4.2_Assignments_and_Homework - Center for Excellence in...

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Center for Excellence in Teaching Assignments and Homework Module 4.2 University of Southern California 89 1 Writing assignments and homework are two of the most common ways in which instructors give students an opportunity to develop, apply and demonstrate new knowledge. These assignments can take many forms: short papers, research papers, problem sets, lab reports, and so forth. Such assignments are also an important means of summative assessment, providing us with grades that we hope reflect students level of effort and learning. For these reasons, assignments and homework are an important part of the learning process. Therefore, they deserve a fair degree of attention on your part if you hope to make your course a valuable learning experience for students. This module will walk you through some of the basics of preparing and presenting homework and writing assignments. It is important to keep three main points in mind: You should be clear and specific with students about what your goals and expectations are for each assignment; The nature and construction of each assignment should reflect the learning goals you articulated when you created the course; The assignments you create for students should be challenging but not intimidating or overwhelming. General Principles for Homework and Written Assignments While there are important differences in the format and nature of homework and written assign- ments, both are directed at giving students the opportunity to develop and display particular skills and knowledge. And both have, as their main goal, the facilitation of student learning. Thus, despite differences, certain general principles apply if you want the assignments you create to be effective learning tools: Present each assignment verbally and in writing. Presenting the assignment to students verbally gives them a chance to ask you questions and discuss any concerns they may have. A written handout allows you to state your expectations in greater detail and gives students something to refer back to as they work. Clearly outline your expectations. The written handout (one for each assignment) should clearly articulate what you expect from students, and how they will be graded. Test the assignment on yourself and others. If you are assigning problem sets, solve them yourself to see where students might struggle and where directions are unclear. If you are giving a written assignment, read the directions and/or have friends do so to help you make sure that what you have written is specific and easily understood.
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Module 4.2
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  • Spring '08
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