Students' successful completion of a writing assignment begins with an assignment for the instructor: the creation of a detailed assignment description. It is not enough to announce in class that students should write "a paper about one aspect of the Roman Empire" or to list in the syllabus: "Turn in research paper on Renaissance artist of your choice." Students' response to such vague instructions will be varied at best. At worst, students and instructor will be frustrated over the time spent writing and reading scores of pages that contribute little to course goals.
An effective assignment description contains as much detail as is necessary to communicate to students the assignment's purpose and the steps students must take to achieve that purpose and to receive a favorable evaluation. The following links detail the assignment writing process and direct instructors to additional assistance and resources.