1.1 Approaching an Assignment
Attached Assignment: After you complete this reading on strategies to approach an
assignment, identify five main ideas from the text below that you think are the most
important and useful takeaways (for you and your writing process), and write one
sentence explaining each of the five points and why you think it is important and useful.
Upload your five sentences to Task 1.2.
Approaching an Assignment
When approaching an assignment, consider the whole process: where will you work,
how long do you have, what will you need, what is the genre, and who is your
audience? Depending on assignment and situation, you may identify different and
additional elements to take into consideration. The goal is to think through what
elements of the realistic situation must you take into account to begin an assignment
Before beginning each assignment, spend a few minutes considering its goals and
directions. Fulfilling an assignment is not unlike following a recipe. Before you start, you
need to know what kind of cake you are baking, read the recipe, gather the ingredients,
and make sure you have the necessary time and tools for the task.
The first step in engaging any assignment is to understand the assignment. A useful
practice is to cut and paste the relevant details from the assignment overview at the top
of your page and write a brief summary of your understanding of the assignment.
Elements of an assignment range from
● the medium (paper, presentation, poster, quiz . . . )
● to the genre (narrative, expository/informative, argument/persuasive . . . )
● to the audience (instructor, classmates, public . . . )
● to the details (due date, format, length, source requirements, evaluation
expectations, rubrics, grading, other expectations).
If there are elements you do not understand, ask your Instructor right away. Instructors
love to know that you are interested and invested.
Because the writing process is part of the content for ENC 1101, a number of steps in
the writing process will be made explicit and will be included in the larger project as
graded tasks. The content that will be engaged over the course of a project will continue
to roll out through the content, so it is ok if you do not understand every step at the
beginning when the project is launched. And don’t forget that there is not only one,
singular writing process that all writers can follow in all situations. Processes vary
across individuals, and as we evolve as writers, our individual process will continue to
develop and become advanced enough to allow us to respond to elements such as
genre and audience that should impact not only the written product but also the writing
In general, writing assignments vary across discipline, department, course, and
Instructor. Some writing assignments include explicitly stated and scaffolded steps in
the process (which means that they build upon each other), and some even include
submission of smaller steps throughout the process. Reading and research might be
submitted in the form of an annotated bibliography or outline, for instance. Once you
learn how the steps work for you, they can become part of your personal writing process
Even when these steps are not assigned, they are assumed as part of the writing
process required to succeed in college-level writing assignment. If an assignment states
that scholarly sources should be included, it probably will not explain that the student
needs to locate, read, and annotate an appropriate source so that it can be integrated
into the assignment. In fact, that step in the process is an unstated expectation because
it is required in order to fulfill the assignment of including scholarly source material and
the Instructor who created the task expected that students understood the necessary
steps in the writing and research process and was proficient in the associated skill.
When steps in the research and writing process such as outlining and revising are not
required or graded steps in the assignment, some students skip these steps or simply
do not realize their importance or know how to complete them independently. An
important goal of ENC 1101 is to learn and practice a number of the skills required to be
a successful writer across situations so that your process can continue to develop as
you grow as a reader, writer, and learner. Every one of us is capable of becoming an
independent learner and taking ownership of our education and responsibility for our
As you read an assignment and start the planning process, note which steps are overt
in the assignment and which are assumed as your responsibility. If steps in the writing
process are not included as part of the submission, be sure to add these steps to your
own timeline so that you don’t run out of time and miss out on the opportunity.
Think of a cooking show: just because the producers only show you the final product of
the cake, that doesn’t mean the bakers didn’t follow all the steps of the recipe off
screen. Similarly, when a step in the research and writing process isn’t assigned or
submitted, the expectation is that the work was completed independently, which
requires you to be aware of your individual research and writing processes and to be
self sufficient in relation to planning and managing your efforts. You might have a
personalized approach to mixing the elements or you might like a different kind of flour,
so you will want to take the opportunity to learn your own best practices, but no one can
skip major steps in the recipe and still make a delicious cake.
In Project 1, the steps are included as tasks within each activity. The tasks include new
content in the form of text or video and practice with the skills associated with each
step, but again, when these elements are not stated explicitly, you will want to develop
your own process and your personal approach. In other words, if you are not required to
annotate the reading so that you are prepared to write a summary and response, it is
still a best practice and is an assumed step in college-level reading and research (are
you taking and making notes on this text now?). And whether or not annotating the
reading is assigned and submitted, as an advanced reader, you should have your own
Some students read and annotate in a digital space. Some read on a laptop but make
notes on paper. Some print course readings and write on the doc. And these practices
vary in relation to the kind of material being read and the purpose. If you have an
established approach to reading, feel free to use that method, but as we advance
through the course, and as you move into upper-level courses in your discipline, your
approach to reading and annotating should evolve—just like your process of writing.
Another (sometimes unassigned) expectation of college-level work is an organized
system of storing assignments in a place where they are safe and accessible. Whether
you use folders on flash drives or categories in clouds or public web portfolios, it is
important to develop a method that works for you—for now and for later. Not only will
you need to produce copies of your work for this course, but you will also want, perhaps
need, to reference materials for future courses, which will require knowing where the
documents are stored and how they are named.
Transfer and Access
Remember that each assignment is part of a larger syllabus and feeds future
assignments and overall themes and goals. Many of your minor assignments help you
prepare for a major assignment. And researching a topic in one class can impact your
topic selection for an assignment in a seemingly unrelated course. You can think even
bigger by considering what you might use in your future studies or jobs or in the many
roles we play in our lives.
The content of ENC 1101 is designed to develop skills that will transfer into other areas
of your academic practice and material that will be useful across majors and throughout
and beyond your time at USF. Many of the resources we engage and the skills you
develop will help you build the overall competencies expected of all USF graduates.
You will also explore your personal writing process and practice adapting your writing to
different audiences or communities while developing individual approaches that
continue to build upon basic skills and practices in preparation for the specific content
and conventions of your chosen field of study. Reading, annotating, summarizing,
writing, communicating, collaborating, and the other skills we focus on practicing will
also serve you well on any career path you find yourself following. In addition,
throughout the semester, you will also be engaged in a process of self-discovery that
will hone your writing skills and feed your intrapersonal (such as tenacity) and
interpersonal (such as collaboration) competencies.
Because the course content is intended to transfer across academic areas, storing and
organizing assignments so that you maintain access is important. One option is to start
a new folder each term and create a folder for each class within the folder for that term,
You will also want to develop a naming strategy for each draft and assignment that
works for you. Because you have an assigned gmail account, you have access to
Google Suite and will be able to access Google Docs from any computer. You also
have access to Word Online through Canvas as an app.
Once you understand the assignment and have created a plan to approach each step,
you are ready to dive in. Unknown variables can always impact your process, so the
ability to code-switch (switch through varieties of language in writing and conversation)
and code-mesh (combine different types of language and literacy practices) when you
want to adapt your language is important. Knowing that there are steps and that you are
ready will help you focus and relieve the initial anxiety of not knowing where or how to
start. And even if your first few cakes are too sweet, know that with practice and more
time in the kitchen, you will be able to bake anything.
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