1. Identify the Parts of the Assignment

Sometimes assignments seem mysterious or daunting when you first start.  One way to move past these feelings is to start breaking down your assignment so that you have a handle on what is required and what you will need to do to get those pieces of the assignment done.  Let's look at an example (a sample essay assignment from a WR 121 class) to see what you need to do to both get started and get finished on time with all parts of this assignment.

1.  Always check to see if a particular citation style (ALA, MLA, Chicago, etc.) is required.  This will help you know the best way to take notes as well as how you should create your bibliography.

assignment example

2.  Check to make sure you know when the due dates are and put those dates in whatever organizing tool works for you (iGoogle, BlackBoard, personal organizer, monthly calendar...).

assignment example

3.  Last, look to see what types of sources are required and how many you will need.

assignment example

To figure out what sources to use in your paper, the first step is to look at your assignment and determine what sources the instructor wants you to use.  Does the assignment require different types of sources like books, websites, newspaper articles and scholarly articles? Once you know what you need to find, you can start planning how long it will take you to find and read the different kinds of sources. In a later module we will explore the features of each of these sources and how to use them most effectively.

Cartoon describing the source types found in a typical assignment

[VIDEO] Here's a video that looks at breaking down an assignment into its base components: