Interpreting the assignment question
There are usually three steps to analysing an assignment question. Some questions may involve more than one task.
Checking the meaning
Check the meaning of any words or terms within the assignment question by looking up your course notes, study guide, textbook, or dictionary.
If the assignment question includes a direct quote from a particular author, then you could try to locate a copy of the source (article or paper or text). This will enable you to identify the context of the writer's statement. This can lead you to supporting evidence for the author's position that you may need to consider when writing your assignment.
Identify the three main parts of the question
Normally, there are three main parts to assignment questions:
- Command/s: These are command or directing words that tell you what to do, such as "Discuss", "Analyse", "Compare and contrast", "Critique", or "Evaluate". Sometimes there is more than one command in a question. For more on this see the section on assignment command words.
- Topic/s: This is the general area(s) for your discussion. The topic/s can be determined by taking the command word/s and asking "what?" after each command word. For example, Discuss what? Compare and contrast what with what?
- Focus: The specific area of the topic that you need to concentrate on. Sometimes there is more than one focus in a question. This can usually be identified by extending the strategy above: Discuss - what? - in relation to what?
Forming a thesis statement
Some assignments are more complex and may require you to perform more than one task to complete the assignment. This is not always clear, as some tasks are implied rather than explicitly stated. It may be necessary to break the question into small chunks to find all the different sections that you will need to cover in order to answer a question fully.
Define Maslow's hierarchy of needs. Describe how they apply to an online marketing environment.
First Chunk: Define Maslow's hierarchy of needs
- Understand the chunk: Define Maslow's Hierarchy.
- Brainstorm about the topic; ask yourself questions about the topic.
- Note down in your own words your next action.
Second Chunk: Describe online marketing
- Understand the chunk: Describe online marketing
- Brainstorm about the topic: What is online marketing?
- Note down in your own words your next action: What research do you need to do?
Third Chunk: Describe how Maslow relates to the different facets of the online marketing environment