Carnegie Mellon University

Eberly Center

Teaching Excellence & Educational Innovation

How can I determine the types of writing tasks that I might assign?

The decision about the types of writing assignments you use might be based on the types of writing you know students will be doing in the future (e.g., at a job, in graduate school), or it might be based on the objectives you have for students in the course (e.g., learn how to synthesize information, present an argument with evidence, provide a summary of someone else’s research); in many cases, you can meet both goals simultaneously. For example, if your students are going into the business world, you might require assignments written in memo form that concisely identify a problem, present alternative solutions, articulate the advantages and disadvantages to each alternative, and outline the cost associated with each. If, on the other hand, one of your course goals is to help students learn to present and support a central claim using evidence, you might assign an argument essay.

For a list of 28 common categories of writing tasks and descriptions visit the writing center at Duke University.