Why should I do this? 

Instructions should be clear and explicit so that students know what is needed to successfully complete the assignment. Be sure to clearly state what expectations you have about what should be done, how work should be formatted, what should be submitted, and how work should be submitted. 


How should I do this?

When creating assignments in your course, make sure that the assignment instructions are easy to understand and complete. For each assignment, include: 

  • Purpose of the assignment: Explain why students are completing the assignment, how it helps students achieve or demonstrate mastery of the learning outcome, and/or how the assignment will be beneficial in students’ future coursework or careers. This helps students understand the relevance and importance of the individual assignments in the course. 
  • Instructions: The instructions should help students understand what they need to do to complete the assignment, what tools, resources, material is needed to complete the assignment, and requirements for completing the assignment (length for reports, etc.). 
  • Grading criteria: The grading criteria outlines how the assignment will be assessed (number of points, number of points per question, etc.). Consider creating rubrics for assignments. Rubrics outline what students need to do to earn full marks on the assignment and can help make grading easier and more consistent. 
  • Submitting the assignment: For each assignment, let students know how to submit the assignment and what to submit. If students should use a particularly naming convention for the files that they submit, be explicit about how the file should be named (and provide an example).  

Once written, it can be helpful to ask a colleague read the instructions as a check for clarity.  Throughout the semester, keep notes of questions that students ask (especially those that are frequently asked). This process can help you reflect on areas of the course that may be unclear to students. 

The components of assignment descriptions were adapted from Marian University.