Working with the Assignment

What should I do when the professor gives out the assignment?

  • It is important to know the essay style expected in your discipline/department and, in particular, by your professor.
  • Be sure to read your assignment carefully, looking for clues about what is expected in your writing.
  • Listen for clues in class about what the professor highlights and stresses as important. This will be what you should emphasize in your essay. Remember the parts of an essay/paper:
  • Expect to do research about the topic. Know what to research and how to integrate the research into your paper.

What questions do I need to ask about the assignment?

  • How many sources am I expected to use? Am I familiar with the terminology being used for the subject matter?
  • Should my introduction be direct (“In my paper, I will write about…”) or indirect? This question can help you frame your paper in the proper tone expected in your department.
  • How long should my paper be? This question will help you determine the amount of information expected about the topic and the amount of research you will need to do.
  • How many points do I need to develop for a complete presentation of the topic?
  • What services are available to help me with my writing? Where can I go for tutoring? Are there peer tutors or teaching assistants in my discipline who can guide me?

Hint: Remember to visit your professor during office hours if you have any questions. Come prepared with questions about the essay/paper. If you have begun planning or writing your essay/paper, bring a draft with specific questions. Instead of asking your professor to read and comment on what you have written, a specific question will can help your professor give helpful suggestions.

For more suggestions on working with assignments, consult Understanding the Assignment.

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