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8: Understanding Academic Assignments

  • Page ID
    203827
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    Learning Objectives

    This section of Supporting ELLs in FYC helps students to think about their approach to academic assignments, addressing topics like:

    • Analyzing and Answering Questions with Multiple Parts
    • How to analyze a writing prompt and create a strong thesis statement
    • Understanding the Relationship between the Assignment and the Rubric
    • Understanding the Assignment and Aligning Your Paper with the Assignment Prompt

    Analyzing and Answering Questions with Multiple Parts

    Analyzing and Answering Questions with Multiple Parts


    How to Analyze a Writing Prompt and Create a Strong Thesis Statement

    ESL95 How to analyze a writing prompt and create a strong thesis statement


    Understanding the Relationship between the Assignment and the Rubric

    ESL95 Understanding the Relationship between the Assignment and the Rubric


    Understanding the Assignment and Aligning Your Paper with the Assignment Prompt

    It may sound obvious, but one of the most important things you can do to get started on your paper is to analyze the prompt. Using the assignment directions and prompt to format your paper can keep you on track.

    1. Read through all the directions for the assignment before you start. What do you need to do? Will you need to take notes? Do research? What are the length/word count requirements? What is the due date? Ask the instructor for clarification about anything you are unsure about.
    2. Find the prompt. What do you need to write about? Is it one question, or are there multiple parts or answers you will need to include in your paper? Review this power point about how to answer questions with multiple parts: Analyzing and Answering Questions with Multiple Parts. Use the organization of the question to help you organize your paper.
    3. Locate the verbs in the prompt. What is the instructor asking you to do? Explain? Compare? Argue? Know what the point of your paper is before you get started. Here is some language you might see in the prompt:
    • Argumentative/Persuasive: argue, present your opinion
    • Narrative, Illustrative, Expository: explain, discuss
    • Descriptive: describe
    • Compare: compares, discuss the similarities between
    • Contrast: contrast, present the differences between
    • Process: explain the steps for, describe how to
    • Definition: define
    • Classification: explain the kinds/parts/types of
    • Cause (reasons): discuss the reasons for/causes of
    • Effect (results): discuss the effects/results of
    1. Check spelling, capitalization, and grammar of key words and phrases in the prompt. You will use these throughout your paper; make sure they’re correct!
    2. If there is a rubric given with the paper, check the rubric to see what the instructor is focusing on and what the requirements are. Review this section about understanding the relationship between the assignment and the rubric: ESL95 Understanding the Relationship between the Assignment and the Rubric

    Practice: With your group, discuss how you would organize this assignment, and what you would submit at the end.

    Article: Misinformation and Biases Infect Social Media, Both Intentionally and Accidentally Authors: Giovanni Luca Ciampaglia and Filippo Menczer

    ASSIGNMENT: Wk 2.0 In-class group discussion and essay

    1. Introduce yourselves to your group, and write down your group members’ names. You will need them for your submission.
    2. Group Activity for Misinformation and Biases Infect Social Media, Both Intentionally and Accidentally

    Purpose – The purpose of this activity is to activate your background knowledge and build your interest before reading an article so that you have a more engaging and efficient reading experience; to actively read the article; and to reflect on your reading process and understanding of the text.

    Preview the Article

    Open a copy of the article Misinformation and Biases (1).docx

    You can print it if you’d like; it’s in the course pack.

    Follow the steps below to preview the article with your group. As you complete this activity, do not read the entire article. You will read the entire article later — after you have previewed it. Focus on previewing only. As you preview the article, record your thoughts in the margins of the printed copy of the article, or take notes.

    1. Read the title and discuss with your group. What does it make you think about? What do you think the article is about? What do you already know about the concepts mentioned in the article (misinformation, bias, social media)? Make notes about your ideas and the ideas of your group members next to their names.
    1. Discuss with your group: What questions do you have based on the title? Make notes about your ideas and the ideas of your group members next to their names.

     

    1. Select three different students to read paragraphs 1-3 out loud.These paragraphs form the introduction to the article. What predictions and questions do you have based on the introduction? Make notes about your ideas and the ideas of your group members next to their names.

     

    1. The reading is divided into sections with headings. Select different students in the group to read each bold heading and the first sentence or two of each section. What predictions and questions do you have based on your preview of each section? Make notes about your ideas and the ideas of your group members next to their names.

    You should note the following headings in the article:

    1. Bias in the brain
    2. Bias in society
    3. Bias in the machine
    4. Understanding complex vulnerabilities
    5. You have now previewed the article. Based on your preview of the article, discuss this question with your group:what do you think is the central point of the article? (Don’t worry if you are not sure. This is just a prediction or guess – you do not have to be correct.)

     

    Writing Assignment: Write an essay describing the five-step previewing process you did with your group in class today. Use the notes you took from your group discussion to support your ideas. In your paper, you should include:

    • The names of your group members
    • The name and authors of the article
    • The purpose of the assignment (why did I ask you to preview it?)
    • The five steps you went through to preview and the answers to the questions you came up with and discussed.
    • Use your Step 5 answer for your conclusion – what do you think is the central point (main idea) of this article? If you’re not sure, make a guess; you haven’t really read the whole article yet. It’s just thinking about what you know.
      • Use transitions like first, next, after that…to show where you are in the process.
      • Use paragraphs in your essay
      • Use your group members’ names as you present the ideas that were discussed.

    8: Understanding Academic Assignments is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.

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