The Prompt is YOUR Writing Assignment

Time required: Variable

Grading: NA

Disciplines:  All

Why:  Any writing assignment will be much more effective with a clear and well-designed prompt, increasing the chance that you’ll get what you want in student responses.  It also can make the grading easier and more manageable.  

How: Determine the goal of the assignment, and be sure to share it with your students (see the Be Transparent tip for more information on how to do this).   As you develop your prompt, be sure to include:

  • A clear and comprehensive description of the task (thesis-driven argument, interpretation, reflection, analysis, etc..)
  • A statement of the purpose of the task
  • A description of the audience the writing is intended for
  • Specification of the format or genre of writing
  • Interactive components, if any
    • Schedule for drafts, revisions, workshops, etc. for long term assignments
    • Discussion board replies, if applicable
  • Evaluation criteria

Some additional considerations:

  • It can be helpful to get feedback from a colleague (or a Faculty Writing Support Mentor) to be sure your assignment is clear and understandable. 
  • Providing students with a sample can help give clarity on the scope and specifications of the assignment.

From Engaging Ideas by John C. Bean, pp. 96-101