Signature assignments

Designing assignments that foreground communication and analysis and background discipline-specific knowledge can be an exciting challenge for instructors. Below you will find example of assignments that have been used in Arts First seminars in the past. We hope these thoughtful and engaging examples will help instructors craft their own challenging assignments.

For ARTS 130:

Essay + Inquiry + Virtual Workshop Assignment (PDF)

This is a scaffolded assignment in that there are three related parts each asking students to complete a task that build on each other. This assignment also asks students to practice different genres of communication, to find, access, and assess different sources of information, and identify and work with different technologies.

Deliberation Assignment (PDF)

This assignment invites students to engage in a written deliberation over a contentious issue of their choice.  It provides guidance on evaluating the positions of another person and responding to them in a collegial way that draws on course material. In this way, the assignment provides an opportunity for students to collaborate with peers, argue persuasively, and assess differing viewpoints — all central outcomes for Arts 130 courses.

3-Minute-Thesis Assignment (PDF)

This is an oral presentation assignment using the “3-minute-thesis” (3MT) framework, which requires students to use one static slide to convey key findings from their research. It is an example of introducing students to presenting their work in a “low stakes” and supportive way.

Seminar Leading Assignment (PDF)

This is an example of an assignment that asks students to lead weekly discussions of assigned readings. It is a regular opportunity for students to practice oral presentation and discussion skills. The assignment identifies standards for both engaging with content and presenting that information, and it includes a rubric instructors can use to provide detailed feedback on students’ work. 

For ARTS 140:

Op-ed Assignment (PDF)

This assignment asks students to think about audience, context, and genre in communication. It also asks that students assess, evaluate, and examine the uses of information while developing their own voice as writers. The assignment also includes an important opportunity for peer feedback

Press Release Assignment (PDF)

This assignment asks students to think about audience, context, and genre in communication.  It also asks that students reflect carefully on how facts and information are communicated, and what role modes of communication have in shaping knowledge.

Class Debate Activity (PDF)

Students often value the opportunity to take a position on a contentious issue, conduct research, then work as a team to present convincing arguments — and respond to contrary claims. This activity provides a framework for structuring a debate, including tips on forming groups, providing pre-class reading materials, and reflecting on the debate experience.  

Assignments relating to quantitative data:

Providing Data Interpretations for the Audience Exercise (PDF)

This is a sample of an in-class group activity aimed at helping students become more aware of the importance of interpreting the data they use in their written or oral work. Students first gather data from the classroom. Then, in groups, they identify what they understand as the key finding of this data, and then defend this choice in an informal presentation to the class. 

The Frequency of Coincidences: Birthday Experiment (PDF)

This assignment asks students to examine quantitative data and assess its meaning to understand the concept of coincidence, a concept that is developed further in this course on international trade and economics.

Model Building: Predicting University Success Activity (PDF)

This in-class activity gives students an opportunity to gather data and create a model for understanding factors for university success. The assignment asks students to work collaboratively and to reflect on the objectivity, validity, and utility of their model. 

For more guidance on integrating quantitative data into an ARTS 140 courses, please see this presentation.