Effective Writing Assignments

Mark Schaub, Writing Department

Before students can write in response to an assignment, they must imagine some sort of rhetorical situation or "problem." A rhetorical situation is how a writer interacts with her subject and her audience - the audience and purpose behind writing about a particular topic.

All writing assignments should account for these variables:

  • The students' interest in and understanding of the subject
  • The purpose or aim of the paper/essay/report
  • The audience (may or may not be the teacher!)
  • The student's role or relationship in terms of the readers and subject
  • The form/genre of discourse (an Essay? An essay exam? A journal?)

Tips for writing and distributing writing assignments

  • Write the assignment out on a separate sheet or web document
  • Talk, in class, about drafting and revising the paper
  • Supply examples of successful responses to the assignment
  • Talk about the assignment in class, and encourage questions about the assignment (e.g., documentation requirements, genre, audiences, etc.)
  • Discuss evaluation of responses - how it will be graded

Page last modified February 16, 2017