It’s coming up to mid-semester, and perhaps you’re busy drafting an assignment that’s due soon. Your teachers will  commonly set an assignment for mid-semester. It’s usually a relatively minor first assignment to enable you to apply new skills and knowledge, and receive feedback before you tackle a major assignment at the end of the semester. 

Okay, good to know, but we’ve been talking to students lately who often want reassurance that they’re on track. It’s understandable in this situation—studying at home, meeting via zoom. So, we’ve put ourselves in your shoes to give you some advice to help you ensure you’re on track for the mid-semester assignment. 

1. Understand what the assignment is asking you to do

It may seem obvious but this is the first step. Your unit’s Moodle page has the assignment instructions. Read these carefully. Your teacher will also publish marking criteria on the Moodle unit page — this may also be called a rubric. The marking criteria outline the aspects of the assignment that will be assessed. Read the marking criteria carefully to ensure your work covers all required elements of the assignment. Marking criteria differ from unit to unit, but they generally include aspects like research, use of evidence, applying ideas, and citing and referencing. Citing and referencing is particularly important. To see why here’s our Academic integrity, plagiarism and collusion resource. For more useful tips on assignment instructions, refer to the Library’s Research and Learning online tutorial on Understanding the assignment.

2. Seek advice or clarification

As you’re working, seek advice from your teacher with any questions straight away, as it may sometimes take a day or two to receive a reply. Learning Skills Advisers at the Library can also help ensure you’re on track. You can talk to Learning Skills Advisers at the virtual Research and Learning drop-in sessions. Seeking advice early means that you’ll have enough time to incorporate feedback and refine your work.

3. Demonstrate skills and knowledge taught in the unit

Generally, teachers marking your work want to see that you’ve engaged with the unit content and are developing skills and knowledge introduced in the unit. Consider the topics covered in the unit classes and materials, and make sure your work is relevant to at least one of these topics. If any lectures, tutorials or online resources introduce a new skill, eg. an analysis method, a research strategy or an assignment structure, make sure you model this skill in your assignment. One quick trick you can also use is to include brief definitions of key terms you’ve learnt in the unit. It’s good to revisit assignment instructions and the marking criteria before submitting your assignment to check you’ve done what’s required. 

During the semester you will gain knowledge and skills in the specific areas you are studying. You’ll also develop study and work skills. With your skill development in mind, teachers set appropriate mid-semester assignments to support learning that will extend you toward the assignment at the end of semester. Example assignments include annotated bibliographies, literature reviews, quizzes and short assignments.

4. Reflect on the feedback

When you receive your returned assignment, your teacher will provide feedback. They’ll celebrate what you have done well, and they’ll offer advice about what you could improve. Take some time to reflect on their comments and your work. Reflection is an important part of the learning process. It helps you to identify your strengths and the skills you’ve gained, along with areas you want to work on. Apply the skills you develop doing mid-semester assignments—and the feedback you receive—to the end-of-semester assignment, and ultimately, towards your overall work and study goals. Know that your assignments are part of a learning process. 

5. Get further help

You may be in COVID-19 isolation, Melbourne lockdown or studying abroad. It’s a difficult time. If you’re not feeling as connected to your unit as you imagined, and you want reassurance, begin by checking the resources on the unit’s Moodle site. Contact your teacher  for advice about assignment instructions. If you’re having trouble coping with your studies, the next step is to talk with the unit coordinator about your situation. Help is also available from Monash Counselling services if you are managing stress or anxiety.

The Library has Librarians and Learning Skills Advisers available on weekday afternoons at virtual Research and Learning drop-in sessions. We’ll help ensure you’re on track, but if you need a cheer squad—we’re that too.

 

Authors: Dr Tim Alves is a Learning Skills Adviser at Caulfield Library. Dalia Malaeb is a Librarian at Caulfield Library.