Below is the outline of a document that I adapted from Stella Cottrell’s wonderful book, The Study Skills Handbook (2008). It outlines the stages for planning an assignment.
1. Clarify the task
- Examine title
- Do you know what it is asking for?
- Write down any initial ideas/ brainstorm/ draw ideas
- What do you need to know?
- How much time do you need? Work back from hand in date.
2. Collect and record information
- What questions are you asking that you need answers to?
- What are people saying about the subject from different angles?
- How are you going to keep records?
- Notes on computer/ in ring-binder/ on voice recorder.
- How are you going to label the records so that you can find them again?
- Where do you need to look for the information?
3. Organise and plan
- How will you plan from your records?
- Post-its on wall with key themes/ re-arrange notes on a table/ write an outline plan/ colour code notes.
4. Engage, reflect, evaluate
- Where are you?
- Are you missing any information?
- Do you know what you need to?
- Have you got information from all sides of the argument?
- Are you clear about why you are being asked to do this assignment?
5. Write an outline plan
- What order do things need to be written in?
- How many words do you need for each section?
- Write some headings
- Write a draft
6. Develop first draft
- Re-write draft
- Alter headings, if appropriate
- Is your argument clear?
- Is all the necessary evidence included?
- Are your references all included?
7. Final draft
- Does the text answer the question?
- Is your main argument clear?
- Are there enough examples to back up your points?
- Do the ideas from one paragraph flow into the next?
- Have you set it out according to the correct standards? See Academic Handbook.
- Have you completed the front cover sheet?
- Have you read it through aloud to make sure that it makes sense?
- Have you proofread for spelling, punctuation and grammar?
- Is the reference section laid out correctly? See Academic Handbook
- Have you checked it against the marking criteria? Is it going to make the grade that you want?
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