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Assignment Design for Research and Writing

Resources to reference when creating research and writing assignments to maximize clarity and accessibility.

Scaffolded Elements

None ♦  Annotated Bibliography  ♦  Draft Revision ♦  Peer Review

  • Is your assignment designed to build on previous knowledge or skills? 
    • If yes, how many separate-but-linked assignments have you planned? 
      • How will you evaluate successful scaffolding?
  • Annotated Bibliography:
    • When assigning an annotated bibliography, make sure you define what exactly you mean by an annotated bibliography. There are many types of annotated bibliographies out there, and you’ll need to tell your students exactly what you expect. 
      • Summary annotations briefly summarize the text but do not attempt to evaluate it for its quality or relevancy to an assignment. 
      • Evaluative (or critical) annotations analyze the work for any biases, lack of evidence, or whether or not this work would be useful to a particular audience or assignment. They do not summarize the content of the work.
      • Combination annotated bibliographies are the most commonly used, spending a few sentences each on summarizing and evaluating the text. 
    • It’s helpful to students to include an example of the type of annotation you would like to see. It may seem obvious, but you should also let your students know which citation style you want to see.
  • Draft: 
    • If assigning a draft, make sure you define what you expect from a draft. 
      • What do you care most about from the students’ work? Is it the grammar or the argument you’ll be offering feedback on?
    • Assigning drafts helps students experience writing like they would after they graduate. Rarely does one create published writing without revision.  
  • Peer Review:
    • If requiring a peer review, provide students with a rubric or set of guidelines.
    • Assigning peer review introduces students to the process that they’ve heard about before, preparing them for more professional writing. (How many times have you submitted professional writing that was not edited or reviewed by someone else?) 
    • This technique can be used for any kind of writing, not just academic writing.

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