Tips for Designing Good Formal Writing Assignments

U of MO Columbia (


Use problems from your discipline rather than topics. For example:

Topic (from Communication): Select two television commercials and write a coherent essay about how myth is used to create consumer demand.

Problem : As a new staff member for a small marketing firm, youíve been asked to advise a manufacturer about marketing its new widget on television. How might you suggest the firm use the concept of myth to create consumer demand?


Topic (from History): Drawing on our recent lectures and readings, write a five-page essay describing African women's experience of colonial rule in Nigeria.

Problem: You've just been hired as a script writer for a major motion picture studio. Your first project is to transform Buchi Emechita's Joy of Motherhood into a film script for Steven Spielbergóbut he wants to change the ending so that itís more upbeat. Write him a three-page memo arguing why this will (or will not) work.