The importance that assignments play in making learning effective cannot be brushed aside. It’s tricky how something can be scary and fun at the same time. The word used to scare me so much if it came from my Chemistry teacher because there were too many reactions to it! Jokes apart, Assignments help students be independent, increases interest, and gives them more insight into the subject which is crucial.
The question is, what are the different things that you need to take into consideration when you give your students an assignment? Now that classes have moved online, how do you design your assignments and ensure that your intentions have been taken across effectively? Here’s a step by step guide for online teachers out there who are struggling to design their assignments.
1.Define the goals & objectives
Every plan and every assignment needs an objective. Define the ‘ why’, i.e., the need for the assignment and do this for yourself. As a teacher, it is important for you to have clarity over what you want to accomplish or rather, what you want your students to accomplish through the assignment. Please understand that this goal is different from the goal that your students have. If the assignment is to critically appreciate a Shakespearean drama, the student’s goal is to finish reading the drama on time and get into the nuances of it. However, your goal, as a teacher is to understand how much the student has been able to understand the literary figures and the essence of the drama. This applies to all subjects and classes.
2. Understanding your Students
Before giving out an assignment, it is important for you to understand your students. Do not give them something that is hard for them to comprehend. Creating a difficult assignment is not essential. Your primary intention must be to ensure that your students get to learn through the assignment. Regardless of whether it is a simple exercise or not, it should encompass things that would prove helpful to your students in the long run. Creating an assignment without understanding your students would be like serving non-veg dish to a vegetarian. They won’t benefit from it, they won’t get anything from it, and the effort from your side goes in vain.
3. Do it yourself
Once you create your assignment, give it a try yourself. If the assignment is to write about the Mughal Empire, try writing it yourself, research and see what hurdles you are facing. This will help in giving you a fresh perspective. Not to mention the empathy factor. (P.S You will also be able to differentiate lame excuses from real ones!!)
4. Process of Assessment
Have a thorough understanding of how you are going to assess and grade your assignment. How much weight you are going to give for research, if you have a specific word limit in mind, whether you want the assignment to look fancy or to the point. You should have clarity about what makes the assignment a good one and then take this message across to your students. This brings us to our next point.
The biggest mistake in communication is the misconception that it has taken place. It is of paramount importance to communicate your expectations to your students. Make them understand what you have in mind. Show them examples of what you have in mind and the end result that you are looking forward to. A virtual classroom is significantly different than a normal classroom. It is always better to drop a mail or if you are using a holistic platform like Teachmint, you can either use the chat option or the noticeboard option to take your message across in addition to communicating your expectations in the classroom.
It is a good idea to let your students choose the topic that they want to work on. In addition to making them independent, you will be pushing their creative boundaries by doing this. It shows that you have faith and trust in them and studies show that students will put in more effort when they are trusted with something. When you give them assignments with strict limitations and rules, they’re not the kinds of assignments that grow and mold and inspire kids to keep learning.
When you approach learning with a dynamic learning mindset and give students the freedom to create in their own way and allow them to demonstrate learning in their own way, it will help them grow more interested in the subject matter.Quite often, teachers struggle with getting their students involved in the assignment. When mediocre and under-researched assignments are piling up, teachers may get disheartened. To ensure that your students put in work and actually benefit from the assignment, you just have to follow the tips that we have discussed in this article
7. Incentives and Rewards
For students, a word of appreciation can go a long way. By giving them prompt feedback, you are acknowledging their efforts and hard work. This will help to encourage other students to work harder the next time around. The incentive can be something as small as a pen or a written note of appreciation. Imagine how you would feel when your manager says that you are doing a good job or a parent says that their kid is doing well because of you. Nothing can surpass the joy that you get when some one acknowledges your effort. Keep that in mind and lift your students up.
8. Personal Interest
When you take a personal interest in their assignment, they will be even more motivated to do the assignment. Offer them a helping hand and help them construct the assignment. Give them the hint that you will always be present to guide them through and keep them calm. In this process, get to know your students personally and establish a strong rapport with them. Now that classes have moved online, always ask, how can you, as a teacher, help with assignments online.
9. Set up an assignment file
Create an assignment file and track their growth. It is advisable to keep individual files. This will help you stay organized and with the advancement in technology, keeping records and tracking growth have become trivial tasks. Another advantage of keeping individual files is that other students don’t get to see if a student has not performed well. Do not try to put down any student if they have not met your expectations.
You know how the saying goes, failing to plan is planning to fail. Always have a solid plan in hand and share it with your students. Take them through it and you may even need to stop, pause and walk again through the plan but do it anyway because, at the end of the day, you want your students to learn and discover!
When you say goodbye to your class and head back, you hope that you have imparted enough wisdom and knowledge and have empowered your students to become better versions of themselves. While you do this, understand that every day, you have a chance to a better teacher than you were yesterday. So, never stop assigning yourself with assignments that would help you better yourself, for beginners, reading our blogs will definitely prove to be helpful.
Stay tuned for more informative blogs and content. Until then, keep spreading knowledge, happy teaching!