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How to approach your first assignment

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Your first semester of Uni can be overwhelming, especially when you start getting assessment. If you're feeling a little lost this guide will take you through the steps you need to take when approaching your first assignment.

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How to approach your first assignment

  1. 1. How to approach your social.usq.edu.au CRICOS: QLD00244B  NSW02225M  TEQSA: PRV12081 14.2.I 05.2015
  2. 2. We know your first assignment can seem daunting. You might be wondering about when to start planning, where to find information, who to ask for help, how to reference, how to stay on track, what to discuss… Ahhh! Don’t stress, we’ve got your back. Just follow this helpful guide to learn how to approach your first assignment.
  3. 3. When should I start my assignment?
  4. 4. There’s nothing worse than leaving your assignment to the last minute, so the first step is to ... PLAN AHEAD
  5. 5. ƒƒ Read all of your assessment details and criteria sheets (if available) in the first week or two of the semester. This will give you an overall idea of what tasks lie ahead.
  6. 6. ƒƒ Read all of your assessment details and criteria sheets (if available) in the first week or two of the semester. This will give you an overall idea of what tasks lie ahead. ƒƒ Use the weighting and word limits of your assessment pieces as a rough guide to how much time you will need to invest. For example, an assignment that is 5000 words long and worth 70% of your grade is likely to take more time to complete than an assignment of 500 words that is worth 10% of your overall grade.
  7. 7. ƒƒ Read all of your assessment details and criteria sheets (if available) in the first week or two of the semester. This will give you an overall idea of what tasks lie ahead. ƒƒ Use the weighting and word limits of your assessment pieces as a rough guide to how much time you will need to invest. For example, an assignment that is 5000 words long and worth 70% of your grade is likely to take more time to complete than an assignment of 500 words that is worth 10% of your overall grade. ƒƒ Begin mapping out your assignment at least 5 weeks before the due date.
  8. 8. ƒƒ Read all of your assessment details and criteria sheets (if available) in the first week or two of the semester. This will give you an overall idea of what tasks lie ahead. ƒƒ Use the weighting and word limits of your assessment pieces as a rough guide to how much time you will need to invest. For example, an assignment that is 5000 words long and worth 70% of your grade is likely to take more time to complete than an assignment of 500 words that is worth 10% of your overall grade. ƒƒ Begin mapping out your assignment at least 5 weeks before the due date. ƒƒ If you’re unsure as to what is required for the assignment, ask you lecturer for clarification as soon as possible so that you don’t fall behind.
  9. 9. ƒƒ Read all of your assessment details and criteria sheets (if available) in the first week or two of the semester. This will give you an overall idea of what tasks lie ahead. ƒƒ Use the weighting and word limits of your assessment pieces as a rough guide to how much time you will need to invest. For example, an assignment that is 5000 words long and worth 70% of your grade is likely to take more time to complete than an assignment of 500 words that is worth 10% of your overall grade. ƒƒ Begin mapping out your assignment at least 5 weeks before the due date. ƒƒ If you’re unsure as to what is required for the assignment, ask you lecturer for clarification as soon as possible so that you don’t fall behind. ƒƒ Allow extra time to complete group assignments.
  10. 10. ƒƒ Read all of your assessment details and criteria sheets (if available) in the first week or two of the semester. This will give you an overall idea of what tasks lie ahead. ƒƒ Use the weighting and word limits of your assessment pieces as a rough guide to how much time you will need to invest. For example, an assignment that is 5000 words long and worth 70% of your grade is likely to take more time to complete than an assignment of 500 words that is worth 10% of your overall grade. ƒƒ Begin mapping out your assignment at least 5 weeks before the due date. ƒƒ If you’re unsure as to what is required for the assignment, ask you lecturer for clarification as soon as possible so that you don’t fall behind. ƒƒ Allow extra time to complete group assignments. ƒƒ Aim to have your assignment completed 1 week before the due date to allow for editing and proofreading time.
  11. 11. Tips for planning ahead ‘Read your assessment criteria and discuss with your lecturer if you are unsure about anything. Lecturers prefer to clarify any questions you have before the due date, rather than to deduct marks from your work.’ Matt Grant - Lecturer - Public Relations
  12. 12. What should I do first?
  13. 13. Before you jump in and try to write your assignment, get your ideas in order and ... MAP IT OUT
  14. 14. ƒƒ Write an outline that includes the basic sections of your assignment. For example, if you’re writing a report, what headings and subheadings will you need? For an essay, your basic sections would be your introduction, body paragraphs and conclusion.
  15. 15. ƒƒ Write an outline that includes the basic sections of your assignment. For example, if you’re writing a report, what headings and subheadings will you need? For an essay, your basic sections would be your introduction, body paragraphs and conclusion. ƒƒ Brainstorm the key topics and ideas that you want to cover in your assignment and add them in as dot points under the relevant sections.
  16. 16. ƒƒ Write an outline that includes the basic sections of your assignment. For example, if you’re writing a report, what headings and subheadings will you need? For an essay, your basic sections would be your introduction, body paragraphs and conclusion. ƒƒ Brainstorm the key topics and ideas that you want to cover in your assignment and add them in as dot points under the relevant sections. ƒƒ Check who the audience is that you’re writing for. Is it safe to assume they will have a good understanding of the topic or will you need to provide some background information? If so, make sure that’s factored into your assignment plan.
  17. 17. ƒƒ Write an outline that includes the basic sections of your assignment. For example, if you’re writing a report, what headings and subheadings will you need? For an essay, your basic sections would be your introduction, body paragraphs and conclusion. ƒƒ Brainstorm the key topics and ideas that you want to cover in your assignment and add them in as dot points under the relevant sections. ƒƒ Check who the audience is that you’re writing for. Is it safe to assume they will have a good understanding of the topic or will you need to provide some background information? If so, make sure that’s factored into your assignment plan. ƒƒ Refer back to your assignment task sheet and marking criteria. These documents are the ‘recipe’ for your assignment so make sure you use them. Does your assignment plan include all the necessary sections? Are you still on track with the task?
  18. 18. ƒƒ Write an outline that includes the basic sections of your assignment. For example, if you’re writing a report, what headings and subheadings will you need? For an essay, your basic sections would be your introduction, body paragraphs and conclusion. ƒƒ Brainstorm the key topics and ideas that you want to cover in your assignment and add them in as dot points under the relevant sections. ƒƒ Check who the audience is that you’re writing for. Is it safe to assume they will have a good understanding of the topic or will you need to provide some background information? If so, make sure that’s factored into your assignment plan. ƒƒ Refer back to your assignment task sheet and marking criteria. These documents are the ‘recipe’ for your assignment so make sure you use them. Does your assignment plan include all the necessary sections? Are you still on track with the task? ƒƒ Use your marking criteria sheet to work out which sections of the assignment are worth the most marks. This gives you an idea of how to prioritise your research efforts and writing time.
  19. 19. Tips for mapping it out ‘If Meet-Up is available for your course, make sure you head along to a session. Meet-Up sessions are a great way to understand the marking criteria when doing assignments to ensure you include all the relevant information. It’s also very important to read the task sheet before you start reading your course material so that you keep an eye out for anything that is relevant to the assignment.’ Lisa Murton - USQ Alumna - Former Meet-Up Leader
  20. 20. You’re doing great. Just keep following the steps to get your assignment done.
  21. 21. Where can I find information for my assignment?
  22. 22. Now that you know where your assignment is headed, it’s time to start your ... RESEARCH
  23. 23. ƒƒ Start with your course material, textbooks and course readings. Take note of anything useful and add it into the relevant sections of your assignment map.
  24. 24. ƒƒ Start with your course material, textbooks and course readings. Take note of anything useful and add it into the relevant sections of your assignment map. ƒƒ Then, go beyond your course resources and find journal articles, websites, books, newspaper articles and other materials to use within your assignment. You can find all these resources and more on-campus at the USQ Library, or online via the Library website.
  25. 25. ƒƒ Start with your course material, textbooks and course readings. Take note of anything useful and add it into the relevant sections of your assignment map. ƒƒ Then, go beyond your course resources and find journal articles, websites, books, newspaper articles and other materials to use within your assignment. You can find all these resources and more on-campus at the USQ Library, or online via the Library website. ƒƒ If you’re an online student wanting to use non web-based resources for your assignment, the Library can help. Portions of books can be scanned or copied and free postage is available within Australia (including a pre-paid return postage bag).
  26. 26. ƒƒ Start with your course material, textbooks and course readings. Take note of anything useful and add it into the relevant sections of your assignment map. ƒƒ Then, go beyond your course resources and find journal articles, websites, books, newspaper articles and other materials to use within your assignment. You can find all these resources and more on-campus at the USQ Library, or online via the Library website. ƒƒ If you’re an online student wanting to use non web-based resources for your assignment, the Library can help. Portions of books can be scanned or copied and free postage is available within Australia (including a pre-paid return postage bag). ƒƒ Gather as much information as you can to help develop your assignment ideas, then start to filter your findings so that you’re left with only the best quality resources. USQ’s Social Hub has some great tips on how to evaluate your sources.
  27. 27. ƒƒ Start with your course material, textbooks and course readings. Take note of anything useful and add it into the relevant sections of your assignment map. ƒƒ Then, go beyond your course resources and find journal articles, websites, books, newspaper articles and other materials to use within your assignment. You can find all these resources and more on-campus at the USQ Library, or online via the Library website. ƒƒ If you’re an online student wanting to use non web-based resources for your assignment, the Library can help. Portions of books can be scanned or copied and free postage is available within Australia (including a pre-paid return postage bag). ƒƒ Gather as much information as you can to help develop your assignment ideas, then start to filter your findings so that you’re left with only the best quality resources. USQ’s Social Hub has some great tips on how to evaluate your sources. ƒƒ If you’re stuck with your research, the Library offers free Finding Information Tutorials as well as research support via phone, email or in-person.
  28. 28. Tips for research ‘If you’re not sure about the credibility or relevance of a source, ask the Library about which information you can use for your assignment. We enjoy supporting students and can help you find almost anything. Except your car keys... Actually, sometimes even your car keys!’ Tegan Darnell - USQ Librarian
  29. 29. How do I write my assignment?
  30. 30. With your research well underway, now it’s time to bring your ideas together and ... WRITE IT UP
  31. 31. ƒƒ Start by developing all your dot points into full sentences, then bringing them together to form paragraphs.
  32. 32. ƒƒ Start by developing all your dot points into full sentences, then bringing them together to form paragraphs. ƒƒ Try not to include too many ideas in the one section. Each main idea should have its own paragraph.
  33. 33. ƒƒ Start by developing all your dot points into full sentences, then bringing them together to form paragraphs. ƒƒ Try not to include too many ideas in the one section. Each main idea should have its own paragraph. ƒƒ Think critically as you start bringing your ideas and research together. Look for relationships between concepts and construct an argument based on the credible research you have found.
  34. 34. ƒƒ Start by developing all your dot points into full sentences, then bringing them together to form paragraphs. ƒƒ Try not to include too many ideas in the one section. Each main idea should have its own paragraph. ƒƒ Think critically as you start bringing your ideas and research together. Look for relationships between concepts and construct an argument based on the credible research you have found. ƒƒ Use formal, academic language and write in third person, unless otherwise stated in your assignment task sheet.
  35. 35. ƒƒ Start by developing all your dot points into full sentences, then bringing them together to form paragraphs. ƒƒ Try not to include too many ideas in the one section. Each main idea should have its own paragraph. ƒƒ Think critically as you start bringing your ideas and research together. Look for relationships between concepts and construct an argument based on the credible research you have found. ƒƒ Use formal, academic language and write in third person, unless otherwise stated in your assignment task sheet. ƒƒ If you find that one of your sections is shorter or not as strong as the others, conduct further research or look for another topic or idea that is more developed.
  36. 36. ƒƒ Start by developing all your dot points into full sentences, then bringing them together to form paragraphs. ƒƒ Try not to include too many ideas in the one section. Each main idea should have its own paragraph. ƒƒ Think critically as you start bringing your ideas and research together. Look for relationships between concepts and construct an argument based on the credible research you have found. ƒƒ Use formal, academic language and write in third person, unless otherwise stated in your assignment task sheet. ƒƒ If you find that one of your sections is shorter or not as strong as the others, conduct further research or look for another topic or idea that is more developed. ƒƒ Pay attention to your word count as you write your draft. If you’re well under the assignment word limit, consider adding further research or examples to support your writing and double check that you’ve addressed all sections of the assignment task. If you’ve gone above the word limit, you may need to cut down some sections and try to be more concise in your writing style.
  37. 37. Tips for writing it up ‘If you’re unsure of how to go about writing your assignment, get in touch with The Learning Centre at USQ to book into an on-campus or online workshop or to schedule a free consultation. In a consultation, an advisor can talk with you about your assignment concerns and give you peace of mind and support.’ Lindy Kimmins - Lecturer - Learning and Teaching Services
  38. 38. You’re almost there! Keep following the steps to get your assignment done.
  39. 39. What do I need to know about referencing?
  40. 40. You’re almost there! With your assignment written out, it’s time to ... REFERENCE YOUR SOURCES
  41. 41. ƒƒ Referencing gives credit to the original author of the idea and tells the reader where they can go to find more information.
  42. 42. ƒƒ Referencing gives credit to the original author of the idea and tells the reader where they can go to find more information. ƒƒ It’s very important to reference properly in your assignment, otherwise you may be found to be plagiarising work, which is a serious academic offence at university. Check out Social Hub for tips to help you keep clear of plagiarism.
  43. 43. ƒƒ Referencing gives credit to the original author of the idea and tells the reader where they can go to find more information. ƒƒ It’s very important to reference properly in your assignment, otherwise you may be found to be plagiarising work, which is a serious academic offence at university. Check out Social Hub for tips to help you keep clear of plagiarism. ƒƒ Your assignment task sheet will tell you which referencing style to use for your assignment. You can find useful referencing style guides on the Library website as well as support and information to help you reference correctly.
  44. 44. ƒƒ Referencing gives credit to the original author of the idea and tells the reader where they can go to find more information. ƒƒ It’s very important to reference properly in your assignment, otherwise you may be found to be plagiarising work, which is a serious academic offence at university. Check out Social Hub for tips to help you keep clear of plagiarism. ƒƒ Your assignment task sheet will tell you which referencing style to use for your assignment. You can find useful referencing style guides on the Library website as well as support and information to help you reference correctly. ƒƒ Referencing software, such as Endnote, can help you to keep track of your assignment sources. As a USQ student you can download Endnote for free from the USQ website.
  45. 45. Tips for referencing ‘Do your best to reference as you go and try to avoid leaving it til the last minute. Referencing is a very important part of your assignment, so you don’t want to have to rush it and possibly lose marks.’ Susanne Schultz - Law Librarian - Library Services
  46. 46. Where can I go for help with my assignment?
  47. 47. No matter what course you’re studying or what type of assignment you’re trying to complete, at USQ you have access to a wide range of ... ASSIGNMENT SUPPORT
  48. 48. ƒƒ Your lecturer can help to clarify the task and whether or not your assignment is heading in the right direction.
  49. 49. ƒƒ Your lecturer can help to clarify the task and whether or not your assignment is heading in the right direction. ƒƒ The USQ Library can offer both on-campus and online support for your assignment research and referencing.
  50. 50. ƒƒ Your lecturer can help to clarify the task and whether or not your assignment is heading in the right direction. ƒƒ The USQ Library can offer both on-campus and online support for your assignment research and referencing. ƒƒ The Learning Centre can provide guidance and support on how to structure your assignment, use academic language and proofread your work as well as general support with maths and communication skills.
  51. 51. ƒƒ Your lecturer can help to clarify the task and whether or not your assignment is heading in the right direction. ƒƒ The USQ Library can offer both on-campus and online support for your assignment research and referencing. ƒƒ The Learning Centre can provide guidance and support on how to structure your assignment, use academic language and proofread your work as well as general support with maths and communication skills. ƒƒ Meet-Up offers peer-to-peer assignment support and is a great opportunity to clarify your course content and test your understanding of key concepts.
  52. 52. ƒƒ Your lecturer can help to clarify the task and whether or not your assignment is heading in the right direction. ƒƒ The USQ Library can offer both on-campus and online support for your assignment research and referencing. ƒƒ The Learning Centre can provide guidance and support on how to structure your assignment, use academic language and proofread your work as well as general support with maths and communication skills. ƒƒ Meet-Up offers peer-to-peer assignment support and is a great opportunity to clarify your course content and test your understanding of key concepts. ƒƒ Last but not least, Social Hub has great tips and advice from current students and USQ alumni.
  53. 53. Your first assignment can seem daunting, but by breaking it down into manageable steps and making use of the support services on offer, you’ll be proudly pressing submit in no time at all! Now that you know what to do, it’s time to get busy and get your first assignment underway. If, after all these tips, the cursor is still just blinking back at you, check out Krisi’s advice for making a start on a difficult assignment. CRICOS: QLD00244B  NSW02225M  TEQSA: PRV12081  14.2.I  11.2016  Images © Shutterstock social.usq.edu.au

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