Understand Your Assignment: What Teachers Want from You
Usually, the tasks not discussed fully in class become your home assignments: they require you to demonstrate the knowledge you acquired and how deeply you dived into the course material. If you did spend some time to read and understand the material, you have almost certainly started thinking independently and can show your writing skills the best way. Responding to your assignments, take care of the following points:
- Beware of losing the point. Especially at the stage of drafting, such words as discussion and analysis can lead you from one topic to another not describing the one completely. You may wind up around them and finally, lose the point. To avoid this, make stops while doing the assignment and read what you have already written. Its purpose is sure to become clear for you;
- Compare the assignments with previous and upcoming ones. Ask yourself a question, what is new about the thing you are going to do? Often instructors create the assignments to increase the complexity so if you know where it falls in this chain it can help you get focused on fresh specific challenges.
Understanding the core words we meet in the assignments may also make your task simpler.
Difference between ‘Discuss’ and ‘Analyze’
Task One. Discuss the gender role in the French Revolution. Here the word ‘discuss’ can be easily confused with the spoken communication dimension. Usually, discuss means casual and undirected conversation, but in the context of the assignment, it means fulfilling a particular task: constructing an argument that takes into account a range of materials. Here the word ‘discuss’ means making a broad argument about the material you have studied in the course.
You can do it the following way:
- Examine the shreds of evidence of gender causes in French Revolution and point out all consistencies and inconsistencies;
- Study its implications (maybe a limited gender role is indicated as a catalyst);
- Evaluate different statements on gender role;
- Focus on gendered symbols to specify what was gained and lost.
For a weak essay, it would be enough to list the main aspects of the Revolution (Liberty image, King and Marie Antoinette executions) and provide separate comments on how each one being gendered is becoming a powerful political force. However, there would be no original thesis and just a simple answer to the assignment question: the role is important because…, gender did not have a big role in… etc. Going beyond basic requirements, find similarities and differences of these aspects providing unexpected pieces of evidence.
Task Two. Analyze two (not discussed in class) of Chaucer`s Canterbury Tales as literary works from analogies viewpoint. Again, the word ‘analyze’ does not mean you have to possess skills of mathematician or scientist. Here you have to decode it:
- Divide each tale into elements or parts, for example, the beginning, middle, and end, and examine them closely. You can also distinguish both tales by the kinds of humor etc.;
- Consider the tales critically – you may investigate Chaucer`s broader attitude to the sources and your complex analysis of humor kinds can reveal masculine and feminine conceptions between the author and his literary sources.
Analysis always involves some observations and critical thinking about the composition of your workings. You will notice excessive listing, summarizing and other methods that can lead you to a good interpretation providing textual evidence to support your thoughts.
If you have carefully read the assignment but you are still feeling confused, do not hesitate to consult your instructor for clarification. They may be able to explain the question or to provide some examples. Knowing what people expect to get from you when you finish the assignment can simplify your task. And vice versa, when you know the boundaries you can avoid troubles trying to apply an unorthodox approach. In both cases, before you consult the instructor, try to list, underline or circle the spaces in your assignment which makes you uncertain.