4. THE STRUCTURES OF WRITTEN ASSIGNMENTS
Sections 4 and 5 of the Guide deal with the structures of written assignments, based on the PRODUCTS or OUTCOMES of writing. Here you will find descriptions and explanations of written assignments in terms of the characteristics that can be observed from examples of effective assignments. In Section 6, you will find explanations of the language and style of writing that characterize assignments, so again the focus is on the products or outcomes. This section of the Guide is complemented by Section 7 of the Guide which focuses on the PROCESSES of writing. You might prefer to begin by reading a process-oriented approach to writing, and then return later to this productoriented section. Usually the written assignments in your coursework subjects will be described in terms of the type of assignment you are expected to produce. Assignment types that are common in UTS:Business include essays, reports, and case studies, although there is considerable diversity, especially as you progress through the years of study. How is this assignment supposed to be structured?
However, sometimes these labels are not always sufficient to clarify the structure and style of writing that is expected, or the labels may not be used consistently in different subjects. For example, one subject may ask for an essay, and another subject may ask for a research report, yet the two tasks may actually be very similar assignment types. Or sometimes a critical literature review may be called a research report at postgraduate level. For this reason, you need to see each assignment as distinctive and be aware of different contexts and purposes. In some subjects, there will be time in lectures or tutorials devoted to discussing the assignment requirements, or you may be given additional written information to clarify the task. The purpose of the assignment will tell you a lot about how it might be structured. Some writing tasks, especially in the early part of an undergraduate course, are designed to ensure you understand some basic concepts in a new field. Their purpose might be for you to describe the concept, to define it, or to explain it. Perhaps you will be asked to summarise an article or chapter to demonstrate your understanding. More complex tasks could ask you to critically evaluate an article, or to compare two different articles about the same topic. Gradually, the written assignments you confront will become more complex and more intellectually demanding. As the task becomes more complex, the process tends to shift from re-telling of existing knowledge, towards transforming that knowledge, and the scope of the task becomes more open-ended with you having a higher degree of autonomy in defining and scoping the problem to be solved. Even in the most complex of tasks requiring the highest level of transformation of knowledge, this process depends upon being able to clearly describe and define concepts, that is, retelling what is known prior to reshaping this for your own purposes.
Go to Section 7
to read more about the process of analyzing the task.
Go to Section 3
to read more about knowledge and scholarly enquiry.
STRUCTURAL ELEMENTS: What are the elements of written assignments? There are many possible elements that can be included in the structure of written assignments, but each assignment task will have its own expectations about which elements need to be included. For example, a common structural
Guide to Writing Assignments – UTS:Business
element for written assignments is an introduction, but not all assignments will require an abstract or synopsis. An important part of working out what is required for your written assignment is determining what the structural elements are. Equally importantly, you need to consider what the best sequence will be for these elements. Often your assignment task or other information in your Subject Outline will explain particular...
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