Addressing the Assignment Purpose

By Dr. Gwendolyn Maria Parrish
August 16, 2022

Understanding What is Expected

As you are aware, your college journey will include many courses and assignments to complete for your selected degree program. Whether you attend classes on campus or online, the requirements will be the same. You will have specific responsibilities as a student, which will consist of completing all assignments to a degree of rigor described in your program. Meeting the assignment requirements in your courses will determine your success in each course. It is of the utmost importance that your assignment meets the expectations stipulated in the assignment description. This will typically include the font, number of pages, depth of topic needed, and other pertinent information that you will apply to your work. You will also need to understand different aspects of a great assignment to help you provide your best work for your instructor. Besides the assignment description provided, you will also need to follow the guidance of the rubric that your instructor usually provides. If an instructor does not provide a rubric, you may request one or an exemplar, which allows you to visualize the finished project.

Effectively Addressing the Assignment Purpose

No matter what assignment you are required to complete, a few rules will be critical to your success. Use them as a guideline for academic success.

  1. Write clearly and concisely. No filler words that may take away from your meaning.

  2. Identify the main themes. What are the similarities in the literature that you noticed?

  3. Gather as many details as possible to provide richer information.

  4. Gather resources. If you are not provided a specific number of sources to include, you will want to incorporate at least 2. Usually, your instructor will determine how many they require for the assignment.

  5. Begin your rough draft and be concise.

  6. Be sure to check for errors using a program such as Grammarly ( Some universities provide this service free of charge, so you may want to visit the writing center for details on how to sign up.

  7. Be sure you follow the guidelines of APA or whichever format your school follows. (You will know this once you enroll), or you may consult your instructor for clarification before starting your first assignment.

  8. Keep in mind that there will be different assignments, but whether you need a literature review, discussion post, or research paper, you can still follow the basic rules of a great assignment.

Introduction and Background Information

Introduce your topic and provide necessary background information.

Introduce the problem, issue, or theory that will provide the foundation of the paper; explain what your paper will explore (Example: Effective management styles) and set up the scenario or setting.

Identify the question(s) your review will answer.

Synthesizing Your Sources Effectively

Unless otherwise instructed, organize the body of your paper or discussion post by each theme identified during the literature you reviewed in preparation for the assignment. Use appropriate leveled headings to present the themes and organize your work.

Determining Themes

  1. Where do the scholars, experts, and academic or business peers agree or disagree?

  2. Which articles and other resources apply similar approaches to the problem(s) selected for this paper?

  3. Synthesizing occurs when you include the ideas from your sources and focus on stating how they are similar or different; what similarities do they share? Summarize their shared ideas and remember to cite your sources using both narrative (Example: According to Wiggins 2016, or, Wiggins (2016) stated...) and parenthetical (Example: Wiggins, 2016) citations. Doing so will help you avoid any aspect of plagiarism. (Note: You will need to know if your instructor uses the sixth or seventh edition of APA formatting).

Recommended Conclusion Formatting

Here is where you need to remind your readers of the main of your paper. Always restate the main ideas to reiterate what your findings were in the literature you reviewed. You may offer recommendations for future research or actionable ideas for the next steps another person could follow.

Effectively Organizing Your Sources

As you work to gather pertinent information for your paper/assignment, you will want to organize your sources. If they are digital, you can use Google Scholar, an add-on for your browser that will allow you to keep track of your references, store your articles, and provide the correct ways to cite each source on the reference page. The add-on is available for Chrome (provided link) or other web browsers. You can search for the version needed based on your browser. When beginning your assignment, list the requirements you must meet, as described above, and keep a list of references used and the year they were published. This will make it easier for you to confirm that you have cited your sources both in-text and on the reference page.

Assignment Rubric

An assignment rubric is a graphic table often provided by your instructor detailing the minimum requirements for obtaining a passing grade for the assignment. At the end of this article is a sample college writing rubric, but they may differ by school and course. It would help if you combined the assignment description and rubric guidelines on a word document to allow visualization of the finished project. When no rubric is available, you can copy and paste the assignment description at the top of your paper before beginning. For each step you complete, you can highlight that part of the requirements to confirm that you meet minimum requirement. Please know that if you need further writing assistance to complete your assignment, you can also reach out to your instructor or your school's writing center.

Helpful Writing Resources

Google Scholar:

  Browser Add-On


  Grammarly App and Browser Add-On Available

Purdue Writing Lab:

Dr. Gwendolyn Maria Parrish

Dr. Gwendolyn M. Parrish is a graduate of MSU, where she received a BA in Elementary Education and an MS in Educational Leadership. Maria has more than ten years of experience in the classroom and two years as a high school vice-principal. Maria is a graduate of Capella University, where she completed a Ph.D. program in Curriculum and Instruction and Administration. She has also been a writing consultant for Capella for the past three years and enjoys working with learners of all ages. Her philosophy of education is that everyone can achieve their educational goals with a little support!
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