FURTHER THOUGHTS ON ASSIGNMENT WRITING
These are elements or points that have come up during quite some number of years in marking tertiary level assignments. They are observational and offered as issues students might consider taking into account.
* An introduction is helpful, particularly if it includes a rationale and order of presentation of facts or elements. Introductions set the assignment context, leading the reader into content that follows.
* A title page.
* A contents page – both are focussing attributes.
* Labelling sections and sub-sections.
* Paragraphs – not too long and ongoing.
* Clear referencing – Author(s) date (year) and page(s).
* Well presented papers are easier to understand and mark than ones which are tightly written with small font and single line spacing.
* Some assignments were written in landscape or horizontal style. Assignments need to be vertical.
* Take pride in work; pride becomes self evident.
* Avoid repetition of words in sentences, i.e, ‘that’, ‘this’, ‘student’, and so on.
If using i.e., show as ‘i.e.’,. not as ‘ie’.
* Try and avoid ‘etc’ within assignment text. It is more appropriate to use the words ‘and so on’, to indicate repetition or continuation of a particular thought.
* Use words rather than numerals to indicate numeric value, for instance ‘three’ instead of ‘3’, ‘twenty-one’ rather than ’21’. For a very long number, for instance ‘ one hundred and twenty six thousand five hundred and twenty six’, ‘126,526’ is the better and more concise option.
* Starting sentences with ‘It’, It’s’, ‘So’, ‘Is’ should be considered for context. These are generally not impactive words.
* When citing an authority, use Surnames rather than Christian names. ‘The research by Gray confirms…’ not ‘ The research by Henry confirms …’.
* Look out for possessives or ownership being vested in objects. ‘Australian classrooms are seeing growth in EAL/D student numbers’ should be ‘There is a growth in the number of ERAL/D students enrolled (or placed) in Australia’s classrooms’. Another example to illustrate: ‘The dictionary will see students get it right.’ Students use dictionaries but dictionaries are not the controlling influence. These aberrations often stand out or come to light with careful editing.
* Tenses need to be considered. There is a place for past, present and future tense. It is easy to place tenses in wrong places, for instance using past tense to indicate present situations and so on.
* Students ‘who’ rather than ‘students that’. ‘That’ is not a word fitting to the description of people.
* If including an introductory statement, indicate this to be the case. That enables the reader to differentiate between elements of the written paper.
* Leave decent margins (at least three centimetres) at each side of written text to allow marking comments to be added.
* Writers supporting their positions or arguments by reference to the literature that goes beyond curriculum documents (i.e. includes texts and authors) adds proof to the essence of background reading and research.
*When directly quoting from a source, begin and end the quote with speech marks, i.e.
” … “. It can be helpful to include quotes in italics as this offers clear differentiation between their words and yours. Quotes need to be embellishing and supportive, adding to the argument or position you are offering.
‘Develop’ seems to be a popular word for repetition within sentences. Again, a thesaurus for word alternatives can be handy. Other words also lend themselves to repetition because of their general or common use.
I hope the reader finds these pointers useful. When writing assignments I had a folder on the desk, with thoughts and suggestions on presentation ready to hand.
18 September 2015