It is important to understand what your assignment topic means before you start your research, otherwise it can lead to confusion, frustration and wasted time. It is also one of the common causes of assignment failure.
Analysing the words used in the question is a good way to understand the assignment topic. There are three common types of words to look out for:
- Content words identify concepts or ideas from your course that apply to the topic.
- Limiting words narrow down the topic. They tell you what aspects of the topic should be included and the limits of your discussion, such as time or location.
- Instructional words tell you how to respond to the content. For example, they may require you to describe, compare, explain, or argue a point of view.
Here is an activity to help you learn more about content, limiting and instructional words:
You can learn more about analysing your assignment from these useful handouts from the Study and Learning Centre (Melbourne) and the Learning Skills Unit (Vietnam):