There is a strategy you can use to help you organize your paper or presentation so it directly aligns with your assignment prompt (instructions).

Steps for aligning your paper with your assignment prompt:

1. Break down the assignment prompt by the major action items.

For example, in the following assignment prompt, the major action items have been highlighted:

Write an argumentative paper on a diversity-related situation or cultural dilemma that is prevalent in our society today. Be sure to include and answer the following:

Identify a diversity situation or cultural dilemma that is prevalent in today’s society.

  • Provide an analysis of the topic, including historical perspective and current day situation.
  • Explain why this is a topic of interest.

Compare and contrast the different groups.

  • What groups are involved in this situation or dilemma?
  • What subcultures are identified within these cultural groups that are involved in the situation or dilemma?
  • What stereotypes, biases, cultural norms, or privileges are associated with these cultural groups and subgroups?

Determine a personal position regarding the topic:

  • Identify and present attitudes, beliefs, cultural norms, or stereotypes that you identified within yourself when determining your position on the topic?
  • Present at least one argument supporting the topic.
  • Present at least one argument opposing the topic.

2. Create section header titles for your paper that correspond to the major action items from the prompt.

For example, the section header titles for the prompt above could be:

Cultural Dilemma
Comparison of Groups
Personal Position

These sections would come between your introduction and conclusion paragraphs. The idea is to get your paper organized by creating this framework for you to then create your various paragraphs.

Each major item in the assignment prompt is given a section header within the body of a Word document

3. Add placeholders for the paragraphs you will create by again using the assignment prompt.

For example, the assignment prompt above includes multiple bulleted items for you to address under each of the major action items. Each bullet point could become its own paragraph or two.

Cultural Dilemma

[Paragraph on historical perspective and current day situation]

[Paragraph on why this is a topic of interest]

4. Check the assignment rubric.

You should see that the rubric is closely aligned with the prompt. By aligning your paper with the assignment prompt, you are also aligning your paper with the assignment rubric:

The grading rubric includes each of the major items from the assignment prompt and these correspond to the section headers added to the Word doc.

5. You can now begin researching and writing your paper now that you have an organizational framework and know what is expected.

This will allow you to insert pieces of your paper at any point. You don't need to begin with the introduction or even the first section. Fill in your paper as you have the information you need. You might even draft your introduction last!


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