Dr. Maraj had sent out an email to all of us [lecturers] with an article entitled: 6 Reasons why you should read before class, underlying the point that students’ reluctance to reading before class is perhaps the biggest challenge that we, as lecturers, face. When I read it (on Oct 20th), I got to thinking that perhaps the second biggest challenge we face is their reluctance to do assignments. So right there and then I just got the inspiration to do a 6-point list of my own of reasons why students should do assignments. I honestly only did it to share it with my own students but decided to share it with Dr. Maraj first just to see what he thought of it. After reading it he asked me if I would mind him sharing with other students and the rest of the faculty. My response was, “Sure, go right ahead! I’m honoured if it can be of value to others.”
1 – Demonstrate
Doing assignments is the surest way of demonstrating that you have indeed understood what was taught and know how to apply the acquired knowledge. It’s one thing to leave a class believing that you’ve understood everything; it’s another to actually demonstrate it.
2 – Feedback
The most effective form of feedback that both you and your teacher can ever get are the assignments that you do. Your teacher can discern from reading, viewing or checking your assignment whether or not you’ve grasped the topic and to what extent. He/she is then able to determine what, if any, needs to be reviewed so that your understanding is as it should be.
Upon receiving your assignment back from your teacher you will then know how well you’ve grasped the topic and what areas, if any, you may need to go over and pay special attention to so as to improve.
3 – Gauge your progress
If you are making progress it will be reflected in your assignments and the marks that you get for them. You and your teacher will be able to track your progress and see just how much you are improving. The more assignments you do, the more closely you can monitor your own progress and determine for yourself whether you need to “step up a gear or two”.
4 – Practice
While practice may not make perfect, it can certainly make excellent. If the course that you’re doing has a qualifying exam at the end of it then you definitely would want to get in as much practice as possible before that final exam. Doing assignments regularly can certainly help you to hone your skills toward that exam.
5 – Your final grade
Some subjects have coursework during the course of the semester which account for a portion of your final grade, with a final exam accounting for the balance. Some courses don’t even have a final exam but whose total mark comes purely from coursework assignments. Sadly this is the only occasion when some students will do assignments and, even so, some will do just enough just to get by. Remember, if something is worth doing then it’s worth doing well. So whether coursework assignments account for 100% of your final mark, only part of it, or none at all, it’s always in your interest to do your best.
6 – Show interest and respect
As with reading before attending class, doing assignments, doing them to the best of your ability, and submitting them on time show respect for your teacher and the efforts he/she is making to help you. It also shows that you are interested in the class/subject and in your own success and development.