Perhaps the most important question we can ask ourselves as assignment writers is Why am I administering this assignment? We often overlook the fact that identifying our goals before preparing an assignment sheet will help us to create an assignment that is suited to those goals. Experienced composition instructors recommend starting with a list of goals—a detailed purpose statement—and working backward to design an assignment. For example, if my goal is to enhance students' understanding of a particular reading, I will specify that reading in my assignment sheet. I will probably discourage the use of outside sources and will indicate that students are to focus on the reading's content rather than the quality of writing and on summarizing rather than responding to ideas. It's important not only to determine an assignment's purpose as an instructor, but to communicate the purpose to students in the assignment sheet and in classroom discussion.
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