From traditional essay to 'Ready Steady Cook' presentation: Reasons for innovative changes in assignments

Leedham, Maria (2009). From traditional essay to 'Ready Steady Cook' presentation: Reasons for innovative changes in assignments. Active Learning in Higher Education, 10(3) pp. 191–206.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1469787409343187

Abstract

The prose essay, case study and laboratory report, composed by individual students in isolation from their peers, used to be the mainstay of undergraduate writing. However, in recent years an array of alternative assignment types such as blogs, letters and e-posters have widened the repertoire of texts expected. This article attempts to describe the reasoning behind changes in assignment types at undergraduate and master’s level at the beginning of the twenty-first century. Data from 58 semi-structured interviews with lecturers in three UK universities is used together with course handbooks and some clarifications with lecturers via email. Suggested reasons for new assignment types are grouped into three categories: external, lecturer-driven and student-driven. The article surmises that, because of these pressures, students are now expected to produce a wide variety of text types, and greater attention should be paid to guidance in new assignments for both native and non-native speaker students.

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