Gathering your materials
Once you are confident you understand what you are being asked to do, take some time and think about how you're going to go about writing your assignment. Then gather and check through all of the items that you need.
- Keep your assignment booklet with you so you can check you're staying on track.
- Read your assignment booklet carefully to see how marks are allocated to each part of the assignment.
- Identify how long you'll need (include time for planning and drafting and sending it in).
- Start to identify relevant module material and jot down notes for the assignment as you study or review material.
- Keep a record of sources as you go for your reference section at the end (see the OU Library's Bibliographic management page).
OU students Cynthia and Robin talk about their approach to the writing process41
Cynthia (Student): Keep the question in front of you. I write it on a little card and put it in front of me at all times. And that way I stay focussed on it. But that's as much advice, and he may well have given me more but I can't actually bring any more to mind. It's planning, planning, planning. And mind-mapping.
Robin (Student): Well I use mind-maps for everything from the planning stage to collating information to the final delivery. It will all tend to be on one mind-map. And then I'll put it into some sort of formal essay or however it's required. In the format that's required for the assignment.
Go through your assignment booklet for clues to which books, DVDs, supplementary materials, etc., are relevant to the assignment. Gather together your notes and ideas and review them. Keeping the key words of the assignment in your mind, gather together your notes and ideas.
Selecting the evidence
- Think about the types of evidence required to support any arguments you make, such as quotes, tables, paraphrasing of other people's work.
- Select appropriate evidence and quotes - ask yourself how each of these will help you to answer the assignment question. Make sure to note where they come from for your reference list.
- Check the learning outcomes for the assignment if you need help in identifying relevant material.
Reviewing what you've done so far
- Check what you've done so far against the assignment question: have you missed any useful material from another part of the module?
- Review your ideas and evidence and check once more against the assignment question.
- Identify the key message that you are thinking of putting across. Make sure it reflects the requirements of the assignment.