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Key Components of Assignment Prompts

Assignment prompts not only allow students to demonstrate what they have learned about a topic, process, or practice, they also help students understand the purpose of an assignment and how their instructor will assess their work. Below are some of the key elements that would be helpful for students to have in an assignment sheet. The Transparency in Learning and Teaching project provides a series of research-based templates for assignment prompts.


  • May include general information about the assignment (e.g. Project 1; Minor Assignment 2, etc.) 
  • May include a more specific description of the project or assignment (e.g., Argument Paper; Social Media PSA, etc.)

Purpose & rationale 

  • The assignment should develop students’ understanding of the most important concepts, content, and methods of the course, and be directly related to the course goals. If the course carries Hub areas, consider explaining how the assignment connects to specific aspect of a Hub area. 
  • Provide a clear rationale, so students know how completing the assignment will benefit their learning in the course.

Assignment steps 

  • You may want to scaffold the steps of the assignment for students. This is especially helpful if you have an assignment that spans multiple weeks or is more complicated (e.g., If you are asking students to complete an assignment that involves an outline of ideas, formal proposal, and multiple drafts, make sure you are clearly providing instructions, expectations and deadlines for each step).

Target audience 

  • Students should understand the audience(s) for their work. In some cases, the audience is the instructor; in other cases, the instructor will be grading an assignment, but the students are asked to imagine an alternative, perhaps non-academic audience. In experiential learning or project-based learning, students might be addressing a real-world audience or client. Regardless, students should be able to demonstrate their understanding of single or multiple audiences and adjust their work accordingly. Assignment prompts play a key role in helping students imagine audience. 

Assignment rubric & grading

  • Breaking down your grading criteria helps students understand your expectations for each segment of the assignment, and prevents unnecessary confusion. The length and breakdown of your rubric may depend on your discipline, modality and components of your assignment. 
  • Clarify the scope and weight of the assignment (e.g., 20% of the final grade).

Submission guidelines & due dates

  • Clarify where and how students will be submitting their assignments. If submissions are electronic, ensure requirements for file types, file size, etc. are clear. 
  • Include the due dates and times for the assignment. 

Assignment tools and resources

  • Provide a list of tools and resources students need to complete this assignment. This may be anything from particular software, hardware, books, articles, etc. 
  • You may want to list where and how students can access these resources (e.g., computer lab; library; link to software download; etc). 
  • Offer resources for additional assistance. This may include your availability to meet with students or campus resources. 
  • Specify how students can contact you if they need more time for completing the assignment.

Looking for more templates?

The Transparency in Learning and Teaching project provides a series of research-based templates for assignment prompts.