Essays, Reports, and Other Assignments
You may be asked to complete more complex assignments than responses to discussion forums. These assignments could include electronic worksheets, journal entries, essays, or in-depth reports. To be successful with these assignments, consider the following tips:
- Carefully review the assignment as described in your selected module of study.
- Note that the assignment directions in your selected module of study may give you all the details you need to complete the assignment. If not, the assignment directions will point you to the appropriate place to receive more information.
- Review the assignment as soon as it is available so that you will have time to forward questions to your instructor and to receive a reply.
- Make a note of any due dates or deadlines. You want to pace yourself when working on writing assignments. Waiting until just a few days before one is due often results in a weak and poorly written assignment submission.
Most complex assignments will be described completely in your selected modules of study. What may not be included in these directions, however, is information on the document format for essays or other reports or how to submit your documents. This information on how to conduct these functions is included in the next section.
How to Format a Document
If you are writing a document, such as a research paper or essay, use a reliable word processing program, such as Microsoft Word®, WordPerfect®, and Microsoft Works®. Google Docs is a reliable word processor, as well. All of these mentioned will allow you to compose, save, and edit as often as needed until your final version is ready to submit to your instructor for grading.
If you and your instructor do not use the same word processing program, however, you will need to save your work in a different format so that your instructor can open it. For example, Microsoft Word® documents end with doc. or docx. WordPerfect® documents end with wps.
Your instructor might tell you which word processor is preferred; however, if you are in doubt, save your document as a "rich text format" (.rtf) file so your instructor will be able to open your work upon submission. The "rich text format" is best for documents that have double spaced paragraphs with boldfacing, bullets, and other design features.
Watch this short video for further instructions:
There may be a writing lab on your campus where you can get help, as well. Seek out available resources early so that you will have time to take full advantage of them.
Plan your document to have a quality introduction, insightful body paragraphs, and an effective conclusion. Make sure that you have citation information for any materials you are using as references in your document. (Note: Plagiarism can be grounds for disciplinary action. Check your college catalog for more information.)
There are a variety of formats used for academic compositions, for example, MLA, which is endorsed by the Modern Language Association, and APA, which is endorsed by the American Psychological Association. Your instructor will let you know which format is preferred for this course.
Here are some helpful Web sites that provide excellent guidance regarding formatting, writing, and documenting:
- MLA Formatting and Style Guide (opens in a new window)
(text URL: https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/01/)
- APA Style (opens in a new window)
(text URL: https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/section/2/10/)
- Paradigm Online Writing Assistant (opens in a new window)
(text URL: http://www.powa.org/)
- What to Document (opens in a new window)
(text URL: http://www.powa.org/document/what-to-document)
- MLA Format for Essays and Research Papers (opens in a new window)
(text URL: http://www.sandhills.edu/academic-departments/english/wordguide/mlaformat-word2007.html). From Sandhills Community College. This gives instructions on using Microsoft Word to set up your document with the required margins, header with your name and automatic page numbering, double spaced paragraphs, centered titled, and a works cited page with hanging indented paragraphs. Please note, however, this is for Word 2007. There are newer versions of Microsoft Word available.
Contact your instructor if you have any questions on formatting a document for this course.
How to Submit a Written Assignment
Your instructor will give you instructions for submitting written assignments in the modules of the course, and this will depend on the LMS used at your college. Here are some online resources for Blackboard to which you can refer for assistance:
You have access to Blackboard technical support 24/7, including weekends and holidays. Ask your instructor about how to access this technical support. If your college uses a different LMS, technical support may be available, as well, but you need to make inquiries early in the course so that you have contact information when you need it.