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How to Decode your Assignment Instructions Writing Centre and Study Skills Support, Faculty of Arts Dr Jillian Schedneck

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Presentation on theme: "How to Decode your Assignment Instructions Writing Centre and Study Skills Support, Faculty of Arts Dr Jillian Schedneck"— Presentation transcript:

1 How to Decode your Assignment Instructions Writing Centre and Study Skills Support, Faculty of Arts Dr Jillian Schedneck

2 Outline Going over the typical way assignments are given at university The details of your assignment instructions Examples of assignment questions and instructions Helpful links to help with decoding assignment instructions

3 Your assignment instructions The requirements will vary from course to course Most important: The question Sometimes you will have one question and other times you will have lots of options. Choose strategically.

4 Your assignment instructions Also important: The further instructions Word count Sources, number and referencing style How and when to submit it Marking criteria / rubric Any further tips about what to include in your essay / assignment

5 Your assignment instructions Most of the information about your assignment should be in your course guide, so look there first. Sometimes you will receive another handout, which should also be posted on your MyUni for that course (usually under the heading Assignments). If it doubt, listen to the discussion about the assignment in lectures and tutorials, and then if you still have questions unanswered, ask you tutor.

6 Your assignment instructions All of these precise instructions can be hard to get used to. Your tutors want you to follow the instructions exactly, while also writing in your own academic voice and expressing your own reasoned opinion. The good news: your tutors / lecturers are not trying to trick you. The instructions state exactly what they want to read in your essay.

7 Your assignment question In the Arts faculty, your assignment questions are generally asking you to make an ARGUMENT. In other faculties, you are generally being asked to do a number of things, most of which include explaining.

8 Arts of Engagement essay example Free speech (freedom of expression) is an end in itself. It is a good in itself (the rights argument). Is it? Mill’s approach does not take account of any right to privacy. Does privacy trump free speech? Consider the Monis (2013) case or other practical examples to debate this problem. Snowden, Manning and Assange leaked security information. Does national security override free speech? Should ‘offensive’ speech be subject to regulation? Use examples to debate the question. Should the Racial Vilification Act be reformed on the grounds of upholding free speech, as is currently claimed by the Abbott government?

9 Arts of Engagement essay instructions: From the course guide: Note that some of these topics require you to choose a contemporary or historical examples, which may be Australian-based or based elsewhere or international in orientation. Depending on the topic you may need to employ media or other less scholarly sources. You should still use scholarly sources for most of your research and as the grounds for your argumentation. Also do remember that you are expected to go beyond the provided Set and Additional Readings.

10 Arts of Engagement essay instructions Essay: 1,500 words, Mark 30%; due Friday 12noon by second week of mid-semester break, 24 th April Research Essays in this course are focussed upon argumentation (rather than mere opinion) using a range of relevant texts and particularly scholarly texts. A section of one of the lectures will attend to research essay writing. Additionally Resources are provided in MyUNI to assist with essay writing as well as practical guidance. There are also other step by step tutorials within the Academic Skills Resources course in MyUNI, such as Essay Writing Basics and Making an Argument. There will also be discussion and practical activities concerning essay writing in the seminar program. Your tutor will be able to assist you with advice on the presentation of essays and with ways to improve your writing skills. If you think that your written work would benefit from further assistance, contact the ARTs Faculty based Study Skills Team.

11 Arts of Engagement essay instructions You should feel free to discuss the exact style and format of any written work with your tutor. All essays must be submitted electronically as Turnitin Assignments on MYUNI. Be sure to keep a copy of your essay. The submission of the essay includes a declaration concerning the authenticity of your work and your understanding of the University’s policies and procedures on plagiarism. Essays that do not include appropriate citation of sources in Harvard style and a full bibliography may not be accepted. Your bibliography should consist mostly of scholarly sources as in the Annotated Bibliography. You will receive feedback (including comments and a marking rubric) via MyUNI as well as an overall mark for the Annotated Bibliography and Individual Research Essay, which is worth 40% of the total marks. You can find out how to submit your assignment on Turnitin and how to find your feedback and grade in Resources tutorials provided in MyUNI.

12 GSSA question example Question: Connell writes that ‘gender must be understood as a social structure. It is not an expression of biology, nor a fixed dichotomy in human life or character. It is a pattern in our social arrangements’ (2009: 10). What do you think Connell means by this statement and can you give two examples to support your argument?

13 GSSA assignment instructions To do this assignment, you should read carefully the readings by Connell and Cranny-Francis et al. at from Week One and reflect upon the lectures. Use newspapers or other media as examples to support your discussion. Your answer should be in the form of an essay with an introduction and a conclusion, not just questions and answers.

14 GSSA assignment instructions You are expected to reference your work using the Harvard system, and a bibliography of works used should be attached on a separate page. For this assignment it is sufficient to list only the first two articles in your reader, but you may refer to further readings if you wish. Also list any media articles that you have used.

15 GSSA assignment instructions We are using this first assignment to get you thinking about the key concepts in this course, but you will also be learning how to write in an academic style and how to reference your work. You will thus be assessed according to four main criteria: 1- The complexity of your argument (i.e. you must have (i.e. you must have an argument and it needs to go beyond a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ approach to address the question of why gender should be understood as a social structure) 2- The way you have supported this answer or argument with reference to Connell and Cranny-Francis et al. 3- The way you have supported your answer with your two chosen examples 4- Presentation (referencing, bibliography, style)

16 Classics Question Question: Compare and contrast these two primary source excerpts (below) in the way that they represent the character of Odysseus. Try to account for the essential differences between these two representations. You should concentrate on the actual excerpts although you will need to refer to some secondary sources to place these primary sources in context (see Hints on Reading Primary Sources below). This is particularly true of the excerpt from the Philoctetes and some material has been placed on MyUni to help you understand the context of this play. Remember that any secondary sources you use must be cited.

17 Your assignment question es/Student%20Learning%20Development%20Service/Doc uments/Albany/Brochures/Assignment%20Writing/Under standing%20Essay%20Questions.pdf assignments/ essay/essay-topic/2.xml Analysing an Essay Question - The University of Sydney

18 Common problems with essays Lack of argument Introduction too long and complicated Content goes off topic Lack of structure or organisation Paragraphs are either too long or too short Evidence used within body paragraphs are not clearly explained Missing topic sentences Missing conclusion sentences to paragraphs (summary sentences to end each paragraph) Lack of conclusion

19 Academic Skills Resources course in your MyUni under ‘Other Courses’ Essay Writing Basics Making an Argument Using Sources Paragraph Writing Considering your Audience Grammar Basics Advanced Grammar: Cohesion

20 Final Tips: Think of each essay as series of one paragraph units rather than 1500 to 2500 words in total (which can be overwhelming) Write research write If you’re having trouble, ask for an extension. The worst that can happen is that your tutor says “no.” Hand SOMETHING in. Your essay draft is probably better than you think. Your tutors and lecturers WANT YOU TO DO WELL.

21 There is help! Study Skills Support: Napier G60, to make an Academic Skills Resources: MyUni course with online tutorials for writing essays English for Uni: -for-uni/ -for-uni/ Writing Centre: Hub Level 3 Writing Centre learning guides: centre/learning_guides


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