Different Types Of Written Assignments For Lying

There are many different types of assignments set at university and each type has its own structure and features.  It is not possible to cover them all here, but some examples include:

  • research essay
  • literature review
  • annotated bibliography
  • reflective journal
  • critical review or analytical review
  • case study
  • lab/practical or experiment write up
  • project report

It is always important to check with your lecturer or tutor as to what exactly they require you to do.  This table outlines the purpose, real life audience, tone of writing and structural features of some assignments. It will give you a start when you are trying to work out what style of writing you should try to produce.

Task PurposeAudienceTone Structure
Research essay
  • Answer a question
  • Present an argument based on facts
  • Factual
  • Concise
  • Logical flow
  • Clear structure
  • Active voice
  • Intro
  • Body
  • Conclusion
  • Usually without headings
Lab/prac report
  • To explain what you did
  • To draw conclusions
  • Peers
  • Researchers wanting to replicate
  • Past tense
  • Step by step
  • Clear
  • Objective
  • Passive voice
  • Intro
  • Methods
  • Results
  • Discussion
  • (IMRD) - headings
Case study (report)
  • Examine a situation
  • Identify positives and negatives
  • Make recommendations
  • Professionals - not always academics
  • Politicians
  • Public
  • Factual
  • Authoritative
  • Concise
  • Easy to follow
  • Numbered headings
  • Table of contents
  • Executive summary
Review of an article
  • Evaluate or critique the data, research methods and results
  • Peers
  • Interested people in your profession
  • Analytical
  • Evaluative
  • Present tense
  • Active voice
  • No headings
  • Brief summary
  • Comment on quality of work
Literature review
  • Identify key ideas across literature
  • Understand current thinking
  • Find a 'gap' for research
  • Researchers
  • Academics
  • Fellow professionals
  • Formal
  • Objective
  • Tentative opinions based on text
  • Intro, body, conclusion without headings
  • Explanation of similarities and differences plus critical comment
Annotated bibliography
  • Identify key articles on a topic
  • Evaluate usefulness of articles in relation to topic
  • Inform others
  • Researchers
  • Academics
  • Fellow professionals
  • Title of work listed alphabetically by author
  • Indented 1-2 paragraph summary and critique in relation to topic
Reflective journal
  • Identify your understanding
  • Reflect on your thinking
  • Understand how and what you have learned
  • Conversational
  • Thinking aloud
  • Can use "I"
  • Not necessarily formal, but still clear
  • Refers to text, lectures and practical situations
  • Links between formal learning and personal meaning
Project report
  • To report on work done or a plan for work to be done
  • Often for an outside organisation, such as an NGO or government
  • Factual
  • Past tense (for work completed)
  • Future tense for proposed work
  • Present tense to describe current situation
  • Title page
  • Acknowledgements
  • Executive summary or abstract
  • Table of contents
  • Intro and body (no heading)
  • Conclusion / recommendations
  • References or bibliography
  • Glossary
  • Appendices

Tables and Figures

Reports generally include tables and figures. To learn how to design, explain and integrate tables and figures effectively into your writing, download our notes on Incorporating Tables and Figures Effectively Into Your Writing and the Graphic Presentation Handbook. 

Types of writing assignments for engineering courses


This set of OWL resources aims to help engineering instructors and TAs create and assess a variety of short, low-overhead writing exercises for use in engineering courses. The primary focus here is on “writing to learn” assignments, which leverage writing to improve students’ conceptual understanding of technical concepts.

Writing exercises can be used in engineering courses to promote the deeper learning of technical material and build students’ writing skills. Writing in engineering courses gives students practice in articulating engineering concepts to different audiences and in engaging with technical communication genres. However, engineering instructors and TAs often struggle to incorporate writing into engineering classes due to a variety of challenges, including class size and the amount of time it takes to grade writing assignments. Additionally, the teaching of writing is an entire discipline of study with its own theories and practices that may not be accessible to engineering educators.

Contributors:Lindsey Macdonald
Last Edited: 2017-11-06 10:45:25

Writing assignments in engineering courses can take many forms, ranging from a couple of sentences of in-class writing to formal reports.

Conceptual Writing 

Ask students to write about technical definitions, assumptions, or terminology. They can rephrase easily found definitions and assumptions in their own words, which allows them to articulate basic knowledge that they have learned in the course.


Take an existing “calculator problem” and have students explain their answers. The format of their explanations can range from a few clarifying sentences to a solution manual-type description. This is the simplest type of writing question to apply, and it dovetails perfectly with already-developed homework questions.

How Stuff Works 

Ask students to use newly-learned concepts and terminology in an explanation of how something works in the real world. This question forces students to apply new concepts and equations to an actual situation.

Real-world Example 

Advise students to seek out and explain a real-world example of a concept in action. This type of writing prompt is great at promoting student appreciation for the real-world importance of what they are learning.


Assign students to design their own homework problem and write a detailed solution to that problem. This approach lets students be creative and encourages deep understanding of technical concepts and procedures.

Open-ended Design

Challenge students to design a device or solution associated with a stated design objective. The writing component of the assignment lies in the explanation of the design. This writing task allows students to create their own design and further engage with technical concepts and procedures as they explain how their design works.




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