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The best way to overcome the stress of starting assessment is to analyse the task carefully, then create a clear plan before you begin your assignment.

Understanding the task

You will always begin your assessment planning process by reading and analysing the assessment task so you know exactly what to do. Follow this step-by-step process:

Step 1: Read the entire assessment task from start to finish.

Step 2: Click on the marking rubric, which will appear directly under the assessment task in the Assessments section of the portal. Your facilitator will use this to mark your work, and reading it will give you a good understanding of exactly what they’re looking for.

Step 3: Now you have a general understanding of what you’re being asked to do, you can go back to the assessment task and analyse it more carefully.

This involves looking closely at the instructions and identifying the key elements of the task. You’re looking for:

  • Instructional words, which will help you to understand exactly what you need to do (see below).
  • The topic of the assessment. This is what you need to research and write about.
  • Keywords (hopefully you’ll recognise these from your course) that will help you understand what to focus on as you write your assessment.
  • Information about the way you should present and structure your ideas.  
  • You may also be given a scenario. This sets the scene for the assessment task you’ve been given and will help you to connect what you’re writing about to a real-life context.
 

Let’s try one together:. First, read the scenario, and then check your understanding by clicking below.

Can you find the instructional words, topic, key words, scenario, and information about how you should structure your response in the following sample assessment task?

The assessment task

Sample Assessment: Holly Parata just got a job as the team leader of the paint section at her local hardware store. Knowing what she does about team formation, Holly realises that her team is not performing as it should be. Draft an email from Holly to her manager:

  • Outlining the issue
  • Identifying one strategy Holly will use to help her team progress in team formation
  • Explaining why this strategy is likely to help her team move forward

Let's check your understanding:

If you found the instructional words highlighted in green, you're correct!

 

Holly Parata just got a job as the team leader of the paint section at her local hardware store. Knowing what she does about team formation, Holly realises that her team is not performing as it should be.  Draft an email from Holly to her manager:

 

- Outlining the issue
- Identifying one strategy Holly will use to help her team progress in team formation
- Explaining why this strategy is likely to help her team move forward...

Yes, the general topic is team formation!

 

Holly Parata just got a job as the team leader of the paint section at her local hardware store. Knowing what she does about team formation, Holly realises that her team is not performing as it should be.  Draft an email from Holly to her manager:

 

- Outlining the issue
- Identifying one strategy Holly will use to help her team progress in team formation
- Explaining why this strategy is likely to help her team move forward...

Yes, the scenario sets the scene for the whole task and helps you to connect what you're writing about to the real world.

 

Holly Parata just got a job as the team leader of the paint section at her local hardware store. Knowing what she does about team formation, Holly realises that her team is not performing as it should be.  Draft an email from Holly to her manager:

 

- Outlining the issue
- Identifying one strategy Holly will use to help her team progress in team formation
- Explaining why this strategy is likely to help her team move forward...

Yes, for this assessment task, you will write an email that will outline the issue, identify a strategy, and explain why this strategy will help Holly move her team forward.

 

Holly Parata just got a job as the team leader of the paint section at her local hardware store. Knowing what she does about team formation, Holly realises that her team is not performing as it should be.  Draft an email from Holly to her manager:

 

- Outlining the issue
- Identifying one strategy Holly will use to help her team progress in team formation
- Explaining why this strategy is likely to help her team move forward...



Researching your response

The next step is to research your response.  Check our Research page for information on how to find appropriate resources and keep your research organised.

You are expected to incorporate course content and research into your writing as evidence to support your ideas. Check our Writing page for further guidance.


Make a plan

Make an outline of the structure of the assignment. A good structure is one where the reader is given the information in
a way that makes sense to them, where one point builds upon another, without repetition. A mind-map or list might be useful at this stage. You may also consider using a graphic organiser to organise your ideas.

Instructional Words

When you are given your essay question or instructions it is important to understand exactly what you are being asked to do. Following are brief explanations of common instruction words.

Analyse:

break down the topic into smaller pieces and discuss these in detail.

Argue:

develop a case or argument to support a particular position or viewpoint.

Assess/evaluate:

make a judgement about something based on evidence.

Comment:

give your opinion about something. Discuss and explain the topic.

Compare:

find similarities. In some cases you also need to mention differences.

Contrast:

find differences. If you are asked to compare and contrast highlight similarities and differences.

Criticise:

make a judgement about the value or truth of something. Discuss limitations and good points.

Define:

Describe the nature of something. For example: ‘Define the features which distinguish a networked computer system from a standalone setup.’

OR State the meaning of something. For example: ‘Define the term symbiosis.’

OR Describe the scope of something. For example: ‘Define the role of a nurse in private practice.’

Demonstrate/Illustrate:

give examples to explain or show your understanding of something.

Describe:

give a detailed account of something.

Discuss/Consider:

look at different ideas and viewpoints about something.

List:

state points concisely, in a logical order.

Examine:

have a close, critical look at something

Explain:

Justify something. For example: ‘Explain why it is important to wash your hands before handling food.’

OR Make clear by giving detailed information. For example: ‘Explain what is meant by aseptic technique.’

Identify:

select relevant details and discuss these. For example: ‘Identify the major features of an ergonomically safe work environment.’

Justify:

prove, or give reasons/evidence for something. The aim is to convince the reader.

Review:

critically examine or assess a subject.

State:

briefly and clearly present the main points.

Summarise/outline:

find the key points and use these to create an overview of the topic.

Rountree, K. (1991). Writing for success: A practical guide for New Zealand students. Auckland, New Zealand: Longman Paul.

The content on this page has been adapted from a resource created by Learning [email protected] Success, Otago Polytechnic.