Sample Assignment Design


  • Place the specific actions that you want your students to perform/produce.
  • Utilize specific action verbs that integrate critical and higher-order thinking into the assignment: construct, design, critique, analyze, compare, outline, produce, or integrate.
  • The more specific you are in the assignment prompt, the more comprehension/understanding your students will have regarding the assignment.

(ACRL Standard I)


  • Explain your reason(s) for assigning this essay/report.
  • What is it that you want your students to know or learn at the conclusion of the assignment's production?
  • Attempt to list the skills that will be employed or reinforced throughout the exercise.

(ACRL Standards I & II)


  • Detail the amount and type of resources your students will locate for the assignment. When appropriate, distinguish the source locations; for example, you may want your students to utilize only those sources from an electronic database (peer-reviewed or scholarly sources).
  • At other times, you may require a mix of books and web sites. When assigning the use of web sites, you may indicate that only .edu or .gov URL locations are acceptable (while excluding .com or .org URL designators). Whatever the case, be specific in your requirements so that your students will know the "boundaries" of their research. Attempt to specify the expected incorporation of these sources - do you accept quotations, paraphrasing, or a mixture of both?
  • Provide the library with a copy of your assignment, so that relevant resources can be targeted and, perhaps, put on reserve so that all students will have access to the necessary materials. Coordinate the timing of your assignment with a librarian visit so that instructional examples and handouts targeting relevant topics and information sources can be prepared for your students.

(ACRL Standards II & III)


  • Detail the number of pages or words that you require for this assignment. Specify the format style that you prefer - APA or MLA - and, when appropriate, direct the students to a handbook or web site that explains the formatting.

(ACRL Standards IV & V)


  • Explain the grading procedure for the assignment.
  • Will you have certain parts due at different times? Do the students possess an opportunity to submit drafts or revisions? To how much of the final grade will this assignment contribute? How will the assignment be graded?
  • For example, if you wish to grade via a rubric, be sure to provide the rubric before your students submit the assignment. If they know the exact expectations for the exercise, usually students will produce more scholarly, effective work.

(ACRL Standard I)