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Strategies for Assignment Design

Strategies to deepen learning and prevent plagiarism through assignment design include designing, scaffolding, embedding, modeling, and documenting.

Designing

Effective assignments are designed with plagiarism prevention in mind.

  • Specify or vary voice, audience, and purpose
  • Create problem-based not just topic-based assignments
  • Empower students to choose from a list of specific problems OR use wording that is specific with an unusual twist
  • Require an argument not just a report
  • Limit sources to those published within the last (xx) months/years, if appropriate to the problem
  • Design for the appropriate course level (100-400)

 

Scaffolding

Effective assignments are scaffolded.

Break down major assignments into manageable mini-assignments

  • Make elements of one major assignment due at reasonable intervals
  • Build in review (either by faculty or in peer groups)

 

Example of a Scaffolded Research Paper:

  • Class Discussion: "How to find and develop research questions"
  • Annotated bibliography, summary, or abstract assignment
  • Thesis and outline development in-class workshop OR self-guided writing center visit
  • Work with librarians to provide a workshop or resources on effective source integration and/or citation guidelines appropriate to the discipline
  • First draft peer review
  • Final draft due

 

Embedding

Effective assignments are embedded in course themes and materials.

  • Tie assignments directly to course readings, overarching themes, or specific learning outcomes
  • Prescribe the use of one or more particular sources, datasets, etc. (especially those that have been used or demonstrated in class)
  • Create low-stakes writing assignment(s) in which students put two sources in conversation with one another
  • Allow students to define specific questions about course theme or problem

 

Modeling

Effective assignments are modeled.

 

Documenting

Effective assignments require source documentation.

  • Require copies of source material
  • Require process notes on group/individual activities
  • Require an annotated bibliography ahead of time--complete with call numbers for books, URLs for web resources, and DOIs for journal articles
  • Require “low stakes” response papers or research logs
  • Use Turnitin to review assignment drafts