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Transportation and Assignment Models in Operations Research

Transportation and assignment models are special purpose algorithms of the linear programming.   The simplex method of Linear Programming Problems(LPP)   proves to be inefficient is certain situations like determining optimum assignment of jobs to persons, supply of materials from several supply points to several destinations and the like. More effective solution models have been evolved and these are called assignment and transportation models.

The transportation model is concerned with selecting the routes between supply and demand points in order to minimize costs of transportation subject to constraints of supply at any supply point and demand at any demand point.   Assume a company has 4 manufacturing plants with different capacity levels, and 5 regional distribution centres.     4 x 5 = 20 routes are possible.   Given the transportation costs per load of each of 20 routes between the manufacturing (supply) plants and the regional distribution (demand) centres, and supply and demand constraints, how many loads can be transported through different routes so as to minimize transportation costs?   The answer to this question is obtained easily through the transportation algorithm.

Similarly, how are we to assign different jobs to different persons/machines, given cost of job completion for each pair of job machine/person?   The objective is minimizing total cost.   This is best solved through assignment algorithm.

Uses of Transportation and Assignment Models in Decision Making

The broad purposes of Transportation and Assignment models in LPP are just mentioned above.   Now we have just enumerated the different situations where we can make use of these models.

Transportation model is used in the following:

  • To decide the transportation of new materials from various centres to different manufacturing plants.   In the case of multi-plant company this is highly useful.
  • To decide the transportation of finished goods from different manufacturing plants to the different distribution centres.   For a multi-plant-multi-market company this is useful.
  • To decide the transportation of finished goods from different manufacturing plants to the different distribution centres.   For a multi-plant-multi-market company this is useful.   These two are the uses of transportation model.   The objective is minimizing transportation cost.

Assignment model is used in the following:

  • To decide the assignment of jobs to persons/machines, the assignment model is used.
  • To decide the route a traveling executive has to adopt (dealing with the order inn which he/she has to visit different places).
  • To decide the order in which different activities performed on one and the same facility be taken up.

In the case of transportation model, the supply quantity may be less or more than the demand.   Similarly the assignment model, the number of jobs may be equal to, less or more than the number of machines/persons available.   In all these cases the simplex method of LPP can be adopted, but transportation and assignment models are more effective, less time consuming and easier than the LPP.

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  • Introduction to Crtical Path Analysis
  • Formulation of Linear Programming Problem
  • Initial basic feasible solution of a transportation problem
  • Procedure for finding an optimum solution for transportation problem
  • Modeling Techniques in Management Science

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Designing Assignments for Learning

The rapid shift to remote teaching and learning meant that many instructors reimagined their assessment practices. Whether adapting existing assignments or creatively designing new opportunities for their students to learn, instructors focused on helping students make meaning and demonstrate their learning outside of the traditional, face-to-face classroom setting. This resource distills the elements of assignment design that are important to carry forward as we continue to seek better ways of assessing learning and build on our innovative assignment designs.

On this page:

Rethinking traditional tests, quizzes, and exams.

  • Examples from the Columbia University Classroom
  • Tips for Designing Assignments for Learning

Reflect On Your Assignment Design

Connect with the ctl.

  • Resources and References

Cite this resource: Columbia Center for Teaching and Learning (2021). Designing Assignments for Learning. Columbia University. Retrieved [today’s date] from https://ctl.columbia.edu/resources-and-technology/teaching-with-technology/teaching-online/designing-assignments/

purpose of assignment model

Traditional assessments tend to reveal whether students can recognize, recall, or replicate what was learned out of context, and tend to focus on students providing correct responses (Wiggins, 1990). In contrast, authentic assignments, which are course assessments, engage students in higher order thinking, as they grapple with real or simulated challenges that help them prepare for their professional lives, and draw on the course knowledge learned and the skills acquired to create justifiable answers, performances or products (Wiggins, 1990). An authentic assessment provides opportunities for students to practice, consult resources, learn from feedback, and refine their performances and products accordingly (Wiggins 1990, 1998, 2014). 

Authentic assignments ask students to “do” the subject with an audience in mind and apply their learning in a new situation. Examples of authentic assignments include asking students to: 

  • Write for a real audience (e.g., a memo, a policy brief, letter to the editor, a grant proposal, reports, building a website) and/or publication;
  • Solve problem sets that have real world application; 
  • Design projects that address a real world problem; 
  • Engage in a community-partnered research project;
  • Create an exhibit, performance, or conference presentation ;
  • Compile and reflect on their work through a portfolio/e-portfolio.

Noteworthy elements of authentic designs are that instructors scaffold the assignment, and play an active role in preparing students for the tasks assigned, while students are intentionally asked to reflect on the process and product of their work thus building their metacognitive skills (Herrington and Oliver, 2000; Ashford-Rowe, Herrington and Brown, 2013; Frey, Schmitt, and Allen, 2012). 

It’s worth noting here that authentic assessments can initially be time consuming to design, implement, and grade. They are critiqued for being challenging to use across course contexts and for grading reliability issues (Maclellan, 2004). Despite these challenges, authentic assessments are recognized as beneficial to student learning (Svinicki, 2004) as they are learner-centered (Weimer, 2013), promote academic integrity (McLaughlin, L. and Ricevuto, 2021; Sotiriadou et al., 2019; Schroeder, 2021) and motivate students to learn (Ambrose et al., 2010). The Columbia Center for Teaching and Learning is always available to consult with faculty who are considering authentic assessment designs and to discuss challenges and affordances.   

Examples from the Columbia University Classroom 

Columbia instructors have experimented with alternative ways of assessing student learning from oral exams to technology-enhanced assignments. Below are a few examples of authentic assignments in various teaching contexts across Columbia University. 

  • E-portfolios: Statia Cook shares her experiences with an ePorfolio assignment in her co-taught Frontiers of Science course (a submission to the Voices of Hybrid and Online Teaching and Learning initiative); CUIMC use of ePortfolios ;
  • Case studies: Columbia instructors have engaged their students in authentic ways through case studies drawing on the Case Consortium at Columbia University. Read and watch a faculty spotlight to learn how Professor Mary Ann Price uses the case method to place pre-med students in real-life scenarios;
  • Simulations: students at CUIMC engage in simulations to develop their professional skills in The Mary & Michael Jaharis Simulation Center in the Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons and the Helene Fuld Health Trust Simulation Center in the Columbia School of Nursing; 
  • Experiential learning: instructors have drawn on New York City as a learning laboratory such as Barnard’s NYC as Lab webpage which highlights courses that engage students in NYC;
  • Design projects that address real world problems: Yevgeniy Yesilevskiy on the Engineering design projects completed using lab kits during remote learning. Watch Dr. Yesilevskiy talk about his teaching and read the Columbia News article . 
  • Writing assignments: Lia Marshall and her teaching associate Aparna Balasundaram reflect on their “non-disposable or renewable assignments” to prepare social work students for their professional lives as they write for a real audience; and Hannah Weaver spoke about a sandbox assignment used in her Core Literature Humanities course at the 2021 Celebration of Teaching and Learning Symposium . Watch Dr. Weaver share her experiences.  

​Tips for Designing Assignments for Learning

While designing an effective authentic assignment may seem like a daunting task, the following tips can be used as a starting point. See the Resources section for frameworks and tools that may be useful in this effort.  

Align the assignment with your course learning objectives 

Identify the kind of thinking that is important in your course, the knowledge students will apply, and the skills they will practice using through the assignment. What kind of thinking will students be asked to do for the assignment? What will students learn by completing this assignment? How will the assignment help students achieve the desired course learning outcomes? For more information on course learning objectives, see the CTL’s Course Design Essentials self-paced course and watch the video on Articulating Learning Objectives .  

Identify an authentic meaning-making task

For meaning-making to occur, students need to understand the relevance of the assignment to the course and beyond (Ambrose et al., 2010). To Bean (2011) a “meaning-making” or “meaning-constructing” task has two dimensions: 1) it presents students with an authentic disciplinary problem or asks students to formulate their own problems, both of which engage them in active critical thinking, and 2) the problem is placed in “a context that gives students a role or purpose, a targeted audience, and a genre.” (Bean, 2011: 97-98). 

An authentic task gives students a realistic challenge to grapple with, a role to take on that allows them to “rehearse for the complex ambiguities” of life, provides resources and supports to draw on, and requires students to justify their work and the process they used to inform their solution (Wiggins, 1990). Note that if students find an assignment interesting or relevant, they will see value in completing it. 

Consider the kind of activities in the real world that use the knowledge and skills that are the focus of your course. How is this knowledge and these skills applied to answer real-world questions to solve real-world problems? (Herrington et al., 2010: 22). What do professionals or academics in your discipline do on a regular basis? What does it mean to think like a biologist, statistician, historian, social scientist? How might your assignment ask students to draw on current events, issues, or problems that relate to the course and are of interest to them? How might your assignment tap into student motivation and engage them in the kinds of thinking they can apply to better understand the world around them? (Ambrose et al., 2010). 

Determine the evaluation criteria and create a rubric

To ensure equitable and consistent grading of assignments across students, make transparent the criteria you will use to evaluate student work. The criteria should focus on the knowledge and skills that are central to the assignment. Build on the criteria identified, create a rubric that makes explicit the expectations of deliverables and share this rubric with your students so they can use it as they work on the assignment. For more information on rubrics, see the CTL’s resource Incorporating Rubrics into Your Grading and Feedback Practices , and explore the Association of American Colleges & Universities VALUE Rubrics (Valid Assessment of Learning in Undergraduate Education). 

Build in metacognition

Ask students to reflect on what and how they learned from the assignment. Help students uncover personal relevance of the assignment, find intrinsic value in their work, and deepen their motivation by asking them to reflect on their process and their assignment deliverable. Sample prompts might include: what did you learn from this assignment? How might you draw on the knowledge and skills you used on this assignment in the future? See Ambrose et al., 2010 for more strategies that support motivation and the CTL’s resource on Metacognition ). 

Provide students with opportunities to practice

Design your assignment to be a learning experience and prepare students for success on the assignment. If students can reasonably expect to be successful on an assignment when they put in the required effort ,with the support and guidance of the instructor, they are more likely to engage in the behaviors necessary for learning (Ambrose et al., 2010). Ensure student success by actively teaching the knowledge and skills of the course (e.g., how to problem solve, how to write for a particular audience), modeling the desired thinking, and creating learning activities that build up to a graded assignment. Provide opportunities for students to practice using the knowledge and skills they will need for the assignment, whether through low-stakes in-class activities or homework activities that include opportunities to receive and incorporate formative feedback. For more information on providing feedback, see the CTL resource Feedback for Learning . 

Communicate about the assignment 

Share the purpose, task, audience, expectations, and criteria for the assignment. Students may have expectations about assessments and how they will be graded that is informed by their prior experiences completing high-stakes assessments, so be transparent. Tell your students why you are asking them to do this assignment, what skills they will be using, how it aligns with the course learning outcomes, and why it is relevant to their learning and their professional lives (i.e., how practitioners / professionals use the knowledge and skills in your course in real world contexts and for what purposes). Finally, verify that students understand what they need to do to complete the assignment. This can be done by asking students to respond to poll questions about different parts of the assignment, a “scavenger hunt” of the assignment instructions–giving students questions to answer about the assignment and having them work in small groups to answer the questions, or by having students share back what they think is expected of them.

Plan to iterate and to keep the focus on learning 

Draw on multiple sources of data to help make decisions about what changes are needed to the assignment, the assignment instructions, and/or rubric to ensure that it contributes to student learning. Explore assignment performance data. As Deandra Little reminds us: “a really good assignment, which is a really good assessment, also teaches you something or tells the instructor something. As much as it tells you what students are learning, it’s also telling you what they aren’t learning.” ( Teaching in Higher Ed podcast episode 337 ). Assignment bottlenecks–where students get stuck or struggle–can be good indicators that students need further support or opportunities to practice prior to completing an assignment. This awareness can inform teaching decisions. 

Triangulate the performance data by collecting student feedback, and noting your own reflections about what worked well and what did not. Revise the assignment instructions, rubric, and teaching practices accordingly. Consider how you might better align your assignment with your course objectives and/or provide more opportunities for students to practice using the knowledge and skills that they will rely on for the assignment. Additionally, keep in mind societal, disciplinary, and technological changes as you tweak your assignments for future use. 

Now is a great time to reflect on your practices and experiences with assignment design and think critically about your approach. Take a closer look at an existing assignment. Questions to consider include: What is this assignment meant to do? What purpose does it serve? Why do you ask students to do this assignment? How are they prepared to complete the assignment? Does the assignment assess the kind of learning that you really want? What would help students learn from this assignment? 

Using the tips in the previous section: How can the assignment be tweaked to be more authentic and meaningful to students? 

As you plan forward for post-pandemic teaching and reflect on your practices and reimagine your course design, you may find the following CTL resources helpful: Reflecting On Your Experiences with Remote Teaching , Transition to In-Person Teaching , and Course Design Support .

The Columbia Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) is here to help!

For assistance with assignment design, rubric design, or any other teaching and learning need, please request a consultation by emailing [email protected]

Transparency in Learning and Teaching (TILT) framework for assignments. The TILT Examples and Resources page ( https://tilthighered.com/tiltexamplesandresources ) includes example assignments from across disciplines, as well as a transparent assignment template and a checklist for designing transparent assignments . Each emphasizes the importance of articulating to students the purpose of the assignment or activity, the what and how of the task, and specifying the criteria that will be used to assess students. 

Association of American Colleges & Universities (AAC&U) offers VALUE ADD (Assignment Design and Diagnostic) tools ( https://www.aacu.org/value-add-tools ) to help with the creation of clear and effective assignments that align with the desired learning outcomes and associated VALUE rubrics (Valid Assessment of Learning in Undergraduate Education). VALUE ADD encourages instructors to explicitly state assignment information such as the purpose of the assignment, what skills students will be using, how it aligns with course learning outcomes, the assignment type, the audience and context for the assignment, clear evaluation criteria, desired formatting, and expectations for completion whether individual or in a group.

Villarroel et al. (2017) propose a blueprint for building authentic assessments which includes four steps: 1) consider the workplace context, 2) design the authentic assessment; 3) learn and apply standards for judgement; and 4) give feedback. 

References 

Ambrose, S. A., Bridges, M. W., & DiPietro, M. (2010). Chapter 3: What Factors Motivate Students to Learn? In How Learning Works: Seven Research-Based Principles for Smart Teaching . Jossey-Bass. 

Ashford-Rowe, K., Herrington, J., and Brown, C. (2013). Establishing the critical elements that determine authentic assessment. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education. 39(2), 205-222, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02602938.2013.819566 .  

Bean, J.C. (2011). Engaging Ideas: The Professor’s Guide to Integrating Writing, Critical Thinking, and Active Learning in the Classroom . Second Edition. Jossey-Bass. 

Frey, B. B, Schmitt, V. L., and Allen, J. P. (2012). Defining Authentic Classroom Assessment. Practical Assessment, Research, and Evaluation. 17(2). DOI: https://doi.org/10.7275/sxbs-0829  

Herrington, J., Reeves, T. C., and Oliver, R. (2010). A Guide to Authentic e-Learning . Routledge. 

Herrington, J. and Oliver, R. (2000). An instructional design framework for authentic learning environments. Educational Technology Research and Development, 48(3), 23-48. 

Litchfield, B. C. and Dempsey, J. V. (2015). Authentic Assessment of Knowledge, Skills, and Attitudes. New Directions for Teaching and Learning. 142 (Summer 2015), 65-80. 

Maclellan, E. (2004). How convincing is alternative assessment for use in higher education. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education. 29(3), June 2004. DOI: 10.1080/0260293042000188267

McLaughlin, L. and Ricevuto, J. (2021). Assessments in a Virtual Environment: You Won’t Need that Lockdown Browser! Faculty Focus. June 2, 2021. 

Mueller, J. (2005). The Authentic Assessment Toolbox: Enhancing Student Learning through Online Faculty Development . MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching. 1(1). July 2005. Mueller’s Authentic Assessment Toolbox is available online. 

Schroeder, R. (2021). Vaccinate Against Cheating With Authentic Assessment . Inside Higher Ed. (February 26, 2021).  

Sotiriadou, P., Logan, D., Daly, A., and Guest, R. (2019). The role of authentic assessment to preserve academic integrity and promote skills development and employability. Studies in Higher Education. 45(111), 2132-2148. https://doi.org/10.1080/03075079.2019.1582015    

Stachowiak, B. (Host). (November 25, 2020). Authentic Assignments with Deandra Little. (Episode 337). In Teaching in Higher Ed . https://teachinginhighered.com/podcast/authentic-assignments/  

Svinicki, M. D. (2004). Authentic Assessment: Testing in Reality. New Directions for Teaching and Learning. 100 (Winter 2004): 23-29. 

Villarroel, V., Bloxham, S, Bruna, D., Bruna, C., and Herrera-Seda, C. (2017). Authentic assessment: creating a blueprint for course design. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education. 43(5), 840-854. https://doi.org/10.1080/02602938.2017.1412396    

Weimer, M. (2013). Learner-Centered Teaching: Five Key Changes to Practice . Second Edition. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. 

Wiggins, G. (2014). Authenticity in assessment, (re-)defined and explained. Retrieved from https://grantwiggins.wordpress.com/2014/01/26/authenticity-in-assessment-re-defined-and-explained/

Wiggins, G. (1998). Teaching to the (Authentic) Test. Educational Leadership . April 1989. 41-47. 

Wiggins, Grant (1990). The Case for Authentic Assessment . Practical Assessment, Research & Evaluation , 2(2). 

Wondering how AI tools might play a role in your course assignments?

See the CTL’s resource “Considerations for AI Tools in the Classroom.”

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Teaching excellence & educational innovation, creating assignments.

Here are some general suggestions and questions to consider when creating assignments. There are also many other resources in print and on the web that provide examples of interesting, discipline-specific assignment ideas.

Consider your learning objectives.

What do you want students to learn in your course? What could they do that would show you that they have learned it? To determine assignments that truly serve your course objectives, it is useful to write out your objectives in this form: I want my students to be able to ____. Use active, measurable verbs as you complete that sentence (e.g., compare theories, discuss ramifications, recommend strategies), and your learning objectives will point you towards suitable assignments.

Design assignments that are interesting and challenging.

This is the fun side of assignment design. Consider how to focus students’ thinking in ways that are creative, challenging, and motivating. Think beyond the conventional assignment type! For example, one American historian requires students to write diary entries for a hypothetical Nebraska farmwoman in the 1890s. By specifying that students’ diary entries must demonstrate the breadth of their historical knowledge (e.g., gender, economics, technology, diet, family structure), the instructor gets students to exercise their imaginations while also accomplishing the learning objectives of the course (Walvoord & Anderson, 1989, p. 25).

Double-check alignment.

After creating your assignments, go back to your learning objectives and make sure there is still a good match between what you want students to learn and what you are asking them to do. If you find a mismatch, you will need to adjust either the assignments or the learning objectives. For instance, if your goal is for students to be able to analyze and evaluate texts, but your assignments only ask them to summarize texts, you would need to add an analytical and evaluative dimension to some assignments or rethink your learning objectives.

Name assignments accurately.

Students can be misled by assignments that are named inappropriately. For example, if you want students to analyze a product’s strengths and weaknesses but you call the assignment a “product description,” students may focus all their energies on the descriptive, not the critical, elements of the task. Thus, it is important to ensure that the titles of your assignments communicate their intention accurately to students.

Consider sequencing.

Think about how to order your assignments so that they build skills in a logical sequence. Ideally, assignments that require the most synthesis of skills and knowledge should come later in the semester, preceded by smaller assignments that build these skills incrementally. For example, if an instructor’s final assignment is a research project that requires students to evaluate a technological solution to an environmental problem, earlier assignments should reinforce component skills, including the ability to identify and discuss key environmental issues, apply evaluative criteria, and find appropriate research sources.

Think about scheduling.

Consider your intended assignments in relation to the academic calendar and decide how they can be reasonably spaced throughout the semester, taking into account holidays and key campus events. Consider how long it will take students to complete all parts of the assignment (e.g., planning, library research, reading, coordinating groups, writing, integrating the contributions of team members, developing a presentation), and be sure to allow sufficient time between assignments.

Check feasibility.

Is the workload you have in mind reasonable for your students? Is the grading burden manageable for you? Sometimes there are ways to reduce workload (whether for you or for students) without compromising learning objectives. For example, if a primary objective in assigning a project is for students to identify an interesting engineering problem and do some preliminary research on it, it might be reasonable to require students to submit a project proposal and annotated bibliography rather than a fully developed report. If your learning objectives are clear, you will see where corners can be cut without sacrificing educational quality.

Articulate the task description clearly.

If an assignment is vague, students may interpret it any number of ways – and not necessarily how you intended. Thus, it is critical to clearly and unambiguously identify the task students are to do (e.g., design a website to help high school students locate environmental resources, create an annotated bibliography of readings on apartheid). It can be helpful to differentiate the central task (what students are supposed to produce) from other advice and information you provide in your assignment description.

Establish clear performance criteria.

Different instructors apply different criteria when grading student work, so it’s important that you clearly articulate to students what your criteria are. To do so, think about the best student work you have seen on similar tasks and try to identify the specific characteristics that made it excellent, such as clarity of thought, originality, logical organization, or use of a wide range of sources. Then identify the characteristics of the worst student work you have seen, such as shaky evidence, weak organizational structure, or lack of focus. Identifying these characteristics can help you consciously articulate the criteria you already apply. It is important to communicate these criteria to students, whether in your assignment description or as a separate rubric or scoring guide . Clearly articulated performance criteria can prevent unnecessary confusion about your expectations while also setting a high standard for students to meet.

Specify the intended audience.

Students make assumptions about the audience they are addressing in papers and presentations, which influences how they pitch their message. For example, students may assume that, since the instructor is their primary audience, they do not need to define discipline-specific terms or concepts. These assumptions may not match the instructor’s expectations. Thus, it is important on assignments to specify the intended audience http://wac.colostate.edu/intro/pop10e.cfm (e.g., undergraduates with no biology background, a potential funder who does not know engineering).

Specify the purpose of the assignment.

If students are unclear about the goals or purpose of the assignment, they may make unnecessary mistakes. For example, if students believe an assignment is focused on summarizing research as opposed to evaluating it, they may seriously miscalculate the task and put their energies in the wrong place. The same is true they think the goal of an economics problem set is to find the correct answer, rather than demonstrate a clear chain of economic reasoning. Consequently, it is important to make your objectives for the assignment clear to students.

Specify the parameters.

If you have specific parameters in mind for the assignment (e.g., length, size, formatting, citation conventions) you should be sure to specify them in your assignment description. Otherwise, students may misapply conventions and formats they learned in other courses that are not appropriate for yours.

A Checklist for Designing Assignments

Here is a set of questions you can ask yourself when creating an assignment.

  • Provided a written description of the assignment (in the syllabus or in a separate document)?
  • Specified the purpose of the assignment?
  • Indicated the intended audience?
  • Articulated the instructions in precise and unambiguous language?
  • Provided information about the appropriate format and presentation (e.g., page length, typed, cover sheet, bibliography)?  
  • Indicated special instructions, such as a particular citation style or headings?  
  • Specified the due date and the consequences for missing it?
  • Articulated performance criteria clearly?
  • Indicated the assignment’s point value or percentage of the course grade?
  • Provided students (where appropriate) with models or samples?

Adapted from the WAC Clearinghouse at http://wac.colostate.edu/intro/pop10e.cfm .

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The Assignment Model

The linear programming formulation of the assignment model is similar to the formulation of the transportation model, except all the supply values for each source equal one, and all the demand values at each destination equal one. Thus, our example is formulated as follows :

purpose of assignment model

This is a balanced assignment model. An unbalanced model exists when supply exceeds demand or demand exceeds supply.

purpose of assignment model

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Designing assignments.

Making a few revisions to your writing assignments can make a big difference in the writing your students will produce. The most effective changes involve specifying what you would like students to do in the assignment and suggesting concrete steps students can take to achieve that goal.

Clarify what you want your students to do…and why they’re doing it

Kerry Walk, former director of the Princeton Writing Program, offers these principles to consider when designing a writing assignment (condensed and adapted from the original): “At least one sentence on your assignment sheet should explicitly state what you want students to do. The assignment is usually signaled by a verb, such as “analyze,” “assess,” “explain,” or “discuss.” For example, in a history course, after reading a model biography, students were directed as follows: ‘Your assignment is to write your own biographical essay on Mao, using Mao’s reminiscences (as told to a Western journalist), speeches, encyclopedia articles, a medical account from Mao’s physician, and two contradictory obituaries.’ In addition, including a purpose for the assignment can provide crucial focus and guidance. Explaining to students why they’re doing a particular assignment can help them grasp the big picture—what you’re trying to teach them and why learning it is worthwhile. For example, ‘This assignment has three goals: for you to (1) see how the concepts we’ve learned thus far can be used in a different field from economics, (2) learn how to write about a model, and (3) learn to critique a model or how to defend one.’”

Link course writing goals to assignments

Students are more likely to understand what you are asking them to do if the assignment re-uses language that you’ve already introduced in class discussions, in writing activities, or in your Writing Guide. In the assignment below, Yale professor Dorlores Hayden uses writing terms that have been introduced in class:

Choose your home town or any other town or city you have lived in for at least a year. Based upon the readings on the history of transportation, discuss how well or how poorly pedestrian, horse-drawn, steam- powered, and electric transportation might have served your town or city before the gasoline automobile. (If you live in a twentieth-century automobile-oriented suburb, consider rural transportation patterns before the car and the suburban houses.) How did topography affect transportation choices? How did transportation choices affect the local economy and the built environment? Length, 1000 words (4 typed pages plus a plan of the place and/or a photograph). Be sure to argue a strong thesis and back it up with quotations from the readings as well as your own analysis of the plan or photograph.

Give students methods for approaching their work

Strong writing assignments not only identify a clear writing task, they often provide suggestions for how students might begin to accomplish the task. In order to avoid overloading students with information and suggestions, it is often useful to separate the assignment prompt and the advice for approaching the assignment. Below is an example of this strategy from one of Yale’s English 114 sections:

Assignment: In the essays we have read so far, a debate has emerged over what constitutes cosmopolitan practice , loosely defined as concrete actions motivated by a cosmopolitan philosophy or perspective. Using these readings as evidence, write a 5-6-page essay in which you make an argument for your own definition of effective cosmopolitan practice.

Method: In order to develop this essay, you must engage in a critical conversation with the essays we have read in class. In creating your definition of cosmopolitan practice, you will necessarily draw upon the ideas of these authors. You must show how you are building upon, altering, or working in opposition to their ideas and definitions through your quotation and analysis of their concepts and evidence.

Questions to consider:  These questions are designed to prompt your thinking. You do not need to address all these questions in the body of your essay; instead, refer to any of these issues only as they support your ideas.

  • How would you define cosmopolitan practice? How does your definition draw upon or conflict with the definitions offered by the authors we have read so far?
  • What are the strengths of your definition of cosmopolitan practice? What problems does it address? How do the essays we have read support those strengths? How do those strengths address weaknesses in other writers’ arguments?
  • What are the limitations or problems with your definition? How would the authors we have read critique your definition? How would you respond to those critiques?

Case Study: A Sample Writing Assignment and Revision

A student responding to the following assignment felt totally at sea, with good reason:

Write an essay describing the various conceptions of property found in your readings and the different arguments for and against the distribution of property and the various justifications of, and attacks on, ownership. Which of these arguments has any merits? What is the role of property in the various political systems discussed? The essay should concentrate on Hobbes, Locke, and Marx.

“How am I supposed to structure the essay?” the student asked. “Address the first question, comparing the three guys? Address the second question, doing the same, etc.? … Do I talk about each author separately in terms of their conceptions of the nation, and then have a section that compares their arguments, or do I have a 4 part essay which is really 4 essays (two pages each) answering each question? What am I going to put in the intro, and the conclusion?” Given the tangle of ideas presented in the assignment, the student’s panic and confusion are understandable.

A better-formulated assignment poses significant challenges, but one of them is not wondering what the instructor secretly wants. Here’s a possible revision, which follows the guidelines suggested above:

[Course Name and Title]

[Instructor’s Name]

Due date: Thursday, February 24, at 11:10am in section

Length: 5-6pp. double-spaced

Limiting your reading to the sourcebook, write a comparative analysis of Hobbes’s, Locke’s, and Marx’s conceptions of property.

The purpose of this assignment is to help you synthesize some difficult political theory and identify the profound differences among some key theorists.

The best papers will focus on a single shared aspect of the theorists’ respective political ideologies, such as how property is distributed, whether it should be owned, or what role it serves politically. The best papers will not only focus on a specific topic, but will state a clear and arguable thesis about it (“the three authors have differing conceptions of property” is neither) and go on to describe and assess the authors’ viewpoints clearly and concisely.

Note that this revised assignment is now not only clearer than the original; it also requires less regurgitation and more sustained thought.

For more information about crafting and staging your assignments, see “ The Papers We Want to Read ” by Linda Simon, Social Studies; Jan/Feb90, Vol. 81 Issue 1, p37, 3p. (The link to Simon’s article will only work if your computer is on the Yale campus.) See also the discussion of Revising Assignments in the section of this website on Addressing Plagiarism .

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Understanding Assignments

What this handout is about.

The first step in any successful college writing venture is reading the assignment. While this sounds like a simple task, it can be a tough one. This handout will help you unravel your assignment and begin to craft an effective response. Much of the following advice will involve translating typical assignment terms and practices into meaningful clues to the type of writing your instructor expects. See our short video for more tips.

Basic beginnings

Regardless of the assignment, department, or instructor, adopting these two habits will serve you well :

  • Read the assignment carefully as soon as you receive it. Do not put this task off—reading the assignment at the beginning will save you time, stress, and problems later. An assignment can look pretty straightforward at first, particularly if the instructor has provided lots of information. That does not mean it will not take time and effort to complete; you may even have to learn a new skill to complete the assignment.
  • Ask the instructor about anything you do not understand. Do not hesitate to approach your instructor. Instructors would prefer to set you straight before you hand the paper in. That’s also when you will find their feedback most useful.

Assignment formats

Many assignments follow a basic format. Assignments often begin with an overview of the topic, include a central verb or verbs that describe the task, and offer some additional suggestions, questions, or prompts to get you started.

An Overview of Some Kind

The instructor might set the stage with some general discussion of the subject of the assignment, introduce the topic, or remind you of something pertinent that you have discussed in class. For example:

“Throughout history, gerbils have played a key role in politics,” or “In the last few weeks of class, we have focused on the evening wear of the housefly …”

The Task of the Assignment

Pay attention; this part tells you what to do when you write the paper. Look for the key verb or verbs in the sentence. Words like analyze, summarize, or compare direct you to think about your topic in a certain way. Also pay attention to words such as how, what, when, where, and why; these words guide your attention toward specific information. (See the section in this handout titled “Key Terms” for more information.)

“Analyze the effect that gerbils had on the Russian Revolution”, or “Suggest an interpretation of housefly undergarments that differs from Darwin’s.”

Additional Material to Think about

Here you will find some questions to use as springboards as you begin to think about the topic. Instructors usually include these questions as suggestions rather than requirements. Do not feel compelled to answer every question unless the instructor asks you to do so. Pay attention to the order of the questions. Sometimes they suggest the thinking process your instructor imagines you will need to follow to begin thinking about the topic.

“You may wish to consider the differing views held by Communist gerbils vs. Monarchist gerbils, or Can there be such a thing as ‘the housefly garment industry’ or is it just a home-based craft?”

These are the instructor’s comments about writing expectations:

“Be concise”, “Write effectively”, or “Argue furiously.”

Technical Details

These instructions usually indicate format rules or guidelines.

“Your paper must be typed in Palatino font on gray paper and must not exceed 600 pages. It is due on the anniversary of Mao Tse-tung’s death.”

The assignment’s parts may not appear in exactly this order, and each part may be very long or really short. Nonetheless, being aware of this standard pattern can help you understand what your instructor wants you to do.

Interpreting the assignment

Ask yourself a few basic questions as you read and jot down the answers on the assignment sheet:

Why did your instructor ask you to do this particular task?

Who is your audience.

  • What kind of evidence do you need to support your ideas?

What kind of writing style is acceptable?

  • What are the absolute rules of the paper?

Try to look at the question from the point of view of the instructor. Recognize that your instructor has a reason for giving you this assignment and for giving it to you at a particular point in the semester. In every assignment, the instructor has a challenge for you. This challenge could be anything from demonstrating an ability to think clearly to demonstrating an ability to use the library. See the assignment not as a vague suggestion of what to do but as an opportunity to show that you can handle the course material as directed. Paper assignments give you more than a topic to discuss—they ask you to do something with the topic. Keep reminding yourself of that. Be careful to avoid the other extreme as well: do not read more into the assignment than what is there.

Of course, your instructor has given you an assignment so that he or she will be able to assess your understanding of the course material and give you an appropriate grade. But there is more to it than that. Your instructor has tried to design a learning experience of some kind. Your instructor wants you to think about something in a particular way for a particular reason. If you read the course description at the beginning of your syllabus, review the assigned readings, and consider the assignment itself, you may begin to see the plan, purpose, or approach to the subject matter that your instructor has created for you. If you still aren’t sure of the assignment’s goals, try asking the instructor. For help with this, see our handout on getting feedback .

Given your instructor’s efforts, it helps to answer the question: What is my purpose in completing this assignment? Is it to gather research from a variety of outside sources and present a coherent picture? Is it to take material I have been learning in class and apply it to a new situation? Is it to prove a point one way or another? Key words from the assignment can help you figure this out. Look for key terms in the form of active verbs that tell you what to do.

Key Terms: Finding Those Active Verbs

Here are some common key words and definitions to help you think about assignment terms:

Information words Ask you to demonstrate what you know about the subject, such as who, what, when, where, how, and why.

  • define —give the subject’s meaning (according to someone or something). Sometimes you have to give more than one view on the subject’s meaning
  • describe —provide details about the subject by answering question words (such as who, what, when, where, how, and why); you might also give details related to the five senses (what you see, hear, feel, taste, and smell)
  • explain —give reasons why or examples of how something happened
  • illustrate —give descriptive examples of the subject and show how each is connected with the subject
  • summarize —briefly list the important ideas you learned about the subject
  • trace —outline how something has changed or developed from an earlier time to its current form
  • research —gather material from outside sources about the subject, often with the implication or requirement that you will analyze what you have found

Relation words Ask you to demonstrate how things are connected.

  • compare —show how two or more things are similar (and, sometimes, different)
  • contrast —show how two or more things are dissimilar
  • apply—use details that you’ve been given to demonstrate how an idea, theory, or concept works in a particular situation
  • cause —show how one event or series of events made something else happen
  • relate —show or describe the connections between things

Interpretation words Ask you to defend ideas of your own about the subject. Do not see these words as requesting opinion alone (unless the assignment specifically says so), but as requiring opinion that is supported by concrete evidence. Remember examples, principles, definitions, or concepts from class or research and use them in your interpretation.

  • assess —summarize your opinion of the subject and measure it against something
  • prove, justify —give reasons or examples to demonstrate how or why something is the truth
  • evaluate, respond —state your opinion of the subject as good, bad, or some combination of the two, with examples and reasons
  • support —give reasons or evidence for something you believe (be sure to state clearly what it is that you believe)
  • synthesize —put two or more things together that have not been put together in class or in your readings before; do not just summarize one and then the other and say that they are similar or different—you must provide a reason for putting them together that runs all the way through the paper
  • analyze —determine how individual parts create or relate to the whole, figure out how something works, what it might mean, or why it is important
  • argue —take a side and defend it with evidence against the other side

More Clues to Your Purpose As you read the assignment, think about what the teacher does in class:

  • What kinds of textbooks or coursepack did your instructor choose for the course—ones that provide background information, explain theories or perspectives, or argue a point of view?
  • In lecture, does your instructor ask your opinion, try to prove her point of view, or use keywords that show up again in the assignment?
  • What kinds of assignments are typical in this discipline? Social science classes often expect more research. Humanities classes thrive on interpretation and analysis.
  • How do the assignments, readings, and lectures work together in the course? Instructors spend time designing courses, sometimes even arguing with their peers about the most effective course materials. Figuring out the overall design to the course will help you understand what each assignment is meant to achieve.

Now, what about your reader? Most undergraduates think of their audience as the instructor. True, your instructor is a good person to keep in mind as you write. But for the purposes of a good paper, think of your audience as someone like your roommate: smart enough to understand a clear, logical argument, but not someone who already knows exactly what is going on in your particular paper. Remember, even if the instructor knows everything there is to know about your paper topic, he or she still has to read your paper and assess your understanding. In other words, teach the material to your reader.

Aiming a paper at your audience happens in two ways: you make decisions about the tone and the level of information you want to convey.

  • Tone means the “voice” of your paper. Should you be chatty, formal, or objective? Usually you will find some happy medium—you do not want to alienate your reader by sounding condescending or superior, but you do not want to, um, like, totally wig on the man, you know? Eschew ostentatious erudition: some students think the way to sound academic is to use big words. Be careful—you can sound ridiculous, especially if you use the wrong big words.
  • The level of information you use depends on who you think your audience is. If you imagine your audience as your instructor and she already knows everything you have to say, you may find yourself leaving out key information that can cause your argument to be unconvincing and illogical. But you do not have to explain every single word or issue. If you are telling your roommate what happened on your favorite science fiction TV show last night, you do not say, “First a dark-haired white man of average height, wearing a suit and carrying a flashlight, walked into the room. Then a purple alien with fifteen arms and at least three eyes turned around. Then the man smiled slightly. In the background, you could hear a clock ticking. The room was fairly dark and had at least two windows that I saw.” You also do not say, “This guy found some aliens. The end.” Find some balance of useful details that support your main point.

You’ll find a much more detailed discussion of these concepts in our handout on audience .

The Grim Truth

With a few exceptions (including some lab and ethnography reports), you are probably being asked to make an argument. You must convince your audience. It is easy to forget this aim when you are researching and writing; as you become involved in your subject matter, you may become enmeshed in the details and focus on learning or simply telling the information you have found. You need to do more than just repeat what you have read. Your writing should have a point, and you should be able to say it in a sentence. Sometimes instructors call this sentence a “thesis” or a “claim.”

So, if your instructor tells you to write about some aspect of oral hygiene, you do not want to just list: “First, you brush your teeth with a soft brush and some peanut butter. Then, you floss with unwaxed, bologna-flavored string. Finally, gargle with bourbon.” Instead, you could say, “Of all the oral cleaning methods, sandblasting removes the most plaque. Therefore it should be recommended by the American Dental Association.” Or, “From an aesthetic perspective, moldy teeth can be quite charming. However, their joys are short-lived.”

Convincing the reader of your argument is the goal of academic writing. It doesn’t have to say “argument” anywhere in the assignment for you to need one. Look at the assignment and think about what kind of argument you could make about it instead of just seeing it as a checklist of information you have to present. For help with understanding the role of argument in academic writing, see our handout on argument .

What kind of evidence do you need?

There are many kinds of evidence, and what type of evidence will work for your assignment can depend on several factors–the discipline, the parameters of the assignment, and your instructor’s preference. Should you use statistics? Historical examples? Do you need to conduct your own experiment? Can you rely on personal experience? See our handout on evidence for suggestions on how to use evidence appropriately.

Make sure you are clear about this part of the assignment, because your use of evidence will be crucial in writing a successful paper. You are not just learning how to argue; you are learning how to argue with specific types of materials and ideas. Ask your instructor what counts as acceptable evidence. You can also ask a librarian for help. No matter what kind of evidence you use, be sure to cite it correctly—see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial .

You cannot always tell from the assignment just what sort of writing style your instructor expects. The instructor may be really laid back in class but still expect you to sound formal in writing. Or the instructor may be fairly formal in class and ask you to write a reflection paper where you need to use “I” and speak from your own experience.

Try to avoid false associations of a particular field with a style (“art historians like wacky creativity,” or “political scientists are boring and just give facts”) and look instead to the types of readings you have been given in class. No one expects you to write like Plato—just use the readings as a guide for what is standard or preferable to your instructor. When in doubt, ask your instructor about the level of formality she or he expects.

No matter what field you are writing for or what facts you are including, if you do not write so that your reader can understand your main idea, you have wasted your time. So make clarity your main goal. For specific help with style, see our handout on style .

Technical details about the assignment

The technical information you are given in an assignment always seems like the easy part. This section can actually give you lots of little hints about approaching the task. Find out if elements such as page length and citation format (see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial ) are negotiable. Some professors do not have strong preferences as long as you are consistent and fully answer the assignment. Some professors are very specific and will deduct big points for deviations.

Usually, the page length tells you something important: The instructor thinks the size of the paper is appropriate to the assignment’s parameters. In plain English, your instructor is telling you how many pages it should take for you to answer the question as fully as you are expected to. So if an assignment is two pages long, you cannot pad your paper with examples or reword your main idea several times. Hit your one point early, defend it with the clearest example, and finish quickly. If an assignment is ten pages long, you can be more complex in your main points and examples—and if you can only produce five pages for that assignment, you need to see someone for help—as soon as possible.

Tricks that don’t work

Your instructors are not fooled when you:

  • spend more time on the cover page than the essay —graphics, cool binders, and cute titles are no replacement for a well-written paper.
  • use huge fonts, wide margins, or extra spacing to pad the page length —these tricks are immediately obvious to the eye. Most instructors use the same word processor you do. They know what’s possible. Such tactics are especially damning when the instructor has a stack of 60 papers to grade and yours is the only one that low-flying airplane pilots could read.
  • use a paper from another class that covered “sort of similar” material . Again, the instructor has a particular task for you to fulfill in the assignment that usually relates to course material and lectures. Your other paper may not cover this material, and turning in the same paper for more than one course may constitute an Honor Code violation . Ask the instructor—it can’t hurt.
  • get all wacky and “creative” before you answer the question . Showing that you are able to think beyond the boundaries of a simple assignment can be good, but you must do what the assignment calls for first. Again, check with your instructor. A humorous tone can be refreshing for someone grading a stack of papers, but it will not get you a good grade if you have not fulfilled the task.

Critical reading of assignments leads to skills in other types of reading and writing. If you get good at figuring out what the real goals of assignments are, you are going to be better at understanding the goals of all of your classes and fields of study.

You may reproduce it for non-commercial use if you use the entire handout and attribute the source: The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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  • Business Essentials

Assignment Method: Examples of How Resources Are Allocated

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What Is the Assignment Method?

The assignment method is a way of allocating organizational resources in which each resource is assigned to a particular task. The resource could be monetary, personnel , or technological.

Understanding the Assignment Method

The assignment method is used to determine what resources are assigned to which department, machine, or center of operation in the production process. The goal is to assign resources in such a way to enhance production efficiency, control costs, and maximize profits.

The assignment method has various applications in maximizing resources, including:

  • Allocating the proper number of employees to a machine or task
  • Allocating a machine or a manufacturing plant and the number of jobs that a given machine or factory can produce
  • Assigning a number of salespersons to a given territory or territories
  • Assigning new computers, laptops, and other expensive high-tech devices to the areas that need them the most while lower priority departments would get the older models

Companies can make budgeting decisions using the assignment method since it can help determine the amount of capital or money needed for each area of the company. Allocating money or resources can be done by analyzing the past performance of an employee, project, or department to determine the most efficient approach.

Regardless of the resource being allocated or the task to be accomplished, the goal is to assign resources to maximize the profit produced by the task or project.

Example of Assignment Method

A bank is allocating its sales force to grow its mortgage lending business. The bank has over 50 branches in New York but only ten in Chicago. Each branch has a staff that is used to bring in new clients.

The bank's management team decides to perform an analysis using the assignment method to determine where their newly-hired salespeople should be allocated. Given the past performance results in the Chicago area, the bank has produced fewer new clients than in New York. The fewer new clients are the result of having a small market presence in Chicago.

As a result, the management decides to allocate the new hires to the New York region, where it has a greater market share to maximize new client growth and, ultimately, revenue.

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Home > Books > Knowledge Management Strategies and Applications

Knowledge‐Based Assignment Model for Allocation of Employees in Engineering‐to‐Order Production

Submitted: 04 May 2016 Reviewed: 08 June 2017 Published: 21 November 2017

DOI: 10.5772/intechopen.70073

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In today’s rapidly changing business environment, it is necessary to react promptly in response to the product changes that happen constantly in an Engineering‐to‐Order production environment. Very often, there is not sufficient time to educate employees regarding new and necessary knowledge. If we insist on the standardization of a process execution, the process always requires appropriate knowledge from among available employees. In this chapter, an option for adjusting processes to available knowledge is studied. Following calculations, it was concluded that a partial corruption of a perfect process leads to a better knowledge alignment of employees. At first, with the corruption of a perfect process, its efficiency is decreased, but with better knowledge alignment, process efficiency is consequently increased to a level better than the original one. The optimization model presented in this chapter is based on a modified classic assignment problem and it includes a numerical example based on the data of ETO company. We proved our findings from the aspects of balance, employee capacity load and process efficiency.

  • knowledge allocation
  • optimization model
  • activity‐cutting principle

Author Information

Matjaz roblek *.

  • Faculty of Organizational Sciences, University of Maribor, Kranj, Slovenia

Benjamin Urh

*Address all correspondence to: [email protected]

1. Introduction

Global competitiveness requires constant innovations of products and processes, which inherently require changes on the part of production companies. Management of these changes is especially important for those companies for which the production of new products is a regular business, that is, for which every customer requirement is so unique that it requires for the integration of research and development (R&D) department employees to a certain level. Linking of sales, R&D and production in such way is called an ‘Engineering‐to‐Order production strategy’ (ETO). Products in ETO production have a complex structure and a customer‐specified production that is treated as a project. These projects are generally unique and were never previously executed. Therefore, it is impossible that they be handled with existing standard project activities. Problems with the allocation of employees appear in the first activities of the ETO production project, in which activities require a high level of innovation, and the project requires a proper knowledge allocation prior to capacity allocation. Of course, the management needs both allocation views, but the knowledge aspect is more important when dealing with new product or technology changes. The typical question before executing each ETO project is: Do we have appropriate knowledge to do that?

Knowledge is an element of the employees and also an element of the activities of business processes [ 1 ]. In Make‐to‐Stock (MTS), production activities are highly specialized and require a small set of required knowledge. In ETO production, employees execute many activities with a large set of required knowledge. Due to salary requirements, the human‐resource‐required knowledge is linked to the work position definitions [ 2 ]. The management goal is to optimize the required knowledge of work positions and the current knowledge of employees. With every product or process change, the knowledge structure of the work position is changed. If changes are permanent, there will be a continuous searching for new appropriate employees. However, what if the process of change was adjusted so that it took into consideration currently available knowledge? These employees are the only source that is available at the time a new product requires new knowledge in the process. What if the capacity load of each employee’s knowledge and not just the employee’s capacity in general were taken into consideration?

2. Literature review

In literature, this kind of optimization problem is classified as the worker assignment problem [ 3 ]. Applications of this problem are matching employees on work positions, where the required knowledge of work positions is compared to the actual knowledge of known employees [ 4 ]. The optimal solution (objective function) depends on the global minimum of the current knowledge deficit or the global maximum of the current knowledge surplus.

In a real environment, production processes are complicated and diverse. Almost every product and its production technology require modification of its objective function or modification of the entire optimization problem. Even if there is production of the same product in different locations, there will be modification needs, despite work standardization efforts. During process execution (over several years), the optimization problem also changes because of expected and unexpected events, such as production errors, economic opportunities and new arrangements. These events are sometimes very important for optimization. In the case of the presence of a more important and/or urgent business event, their importance for optimization disappears, and their priorities for optimization are changed. Therefore, there are many specific solutions for the worker assignment problem in the literature. Some solutions are case specific while other are made in an attempt to be universally applicable. Depending on the complexity of the worker assignment problem, researchers implement different optimization methods: mathematic programming models (linear, non‐linear, integer), genetic algorithms and heuristics.

The following research has been used as a background for the worker assignment problem in this chapter. From the perspective of tasks, Azizi and Liang [ 5 ] developed an integrated approach to the worker assignment problem. Their dominant assignment problem includes workforce flexibility acquisition and task rotation. They used a constructive‐search heuristic method and set the objective to minimizing the total cost including the incremental cost of new training cost, flexibility cost and productivity loss cost. The learning effect in the worker assignment model was also the subject of research in a project task scheduling problem [ 6 ]. They used a mixed non‐linear integer program, solved by a proposed genetic algorithm. The objective function was to minimize outsourcing costs. From the task perspective, there is optimization model of task allocation and knowledge worker scheduling [ 7 ]. The purpose of this model is to assign knowledge workers to every task and arrange them (the tasks) in order to minimize the total time required to finish all projects. Their optimization is based on the Ant Colony algorithm as an optimization technique [ 8 ]. Nembhard [ 9 ] uses a heuristic approach for assigning workers to tasks that is based on individual learning rates.

There are also worker assignment models originating in production layout and shifts. McDonald et al. [ 10 ] developed a worker assignment model to evaluate a lean manufacturing cell, using a binary integer programming model that is solved using a branch‐and‐bound approach. The objective of this model is to minimize net present costs (initial training costs, incremental training costs, inventory costs and cost of poor quality). Previously, a model of worker assignment considering technical and human skills in cellular manufacturing was developed [ 11 ]. It is classified as mixed‐integer programming problem. The objective of the model is to maximize profit, where profit has three components: productivity, quality costs and training costs. Ingolfsson et al. [ 12 ] combined integer programming and the randomization method to schedule employees by using an integer programming heuristic to generate schedules; they used the randomization method to compute service levels. They described a method to find low cost shift schedules with a time‐varying service level that is always above a specified minimum.

There are worker‐assigning models that deal with the satisfaction of workers. Brusco and Johns [ 13 ] defined a model of staffing a multi‐skilled workforce with varying levels of productivity. They applied integer linear programming model with the objective of minimizing workforce staffing costs subject to the satisfaction of minimum labour requirements across the planning horizon of a single work shift. Mohan [ 14 ] created a model of scheduling part‐time personnel with availability restrictions and preferences to maximize employee satisfaction. He proposed an integer programming model to maximize employee satisfaction (while considering their seniority and availability) and to meet the demand requirements for each shift. A branch‐and‐bound algorithm was used for this.

From the perspective of competencies [ 15 ], there is a competence‐driven staff assignment approach that is based on a stochastic working status model. This model seeks to minimize employee wages and maximize strategic gains of the company from the increment of desirable competencies. The authors used a genetic algorithm as the optimization method. Competencies are also used in a model that seeks to maximize a weighted average of economic gains from projects and strategic gains from the increment of desirable competencies. As a sub‐problem, the scheduling and staff assignment for a candidate set of selected projects is also optimized [ 16 ]. The authors used non‐linear mixed‐integer program formulation for the overall problem and then proposed heuristic solution techniques composed of a greedy heuristic for the scheduling and staff assignment, and alternative ‘meta’ heuristics for the project selection.

Recent studies are showing that the worker assignment problem is still important subject of research. Grosse et al. [ 17 ] designed a framework for integrating human factors into planning models. Crawford et al. [ 18 ] showed application of worker assignment problem in project scheduling and they innovated optimization approach using hyper‐cube framework. A similar problem that discuses assignment of health care staff to tasks using fuzzy evaluation method was presented by Mutingi et al. [ 19 ]. Olivella et al. [ 20 ] gave emphasis on the cross‐training goals, while Senjuti et al. [ 21 ] optimized the assignment of tasks to workers by proposing efficient adaptive algorithms. Current efforts are dealing with additional variables in creating the perfect optimization framework (knowledge, cross‐training, etc.), or in finding the best optimization algorithms for solving worker assignment problem. They still assume that tasks are allocated to workers as ‘they are'. Our effort was to study the effect of task redefinition in the meaning of splitting tasks on smaller parts with the goal of better knowledge alignment. From the organizational view, especially when the creative job must be done (like in ETO companies), the list of required tasks is created according to the available knowledge of workers, and the new definition of tasks is a subject of optimization output. This was our main theoretical issue that is described as real business example as follows:

At first, there is an optimal worker assignment on the work position requirements of ETO company.

Then, one or many workers leave the company at their own initiative. Because of the high level of customer demand, there is no time to re‐educate the existing employees, and management will not approve recruiting new employees.

The quality of process output (product) must remain at the same quality level. It is assumed that the quality can be reached only with proper knowledge.

The quantity of process output may be reduced.

This is a typical example of a company that needs to increase the use of its internal sources. Many cases have been found in practice in ETO companies in which the management solved the problem of outgoing knowledge with reorganization of internal employees rather than with the simple extension of employees’ existing capacities, for example, overtime work [ 22 ]. We also set two assumptions that were not subjects of this research: first, we accepted that in ETO production, business processes are constantly changing and, therefore, knowledge requirements are also changing. Second, because these are simulations, the relation between knowledge and the process efficiency was accepted: if employees have proper knowledge for the execution of activities, then these activities are performed faster. This has an impact on better efficiency of the whole process if that activity is simultaneously a process bottleneck [ 23 ].

The key solution of adjusting processes to the current knowledge lies in the theory of business process management [ 24 ], in which the main problem of achieving a short process throughput time lies in the waiting times among different work positions that are the consequence of unbalanced work. This problem is insignificant if the entire process is executed by only one employee who occupies one work position, because there are no work position breaks [ 25 ]. This works only in small companies. Large business systems are complicated: they have many business processes with diverse knowledge requirements (e.g. ETO production) and require many employees with different types and levels of knowledge. Work is divided into activities between different work positions. Each work position has its own knowledge requirements. In this case, management needs control over the specific knowledge and over the number of the work position changes, and must keep them at the ‘desired’ minimum level so that the optimal process efficiency and the work balance are reached. The problem is also in the required and actual capacity of the specific knowledge. The process output quantity reflects the frequency of activity executions [ 26 ]. From a previous description of the principle of minimization work position breaks, when the capacity of one employee is exceeded, an additional employee who can perform all activities in the process is required. Such a broadly educated employee is too expensive, and this solution is thus irrational. Therefore, the process is divided into activities (tasks) among many work positions with the least expensive employees. Management creates work positions with a simple and complex knowledge structure. However, dividing work in too many work positions slows down the process: the throughput time is extended because of the additional waiting time each time the work position is switched.

Regarding the theory of work position breaks, work position knowledge structure and employee knowledge capacity, we modified our previously published model [ 22 ]. Figure 1 shows the steps of upgraded conceptual model. In the new model, we are measuring the effect of the partial corruption of a perfect process regarding better current knowledge alignment from the perspective of employee capacity load and from that of process efficiency; with corruption of the process, we are decreasing its efficiency due to new additional work position breaks, but with better knowledge alignment we are again increasing the process efficiency.

purpose of assignment model

Figure 1.

Knowledge‐based assignment conceptual model.

3.1. Measuring optimal knowledge alignment

We can observe in practice that if the current knowledge deficit is below the required knowledge, the result is less efficient work. Surprisingly, even an excess of actual knowledge over the required level of knowledge has the same result of over‐educated and intelligent employees becoming bored when they are executing routine activities [ 22 ]. Therefore, we modified a classic assignment linear integer problem of Kolman and Beck [ 3 ]. In the original optimization model ( Eq. (1) ), the value c ij represents the added value if employee i is allocated to work position j and the optimization function maximizes a profit.

We replaced the added value with the minimal knowledge deficit/surplus (absolute) gap of n key required knowledge K k . That means if we allocate an employee with his/her actual knowledge that is nearest to required knowledge on the work position (neither below nor above) then we have attained optimal knowledge alignment. The idea is to minimize the overall absolute key knowledge gap in the processes of the specific company ( Eq. (2) ).

where i… n = number of compared employees; j… n = number of different work positions; k… n = number of compared key knowledge; and |K k | = absolute difference between required and actual knowledge K .

In case of a new required ETO production change, this model can be used in the following situations:

If there is an ‘open’ set of available employees, all potential candidates in the optimization function can be matched. If the candidate knowledge gap is excessive (the appropriate level was not a subject of this research) the candidate is inappropriate for the work position because the performed work will be less efficient. This action has certain inherent costs (hiring, firing).

If there is time to provide additional education to employees, then the knowledge deficit can be decreased with additional knowledge. This action has additional education and training costs.

Existing employees can also be re‐assigned on existing work positions so that the company knowledge alignment is optimal.

Are these all the possible management actions?

3.2. Measuring the corruption of a perfect process

As an innovation, the effect of a partial corruption of a perfect process was tested, including its impact on a better knowledge alignment with the limitation that the set of employees must remain untouched. The hypothesis was that with a corruption of the process, a better knowledge alignment can be achieved and, consequently, the process efficiency can be increased, despite a simultaneous decrease of its efficiency due to new additional work position breaks. Moreover, there must be a point in the process corruption procedure after which the inefficiency of the process exceeds the benefits of better knowledge alignment.

The effect of work position breaks in the process is measured by structural index K wpb ( Eq. (3) ) [ 27 ]. This is a common key performance indicator in the theory of analysing business processes.

C wp counts all work position breaks in a specific process. P a counts all activities in that process. In this theory, the process slightly stops each time the next process activity is performed by different employee (on a different work position). This is one of practical causes for additional waiting time in the structure of throughput time of the process. There can be up to n − 1 work position breaks in a process of n sequential activities. According to the total number of all process activities, a small number of work position breaks means that the process is more efficient.

In practice, poor work quality can be found in the process due to inappropriate knowledge alignment. This generates additional feedback loops, activities are repeated and the result is additional work position breaks. Determining the causes of additional activity breaks is not a subject of this research.

3.3. Linking knowledge optimization and work position breaks

From the perspective of real business in ETO production, especially in this time of global economic crisis, accessibility to newly required knowledge is greatly limited due to extra educational costs. Downsizing also means that processes must be executed with fewer employees but at the same time the level of product quality must remain equal to previous process executions. Management typically reacts with reorganization of employees on activities. Furthermore, because we cannot split ‘the human body', his or her structure of knowledge and the time capacity of that knowledge cannot be optimal for current (ideal) process. In the theory, the problem can be easily solved if we have all current employees with all required knowledge of the process.

In ETO production, there are many specialists (e.g. electrical engineers, mechanical engineers, software engineers) with one or two dominant fields of knowledge of very high quality or strength, and few employees with wide spectra of high quality knowledge (senior engineers, mechatronics), because the latter are too expensive. However, they are also key employees for the ETO production; they have the big picture over each new product, and they can control the efficiency and quality of the overall production process. They are never ‘bottlenecks’ in the process with regard to knowledge, but they can be problematic with regard to the available time capacity of his/her specific required knowledge, because they are involved in many processes (ETO projects).

This phenomenon is also a result of the accumulation of many small organizational changes in processes over time. When the company was established (or after process re‐engineering project), processes and work positions were optimally designed for execution, employees were carefully selected and their knowledge was appropriate for knowledge requirements of work positions ( Figure 2 ).

purpose of assignment model

Figure 2.

Explanation of cutting activities when employee leaves the process.

Over time, new activities were slowly added to work positions, thus generating newly required knowledge. These changes were so small at the beginning that the management did not recognize them as knowledge problems or capacity problems. They had no effect on the employees except that the work position received one or two new key pieces of knowledge that employees had to obtain. After a few years of small changes, the work position and their key knowledge structure had expanded in such a way that the management and the employee did not know which pieces of knowledge of the work position were key for business success (e.g. a designer in ETO production is working 30% of his capacity on designing, 40% of the time he is occupied with routine paper work and another 30% he is attending meetings; if we require 100% design work, then this person’s design knowledge is a capacity bottleneck).

For such cases, we created a process and knowledge algorithm that is connected with a Key performance indicators (KPI) that measures process corruption as follows:

We must have input data of current processes (As‐Is), their activities and times, current work positions, required knowledge, current employees and their actual knowledge.

Then, we test the impact of employee reduction on the knowledge structure of process. We can start with required knowledge that is recognized as a process bottleneck or with knowledge that is missing at the new activity executor.

In first case, we reduce the process activity until only work with knowledge that was bottlenecked remains (i.e. knowledge that is available by only one employee). The removed parts of activity with removed knowledge are distributed among other employees in the process until the optimal knowledge alignment is reached ( Eq. (2) ). If some knowledge is insufficient with one employee, the part of activity requiring this knowledge is given to an employee who can cover it successfully. Then, we repeat this procedure until optimal process knowledge alignment is reached.

At the same time, we measure the impact of the activity‐cutting principle on the process ( Eq. (3) ). Because the better knowledge alignment improves the process efficiency, and the activity‐cutting principle reduces the process efficiency, the algorithm serves as a ‘trading’ point when we are balancing and allocating employee knowledge on activities within his/her available time capacity ( Figure 3 )

The final result (output) is a new process (To‐Be) that is feasible.

purpose of assignment model

Figure 3.

Possible outputs of algorithm for optimal knowledge alignment in ETO production.

Such a reorganized process is reengineered on the basis of knowledge.

4. Input data

4.1. processes, process activities, work positions and required knowledge.

In ETO production, at first sight, almost every product has its own and unique production process (routing). The fact is that activities (operations) among different processes are almost the same with regard to required knowledge. They differ mostly in the time required for execution. Because each product has its unique structure (bill of material), the process is named in practice as a project and its operations are named as activities. However, from the top‐down approach, each project in ETO production has almost the same set and the same sequence of project phases (with many sub‐activities), for example, (1) preparation, (2) design, (3) construction, and (4) testing. Therefore, it can be assumed that we have a standard form of the process (with activities) for almost all new products.

The same process activity could appear in a structure of many different processes and it is usually performed by the same work position (e.g. the same quality control activity with the same control parameters and tools for the whole product group). Moreover, one work position executes many activities. Until the system is well organized, a work position aggregates activities with approximately the same required set of knowledge. We defined that the required knowledge of a specific work position is represented as a set of knowledge from all executed activities. The sets of required knowledge of specific activity and their strength (Likert scale from 1 to 5; 5 meaning very important) are defined by the company’s internal and external experts. If a specific piece of knowledge is required for the execution of many activities, the model uses its maximal value as a required strength.

Complex work positions have a wide range of required knowledge, many of unimportant strength. Reducing the amount of various required knowledge can simplify the calculations. Simplification was achieved with the definition of key knowledge K k for each work position. If the strength of specific knowledge is above a specific level, it is treated as key knowledge of that work position.

In practice, the above‐described idea of capturing process activities and their required knowledge can be used for documenting As‐Is processes and, more importantly, for predicting future products, To‐Be processes and their expected required knowledge. This is of great importance for planning required knowledge of future ETO production. We can analyse the following:

Which activity among all activities of specific process is the most important from the key knowledge aspect, for example, to find the activity that is the ‘knowledge bottleneck’ in a process. Then we can combine this information with activity throughput rate and find an activity that is the real‐time capacity bottleneck in the process.

Which process (from among all of them) is the most important from the aspect of key knowledge, for example, for ranking all processes on the basis of the knowledge required (i.e. which process is currently the most important/crucial for the company from the knowledge view; this is important information for any ETO company in addition to the information regarding which process is crucial from capacity aspect).

In ETO production, each work position typically executes many different activities in many different processes. Therefore, we are interested which work position has the highest required strength of all key knowledge, for example, we can use this information as a basis for creating salary grades.

Which work positions in the company are exceptional from the knowledge aspect; a work position that has only one key type of knowledge but with a high required strength (e.g. CNC programmer) and which work positions are universal, that is, have many key types of required knowledge (e.g. ETO project manager).

Which type of knowledge is dominant (repeats at every executed activity) for the specific process (short‐term view) and for the whole company (long‐term view).

If we have proper data on all the above mentioned entities (processes, activities, work positions, knowledge requirements with required strength) for the present time, and if we have good knowledge requirements (definitions) of new products (especially required technology and activities), we can then simulate all future knowledge requirements in advance. Therefore, we can determine differences, for example, which work position must be knowledge‐reconstructed in the future; consequently, we can define projected mandatory changes in a structure of actual knowledge (employees).

4.2. Employees, actual knowledge and knowledge gap

Employees represent the basis for gathering current knowledge. There are many approaches to prove that an employee possesses specific knowledge and what the quality of it is (strength, level). In our approach, the 360° feedback method [ 28 ] was used. We used a list of all key required knowledge and assessed all employees (Likert scale from 0 to 5; 0 means knowledge not available). We gave employees the opportunity to extend this explicit knowledge with their tacit knowledge. In the context of our model, the term ‘tacit’ means the knowledge of an employee that is currently unknown to the company. Knowing about tacit knowledge is essential information when new processes have requirements for new types of knowledge. In practice, for optimization, it is also recommended that we have the knowledge data about potential candidates for employees.

The last step of input data preparation is a calculation of the key knowledge gap: each employee is compared to all work positions. We used the criterion c ij , explained in Eq. (2) . Any deviation of actual knowledge over and below the required knowledge is considered to be inappropriate and will lower process efficiency ( Table 1 ).

purpose of assignment model

Table 1.

Matching required and actual knowledge.

Table 1 shows a numerical example of matching the actual knowledge from k 1 to k 10 of employee E 1 on activities from a 1 to a 7 of work position W 1 (e.g. Product Manager of ETO project). The example is based on the real data of ETO company, Iskratel. Negative values (grey cells) represent deficits of employee knowledge strength compared to the required knowledge of a work position. The top rows represent activities of the work position with a sum of negative values. We can identify activities that the employee is not suitable to execute (e.g. a 1 , a 2 , a 3). The left column represents the required knowledge with the sum of negative values. We can identify the lack of employee knowledge (e.g. k 4 , k 8).

In practice, we could integrate in our model the effect of learning and forgetting knowledge over time (decreasing knowledge strength if employee is not using that type of knowledge in processes for a long time). Because of model simplicity, this was not a subject of this research.

We demonstrated the capabilities of our model on a small section of the real process that was described in Figure 3 . This numerical example is based on the data of company Iskratel. We performed simulations of this example with the same tools as the calculations of real cases ( Tables 2 and 3 ). Definitions of processes were recorded in the repository of Aris Toolset software [ 29 ]. Definitions of actual and required knowledge were recorded with MS Share Point and MS SQL. All data were then exported to the MS Excel analytical tool and solved with the WhatsBest [ 30 ] add‐on. MS Excel was also used as reporting tool.

purpose of assignment model

Table 2.

Input data of simulation scenarios.

purpose of assignment model

Table 3.

Simulation results.

5.1. Input data of simulation scenarios

We prepared four simulation scenarios as follows:

Scenario 0: As‐Is situation. In the current state, there are three employees assigned to their own work positions, and the processing of four activities with four different types of knowledge.

Scenario 1: employee on work position w 2 left the company. His/her activity a 2 is assigned to w 1 and a 3 to w 3 . This is typical management decision that does not generate an additional work position switch in the sequence of activities.

Scenario 2: use of our algorithm: achieving better knowledge alignment. Employee on w 3 has no knowledge K 3 that is required for execution of activity a 3 ; therefore, we split activity on a ′ 3 and a ″ 3 .

Scenario 3: is same as scenario 2, with one additional activity cut: we are searching for better balance of capacities between w 1 and w 3 . We split activity a 2 and we add knowledge K 2 to work position w 3 .

We can observe the things as follows:

In scenario 1, the result of management action on knowledge distribution among work positions: Knowledge K 1 and K 2 are moved from w 2 to w 1 . Knowledge K 3 and K 4 are moved from w 2 to w 3 . In case this is the same knowledge, we used the maximal strength as the required strength.

In scenario 2, the result of optimization algorithm: according to As‐Is situation, we moved from w 2 to w 1 knowledge K 1 and K 3 . This caused the rise of the strength of both types of knowledge for w 1 . We moved from w 2 to w 3 only knowledge K 4 , because the newly required strength is below the current required strength so it remains as it was for w 3 .

In scenario 3, the new activity cut did not cause any change in knowledge requirements (and strength) of w 1 and w 3 according to scenario 2.

5.2. Simulation results

We can see in Scenario 2 (implementing activity‐cutting principle) that we decreased the knowledge gap in Scenario 1. Now, we must ‘merge’ the results of optimal knowledge alignment to determine the impact of using the activity‐cutting principle on classic production optimization parameters (Scenario 3). Otherwise, we will break some lean manufacturing principles, for example, work balancing or eliminating waiting times. We added additional input data of As‐Is process in Table 4 .

The first assumption (i) in our evaluation is the amount of time that is added to process throughput time each time we change the work position (sending work from me to you etc.). In a real case, this could be measured exactly but in our demonstration we assumed a fixed value of 3 min.

The second assumption (ii) in our evaluation is the amount of time that is added to process throughput time because of non‐optimal knowledge alignment. In the As‐Is process, we know that we have 0.8 by the Likert non‐optimal knowledge alignment. If the times in this table were measured without being aware of this knowledge gap then the real throughput time is longer. In a real case, we could measure this by comparing the knowledge gap and the difference between planned and real production times (we have to exclude other causes for time extension first). In our demonstration, we assumed that every 0.1 of knowledge gap adds 1% to planned process throughput time.

6. Discussion

The main specialty of our model is that we permit changes of the process because the actual knowledge is not appropriate for it. However, we do not allow changes in the sequence of activities; we allow only changes in the sequence of using employees. The results are new partial activities in the process; consequently, the process workflow is jumping forwards and backwards between employees.

In our model, we removed all unnecessary knowledge from the work positions that were process ‘bottlenecks’ and replaced it with the new process structure; this was done by taking into consideration the availability of the actual knowledge of employees. The entire individual employee time capacity is now focused only on the utilization of knowledge that is bottlenecked. Other required knowledge in the process that is also present in other employees is removed from that work position. Employee capacity is now free of all non‐bottleneck knowledge, and this raises its capacity availability.

In our simulations, we used process time indicators to verify our assumption, even if we know, on the basis of real projects [ 31 , 32 ], that the best improvements in the ETO production are achieved on the process quality indicators. Time indicators are improved indirectly as a result of better product quality: fewer aftermarket repairs means less additional invested time in the total production time of the specific product. The starting point of all scenarios is the departure of one employee from the original process (Scenario 0). In Scenario 1, we reacted by implementing the lean manufacturing principle of capacity balancing: the work of the lost employee is divided among remaining employees on the basis of capacity levelling without additional work position breaks. This is a common management decision, and it is expressed as a load capacity per shift (%) indicator in Table 4 . This decision produced the knowledge gap of 1.7 ( Table 3 ).

In Scenario 2, we used our model with the activity‐cutting principle, and we reduced the knowledge gap by 0.4 or 23.5% ( Table 3 ). Most time indicators were also improved ( Table 5 ), except for the unbalanced load capacity per shift (%) indicator, and a lower process throughput rate (from 9 to 8 products per shift). Both indicators would have negative impact in mass or serial production, but according to the requirements of the ETO production it is more important that we achieved the desired quality of knowledge for production process because there are no repetitions (rather only unique, one‐time process executions). Management can balance these indicators and make the decision that is adopted for a specific process ‘case'.

purpose of assignment model

Table 4.

Production parameters of As‐Is process.

purpose of assignment model

Table 5.

The impact of activity‐cutting principle on production parameters in scenarios from 1 to 3.

In Scenario 3, we tested the total ignorance of the Lean Manufacturing principles, and we performed additional activity cuts for searching for even better knowledge alignment. We did not achieve a lower knowledge gap ( Table 3 ); we also worsened all time indicators according to Scenario 2 ( Table 5 ). This indicated that there is a point in the repetition of activity‐cutting procedure after which the process becomes so inefficient that is better to hire a new employee if the knowledge gap is still too high for achieving the appropriate quality of ETO products. Where that point is, what the gap should be and whether its value is of universal use or case sensitive are all subjects of future research.

7. Conclusions

In Make‐to‐Stock, Assemble‐to‐Order and Make‐to‐Order production, assignment models for the allocation of employees assume that tasks of production processes (or routings) are of a fixed structure. Managers believe they found the most ‘efficient’ process of producing products and, therefore, all current optimization models are searching for appropriate employees for that process. Small deviations between the required and the actual knowledge are resolved with alternative routing; its structure is also known and fixed in advance. All of this is possible because extra time is invested for testing and preparing optimal processes for many repetitions. Extra time is also invested for finding employees with proper knowledge for that processes. This is the case of known theoretical and practical solutions of worker assignment problem.

However, in ETO production, and consequently in all knowledge‐intensive processes or case‐like processes, we determined that processes are structured around the available knowledge of employees. Otherwise, the cost of searching for missing knowledge in the form of a new employee could exceed all the added value to the business. Process ‘cases’ are never the same and each process ‘repetition’ requires a process structure that is adapted to the actual knowledge and its capacity in the company; the bottleneck is not the capacity of the employee but the capacity of his/her specific actual knowledge. With the activity‐cutting principle in our assignment model, we proved that we can release the ‘hidden’ time capacity of employee who is the bottleneck so that we could remove all activities and consequently the knowledge that is also available with other employees from the work position. We recommend that this principle can be an option of all assignment models for the allocation of employees for ETO production and all other knowledge‐intense companies. This is our main contribution to the theory of modelling worker assignment problem.

Of course, this research raises additional questions for our future work, especially in the field of practical application: is knowledge the right category in our assignment model or is it better to use all measureable work habits and personal skills [ 33 ]? There are also assumptions in Table 4 that will need additional research and explanation. Nevertheless, our concept of redefining tasks with the goal of reaching optimal worker knowledge alignment could be used as a ‘smart’ reorganization principle for dynamic and real‐time redefinition of processes in companies, where the standardization of tasks is not the main factor of reaching efficiency.

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How to Write an Effective Assignment

At their base, all assignment prompts function a bit like a magnifying glass—they allow a student to isolate, focus on, inspect, and interact with some portion of your course material through a fixed lens of your choosing.

purpose of assignment model

The Key Components of an Effective Assignment Prompt

All assignments, from ungraded formative response papers all the way up to a capstone assignment, should include the following components to ensure that students and teachers understand not only the learning objective of the assignment, but also the discrete steps which they will need to follow in order to complete it successfully:

  • Preamble.  This situates the assignment within the context of the course, reminding students of what they have been working on in anticipation of the assignment and how that work has prepared them to succeed at it. 
  • Justification and Purpose.  This explains why the particular type or genre of assignment you’ve chosen (e.g., lab report, policy memo, problem set, or personal reflection) is the best way for you and your students to measure how well they’ve met the learning objectives associated with this segment of the course.
  • Mission.  This explains the assignment in broad brush strokes, giving students a general sense of the project you are setting before them. It often gives students guidance on the evidence or data they should be working with, as well as helping them imagine the audience their work should be aimed at.  
  • Tasks.  This outlines what students are supposed to do at a more granular level: for example, how to start, where to look, how to ask for help, etc. If written well, this part of the assignment prompt ought to function as a kind of "process" rubric for students, helping them to decide for themselves whether they are completing the assignment successfully.
  • Submission format.  This tells students, in appropriate detail, which stylistic conventions they should observe and how to submit their work. For example, should the assignment be a five-page paper written in APA format and saved as a .docx file? Should it be uploaded to the course website? Is it due by Tuesday at 5:00pm?

For illustrations of these five components in action, visit our gallery of annotated assignment prompts .

For advice about creative assignments (e.g. podcasts, film projects, visual and performing art projects, etc.), visit our  Guidance on Non-Traditional Forms of Assessment .

For specific advice on different genres of assignment, click below:

Response Papers

Problem sets, source analyses, final exams, concept maps, research papers, oral presentations, poster presentations.

  • Learner-Centered Design
  • Putting Evidence at the Center
  • What Should Students Learn?
  • Start with the Capstone
  • Gallery of Annotated Assignment Prompts
  • Scaffolding: Using Frequency and Sequencing Intentionally
  • Curating Content: The Virtue of Modules
  • Syllabus Design
  • Catalogue Materials
  • Making a Course Presentation Video
  • Teaching Teams
  • In the Classroom
  • Getting Feedback
  • Equitable & Inclusive Teaching
  • Advising and Mentoring
  • Teaching and Your Career
  • Teaching Remotely
  • Tools and Platforms
  • The Science of Learning
  • Bok Publications
  • Other Resources Around Campus

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Types of Assignments

Cristy Bartlett and Kate Derrington

Hand higghlighting notes on paper

Introduction

As discussed in the previous chapter, assignments are a common method of assessment at university. You may encounter many assignments over your years of study, yet some will look quite different from others. By recognising different types of assignments and understanding the purpose of the task, you can direct your writing skills effectively to meet task requirements. This chapter draws on the skills from the previous chapter, and extends the discussion, showing you where to aim with different types of assignments.

The chapter begins by exploring the popular essay assignment, with its two common categories, analytical and argumentative essays. It then examines assignments requiring case study responses , as often encountered in fields such as health or business. This is followed by a discussion of assignments seeking a report (such as a scientific report) and reflective writing assignments, common in nursing, education and human services. The chapter concludes with an examination of annotated bibliographies and literature reviews. The chapter also has a selection of templates and examples throughout to enhance your understanding and improve the efficacy of  your assignment writing skills.

Different Types of Written Assignments

At university, an essay is a common form of assessment. In the previous chapter Writing Assignments we discussed what was meant by showing academic writing in your assignments. It is important that you consider these aspects of structure, tone and language when writing an essay.

Components of an essay

Essays should use formal but reader friendly language and have a clear and logical structure. They must include research from credible academic sources such as peer reviewed journal articles and textbooks. This research should be referenced throughout your essay to support your ideas (See the chapter Working with Information ).

Diagram that allocates words of assignment

If you have never written an essay before, you may feel unsure about how to start.  Breaking your essay into sections and allocating words accordingly will make this process more manageable and will make planning the overall essay structure much easier.

  • An essay requires an introduction, body paragraphs and a conclusion.
  • Generally, an introduction and conclusion are approximately 10% each of the total word count.
  • The remaining words can then be divided into sections and a paragraph allowed for each area of content you need to cover.
  • Use your task and criteria sheet to decide what content needs to be in your plan

An effective essay introduction needs to inform your reader by doing four basic things:

Table 20.1 An effective essay

An effective essay body paragraph needs to:

An effective essay conclusion needs to:

Elements of essay in diagram

Common types of essays

You may be required to write different types of essays, depending on your study area and topic. Two of the most commonly used essays are analytical and argumentative .  The task analysis process discussed in the previous chapter Writing Assignments will help you determine the type of essay required. For example, if your assignment question uses task words such as analyse, examine, discuss, determine or explore, you would be writing an analytical essay . If your assignment question has task words such as argue, evaluate, justify or assess, you would be writing an argumentative essay . Despite the type of essay, your ability to analyse and think critically is important and common across genres.  

Analytical essays

Woman writing an essay

These essays usually provide some background description of the relevant theory, situation, problem, case, image, etcetera that is your topic. Being analytical requires you to look carefully at various components or sections of your topic in a methodical and logical way to create understanding.

The purpose of the analytical essay is to demonstrate your ability to examine the topic thoroughly. This requires you to go deeper than description by considering different sides of the situation, comparing and contrasting a variety of theories and the positives and negatives of the topic. Although in an analytical essay your position on the topic may be clear, it is not necessarily a requirement that you explicitly identify this with a thesis statement, as is the case with an argumentative essay. If you are unsure whether you are required to take a position, and provide a thesis statement, it is best to check with your tutor.

Argumentative essays

These essays require you to take a position on the assignment topic. This is expressed through your thesis statement in your introduction. You must then present and develop your arguments throughout the body of your assignment using logically structured paragraphs. Each of these paragraphs needs a topic sentence that relates to the thesis statement. In an argumentative essay, you must reach a conclusion based on the evidence you have presented.

Case Study Responses

Case studies are a common form of assignment in many study areas and students can underperform in this genre for a number of key reasons.

Students typically lose marks for not:

  • Relating their answer sufficiently to the case details
  • Applying critical thinking
  • Writing with clear structure
  • Using appropriate or sufficient sources
  • Using accurate referencing

When structuring your response to a case study, remember to refer to the case. Structure your paragraphs similarly to an essay paragraph structure but include examples and data from the case as additional evidence to support your points (see Figure 20.5 ). The colours in the sample paragraph below show the function of each component.

Diagram fo structure of case study

The Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) Code of Conduct and Nursing Standards (2018) play a crucial role in determining the scope of practice for nurses and midwives. A key component discussed in the code is the provision of person-centred care and the formation of therapeutic relationships between nurses and patients (NMBA, 2018). This ensures patient safety and promotes health and wellbeing (NMBA, 2018). The standards also discuss the importance of partnership and shared decision-making in the delivery of care (NMBA, 2018, 4). Boyd and Dare (2014) argue that good communication skills are vital for building therapeutic relationships and trust between patients and care givers. This will help ensure the patient is treated with dignity and respect and improve their overall hospital experience. In the case, the therapeutic relationship with the client has been compromised in several ways. Firstly, the nurse did not conform adequately to the guidelines for seeking informed consent before performing the examination as outlined in principle 2.3 (NMBA, 2018). Although she explained the procedure, she failed to give the patient appropriate choices regarding her health care. 

Topic sentence | Explanations using paraphrased evidence including in-text references | Critical thinking (asks the so what? question to demonstrate your student voice). | Relating the theory back to the specifics of the case. The case becomes a source of examples as extra evidence to support the points you are making.

Reports are a common form of assessment at university and are also used widely in many professions. It is a common form of writing in business, government, scientific, and technical occupations.

Reports can take many different structures. A report is normally written to present information in a structured manner, which may include explaining laboratory experiments, technical information, or a business case.  Reports may be written for different audiences including clients, your manager, technical staff, or senior leadership within an organisation. The structure of reports can vary, and it is important to consider what format is required. The choice of structure will depend upon professional requirements and the ultimate aims of the report. Consider some of the options in the table below (see Table 20.2 ).

Table 20.2 Explanations of different types of reports

Reflective writing.

Reflective flower

Reflective writing is a popular method of assessment at university. It is used to help you explore feelings, experiences, opinions, events or new information to gain a clearer and deeper understanding of your learning. A reflective writing task requires more than a description or summary.  It requires you to analyse a situation, problem or experience, consider what you may have learnt and evaluate how this may impact your thinking and actions in the future. This requires critical thinking, analysis, and usually the application of good quality research, to demonstrate your understanding or learning from a situation. Essentially, reflective practice is the process of looking back on past experiences and engaging with them in a thoughtful way and drawing conclusions to inform future experiences. The reflection skills you develop at university will be vital in the workplace to assist you to use feedback for growth and continuous improvement. There are numerous models of reflective writing and you should refer to your subject guidelines for your expected format. If there is no specific framework, a simple model to help frame your thinking is What? So what? Now what?   (Rolfe et al., 2001).

Diagram of bubbles that state what, now what, so what

Table 20.3 What? So What? Now What? Explained.

Gibb's reflective cycle of decription, feelings, evauation, analysis, action plan, cocnlusion

The Gibbs’ Reflective Cycle

The Gibbs’ Cycle of reflection encourages you to consider your feelings as part of the reflective process. There are six specific steps to work through. Following this model carefully and being clear of the requirements of each stage, will help you focus your thinking and reflect more deeply. This model is popular in Health.

The 4 R’s of reflective thinking

This model (Ryan and Ryan, 2013) was designed specifically for university students engaged in experiential learning.  Experiential learning includes any ‘real-world’ activities including practice led activities, placements and internships.  Experiential learning, and the use of reflective practice to heighten this learning, is common in Creative Arts, Health and Education.

Annotated Bibliography

What is it.

An annotated bibliography is an alphabetical list of appropriate sources (books, journals or websites) on a topic, accompanied by a brief summary, evaluation and sometimes an explanation or reflection on their usefulness or relevance to your topic. Its purpose is to teach you to research carefully, evaluate sources and systematically organise your notes. An annotated bibliography may be one part of a larger assessment item or a stand-alone assessment piece. Check your task guidelines for the number of sources you are required to annotate and the word limit for each entry.

How do I know what to include?

When choosing sources for your annotated bibliography it is important to determine:

  • The topic you are investigating and if there is a specific question to answer
  • The type of sources on which you need to focus
  • Whether they are reputable and of high quality

What do I say?

Important considerations include:

  • Is the work current?
  • Is the work relevant to your topic?
  • Is the author credible/reliable?
  • Is there any author bias?
  • The strength and limitations (this may include an evaluation of research methodology).

Annnotated bibliography example

Literature Reviews

It is easy to get confused by the terminology used for literature reviews. Some tasks may be described as a systematic literature review when actually the requirement is simpler; to review the literature on the topic but do it in a systematic way. There is a distinct difference (see Table 20.4 ). As a commencing undergraduate student, it is unlikely you would be expected to complete a systematic literature review as this is a complex and more advanced research task. It is important to check with your lecturer or tutor if you are unsure of the requirements.

Table 20.4 Comparison of Literature Reviews

Generally, you are required to establish the main ideas that have been written on your chosen topic. You may also be expected to identify gaps in the research. A literature review does not summarise and evaluate each resource you find (this is what you would do in an annotated bibliography). You are expected to analyse and synthesise or organise common ideas from multiple texts into key themes which are relevant to your topic (see Figure 20.10 ). Use a table or a spreadsheet, if you know how, to organise the information you find. Record the full reference details of the sources as this will save you time later when compiling your reference list (see Table 20.5 ).

Table of themes

Overall, this chapter has provided an introduction to the types of assignments you can expect to complete at university, as well as outlined some tips and strategies with examples and templates for completing them. First, the chapter investigated essay assignments, including analytical and argumentative essays. It then examined case study assignments, followed by a discussion of the report format. Reflective writing , popular in nursing, education and human services, was also considered. Finally, the chapter briefly addressed annotated bibliographies and literature reviews. The chapter also has a selection of templates and examples throughout to enhance your understanding and improve the efficacy of your assignment writing skills.

  • Not all assignments at university are the same. Understanding the requirements of different types of assignments will assist in meeting the criteria more effectively.
  • There are many different types of assignments. Most will require an introduction, body paragraphs and a conclusion.
  • An essay should have a clear and logical structure and use formal but reader friendly language.
  • Breaking your assignment into manageable chunks makes it easier to approach.
  • Effective body paragraphs contain a topic sentence.
  • A case study structure is similar to an essay, but you must remember to provide examples from the case or scenario to demonstrate your points.
  • The type of report you may be required to write will depend on its purpose and audience. A report requires structured writing and uses headings.
  • Reflective writing is popular in many disciplines and is used to explore feelings, experiences, opinions or events to discover what learning or understanding has occurred. Reflective writing requires more than description. You need to be analytical, consider what has been learnt and evaluate the impact of this on future actions.
  • Annotated bibliographies teach you to research and evaluate sources and systematically organise your notes. They may be part of a larger assignment.
  • Literature reviews require you to look across the literature and analyse and synthesise the information you find into themes.

Gibbs, G. (1988). Learning by doing: A guide to teaching and learning methods. Further Education Unit, Oxford Brookes University, Oxford.

Rolfe, G., Freshwater, D., Jasper, M. (2001). Critical reflection in nursing and the helping professions: a user’s guide . Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Ryan, M. & Ryan, M. (2013). Theorising a model for teaching and assessing reflective learning in higher education.  Higher Education Research & Development , 32(2), 244-257. doi: 10.1080/07294360.2012.661704

Academic Success Copyright © 2021 by Cristy Bartlett and Kate Derrington is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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Purdue Online Writing Lab Purdue OWL® College of Liberal Arts

Understanding Writing Assignments

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This resource describes some steps you can take to better understand the requirements of your writing assignments. This resource works for either in-class, teacher-led discussion or for personal use.

How to Decipher the Paper Assignment

Many instructors write their assignment prompts differently. By following a few steps, you can better understand the requirements for the assignment. The best way, as always, is to ask the instructor about anything confusing.

  • Read the prompt the entire way through once. This gives you an overall view of what is going on.
  • Underline or circle the portions that you absolutely must know. This information may include due date, research (source) requirements, page length, and format (MLA, APA, CMS).
  • Underline or circle important phrases. You should know your instructor at least a little by now - what phrases do they use in class? Does he repeatedly say a specific word? If these are in the prompt, you know the instructor wants you to use them in the assignment.
  • Think about how you will address the prompt. The prompt contains clues on how to write the assignment. Your instructor will often describe the ideas they want discussed either in questions, in bullet points, or in the text of the prompt. Think about each of these sentences and number them so that you can write a paragraph or section of your essay on that portion if necessary.
  • Rank ideas in descending order, from most important to least important. Instructors may include more questions or talking points than you can cover in your assignment, so rank them in the order you think is more important. One area of the prompt may be more interesting to you than another.
  • Ask your instructor questions if you have any.

After you are finished with these steps, ask yourself the following:

  • What is the purpose of this assignment? Is my purpose to provide information without forming an argument, to construct an argument based on research, or analyze a poem and discuss its imagery?
  • Who is my audience? Is my instructor my only audience? Who else might read this? Will it be posted online? What are my readers' needs and expectations?
  • What resources do I need to begin work? Do I need to conduct literature (hermeneutic or historical) research, or do I need to review important literature on the topic and then conduct empirical research, such as a survey or an observation? How many sources are required?
  • Who - beyond my instructor - can I contact to help me if I have questions? Do you have a writing lab or student service center that offers tutorials in writing?

(Notes on prompts made in blue )

Poster or Song Analysis: Poster or Song? Poster!

Goals : To systematically consider the rhetorical choices made in either a poster or a song. She says that all the time.

Things to Consider: ah- talking points

  • how the poster addresses its audience and is affected by context I'll do this first - 1.
  • general layout, use of color, contours of light and shade, etc.
  • use of contrast, alignment, repetition, and proximity C.A.R.P. They say that, too. I'll do this third - 3.
  • the point of view the viewer is invited to take, poses of figures in the poster, etc. any text that may be present
  • possible cultural ramifications or social issues that have bearing I'll cover this second - 2.
  • ethical implications
  • how the poster affects us emotionally, or what mood it evokes
  • the poster's implicit argument and its effectiveness said that was important in class, so I'll discuss this last - 4.
  • how the song addresses its audience
  • lyrics: how they rhyme, repeat, what they say
  • use of music, tempo, different instruments
  • possible cultural ramifications or social issues that have bearing
  • emotional effects
  • the implicit argument and its effectiveness

These thinking points are not a step-by-step guideline on how to write your paper; instead, they are various means through which you can approach the subject. I do expect to see at least a few of them addressed, and there are other aspects that may be pertinent to your choice that have not been included in these lists. You will want to find a central idea and base your argument around that. Additionally, you must include a copy of the poster or song that you are working with. Really important!

I will be your audience. This is a formal paper, and you should use academic conventions throughout.

Length: 4 pages Format: Typed, double-spaced, 10-12 point Times New Roman, 1 inch margins I need to remember the format stuff. I messed this up last time =(

Academic Argument Essay

5-7 pages, Times New Roman 12 pt. font, 1 inch margins.

Minimum of five cited sources: 3 must be from academic journals or books

  • Design Plan due: Thurs. 10/19
  • Rough Draft due: Monday 10/30
  • Final Draft due: Thurs. 11/9

Remember this! I missed the deadline last time

The design plan is simply a statement of purpose, as described on pages 40-41 of the book, and an outline. The outline may be formal, as we discussed in class, or a printout of an Open Mind project. It must be a minimum of 1 page typed information, plus 1 page outline.

This project is an expansion of your opinion editorial. While you should avoid repeating any of your exact phrases from Project 2, you may reuse some of the same ideas. Your topic should be similar. You must use research to support your position, and you must also demonstrate a fairly thorough knowledge of any opposing position(s). 2 things to do - my position and the opposite.

Your essay should begin with an introduction that encapsulates your topic and indicates 1 the general trajectory of your argument. You need to have a discernable thesis that appears early in your paper. Your conclusion should restate the thesis in different words, 2 and then draw some additional meaningful analysis out of the developments of your argument. Think of this as a "so what" factor. What are some implications for the future, relating to your topic? What does all this (what you have argued) mean for society, or for the section of it to which your argument pertains? A good conclusion moves outside the topic in the paper and deals with a larger issue.

You should spend at least one paragraph acknowledging and describing the opposing position in a manner that is respectful and honestly representative of the opposition’s 3 views. The counterargument does not need to occur in a certain area, but generally begins or ends your argument. Asserting and attempting to prove each aspect of your argument’s structure should comprise the majority of your paper. Ask yourself what your argument assumes and what must be proven in order to validate your claims. Then go step-by-step, paragraph-by-paragraph, addressing each facet of your position. Most important part!

Finally, pay attention to readability . Just because this is a research paper does not mean that it has to be boring. Use examples and allow your opinion to show through word choice and tone. Proofread before you turn in the paper. Your audience is generally the academic community and specifically me, as a representative of that community. Ok, They want this to be easy to read, to contain examples I find, and they want it to be grammatically correct. I can visit the tutoring center if I get stuck, or I can email the OWL Email Tutors short questions if I have any more problems.

WisdomAnswer

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What is assignment model and its application?

Table of Contents

  • 1 What is assignment model and its application?
  • 2 What is the purpose of assignment model?
  • 3 What is assignment model in operation research?
  • 4 What types of business problems can be solved using assignment model?
  • 5 Is assignment model a special case of LPP?
  • 6 What are the characteristics of assignment problem?
  • 7 What is an assignment model?
  • 8 What is assignment problem in linear programming?

The Assignment Model is a classic integer linear programming model of 0-1 and it is widely applied in dealing with assignment allocation, personnel selection, the programming of transport system and other practical issues.

What is the purpose of assignment model?

The assignment method is used to determine what resources are assigned to which department, machine, or center of operation in the production process. The goal is to assign resources in such a way to enhance production efficiency, control costs, and maximize profits.

What is assignment model in linear programming?

→ Assignment model is a special application of Linear Programming Problem (LPP), in which the main objective is to assign the work or task to a group of individuals such that; → In assignment problem, the cost of performing each task by each individual is known.

What are the assumptions of an assignment models?

Assumptions in Assignment Problem

  • Number of jobs is equal to the number of machines or persons.
  • Each man or machine is assigned only one job.
  • Each man or machine is independently capable of handling any job to be done.
  • Assigning criteria is clearly specified (minimizing cost or maximizing profit).

What is assignment model in operation research?

Assignment models is one of topics of operations research. It consists of assigning a specific (person or worker) to a specific (task or job) assuming that there are the number of persons equal to the number of tasks available.

What types of business problems can be solved using assignment model?

The assignment model is useful in solving problems such as, assignment of machines to jobs, assignment of salesmen to sales territories, travelling salesman problem, etc. It may be noted that with n facilities and n jobs, there are n! possible assignments.

What do you understand by assignment model also discuss its objective?

The main objective of assignment problem is to minimize the total time to complete a set of tasks, or to maximize skill ratings, or to minimize the cost of the assignments. The assignment problem requires that there be as many facilities as tasks, say n of each.

What are the objectives of assignment?

Objectives of assignment writing

  • Assignment writing allows students to communicate their ideas.
  • Writing enhances abilities regarding English usage.
  • Infuse paragraphs and short essays in assignment writing.
  • Add revision process in homework writing.
  • Understand the importance of the peer-review process.

Is assignment model a special case of LPP?

ADVERTISEMENTS: Assignment problem is a special type of linear programming problem which deals with the allocation of the various resources to the various activities on one to one basis. It does it in such a way that the cost or time involved in the process is minimum and profit or sale is maximum.

What are the characteristics of assignment problem?

One of the important characteristics of assignment problem is that only one job (or worker) is assigned to one machine (or project). Hence the number of sources are equal the number of destinations and each requirement and capacity value is exactly one unit.

What is balanced assignment model?

Balanced Assignment Problem is an assignment problem where the number of facilities is equal to the number of jobs. Unbalanced Assignment Problem: Unbalanced Assignment problem is an assignment problem where the number of facilities is not equal to the number of jobs.

Which is the well known method of solving an assignment problem?

The method used for solving an assignment problem is called Hungarian method. The Hungarian method is a combinatorial optimization algorithm that solves the assignment problem in polynomial time and which anticipated later primal-dual methods.

What is an assignment model?

  • ASSIGNMENT MODEL
  • ASSIGNMENT MODEL • Assigning of jobs to factors (men or machine) to get most optimum output or get least cost.
  • OBJECTIVES (i) No workers is more than one job.

What is assignment problem in linear programming?

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Reflection Toolkit

Introducing reflection as an assignment

Using reflective assignments can be a great way of synthesising learning and challenging the status quo. This page outlines some of the things to keep in mind when posing reflective assignments.

In higher education or professional develop initiatives it is very common to have some sort of assignment. These are typically written but can also take other forms. This page will go through the main considerations for posing reflective assignments.

The main points covered are:

  • finding and communicating the purpose of your assignment
  • being clear both to yourself and to reflector what you want in the assignment
  • the difference between ‘reflection’ and ‘evidence of reflection’
  • choosing your criteria
  • providing students support and spending time practicing can be valuable as most students are new to reflection.

Back to alignment – find the purpose of the assignment and communicate it

It should be clear to participants or students what the purpose of the assignment is. Why are you asking them to do this particular assignment? You will have had to think about the value of it.

This value can be described in the guidelines of the reflective assignment where you communicate how it will help reflectors either evidence their learning or obtain learning outcomes. From the guidelines it should be clear to students what the value of completing and doing well on the assignment is.

Be clear what you are asking

When posing a reflective assignment it is very important that you know from the beginning exactly what you are asking. Reflective writing/responses can typically take on two distinct forms:

  • reflection,
  • evidence of reflection.

The distinction between the two is vital when deciding the type of assignment you want to pose. These are outlined below.

Reflection - the actual process of examining thoughts

If you want to see the detailed aspects of reflectors’ thought processes, and want to follow each step in their reasoning, concerns, and learnings, ask the reflectors to submit their actual reflections.

The benefits is that you ensure that reflectors go through the process themselves and you can directly assess the quality. As this is the actual process we want the reflectors to complete, asking for raw reflections is the easiest way to ensure or get evidence that the process is happening.

One challenge when posing this kind of assignment is that some people might find it too personal to share this intimate process – it can become self-disclosure. A personal reflective account can be uncomfortable to show to anyone, and even more so to someone who is in a position of authority.

Evidence of reflection

In contrast, ‘evidence of reflection’ is documenting the effects of reflection, but does not require documenting the process explicitly.

Hence, rather than writing the thoughts and feelings of a situation, the reflector will state the context and what learning they found in the experience. In the purest form, there is no need to document any challenging or self-disclosing feelings. It is more akin to describing the effects of a reflection and rationally, in contrast to emotionally, explaining why the learning is valuable.

The benefit of this is that reflectors are less likely to feel that they are self-disclosing. However, when we are looking at evidence of reflection rather than reflection itself, it is more difficult to assess the reflectors ability to actually reflect. Therefore, good evidence of reflection is when learning is explicitly stated and it is highlighted how the learning will be used in the future.

It is important to be aware that there is a risk, albeit minimal, that a reflector can produce good evidence of reflection, without having done any reflection. For example, a reflector may write that they learned to start assignments earlier and will do so in the future, without actually having engaged with reflection at all – they might just guess that ‘starting assignments earlier’ is a possible conclusion you want to see.

Most assignments are a balance of ‘reflection’ and ‘evidence of reflection’

In reality, very few assignments will be a either pure ‘reflection’ or ‘evidence of reflection’. The goal for you is to find the right balance. Once you know what you want, you should be clear to reflectors about what being successful in the assignment looks like.

The easiest way to demonstrate what good looks like is to provide the reflectors with clear guidelines and examples of the type of reflections you are looking for. You can either write examples yourself or have a look through the Reflectors’ Toolkit, where each of the models have at least one example. You will likely find an example there that can be helpful for you.

List of tools for reflection (in Reflectors’ Toolkit) (LINK)

Reflection is just like any other assignment – avoid vagueness

The need for clear assignment directions is essential in all areas of higher education, however having the discussion specifically for reflection is important. This is because when posing a reflective assignment it can feel easy to consider reflection as ‘special’ and separate from common ‘good academic practice’ and therefore that it does not require the same levels of direction as a general assignment. Reflection should be considered on equal terms with general academic practice and will often require more support as many reflectors are new to the concept.

One reason vague reflection assignments are easy to pose is that they do not seem to restrict the reflectors’ freedom about how to reflect. In contrast, if we provide them with clear requirements and directions it might seem that we do restrict reflection. There is an element of truth in that. If we require as written assignment using a specific model of reflection, we do take some freedom away from the reflectors, at least in how they present their reflections to us. In practice, they can easily produce a private reflection and restructure it according to your question and requirements.

If we do not give the reflectors the structure they need, one challenge is that a high proportion of them might produce reflections not meeting our ideas of sufficient or good.

Posing a reflective assignment saying ‘Reflect on your development and learning in the course in 1000 words’ might seem like a fair question to ask. But compare that to asking them to ‘write an academic essay about the concepts you learned in this course in 1000 words’ and it should be clear why guidelines are important. It is easy to imagine how students would struggle to prioritise and produce an essay with relevant content from the vague essay prompt. This is similar for a vaguely posed reflective assignment without accompanying clear guidelines. How are the reflectors going to guess what we expect from them?

Most people are new to structured reflection

In higher education, most people have an idea of what an essay is supposed to look like because we are taught essay writing from an early age in school. In contrast, most people have never done structured reflection before university, and then are not likely to be thoroughly instructed in how to do or present it. It follows that if we are vague in our instructions we may receive assignments of very varying qualities.

Thus, to be fair to the reflectors and to us as facilitators, be clear and have clear guidelines available. You can ask very broad reflective questions, but you should be ready to support the reflectors and both your criteria and rubrics (if you chose to assess) should be extremely robust.

Providing training/introductions to students is useful

As most people are new to reflection starting in university, when you introduce reflection it can helpful to: provide a thorough written guide of what reflection is, provide people with resources (for example the Reflectors’ Toolkit), and/or spend time in person introducing reflectors to structured reflection and what you expect from reflections.

Find your criteria and your rubric

Once you have a clear assignment, it is important you think about what you want to measure it against, i.e. the criteria. This discussion is also highlighted in the ‘Assessing reflection’ section of the Facilitators’ Toolkit with specific criteria as suggestions.

Moreover, if you decide to use summative assessment for the assignments, you will need to have a clear rubric (criteria broken down into levels of performance). It is good practice to publish both the criteria and rubric to the reflectors prior to assessing them.

To see at what point criteria and rubrics become essential, see ‘Should I assess?’

Assessing reflection (within the Facilitators’ Toolkit)

Should I assess? (within the Facilitators’ Toolkit)

Back to 'How do I introduce reflection?'

purpose of assignment model

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Six Characteristics of a Model Assignment

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How many times have you had a student submit an assignment with few sources, poorly written and several days late? Probably happens more times than not. There are six characteristics of a model assignment which will not only alleviate instructor frustration, but also strengthen student writing and time management skills.

  • Create assignments which directly relate to accomplishing the course objective. A model assignment maintains a clear goal toward accomplishing a course objective. For adult online learners, course goals relate less to theory or original research and more to practical approaches for day-to-day application or career advancement.
  • More details equals higher quality of student final product. Since adult online learners come from diverse backgrounds, do not assume students will understand the purpose of the assignment. Be prepared to tell students what you expect (e.g. word count, citation format, number of sources, etc.) and how it should be done (e.g. upload to Moodle versus email attachment).
  • Give incremental due dates. Large comprehensive assignments due at the course finality leads to unfocused, or even plagiarized, writing. Break down a large assignment into several smaller assignments due sporadically throughout the term. In turn, students receive valuable feedback incrementally as they progress throughout the course.
  • Allow students to brainstorm for topics. Allow students to brainstorm topics or share with other students using the Moodle Discussion Board form. Or consider offering students a choice among 3-4 essay questions, case scenarios, or case studies. By allowing student choice, students will find a greater connection in their writing which in turn will lead to better final submissions.
  • Give examples. In addition to clear directions, students also appreciate a visual piece of the final product. If you decide to use another student’s work, be sure to ask permission to use from the student. Post model assignments on your Moodle course shell.
  • Share student evaluation tools. Share rubrics, or other evaluation tool, early in the assignment rather than at the end so students may clarify expectations firsthand. Post rubrics or evaluation tools on your Moodle course shell so students may refer to it when necessary.

A survey conducted by the Associated Press has revealed that around 58% of parents feel that their child has been given the right amount of assignments. Educators are thrilled that the majority has supported the thought of allocating assignments, and they think that it is just right.

However, the question arises when students question the importance of giving assignments for better growth. Studies have shown that students often get unsuccessful in understanding the importance of assignments.

What key purpose does an assignment have? They often question how an assignment could be beneficial. Let us explain why a teacher thinks it is best to allot assignments. The essential functions of assigning tasks or giving assignments come from many intentions. 

purpose of assignment model

What is the Importance of Assignment- For Students 

The importance of the assignment is not a new concept. The principle of allocating assignments stems from students’ learning process. It helps teachers to evaluate the student’s understanding of the subject. Assignments develop different practical skills and increase their knowledge base significantly. As per educational experts, mastering a topic is not an impossible task to achieve if they learn and develop these skills.  

Cognitive enhancement 

While doing assignments, students learn how to conduct research on subjects and comprise the data for using the information in the given tasks. Working on your assignment helps you learn diverse subjects, compare facts, and understand related concepts. It assists your brain in processing information and memorizing the required one. This exercise enhances your brain activity and directly impacts cognitive growth. 

Ensured knowledge gain   

When your teacher gives you an assignment, they intend to let you know the importance of the assignment. Working on it helps students to develop their thoughts on particular subjects. The idea supports students to get deep insights and also enriches their learning. Continuous learning opens up the window for knowledge on diverse topics. The learning horizon expanded, and students gained expertise in subjects over time.      

Improve students’ writing pattern 

Experts have revealed in a study that most students find it challenging to complete assignments as they are not good at writing. With proper assistance or teacher guidance, students can practice writing repetitively.

It encourages them to try their hands at different writing styles, and gradually they will improve their own writing pattern and increase their writing speed. It contributes to their writing improvement and makes it certain that students get a confidence boost. 

Increased focus on studies 

When your teachers allocate a task to complete assignments, it is somehow linked to your academic growth, especially for the university and grad school students. Therefore, it demands ultimate concentration to establish your insights regarding the topics of your assignments.

This process assists you in achieving good growth in your academic career and aids students in learning concepts quickly with better focus. It ensures that you stay focused while doing work and deliver better results.         

Build planning & organization tactics

Planning and task organization are as necessary as writing the assignment. As per educational experts, when you work on assignments, you start planning to structurize the content and what type of information you will use and then organize your workflow accordingly. This process supports you in building your skill to plan things beforehand and organize them to get them done without hassles.   

Adopt advanced research technique

Assignments expand the horizon of research skills among students. Learners explore different topics, gather diverse knowledge on different aspects of a particular topic, and use useful information on their tasks. Students adopt advanced research techniques to search for relevant information from diversified sources and identify correct facts and stats through these steps.  

Augmenting reasoning & analytical skills 

Crafting an assignment has one more sign that we overlook. Experts have enough proof that doing an assignment augments students’ reasoning abilities. They started thinking logically and used their analytical skills while writing their assignments. It offers clarity of the assignment subject, and they gradually develop their own perspective about the subject and offer that through assignments.     

Boost your time management skills 

Time management is one of the key skills that develop through assignments. It makes them disciplined and conscious of the value of time during their study years. However, students often delay as they get enough time. Set deadlines help students manage their time. Therefore, students understand that they need to invest their time wisely and also it’s necessary to complete assignments on time or before the deadline.  

Assignment Benefits

What is the Importance of Assignment- Other Functions From Teacher’s Perspective: 

Develop an understanding between teacher and students  .

Teachers ensure that students get clear instructions from their end through the assignment as it is necessary. They also get a glimpse of how much students have understood the subject. The clarity regarding the topic ensures that whether students have mastered the topic or need further clarification to eliminate doubts and confusion. It creates an understanding between the teaching faculty and learners. 

Clarity- what is the reason for choosing the assignment 

The Reason for the assignment allocated to students should be clear. The transparency of why teachers have assigned the task enables learners to understand why it is essential for their knowledge growth. With understanding, the students try to fulfill the objective. Overall, it fuels their thoughts that successfully evoke their insights. 

Building a strong relationship- Showing how to complete tasks 

When a teacher shows students how to complete tasks, it builds a strong student-teacher relationship. Firstly, students understand the teacher’s perspective and why they are entrusted with assignments. Secondly, it also encourages them to handle problems intelligently. This single activity also offers them the right direction in completing their tasks within the shortest period without sacrificing quality. 

Get a view of what students have understood and their perspective 

Assigning a task brings forth the students’ understanding of a particular subject. Moreover, when they attempt an assignment, it reflects their perspective on the specific subject. The process is related to the integration of appreciative learning principles. In this principle, teachers see how students interpret the subject. Students master the subject effectively, whereas teachers find the evaluation process relatively easy when done correctly. 

Chance to clear doubts or confusion regarding the assignment  

Mastering a subject needs practice and deep understanding from a teacher’s perspective. It could be possible only if students dedicate their time to assignments. While doing assignments, students could face conceptual difficulties, or some parts could confuse them. Through the task, teachers can clear their doubts and confusion and ensure that they fully understand what they are learning.   

Offering individualistic provisions to complete an assignment 

Students are divergent, and their thoughts are diverse in intelligence, temperaments, and aptitudes. Their differences reflect in their assignments and the insight they present. This process gives them a fair understanding of students’ future and their scope to grow. It also helps teachers to understand their differences and recognize their individualistic approaches.  

Conclusion:

You have already become acquainted with the factors that translate what is the importance of assignments in academics. It plays a vital role in increasing the students’ growth multifold. 

TutorBin is one of the best assignment help for students. Our experts connect students to improve their learning opportunities. Therefore, it creates scopes of effective education for all, irrespective of location, race, and education system. We have a strong team of tutors, and our team offers diverse services, including lab work, project reports, writing services, and presentations.

We often got queries like what is the importance of assignments to students. Likewise, if you have something similar in mind regarding your assignment & homework, comment below. We will answer you. In conclusion, we would like to remind you that if you want to know how our services help achieve academic success, search www.tutorbin.com . Our executive will get back to you shortly with their expert recommendations. 

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  3. Assignment Model Diagonal Rule by Hungarian method in Amharic

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  6. Individual Assignment UL00602 Organisation Management

COMMENTS

  1. How Do I Create Meaningful and Effective Assignments?

    First, you will need to articulate the purpose of the assignment. Even though you know why the assignment is important and what it is meant to accomplish, you cannot assume that your students will intuit that purpose. ... Do consider providing models- both successful and unsuccessful models (Miller, 2007). These models could be provided by ...

  2. Assignment Model

    What is Assignment Model? → Assignment model is a special application of Linear Programming Problem (LPP), in which the main objective is to assign the work or task to a group of individuals such that;. i) There is only one assignment. ii) All the assignments should be done in such a way that the overall cost is minimized (or profit is maximized, incase of maximization).

  3. Transportation and Assignment Models in Operations Research

    Transportation and assignment models are special purpose algorithms of the linear programming. The simplex method of Linear Programming Problems (LPP) proves to be inefficient is certain situations like determining optimum assignment of jobs to persons, supply of materials from several supply points to several destinations and the like.

  4. Designing Assignments for Learning

    Communicate about the assignment Share the purpose, task, audience, expectations, and criteria for the assignment. Students may have expectations about assessments and how they will be graded that is informed by their prior experiences completing high-stakes assessments, so be transparent. Tell your students why you are asking them to do this ...

  5. PDF Chapter 5: Linear Programming: Transportation and Assignment Models

    transportation model can be extended to other areas of operation, including, among others, inventory control, employment scheduling, and personnel assignment. The transportation problem (model) seeks the determination of a transportation plan of a single commodity from a number of sources (origins) to a number of destinations. It involves the

  6. Creating Assignments

    Specify the purpose of the assignment. If students are unclear about the goals or purpose of the assignment, they may make unnecessary mistakes. For example, if students believe an assignment is focused on summarizing research as opposed to evaluating it, they may seriously miscalculate the task and put their energies in the wrong place.

  7. PDF How Do I Create Meaningful and Effective Assignments?

    models could be provided by past students, or models you have created yourself. You could even ask students to evaluate the models themselves using the determined evaluation criteria, helping them to visualize the final product, think critically about how to complete the assignment, and ideally, recognize success in their own work.

  8. The Assignment Model

    The assignment model is a special form of a linear programming model that is similar to the transportation model. There are differences, however. In the assignment model, the supply at each source and the demand at each destination are each limited to one unit. An assignment model is for a special form of transportation problem in which all ...

  9. Operations Research with R

    Assignment Problem. The assignment problem is a special case of linear programming problem; it is one of the fundamental combinational optimization problems in the branch of optimization or operations research in mathematics. Its goal consists in assigning m resources (usually workers) to n tasks (usually jobs) one a one to one basis while ...

  10. Designing Assignments

    The purpose of this assignment is to help you synthesize some difficult political theory and identify the profound differences among some key theorists. The best papers will focus on a single shared aspect of the theorists' respective political ideologies, such as how property is distributed, whether it should be owned, or what role it serves ...

  11. Understanding Assignments

    What this handout is about. The first step in any successful college writing venture is reading the assignment. While this sounds like a simple task, it can be a tough one. This handout will help you unravel your assignment and begin to craft an effective response. Much of the following advice will involve translating typical assignment terms ...

  12. Assignment Method

    Assignment Method Explained. The assignment method in operation research is a strategy for allocating organizational resources to tasks to increase profit via efficiency gains, cost reductions, and improved handling of operations that might create bottlenecks.It is an operations management tool that, by allocating jobs to the appropriate individual, minimizes expenses, time, and effort.

  13. Assignment Method: Examples of How Resources Are Allocated

    Assignment Method: A method of allocating organizational resources. The assignment method is used to determine what resources are assigned to which department, machine or center of operation in ...

  14. Knowledge‐Based Assignment Model for Allocation of Employees in

    The purpose of this model is to assign knowledge workers to every task and arrange them (the tasks) in order to minimize the total time required to finish all projects. ... There are also worker assignment models originating in production layout and shifts. McDonald et al. developed a worker assignment model to evaluate a lean manufacturing ...

  15. Responsibility assignment matrix

    In business and project management, a responsibility assignment matrix (RAM), also known as RACI matrix (/ ˈ r eɪ s i /) or linear responsibility chart (LRC), is a model that describes the participation by various roles in completing tasks or deliverables for a project or business process.RACI is an acronym derived from the four key responsibilities most typically used: responsible ...

  16. How to Write an Effective Assignment

    Justification and Purpose. This explains why the particular type or genre of assignment you've chosen (e.g., lab report, policy memo, problem set, or personal reflection) is the best way for you and your students to measure how well they've met the learning objectives associated with this segment of the course. Mission.

  17. Types of Assignments

    Types of Assignments Cristy Bartlett and Kate Derrington. Figure 20.1 By recognising different types of assignments and understanding the purpose of the task, you can direct your writing skills effectively to meet task requirements. Image by Armin Rimoldi used under CC0 licence. Introduction. As discussed in the previous chapter, assignments are a common method of assessment at university.

  18. Understanding Writing Assignments

    The design plan is simply a statement of purpose, as described on pages 40-41 of the book, and an outline. The outline may be formal, as we discussed in class, or a printout of an Open Mind project. It must be a minimum of 1 page typed information, plus 1 page outline. This project is an expansion of your opinion editorial.

  19. PDF Writing Your Assignment

    is right or wrong, so write the assignment in whichever order feels best for you. The introduction might be up to around 10% of the word count (e.g. up to 200 words for a 2000 word assignment). Don't forget your conclusion At the end of the assignment, you need to summarise the key points you've made. You won't be introducing

  20. What is assignment model and its application?

    What is the purpose of assignment model? The assignment method is used to determine what resources are assigned to which department, machine, or center of operation in the production process. The goal is to assign resources in such a way to enhance production efficiency, control costs, and maximize profits. ...

  21. Introducing reflection as an assignment

    Back to alignment - find the purpose of the assignment and communicate it. ... If we require as written assignment using a specific model of reflection, we do take some freedom away from the reflectors, at least in how they present their reflections to us. In practice, they can easily produce a private reflection and restructure it according ...

  22. Six Characteristics of a Model Assignment

    A model assignment maintains a clear goal toward accomplishing a course objective. For adult online learners, course goals relate less to theory or original research and more to practical approaches for day-to-day application or career advancement. ... Since adult online learners come from diverse backgrounds, do not assume students will ...

  23. What is the Importance of Assignment- For Students

    The importance of the assignment is not a new concept. The principle of allocating assignments stems from students' learning process. It helps teachers to evaluate the student's understanding of the subject. Assignments develop different practical skills and increase their knowledge base significantly.

  24. Fractal Markets

    3 likes, 0 comments - factalmarkets on November 6, 2023: "GBPUSD Homework Assignment Every week in our discord server we assign our members with all pivot ...