Video’s description: Top tips are on writing a great assignment
One of the hardest things about being at uni is keeping up with all the assignments. No matter what program you’re doing-all have a number of assignments to hand in at each semester that’s a lot of words you’ll be writing.
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Here are some tips on improving your writing skills. Developing these skills sooner rather than later will benefit you.
The first thing to do is read the assignment information.
Is the assignment an essay? A report? A presentation? This is important
information because different assignment types have different formats. The learning development blackboard site has lots of useful information about this. Depending on the task you might get to choose between a few different questions, or there may be one question everyone has to answer. If you don’t understand what you have to do write down some questions and ask your tutor. Also look at the marking criteria to see what the market is looking for in your response.
After you’ve worked out how to answer the question, start planning your response. A good way to do this is to make a plan. Different types of assignments need different structures, so be aware of how these work. The learning development blackboard site has information on different structures for different assignments.
Your plan might be:
- a mind map
- dot points
Experiment with different ways of planning to find one that works well for you.
Once you have your plan, you can start thinking about what information you already have and what you need to find out. Put a time limit on how long you spend researching.
Depending on how much the assignment is worth overall this could be:
- two hours
- two days
- two weeks.
Keep it in perspective if you’re fascinated by the topic, but it’s only worth 20% of your final mark, maybe explore it in more depth at another time. By now you should have a plan and lots of information.
So it’s time to start writing
Your goal is to show the marker what you know.
There are three main ways to do this.
- The first is to use clear and concise language so that you say exactly what you mean.
- Avoid things like using the thesaurus function on your computer to find a long word wear a shorter clearer one would do.
- The KISS principle is a good thing to remember now.
- Keep it short and sweet the sentence, not your assignment. You should be able to read each sentence without taking a breath in the middle. If they start going blue in the face because they can’t get to the end of the sentence, it’s time for some editing.
- Each sentence should have one main idea in it. More than one idea at a time and you’re likely to be getting confused and confusing sentences won’t help you get your ideas across.
This can be a good time to get some guidance on how you’re going with your plan and ideas.
Think about using learning development great service eConsult. You email your assignment question and draft response there, and a learning advisor will email you back with suggestions about how to improve your writing and structure. If you’d rather see someone in person booked an appointment with a learning advisor. The learning advisor can’t edit your work or fix your spelling, but they can advise you how you can learn to do this yourself. Both services work best if you have time to act on the advisor’s guidance. So make sure you’ve got plenty of time to spare before the assignment is due.
You’ve spent valuable time finding good information to use in your assignments, so you need to show your tutor what you found and how you’ve used it. This is referencing, and it’s one of the most important parts of becoming academically literate. You’ve probably worked that different courses use different referencing styles. You have to become familiar with these. Since most assignments give some marks just to referencing. Referencing well could mean the difference between a pass and a credit or a distinction and a high distinction.
The Uni pays for the EndNote software program which can help you reference properly, and if you’re keen to save time and effort, it’s a great tool. Click on the libraries, information, skill section to learn more and book in for a workshop at the same time. You’re nearly done!
Now it’s proofreading time!
Check your assignment for spelling and grammatical errors. Make sure you’ve used the right font and line spacing according to the rules of the course. This may seem just like making it look pretty, but it’s also part of being academically literate. You might have to submit this assignment in hard copy, electronically, or both. In any case, someone is going to read it, mark it, and give you feedback on what you’ve submitted; there’s no reason to make it harder on them than it needs to be.
Okay, last thing.
Just about every written assignment needs to be submitted to Turnitin. This is a software program the Uni users to analyze what you’ve written compared to lots of other information available on the internet. It will create matches where groups of words that you’ve used are the same as others. Don’t panic if you have quoted these will show up but your references help you prove that you’ve used them in the right way for the assignment. If you haven’t quoted, have a close look at the matches.
Are they common phrases for your subject or have you accidentally plagiarized which means you’ve changed a couple of words to avoid doing a direct quote? Most courses let you submit to Turnitin a few days before the due date. If you can submit your nearly final draft a couple of days before the due date. Then you have time to do things like making sure the references are in the correct place; and rewrite sections that could be a problem.
Use Turnitin as a tool to prevent plagiarism and improve your writing. In a nutshell, write a great assignment by being clear on the type of tasks required and the response format. Workout a realistic timeframe for doing the assignment, developing a plan for the assignment, gathering the information you need to complete it, working on a clear and concise writing style, getting help from learning development or your tutor in a timely way, paying attention to referencing and proofreading, using Turnitin as a tool to improve your writing.