Best Practices: The Assignment Tool

By Laura Hillier, Courseware Developer, Learning and Creative Services D2L

This article is intended for those with little experience setting up an assignment using the LE’s Assignment tool, and for those who’d like to build on their existing knowledge. You’ll find a list of best practices, tips and tricks, and extra information to help you create an Assignment.

Properties Tab

The first step is to create a new Assignment. To do this, navigate to Course Administration and select Assignments.
Once you’ve got your new Assignment created, you’ll be able to edit the basics on the Properties tab.
  • Name – Enter a descriptive name for your Assignment. This will help learners find the right place to upload their assignment if the Assignment is not in line with course content. Example: “Week 1 Assignment: Submit your Essay”.
  • Folder Type – The folder can be either an Individual submission folder or a Group submission folder. Individual submission folders allow users to submit their own files, and are assessed individually. Group submission allows you to only grade one submission for the whole group, but note that all members of the group are given the same grade. Once this submission type is saved, it cannot be changed. Set the folder to Individual or Group submission depending on your needs.
  • Category – Select an existing Category for your Assignment, or create a new one by selecting [New Category]. Associating a category with an Assignment allows assignments to be grouped in the assignments list page. Example: “Week 1 Assignments”. This step is optional, but a great way to keep things organized if there are several Assignments.
  • Grade Item – We strongly recommend associating a grade item with an Assignment so the learner’s grade can be automatically linked to the Grades tool. Don’t forget to set up the Gradebook!
  • Out of – Assignments can be marked out of anything between 0.01 and 9,999,999,999, but we recommend a whole number. Example: 10, 20, 50, or 100.
  • Rubrics – Adding a rubric allows you to communicate exactly what is expected of your learners on an assignment, and how grading is broken down. Rubrics help create consistency in grading and ensure all learners are being evaluated on the same criteria. They also serve to indicate to the learner what counts as successful completion. You can either select an existing Rubric or create a new one by selecting [Create Rubric in New Window].
  • Instructions – Clear, concise, and easy to follow instructions are the cornerstone of any assignment. Think through all the questions a learner could ask during the explanation of an assignment, and factor those thoughts into your instructions. It is helpful to write these step by step and include all necessary details, including key components and submission instructions. The Assignment’s instructions will appear above the submission area, and beneath the header in the Table of Contents. Fill out this field with text, images, videos and hyperlinks to introduce the Assignment.
  • Attached Files – If you’d like to include additional resources for learners, attach them here. This might include further readings, assignment templates, or audio or video assets. To set learners up for success, include examples or sample templates where possible. This will help guide them to your expectations and will likely result in better assignments.
  • Submission Options – Editing this last section is optional. This is where you’re able to restrict the number of files a learner can submit, and define which submission should be kept. It is often preferable to only keep the most recent submission so that you can be sure you’re grading the most up-to-date assignment; this is in case a learner realizes an error in their submission before the deadline and resubmits with corrections, for example.
When you have filled out everything on the Properties Tab, you can move onto the Restrictions Tab. Anything beyond the Properties Tab is optional, but there are a few best practices to keep in mind.

Restrictions Tab

  • Hidden from users – By default, Assignments are set to draft, meaning students will not be able to access them or submit their work. Uncheck this box to release the Assignment to students. Or, after placing the Assignment in a module, you can change it from draft to published by editing its properties in place.
  • Due Date – Select this checkbox to apply a due date to the Assignment.
  • Availability – This section is used to specify the timeframe in which the Assignment will be available. Selecting the “Has Start Date” checkbox will enable an Assignment Start Date, and selecting the “Has End Date” will enable an Assignment End Date.
  • Release Conditions – Select “Attach Existing” or “Create and Attach” to include additional Release Conditions that must be met before a learner can access the Assignment. If multiple Release Conditions are attached, users must meet them all before they can access the Assignment.
We hope you’ve found these tips useful and wish you the best in setting up your future Assignments! Feel free to add your own tips and tricks in the comments below.