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Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR): Guide 2.0

Year of publication 2020

Anna Liisa Karjalainen ja Riia Lamminmäki

WRITTEN LEARNING ASSIGNMENTS
 

Diak uses different types of written learning assignments; such assignments may involve e.g. reading diaries, reports, blog articles or journal articles. One of the most common learning assignments is a source-based essay. These guidelines focus in particular on this type of assignment.

Completing written learning assignments forms a part of the learning process. Through writing, you internalise the matter you are studying and, on the other hand, you are able to show your reader how you piece together, analyse and perceive the matter.

Learning assignments are carried out as instructed, either in groups, pairs, or individually. The page count for a written assignment is specified, and it is essential to adhere to it. The page count helps you focus on the essential aspects.

Contents of a learning assignment

Essay-type learning assignments combine source-based information and personal reflection. You are expected to use at least the sources indicated for your assignment and to document your sources in accordance with Diak's reference practices.

In essay-type texts, you present chosen information from your sources and relate it to your own experiences and observations. You should not quote your source verbatim in your essay but instead, rather explain the matter in your own words. Your text must show how you use your sources to construct a view of your own concerning the subject you are treating. Your references show which ideas come from other sources and which are your own.

⇒ References and the list of references

Language of a learning assignment

Learning assignments are written for the reader. Therefore, all expressions and textual structures must be easily understandable for the reader (usually the teacher who grades the essay), showing what the key issue of the assignment is, how you have constructed the issue, and what you wish to say about it.

Your language must be standard language and factual in style. Use complete sentences and place different thematic entities in different paragraphs. Instead of abbreviations, use complete words, and be cautious about using lists. The problem with listed items is that your understanding of the matter and the internal relations among the items are not easily transmitted to the reader.

Structure of a learning assignment

Learning assignment essays must follow Diak's layout instructions (link) and texts exceeding two pages require cover pages. The cover page shows the name(s) of the author(s), the name of the course, the name of the assignment, and the date. Short documents contain this information in the header.

The following list shows an appropriate outline for a learning assignment essay:

  • title
  • introduction
  • treatment of the subject matter
  • discussion
  • references.

The title appears on the cover page and reveals the most essential aspect of the contents of the paper as well as the perspective adopted in its treatment. The title is not the same as the name of the assignment.

As the word indicates, the purpose of the introduction is to introduce the topic to the reader. The introduction explains briefly what the subject of the assignment is and indicates the method of its treatment. The introduction also specifies the goal of the text. It is essential that you give the perspective you apply in the treatment of your subject and specify the relevant limitations. In learning assignment essays, the introduction extends to half a page maximum.

The treatment of the subject matter refers to the actual contents chapters after the introduction. The contents chapters are composed out of the key subject matters and presented under main headings and possibly also subheadings in accordance with the factual contents. Headings are used for structuring the contents in a logical manner which facilitates the reader's work.

Headings are numbered so that the introduction is chapter number 1. Numbering proceeds as follows:

1 INTRODUCTION

2 FIRST ITEM

2.1 First sub-item of the first item

2.2 Second sub-item of the first item

2.3 Third sub-item of the first item

3 SECOND ITEM

Two levels of headings usually suffice for learning assignment essays, and the use of only main headings is also acceptable. Your paper must not have a main heading followed by only one subheading; you must include at least two lower-level chapters under a main heading. There is no full stop (character ".") after the last number in a heading number.

The discussion chapter recaps the issues treated in the essay, reflects on the totality and highlights the questions that have arisen. The length of the discussion chapter in relation to the entire essay is such that a 10-page document would have a discussion chapter of 1–1.5 pages.

Only those sources should be included in the references that are actually referred to in the text. Lists of references must follow Diak's instructions and have the heading REFERENCES.

References and the list of references

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