Understanding Assessment Instructions

Overview

Understanding your assignment question

When you get your assignment question, decide:

  • What the question means
  • What it is asking you to do.Read the question several times and consider any implicit assumptions behind the question. Define the key words (use a dictionary if necessary) and look for any words that focus or restrict the area you need to examine in your answer.

Key words in the title

Underline the key words or phrases in your question. Use the context around each key word to help you understand what is required, for example, ‘discuss briefly’ as compared to ‘ discuss in the context of…’.

Also bear in mind that some words may have slightly different meanings depending on the discipline in which they are used. If in doubt check with a subject specific dictionary or your tutor.

The following list provides an explanation of some common question words.

Key Verbs

Account for Give reasons for; explain (note: give an account of; describe).
Analyse Break the information into constituent parts; examine the relationship between the parts; question the information.
Argue Put the case for or against a view or idea giving evidence for your claims/reasons for or against; attempt to influence the reader to accept your view.
Balance Look at two or more viewpoints or pieces of information; give each equal attention; look at good and bad points; take into account many aspects and give an appropriate weighting to those aspects.
Be critical Identify what is good and bad about the information and why; probe, question, identify inaccuracies or shortcomings in the information; estimate the value of the material.
Clarify Identify the components of an issue/topic/problem/; make the meaning plain; remove misunderstandings.
Compare Look for similarities and differences between; perhaps conclude which is preferable; implies evaluation.
Conclude/draw conclusions The end point of your critical thinking; what the results of an investigation indicate; arrive at a judgement by reasoning.
Contrast Bring out the differences.
Criticise Give your judgement on theories or opinions or facts and back this by discussing evidence or reasoning involved.
Deduce Conclude; infer.
Define Give the precise meaning. Examine the different possible or often used definitions.
Demonstrate Show clearly by giving proof or evidence.
Describe Give a detailed, full account of the topic.
Determine Find out something; calculate.
Develop an opinion/ a view Decide what you think (based on an argument or evidence).
Discuss Investigate or examine by argument; debate; give reason for and against; examine the implications of the topic.
Elucidate Explain and make clear.
Estimate Calculate; judge; predict.
Evaluate/weigh up Appraise the worth of something in the light of its truth or usefulness; assess and explain.
Examine Look at carefully; consider.
Explain Make plain and clear; give reasons for.
Give evidence Provide evidence from your own work or that of others which could be checked by a third party to prove/ justify what you say.
Identify Point out and describe.
Identify trends Identify patterns/changes/ movements in certain directions (e.g. over time or across topics/ subjects).
Illustrate Explain, clarify, make clear by the use of concrete examples.
Infer Conclude something from facts or reasoning.
Interpret Expound the meaning; make clear and explicit, giving your own judgement.
Justify Show adequate grounds for decisions, a particular view or conclusions and answer main objections likely to be made to them.
List a record of short pieces of information such as names with a single item on a separate line and ordered in a way that makes things easy to fine. Usually Indicated with a bullet or number.
Outline Give a short description of the main points; give the main features or general principles; emphasise the structure, leaving out minor details.
Prove Show that something is true or certain; provide strong evidence (and examples) for.
Review Make a survey examining the subject carefully; similar to summarise and evaluate.
State Present in a brief, clear form.
Summarise Give a concise account of the chief points of a matter, removing unnecessary detail.
Synthesise Bring elements together to make a complex whole, draw together or integrate issues (e.g. theories or models can be created by synthesising a number of elements).
Trace Follow the development of topic from its origin.
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Routine Reading and Writing Strategies in the Workplace

Employees must be able to understand written text to do a job. It is necessary to be able to read and interpret workplace documents and use that information to make job-related decisions and solve problems. The documents include messages, emails, letters, directions, signs, bulletins, policies, websites, contracts, and regulations.

Similarly, it is necessary to have writing skills to be able to produce workplace documents and communicate with both customers and members of the team.

Topic Video

Reading and writing for routine tasks in the workplace

Further Reading

Examples of Workplace Documentation

Standard Operating Procedures

Standard Operating Procedures

Overview

A fixed, step-by-step sequence of activities or course of action (with definite start and end points) that must be followed in the same order to correctly perform a task. Repetitive procedures are called routines. 
In a work place that has complex interactions among employees, it is important to specify and implement a procedure for core processes and routine tasks.

Definitions used in Procedures

  • Task – The smallest identifiable and essential piece of a job that serves as a unit of work, and as a means of differentiating between the various components of a project.


Writing a Procedure

If done right, procedures can be very valuable, they can help systems and people function better. If your people know what to do, when to do it, how to do it, and how not to get it wrong, you can reduce frustration and save a tremendous amount of time and effort.

Procedures are action oriented. They outline steps to take, and the order in which they need to be taken. They’re often instructional, and they may be used in training and orientation. Well-written procedures are typically solid, precise, factual, short, and to the point.

Many procedures seem “black and white,” with clear steps and only one way of doing things: “Complete A, then B, then C.” But sometimes you need to be less exact and allow room for personal judgment. When a procedure is too tight, it can cause confusion. Since life isn’t always simple and clear-cut, some procedures need to allow subjectivity and individual choices

Procedures should communicate what readers need to know, not just what they want to know. They might need to know how to do the process correctly, faster, or with less waste

They also might like to know why they have to do something a certain way, where they can go for help, and what happens if something goes wrong. Where necessary, make sure your procedures deal with technical issues as well as subjective elements.

  • Do users have enough information to complete the action?
  • Is there enough information to guide users in using good professional judgment?
  • Is the level of detail appropriate for the subject?
  • Is the level of detail appropriate for readers?
  • How comfortable are readers with the subject?

Do I need a procedure

Not everything needs a procedure, so don’t create procedures for basic tasks – otherwise they’ll be ignored. The number-one rule of procedure writing is to make sure there’s a reason to create them: Perhaps people forget to take certain actions, perhaps they keep on getting things wrong, or perhaps tasks are so long and complex that people need a checklist if they’re going to get things right.

Examples of Standard Operating Procedures