Decoders & Templates

Overview of the assignment decoder exercises

At many places throughout this site, including the left sidebar of most pages, you'll see links to "assignment decoder exercises." These exercises, when used together with writing prompts, can help teachers and students (1) assess how clearly a prompt is communicating the goals and features of an assignment and (2) decide on the best strategies for revising, reframing, or asking follow-up questions about that assignment. 

Three perspectives on a shared experience 

Whether the exercise leads to revision, reframing, or follow-up questions will depend on which version you're working with. Each version is tailored to a different group—course heads who are drafting an assignment, TFs and TAs who are framing and teaching an assignment, and students who are doing an assignment—but the overarching goal of all three versions is to help everyone involved in an assignment understand how each group complements the others. 

Direct links to decoders 

The decoder exercises are meant to be a microcosm of the Gen Ed Writes site as whole, and spending some time at the site will help familiarize you with the terms and ideas that the exercises are based on. That being said, they're also meant to work as stand alone activities: they come with a how-to, and they shouldn't take too long to do on your own. Here are direct links that open in a new tab: 

Direct link to an assignment prompt template 

If you're drafting or revising an assignment prompt, here's an assignment prompt template that's aligned with the decoder exercise. 

Direct link to a sample sequence of formative assignments for a “typical” essay

If you're looking for ways to incorporate more scaffolding and ungraded feedback into the writing process, visit the "Formative Assignments" page in the "For TFs & TAs" section.