As instructors we are familiar with conventions of academic writing and writing in our fields. It's easy to assume that students will observe the conventions we take for granted, but such assumptions generally leave students floundering with style and format concerns that compromise their attention to larger assignment goals. The following questions will help you create an assignment description that details every element of the writing task.
Though it's important to inform students of style and format requirements, we want to avoid emphasizing the cosmetic over the substantive. Working backwards from assignment and course goals will naturally shift our focus from cosmetic concerns. The assignments we design should maintain a global focus by highlighting the process that will advance overall goals and downplaying style and format requirements. If the specifications we've indicated don't advance assignment or course goals, we might consider revising our specifications.
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