1. Assignment Brief Task:
these refer to the core assessment task
A. Text Type :
When a degree of autonomy in any of these text type features is expected at any stage of students’ assessment literacy development, then consider being explicit in the brief that this is the case.
'' If you don't have the structure, you feel like you are wasting your time...''
To ensure student time spent working out and confirming assessment requirements is minimized and to maximise inclusivity:
State in the instructions the type of text that students are required to produce.
There are a large and increasing number of possible assignment text types beyond the still most common of essay, report and presentation. Each of these types has a range of sub-types, each with their own organizational text structure, or format as they are often referred to. The features of a single text type can differ between disciplines and to some extent within disciplinary groups.
There is not always, among students or staff, a shared understanding of the features of these texts, nor a common term used to refer to each type. Therefore, the more information provided in the brief the better, not only for both student processing of instructions and subsequent performance in the assessed tasks, but also to facilitate staff discussion about the assignment. Consider providing a text type template of the required format.
For example, the range can include such text types as: essay, report, lab report, reflective essay, précis, poster pitch, journal article, letter of complaint, website, research proposal, blog, letter to client from a law firm, article review, care plan, portfolio. There also exist assignments
which involve a combination of two or more of such text types. These are sometimes known as patchwork assignments.
If at this stage of their academic literacy development, students are expected to determine autonomously the type of text and its format and this is one of the assessed learning outcomes, then consider stating this explicitly in the brief.
To ensure the student is best equipped to perform the task appropriately:
Indicate where necessary, who the target audience of the assignment is. In other words, tell the student who the text should be written for. Assignment tasks can be designed to have a purely academic, a professional, a vocational or a general public audience. They can also involve a combination of these such as a group marketing report (professional audience) with a reflective journal on the process of the group work (academic audience). If none is stipulated, the default option in students’ minds will be the traditional academic audience. Being explicit about the target audience clarifies the appropriate text design and language style students need to use.
For example, common non-academic audiences include the general public, a government department, senior management, operations manager, law client, brand consultancy, social work team, hotel group, and conference delegates.
If at this stage of students’ academic literacy development, it is one of the assessed learning outcomes that students determine audience autonomously, then consider stating this explicitly in the brief.
To ensure students do not have to expend time and effort unnecessarily seeking to clarify requirements:
State what subsections are required in the assignment text type and what the subheadings are for each.
For example, you may require a business report and within this, not require an executive summary. This is a less frequent feature of this text type and so this difference needs to be highlighted.
If at this stage of their academic literacy development, students are expected to decide autonomously on which sub-sections to include and to come up with their own subheadings, then consider stating this explicitly in the brief.
To better equip the student to perform the task appropriately:
Indicate where appropriate, what role the student is to assume when doing the task. If no text role is stipulated, the default option in students’ minds will be the traditional student role. Assignment tasks might however expect students to take on a professional role or be a combination of the academic and the professional. Stating clearly the student role clarifies not only their approach to the task itself but also the appropriate text design and writing style.
For example, this might involve performing the task in such roles as management consultant, health care professional, legal adviser, brand management expert, project management team member, an academic, a conference poster presenter or an environmental consultant.
If at this stage of the students’ academic literacy development, autonomy in determining their role is expected, then consider stating this explicitly in the brief.
To ensure optimal use of students’ cognitive resources by exploiting existing task schemas:
Avoid wherever feasible mismatches between the assignment brief text requirements and those provided by widely used study skills guides and training.
Where your assignment text requirements differ in any way from the generally accepted conventional features, explain how in the brief.
For example, you may require an essay with sub-headings for its various sections and you may expect charts and figures. These are less frequent features of an essay and so this difference needs to be made salient.
If at this stage of the students’ academic literacy development, they are expected to be flexible in their use of text types, then there is no need to highlight such mismatches.
" Most inaccurate submissions relate to more complex tasks which require a combination of elements, such as for example a portfolio ..."