What does the lecturer expect me to write?

Lecturers have expectations about what students should write in assignments, which are partly explicit in the assignment instructions, and partly implicit. (That is, you need extra information to work them out: information such as the aims of the course, the norms of that particular discipline, standard academic style, etc.) In order to know what the lecturer expects, you have the following main sources of information:

  • the unit of study outline
  • the written assignment instructions (e.g. evaluate, analyse, compare, critique)
  • grade descriptors, rubrics or marking guides (i.e. a list of the parts of the assignment, how many marks each part is worth, and/or a list of the qualities in the report which will achieve a pass mark, a credit, a distinction, etc.)
  • lecturers’ and/or tutors’ instructions and advice in class
  • resources produced by your discipline or faculty (e.g. Faculty of Health Sciences Assignment Guide)
  • generic guides such as the format for the relevant referencing convention (e.g. Harvard, APA)
  • discussion with other students
  • consultation hours or further questions for your lecturer or tutor

You need skills for analysing assignment questions – e.g. to identify what content you need to cover, and also to identify whether you need to simply report information, or also to analyse, persuade or critique. Also, you may need to actively find out more to understand the implicit expectations:

  • Ask other students, tutors and/or lecturers. (Keep trying if you don't find out the first time.)
  • Look for examples of this type of assignment. (Ask your tutor, lecturer and/or the school or departmental office whether anyone keeps copies of previous students’ good work on this type of assignment.)

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