables Estelle to set a manageable scope and framework for the research project. Choosing an archive which is used by criminal historians gives students a taste of the type of research involved in working in this field. Given the quantity and variety of material to choose from, each student has something unique to contribute. Having students produce a presentation at a mid-point enables for feedback on each project before the final write up.
Types of assignment
The list below explores a selection of assignment types.
Whenever setting a new type of assignment, consider:
- how you will support students to develop new skills
- which examples or models students will be able to explore
Proposal or Pitch: Have students produce a proposal, or pitch an idea as a formative assessment task. By receiving feedback on ideas from tutors and peers early in the design stage, students have opportunities to make major changes before they produce a summative piece of work.
Annotated Bibliography: Have students research a topic and summarise the key ideas from the texts they read to produce an annotated bibliography. This can be a collaborative research task, or form a stepping stone to a literature review or research project.
Report or Essay: Before setting a report or essay, ensure students understand the type of writing they will produce. See Suceed@solent report writing and essay writing sections for information to consider when setting written tasks.
Presentation: Have students evaluate example presentations and receive formative feedback on slides and speech from peers before a final presentation. See advice for students.
Infographic: When setting this type of assignment, bear in mind the level of design skills you expect from students, and the type of software or icons they will have access to for producing work. See advice for students.
Academic poster: Students can produce a visual representation of their research projects at all levels. Consider having posters displayed digitally to avoid printing costs. See advice for students.
Blogs: Informal, regular writing tasks can help students develop the habit of writing and discover their voice as a writer. Blogs can foster a positive learning culture in a group as students see how their peers are learning and learn to offer constructive feedback and advice on posts. See example practice in the 'Engaged teaching: supporting writing' section.
Two stage exam: If the module includes exams, consider making it a. Benefits include enhancing collaboration between students and better retention of information.
Tools and resources
- Quizzes: The SOL Quiz tool can be used to set formative or summative quizzes. You can see the full range of the types of questions available in this example quiz (first enrol on the module).
- Podcasts: Read this case study on setting up a podcast assignment from the University of Guelp.
- Recording student work: You can use panopto to record student performances in sessions or have students download the app to create their own recordings for assignments. Contact LTU@solent.ac.uk for guidance.
- V Burns (2015) 53 interesting ways to assess your students