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Best Practice: Assignment Instructions

Students in any course, be it online or face to face, have similar concerns. Consider the following student questions as you create assignments that are interesting and challenging.

What do you want me to learn?

Effective online assignments provide clear expectations and objectives. Include the following elements:

  • Statement about how the assignment ties into the goals and objectives for your course.
  • Required length or size of submission.
  • Suggested resources.
  • Preference for source citation, such as MLA, APA, and CBE.
  • Model or example of a successful assignment.

Why am I learning this?

Effective online assignments motivate the learner by giving rationale for the assignment and its methods.

  • Students want to see the relevance of an assignment to their learning and their course grades.
  • Clearly state how this assignment will help them achieve one or more of the course objectives.

What do I need to know or do to complete the assignment?

Effective online assignments provide clear expectations and detailed directions.

  • Submission deadlines.
  • File formats: DOC, DOCX, PPT, PPTX, XLS, XLSX, and PDF.
  • How the assignment is completed—individually or in groups.
  • How to submit work.
  • How and when feedback is available.

How will I be graded?

List grading criteria in the assignment instructions, or include a rubric listing the criteria and assigning points for increasing levels of achievement.