Skip to content

Writing Assignments For First Year College Students

Since many of you assign annotated bibliographies, here is a suggestion about how to tweak that traditional assignment into something that makes students more thoughtful in their choices of sources:

Hosier, A. (2015). Teaching Information Literacy Through "Un-Research". Communications In Information Literacy, 9(2). Retrieved April 13, 2016, from

ABSTRACT : Students who write essays on research topics in which no outside sources are cited and accuracy is treated as negotiable generally should not expect to receive good grades, especially in an information literacy course. However, asking students to do just this was the first step in the “un-research project,” a twist on the familiar annotated bibliography assignment that was intended to guide students away from “satisficing” with their choice of sources and toward a better understanding of scholarship as a conversation. The project was implemented as part of a credit-bearing course in spring 2014 with promising results, including a more thoughtful choice of sources on students’ part. With some fine-tuning, the un-research project can offer an effective alternative to the traditional annotated bibliography assignment and can be adapted for a variety of instructional situations.

Your first resource for developing writing topics can be our department's custom textbook,Craft & Composition: A Guide to First Year Writing at Armstrong  See the sample student essays in that text for potential prompts and models.  They can provide the starting point for any number of successful writing assignments in a range of modes that demonstrate a variety of writing and research skills.


Margaret Brockland-Nease


Beth Howells

Each of the five projects from two different ENGL 1101 classes focused on the theme of culture and scaffolded students through writing arguments employing narrative details, field research, and then academic research as support.


Nancy Remler

The following assignments were part of a section of ENGL 1101 that was tied to a section of First Class, Armstrong’s first-year learning community focusing on information literacy. Each essay assignment focused on a theme and required students to use a different type of analysis or information literacy skill.


ENGL 1101 Best Practices Teaching Conversation

The links below are texts and TED talks our instructors have recommended for building ENGL 1101 assignment topics:

TED Talks:


Useful Links to Sample Assignments on the Web