Reflectingon Your Writing Assignments

Did you meet the goal of the assignment?

Your instructor is using this assignment to provide a structured learning opportunity for you.  Papers push students toward critical thinking, creativity, analysis, synthesis, and informed judgment.  Try to reflect upon what skills or knowledge the assignment asked you to use.  Are you demonstrating comprehension and understanding? Connecting new knowledge to previous knowledge?  Integrating theoretical knowledge into a cohesive body of knowledge?

Did you demonstrate an understanding of the assignment criteria?

The instructor usually writes a general assignment description which can be found in the syllabus.  As the semester proceeds, there is usually additional information provided.  Gather the information together and read it carefully. Pay close attention to the general description of the assignment, the required format, and the required content.  Did you adhere to all of these requirements?

Did you follow the format as outlined on

Did you complete all the steps involved in writing your paper?  It began with reading, pre-writing and then writing.  By now you are ideally reflecting on your process and the assignment at large.  Did you keep track of the assignment(s) as you were reading?  Did you outline?

What timeframe did you use to complete your assignment?

Did you allow yourself enough time to thoroughly complete this assignment?  Did you follow a calendar or schedule?  What deadlines did you give yourself as you were reading and writing?

Did you cite resources appropriately and effectively?

Did you use an appropriate amount of direct citations, indirect citations and paraphrases?  Were your citations balanced with a clear analysis of the information showing that you fully understand it?

Did you effectively communicate your understanding of the material?

Your goal is to effectively communicate your thoughts and knowledge to your instructor through your written words. Every aspect of your paper is focused toward that end goal. Keep asking yourself what you are communicating through each decision you make about your paper.

Is your paper orderly and organized?

Clarity depends on structure and appropriate organization.  Does the structure of your paper follow an organized format and adhere to any outlines given in class or in the syllabi?  Usually, general concepts are written first and narrowed down into more specific information that demonstrates or provides evidence about the general concepts.

Is your style of writing scholarly and academic?  

The assignment should demonstrate your ability to communicate your knowledge in a scholarly way. Graduate students should be able to write with the formal, objective, and concise manner used in their discipline of study. Academic papers adhere to very stringent established rules and conventions that are used in this context.

Is your paper grounded with information?

The paper should be based on specific and factual information. Even if the assignment calls for your opinion or perspective on a topic, facts provide the basis for your stance. Every statement in the paper should increase knowledge or provide evidence for stated facts. The foundation of your paper is fact, theory, knowledge, and the informed opinion of experts. You are providing information, evidence to support information, or specific ways to look at information and tie it together. Your insight is important but it should be linked to information. Anecdotal information is often irrelevant and does not add additional knowledge. Use anecdotal information to provide additional examples or evidence of a larger concept.

Did you examine your paper carefully?

Misspellings and typos undermine the time and effort you spent on this endeavor. Proofread carefully and correct all mistakes. Have someone you trust take one last look to make sure you have corrected all errors and have communicated with good clarity.