ASSIGNMENT ESSAY WRITING

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					                                  ASSIGNMENT & ESSAY WRITING


Assignments are designed to expand your knowledge of a particular subject
or topic.

In completing an assignment you are generally expected to research,
collect, analyse and organise relevant information from a variety of sources.

This guide outlines the steps involved in writing an essay or assignment.




1      UNDERSTANDING YOUR ASSIGNMENT / ESSAY QUESTION............................. 2
2      RESEARCHING & FINDING INFORMATION ....................................................... 5
    2.1    BOOKS, JOURNALS & NEWSPAPERS ............................................................5
    2.2    INTERNET SEARCHING....................................................................................6
    2.3    PICTURES & IMAGES ......................................................................................7
      2.3.1    IMAGES FROM THE INTERNET ............................................................... 7
      2.3.2    MICROSOFT CLIPART ............................................................................ 7
3      PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER!................................................................................. 8
    3.1    THE ROUGH DRAFT.........................................................................................8
    3.2    PROOF-READING, REVISING AND EDITING ................................................9
      3.2.1    PROOF-READ......................................................................................... 9
      3.2.2    SPELLING ................................................................................................ 9
      3.2.3    GRAMMAR ............................................................................................ 9
      3.2.4    PUNCTUATION....................................................................................... 9
      3.2.5    PRESENTATION....................................................................................... 9
4      A FEW KEY SPELLING & GRAMMAR RULES...................................................... 10
    4.1      “I” BEFORE “E”...............................................................................................10
    4.2      PLURALS.........................................................................................................10
    4.3      CHOOSING BETWEEN <-EL> <-LE> <-ILE> <-AL> <-IL> .................................11
    4.4      USING APOSTROPHES CORRECTLY............................................................12




Assignment Writing Guide                                                             Sunraysia Institute of TAFE:R.Neumann
Page 1 of 14                                                                                                 As at 1/11/2004
1 UNDERSTANDING YOUR ASSIGNMENT / ESSAY QUESTION

Firstly, you need to understand the key terms and concepts of the topic. In
addition, you need to be sure of what the assignment is asking you to do. The
words listed below are “directives” and ask you to answer, or present
information, in a particular way. Review these, and most of all note that
there are different ways of answering a question or writing an assignment!

Compare:
Examine qualities, or characteristics, to discover resemblances. “Compare” is
usually stated as “compare with”: you are to emphasize similarities, although
differences may be mentioned.

Contrast:
Stress dissimilarities, differences, or unlikeness of things, qualities, events, or
problems.

Criticize
Express your judgment or correctness or merit. Discuss the limitations and
good points or contributions of the plan or work in question.

Define:
Definitions call for concise, clear, authoritative meanings. Details are not
required but limitations of the definition should be briefly cited. You must keep
in mind the class to which a thing belongs and whatever differentiates the
particular object from all others in the class.

Describe:
In a descriptive answer you should recount, characterize, sketch or relate in
narrative form.

Diagram:
For a question that specifies a diagram you should present a drawing, chart,
plan, or graphic representation in your answer. Generally you are expected
to label the diagram and in some cases add a brief explanation or
description.

Discuss:
The term discuss, which appears often in essay questions, directs you to
examine, analyze carefully, and present considerations pro and con
regarding the problems or items involved. This type of question calls for a
complete and entailed answer.

Enumerate:
The word enumerate specifies a list or outline form of reply. In such questions
you should recount, one by one, in concise form, the points required.


Assignment Writing Guide                               Sunraysia Institute of TAFE:R.Neumann
Page 2 of 14                                                                   As at 1/11/2004
Evaluate:
In an evaluation question you are expected to present a careful appraisal of
the problem stressing both advantages and limitations. Evaluation implies
authoritative and, to a lesser degree, personal appraisal of both contributions
and limitations.

Explain:
In explanatory answers it is imperative that you clarify and interpret the
material you present. In such an answer it is best to state the “how or why,”
reconcile any differences in opinion or experimental results, and, where
possible, state causes. The aim is to make plain the conditions which give rise
to whatever you are examining.

Illustrate:
A question that asks you to illustrate usually requires you to explain or clarify
your answer to the problem by presenting a figure, picture, diagram, or
concrete example.

Interpret:
An interpretation question is similar to one requiring explanation. You are
expected to translate, exemplify, solve, or comment upon the subject and
usually to give your judgment or reaction to the problem.

Justify:
When you are instructed to justify your answer you must prove or show
grounds for decisions. In such an answer, evidence should be presented in
convincing form.

List:
Listing is similar to enumeration. You are expected in such questions to
present an itemized series or tabulation. Such answers should always be given
in concise form.

Outline:
An outline answer is organized description. You should give main points and
essential supplementary materials, omitting minor details, and present the
information in a systematic arrangement or classification.

Prove:
A question that requires proof is one that demands confirmation or
verification. In such discussions you should establish something with certainty
by evaluating and citing experimental evidence or by logical reasoning.

Relate:
In a question that asks you to show the relationship or to relate, your answer
should emphasize connections and associations in descriptive form.


Assignment Writing Guide                              Sunraysia Institute of TAFE:R.Neumann
Page 3 of 14                                                                  As at 1/11/2004
Review:
A review specifies a critical examination. You should analyze and comment
briefly in organized sequence upon the major points of the problem.

State:
In questions that direct you to specify, give, state, or present, you are called
upon to express the high points in brief, clear narrative form. Details, and
usually illustrations or examples, may be omitted.

Summarize:
When you are asked to summarize or present a summarization, you should
give in condensed form the main points or facts. All details, illustrations and
elaboration are to be omitted.

Trace:
When a question asks you to trace a course of events, you are to give a
description of progress, historical sequence, or development from the point
of origin. Such narratives may call for probing or for deduction.


Modified and adapted from: Communication Skills Development Center, Division of Student Affair, University of
South Carolina as found at http://www.history.ohio-state.edu/essayexm.htm




Assignment Writing Guide                                                 Sunraysia Institute of TAFE:R.Neumann
Page 4 of 14                                                                                     As at 1/11/2004
2 RESEARCHING & FINDING INFORMATION

Brainstorm some keywords relating to your topic – this will make finding
information easier.

Pathfinders for specific subject areas are available in the Library computer
room.

You will generally be expected to draw on a variety of information sources
including:
   • Books
   • Journals, magazines & newspapers
   • Websites
   • Pictures
   • Videos / DVDs / CD-ROMs


2.1 BOOKS, JOURNALS & NEWSPAPERS

The library catalogue is the first place to begin your research. It is available
online at http://www.gambetta.sunitafe.edu.au

All library resources have a catalogue entry that includes title, author and
subject information, as well location (main shelves, Reserve, Reference) and
status (on shelves, checkout out, on hold).

Simple search:
This search is best when you want to find any information relevant to your
topic using keyword search terms.

Browse search:
Browse Search allows you to search by a specific category such as 'Author',
'Title', 'Subject', etc. Search results appear in alphabetical order beginning
with the nearest field matching the information you entered.

Power search:
Power Search gives you the advantage of combining different categories
such as 'Author' AND 'Title' OR 'Subject' enabling you to search multiple terms
simultaneously.




Assignment Writing Guide                             Sunraysia Institute of TAFE:R.Neumann
Page 5 of 14                                                                 As at 1/11/2004
2.2 INTERNET SEARCHING

Use keywords relevant to your topic to search the Internet using search
engines such as Google, Yahoo!, AltaVista or Ask Jeeves. No one search
engine indexes the entire web, so it’s a good idea to try several.

http://www.google.com
http://www.yahoo.com
http://www.altavista.com
http://www.anzwers.com.au [specifically Australian content]

Always make a note of the site addresses (“URLs”) you use so that you can
include them as references.

USEFUL TIPS:
• If you aren’t finding what you want, try different spellings of words eg.
   colour, color, behaviour, behavior, jewellery, jewelry, specialize, specialise

•   Make your search terms as specific as possible; eg, nurses gives you 7
    million hits (not very useful!), nursing history gives you 3.5 million hits (still not
    very useful), nursing history Elizabeth Kenny gives you 13,600 hits whereas
    nursing history Elizabeth Kenny limited to pages from Australia gives you
    540 hits (much more manageable).

•   Anyone can put information on the Internet so be critical and evaluate
    each site – was it created by an amateur or by an authority eg. a museum
    or a university?

•   Be aware of the different parts of web addresses:

    DOMAINS (specifies the type of site)

    .edu         educational/academic sites              eg.   www.sunitafe.edu.au
    .gov         government                              eg.   www.fed.gov.au
    .ac          academic (UK only)                      eg.   www.oxford.ac.uk
    .com         commercial sites                        eg.   www.ninemsn.com
    .org         non-commercial organisations            eg.   www.alia.org.au

    COUNTRY CODES (specifies where the site is from)

    .au          Australian                              eg. www.sunitafe.edu.au
    .uk          British                                 eg. www.oxford.ac.uk

    Note:        American sites don’t have a country code, eg:
                 www.microsoft.com
                 www.yale.edu

Assignment Writing Guide                                    Sunraysia Institute of TAFE:R.Neumann
Page 6 of 14                                                                        As at 1/11/2004
2.3 PICTURES & IMAGES

You may be required to illustrate your assignment with pictures, images,
diagrams, tables or graphs. These may be sourced from a number of places
including the Internet, Microsoft ClipArt, or Microsoft Excel spreadsheets and
charts.

Each picture or image should be consecutively numbered and clearly
labeled, eg. Figure 1 – Rainfall patterns for Mildura Region March 2004, or,
Table 1 – Comparing level of literacy between grade 3 and 4 students.


2.3.1 IMAGES FROM THE INTERNET

Each picture or image on the Internet has a unique web address. Copying
and pasting images into assignments does not always work because once
you close the web browser the link to the image disappears from your
assignment.

To get around this problem the image needs to be saved to your disk, and
then the saved image can be inserted into your assignment.

To save the image:
• Using your mouse, right-click once on the image
• Choose Save Target As from the pop up menu
• Save the image to your own disk

To insert the image into your assignment (Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Excel):
• Go to the Insert menu
• Go down to Picture, go across and down to From File
• Locate your saved picture and click Insert

NOTE: The above instructions apply for any image that is saved to your disk.

To adjust the image in your assignment:
• Left-click once on the image to select it
• Using your mouse, click and drag the image border to resize


2.3.2 MICROSOFT CLIPART

Microsoft ClipArt has a large gallery of cartoon images that can be added to
your assignments:

•   Go to the Insert menu
•   Go down to Picture, go across to ClipArt
•   Locate the desired picture and click Insert

Assignment Writing Guide                            Sunraysia Institute of TAFE:R.Neumann
Page 7 of 14                                                                As at 1/11/2004
3 PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER!

Once you have completed your research and collected all the information
you need you can start writing up your assignment.


3.1 THE ROUGH DRAFT

Nearly all assignments and essays must comprise an introduction, body and
conclusion.

Introduction (one paragraph):
• Introduce the topic
• Inform the reader of your point of view
• Keep it interesting and to-the-point to entice readers to keep reading

Body (main part of your assignment):
• General rule of thumb: one point or idea per paragraph
• Start each paragraph with a topic sentence
• Use linking words to move between paragraphs, eg. in addition, however,
  in comparison, although, consequently, for example, for instance, in
  conclusion, in summary.
• Use quotes to support your argument/ideas
• Keep proving your point of view throughout the assignment

Conclusion (one paragraph):
• Summarise your main points/ideas
• Ensure your conclusions match your introductory statements
• Don’t introduce new material in the conclusion

Basically, the structure is this:
Introduction = “tell them what you’re going to tell them”
Body          = “tell them”
Conclusion = “tell them that you told them”

References/Bibliography:
• Your teacher will specify what reference style you should use.
• Style guides are available in the library which demonstrate how to
   reference books, journals, pictures, websites and audio-visual resources.
• Any ideas which are not your own must be referenced, as must any
   pictures or direct quotes.




Assignment Writing Guide                             Sunraysia Institute of TAFE:R.Neumann
Page 8 of 14                                                                 As at 1/11/2004
3.2 PROOF-READING, REVISING AND EDITING

Get someone else to read through your assignment, as they will notice things
that you may not.

You can ask your class teacher, other students, the Latrobe Librarian
(Maureen) or the Client Services Librarian (Rachel) to proof-read your work.


3.2.1 PROOF-READ
• Have you answered the question?
• Does it make sense read aloud at normal speed?
• Are the main ideas clearly expressed?
• Is there a clear line of thought from the introduction to the conclusion?


3.2.2 SPELLING
• Don’t just use the spell-checker, as it doesn’t examine spelling in context.
• Dictionaries are available in the library if you need to check words.


3.2.3 GRAMMAR
• Don’t just use the grammar-checker.
• Ensure you are consistently using past or present tense, not switching
   between the two.
• Have you used apostrophes correctly?


3.2.4 PUNCTUATION
• Sentences start with a capital letter and end with a full-stop.
• Proper nouns (place names, people’s names) start with a capital letter.
• Break up long sentences using commas, semi colons, or dashes.
• Use question marks for questions.
• Use quotation marks for direct quotes.


3.2.5 PRESENTATION
• Your work should be legible, double-spaced, with a 3cm margin on the
   left hand side of the page
• Number all pages
• Include a title page with your name and student number, your teacher’s
   name, course details and title of the assignment
• Attach the assignment cover sheet
• Include all references in the style required.



Assignment Writing Guide                             Sunraysia Institute of TAFE:R.Neumann
Page 9 of 14                                                                 As at 1/11/2004
4 A FEW KEY SPELLING & GRAMMAR RULES


4.1 “i” BEFORE “e”
Write “i” before “e” except after “c,” or when sounding like “a” as in
“neighbor” and “weigh.” When the “ie/ei” combination is not pronounced
“ee,” it is usually spelled “ei.”
                           Examples: fiery, friend, mischief,
                           ie        view, believe
                           Examples: reign, foreign, weigh,
                           ei        neighbor, weird, receive

4.2 PLURALS
If a word ends with a silent “e,” drop the “e” before adding a suffix which
begins with a vowel:
                           state--stating; like--liking

Do not drop the “e” when the suffix begins with a consonant:
                           state--statement; like--likeness; use—
                           useful

When “y” is the last letter in a word and the “y” is preceded by a consonant,
change the “y” to “i” before adding any suffix except those beginning with
“i”:
                           beauty--beautiful; fry--fries; hurry--
                           hurried; lady—ladies

When forming the plural of a word which ends with a “y” that is preceded by
a vowel, add “s”:
                           toy--toys; play--plays;
                           monkey—monkeys

When a one-syllable word ends in a consonant preceded by one vowel,
double the final consonant before adding a suffix which begins with a vowel.
This is also called the 1-1-1 rule: one syllable, one consonant, one vowel!
                           bat--batted, --batting, --batter;
                           prod--prodded, --prodding




Assignment Writing Guide                                        Sunraysia Institute of TAFE:R.Neumann
Page 10 of 14                                                                           As at 1/11/2004
When a multi-syllable word ends in a consonant preceded by one vowel,
and the final syllable is accented, the same rule holds true: double the final
consonant. This is a variation of the preceding rule:
                            control--controlled; prefer--preferred;
                            begin--beginning

When the final syllable does not have the end-accent, it is preferred, and in
some cases required, that you NOT double the consonant.

(The preference characterizes American English; British English seems to prefer
doubling, though it often allows its omission. But a number of words disallow
doubling in both American and British English.)
                focus--focused; pardon--pardoned; worship--
                worshiped; trumpet--trumpeted; gallop—galloped


4.3 CHOOSING BETWEEN <-el> <-le> <-ile> <-al> <-il>

Options must be memorized, and no rules apply:

<-le> is more frequent than <-el>:
axle, battle, bottle, tackle, tickle, single, double, triple...
angel, bushel, parcel...

<-al> is common for adjectives and nouns
biblical, burial, genial, habitual...

<-il> is rare
civil




Modified and adapted from: Study Guides & Strategies as found at http://www.studygs.net/index.htm




Assignment Writing Guide                                                  Sunraysia Institute of TAFE:R.Neumann
Page 11 of 14                                                                                     As at 1/11/2004
4.4 USING APOSTROPHES CORRECTLY

Apostrophes have two main uses that you need to think about. If you follow
these two rules, you can be reasonably confident that you are using
apostrophes correctly.

(1) To show letters or numbers that have been omitted.

For example:
It's = it is
Wouldn't = would not
The crash of '87 = 1987

(2) To indicate possession (the possessive apostrophe)

Possession means that something belongs to something else. An 's' is added
to a noun to indicate that something belongs to it. To indicate this possession
the 's' needs an apostrophe to go with it.

(a) With singular nouns

A singular noun or naming word signifies one person or thing. Examples of
singular nouns include hat, company, child, and bank. (In contrast, a plural
noun signifies more than one thing.)

Rule: An 's' is always added to show that something else belongs to a singular
noun. This rule applies whether or not the noun already ends with an 's' or not.

Examples:
A child's toy
The company's shares (one company)
The bank's customers
The strategy's aim (one strategy)

Examples:
Charles's bag
The Jones's house

But note: While these second examples still represent the rule, as the English
language evolves, it is becoming more common and acceptable to add
only the apostrophe to a singular noun (usually somebody's name) that
already ends with an 's'. This would be written as Charles' bag and the Jones'.
So for singular nouns already ending with an 's', you can use either form and it
will be correct.




Assignment Writing Guide                             Sunraysia Institute of TAFE:R.Neumann
Page 12 of 14                                                                As at 1/11/2004
(b) With plural nouns

A plural noun is a naming word that describes more than one thing or person.
Examples include dogs, dividends and companies. Naturally, the majority of
plural nouns end in 's', because they refer to more than one thing or person.

Rule: For plural nouns already ending with an 's', an apostrophe is added to
the 's' that is already there.

Examples:
The companies' shares (more than one company)
The strategies' aim (more than one strategy)
The girls' school (more than one school)
The travellers' luggage (more than one traveller)

However, there are a few plural nouns (collective nouns), that don't end with
an 's'. Some examples are people, children, government, men and women.
In these cases, the apostrophe precedes the 's', following the same rule as
that used for singular nouns. That is, we simply tack on 's' to the word.

Examples:
The People's Bank
The government's decision
The men's clothes
The children's toys

Other tricks about apostrophes

(1) Pronouns are words that stand in for a noun. Possessive pronouns (his, her,
hers, their, theirs, our, its) indicate ownership. They do not need an
apostrophe. However, where impersonal or indefinite pronouns are used
('indefinite' means that who or what is being referred to is not clearly defined)
in the possessive sense, apostrophes are used.

Examples:
One's body
Each other's body
Someone's clothes
Somebody else's clothes
Anybody's hat

The exception is its', which does not have an apostrophe.




Assignment Writing Guide                              Sunraysia Institute of TAFE:R.Neumann
Page 13 of 14                                                                 As at 1/11/2004
(2) The possessive apostrophe is usually left out when referring to collective
proper names, for example, the names of organisations.

For example:
Local Bodies Association
Employers Federation
Womens Institute
United Nations meeting

(3) When two or more nouns are joined together the apostrophe is joined to
the last noun.

For example:
Paul, Ana and Jo's luggage was left behind at the airport.

(4) While we usually talk about possession when it relates to people, animals
and countries, we can also talk about it in relation to:

Expressions of TIME ( a week's holiday, today's paper, tomorrow's weather, in
10 years' time, ten minutes' break, two hours' delay)

Expressions of MONEY + WORTH (90 cents' worth of stamps, a dollar's worth of
lollies)

Some other expressions (for heaven's sake, a summer's day, the water's edge,
the ship's mast, the plane's wings, the train's departure)

(5) To form the plural of letters, figures, symbols or words that would not
ordinarily form plurals. The apostrophe is used in cases where the sentence
would be difficult to understand if the apostrophe was left out.

For example:
Do's and don'ts
5's, 6's and 7's
Mind your p's and q's
There are two i's in millennium

While in these situations you more than likely would use an apostrophe - there
are others where it is usually omitted.

For example:
Whys and wherefores
The depression of the nineties
1990s
At sixes and sevens

Modified and adapted from: Write Well, University of Otago Finance Dept as found at
http://www.business.otago.ac.nz/finc/writewell/apostrophes.html


Assignment Writing Guide                                                   Sunraysia Institute of TAFE:R.Neumann
Page 14 of 14                                                                                      As at 1/11/2004