Types of Assignments and Assessments

Assignments and assessments are much the same thing: an instructor is unlikely to give students an assignment that does not receive some sort of assessment, whether formal or informal, formative or summative; and an assessment must be assigned, whether it is an essay, case study, or final exam. When the two terms are distinquished, "assignment" tends to refer to a learning activity that is primarily intended to foster or consolidate learning, while "assessment" tends to refer to an activity that is primarily intended to measure how well a student has learned. 

In the list below, some attempt has been made to put the assignments/assessments in into logical categories. However, many of them could appear in multiple categories, so to prevent the list from becoming needlessly long, each item has been allocated to just one category. 

Written Assignments:

  • Annotated Bibliography: An annotated bibliography is a list of citations or references to sources such as books, articles, websites, etc., along with brief descriptions or annotations that summarize, evaluate, and explain the content, relevance, and quality of each source. These annotations provide readers with insights into the source's content and its potential usefulness for research or reference.
  • Summary/Abstract: A summary or abstract is a concise and condensed version of a longer document or research article, presenting the main points, key findings, and essential information in a clear and brief manner. It allows readers to quickly grasp the main ideas and determine whether the full document is relevant to their needs or interests. Abstracts are commonly found at the beginning of academic papers, research articles, and reports, providing a snapshot of the entire content.
  • Case Analysis: Case analysis refers to a systematic examination and evaluation of a particular situation, problem, or scenario. It involves gathering relevant information, identifying key factors, analyzing various aspects, and formulating conclusions or recommendations based on the findings. Case analysis is commonly used in business, law, and other fields to make informed decisions and solve complex problems.
  • Definition: A definition is a clear and concise explanation that describes the meaning of a specific term, concept, or object. It aims to provide a precise understanding of the item being defined, often by using words, phrases, or context that distinguish it from other similar or related things.
  • Description of a Process: A description of a process is a step-by-step account or narrative that outlines the sequence of actions, tasks, or events involved in completing a particular activity or achieving a specific goal. Process descriptions are commonly used in various industries to document procedures, guide employees, and ensure consistent and efficient workflows.
  • Executive Summary: An executive summary is a condensed version of a longer document or report that provides an overview of the main points, key findings, and major recommendations. It is typically aimed at busy executives or decision-makers who need a quick understanding of the content without delving into the full details. Executive summaries are commonly used in business proposals, project reports, and research papers to present essential information concisely.
  • Proposal/Plan: A piece of writing that explains how a future problem or project will be approached.
  • Laboratory or Field Notes: Laboratory/field notes are detailed and systematic written records taken by scientists, researchers, or students during experiments, observations, or fieldwork. These notes document the procedures, observations, data, and any unexpected findings encountered during the scientific investigation. They serve as a vital reference for later analysis, replication, and communication of the research process and results.
  • Research Paper: A research paper is a more extensive and in-depth academic work that involves original research, data collection from multiple sources, and analysis. It aims to contribute new insights to the existing body of knowledge on a specific subject. Compare to "essay" below.
  • Essay: A composition that calls for exposition of a thesis and is composed of several paragraphs including an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. It is different from a research paper in that the synthesis of bibliographic sources is not required. Compare to "Research Paper" above. 
  • Memo: A memo, short for memorandum, is a brief written message or communication used within an organization or business. It is often used to convey information, provide updates, make announcements, or request actions from colleagues or team members.
  • Micro-theme: A micro-theme refers to a concise and focused piece of writing that addresses a specific topic or question. It is usually shorter than a traditional essay or research paper and requires the writer to present their ideas clearly and concisely.
  • Notes on Reading: Notes on reading are annotations, comments, or summaries taken while reading a book, article, or any other written material. They serve as aids for understanding, retention, and later reference, helping the reader recall essential points and ideas from the text.
  • Outline: An outline is a structured and organized plan that lays out the main points and structure of a written work, such as an essay, research paper, or presentation. It provides a roadmap for the writer, ensuring logical flow and coherence in the final piece.
  • Plan for Conducting a Project: A plan for conducting a project outlines the steps, resources, timelines, and objectives for successfully completing a specific project. It includes details on how tasks will be executed and managed to achieve the desired outcomes.
  • Poem, Play, Choreography: These are artistic forms of expression.
    • Poem: A poem is a literary work written in verse, using poetic devices like rhythm, rhyme, and imagery to convey emotions, ideas, and experiences.
    • Play: A play is a form of literature written for performance, typically involving dialogue and actions by characters to tell a story or convey a message on stage.
    • Choreography: Choreography refers to the art of designing dance sequences or movements, often for performances in various dance styles.
  • Article/Book Review: An article or book review is a critical evaluation and analysis of a piece of writing, such as an article or a book. It typically includes a summary of the content and the reviewer's assessment of its strengths, weaknesses, and overall value.
  • Review of Literature: A review of literature is a comprehensive summary and analysis of existing research and scholarly writings on a particular topic. It aims to provide an overview of the current state of knowledge in a specific field and may be a part of academic research or a standalone piece.
  • Essay-based Exam: An essay-based exam is an assessment format where students are required to respond to questions or prompts with written, structured responses. It involves expressing ideas, arguments, and explanations in a coherent and organized manner, often requiring critical thinking and analysis.
  • "Start": In the context of academic writing, "start" refers to the initial phase of organizing and planning a piece of writing. It involves formulating a clear and focused thesis statement, which presents the main argument or central idea of the work, and creating an outline or list of ideas that will support and develop the thesis throughout the writing process.
  • Statement of Assumptions: A statement of assumptions is a declaration or acknowledgment made at the beginning of a document or research paper, highlighting the underlying beliefs, conditions, or premises on which the work is based. It helps readers understand the foundation of the writer's perspective and the context in which the content is presented.
  • Summary or Precis: A summary or precis is a concise and condensed version of a longer piece of writing, such as an article, book, or research paper. It captures the main points, key arguments, and essential information in a succinct manner, enabling readers to grasp the content without reading the full text.
  • Unstructured Writing: Unstructured writing refers to the process of writing without following a specific plan, outline, or organizational structure. It allows the writer to freely explore ideas, thoughts, and creativity without the constraints of a predefined format or order. Unstructured writing is often used for brainstorming, creative expression, or personal reflection.
  • Rough Draft or Freewrite: A rough draft or freewrite is an initial version of a piece of writing that is not polished or edited. It serves as an early attempt by the writer to get ideas on paper without worrying about perfection, allowing for exploration and creativity before revising and refining the final version.
  • Technical or Scientific Report: A technical or scientific report is a document that presents detailed information about a specific technical or scientific project, research study, experiment, or investigation. It follows a structured format and includes sections like abstract, introduction, methods, results, discussion, and conclusion to communicate findings and insights in a clear and systematic manner.
  • Journal article: A formal article reporting original research that could be submitted to an academic journal. Rather than a format dictated by the professor, the writer must use the conventional form of academic journals in the relevant discipline.
  • Thesis statement: A clear and concise sentence or two that presents the main argument or central claim of an essay, research paper, or any written piece. It serves as a roadmap for the reader, outlining the writer's stance on the topic and the key points that will be discussed and supported in the rest of the work. The thesis statement provides focus and direction to the paper, guiding the writer's approach to the subject matter and helping to maintain coherence throughout the writing.

Visual Representation

  • Brochure: A brochure is a printed or digital document used for advertising, providing information, or promoting a product, service, or event. It typically contains a combination of text and visuals, such as images or graphics, arranged in a visually appealing layout to convey a message effectively.
  • Poster: A poster is a large printed visual display intended to catch the attention of an audience. It often contains a combination of text, images, and graphics to communicate information or promote a particular message, event, or cause.
  • Chart: A chart is a visual representation of data or information using various formats such as pie charts, bar charts, line charts, or tables. It helps to illustrate relationships, trends, and comparisons in a concise and easy-to-understand manner.
  • Graph: A graph is a visual representation of numerical data, usually presented using lines, bars, points, or other symbols on a coordinate plane. Graphs are commonly used to show trends, patterns, and relationships between variables.
  • Concept Map: A concept map is a graphical tool used to organize and represent the connections and relationships between different concepts or ideas. It typically uses nodes or boxes to represent concepts and lines or arrows to show the connections or links between them, helping to visualize the relationships and hierarchy of ideas.
  • Diagram: A diagram is a visual representation of a process, system, or structure using labeled symbols, shapes, or lines. Diagrams are used to explain complex concepts or procedures in a simplified and easy-to-understand manner.
  • Table: A table is a systematic arrangement of data or information in rows and columns, allowing for easy comparison and reference. It is commonly used to present numerical data or detailed information in an organized format.
  • Flowchart: A flowchart is a graphical representation of a process, workflow, or algorithm, using various shapes and arrows to show the sequence of steps or decisions involved. It helps visualize the logical flow and decision points, making it easier to understand and analyze complex processes.
  • Multimedia or Slide Presentation: A multimedia or slide presentation is a visual communication tool that combines text, images, audio, video, and other media elements to deliver information or a message to an audience. It is often used for educational, business, or informational purposes and can be presented in person or virtually using software like Microsoft PowerPoint or Google Slides.
  • ePortfolio: An ePortfolio, short for electronic portfolio, is a digital collection of an individual's work, accomplishments, skills, and reflections. It typically includes a variety of multimedia artifacts such as documents, presentations, videos, images, and links to showcase a person's academic, professional, or personal achievements. Eportfolios are used for self-reflection, professional development, and showcasing one's abilities to potential employers, educators, or peers. They provide a comprehensive and organized way to present evidence of learning, growth, and accomplishments over time.


  • Multiple-Choice Questions: These questions present a statement or question with several possible answer options, of which one or more may be correct. Test-takers must select the most appropriate choice(s). See CTE's Teaching Tip "Designing Multiple-Choice Questions." 

  • True or False Questions: These questions require test-takers to determine whether a given statement is true or false based on their knowledge of the subject.

  • Short-Answer Questions: Test-takers are asked to provide brief written responses to questions or prompts. These responses are usually a few sentences or a paragraph in length.

  • Essay Questions: Essay questions require test-takers to provide longer, more detailed written responses to a specific topic or question. They may involve analysis, critical thinking, and the development of coherent arguments.

  • Matching Questions: In matching questions, test-takers are asked to pair related items from two lists. They must correctly match the items based on their associations.

  • Fill-in-the-Blank Questions: Test-takers must complete sentences or passages by filling in the missing words or phrases. This type of question tests recall and understanding of specific information.

  • Multiple-Response Questions: Similar to multiple-choice questions, but with multiple correct options. Test-takers must select all the correct choices to receive full credit.

  • Diagram or Image-Based Questions: These questions require test-takers to analyze or interpret diagrams, charts, graphs, or images to answer specific queries.

  • Problem-Solving Questions: These questions present real-world or theoretical problems that require test-takers to apply their knowledge and skills to arrive at a solution.

  • Vignettes or Case-Based Questions: In these questions, test-takers are presented with a scenario or case study and must analyze the information to answer related questions.

  • Sequencing or Order Questions: Test-takers are asked to arrange items or events in a particular order or sequence based on their understanding of the subject matter.

Projects intended for a specific audience:

  • Advertisement: An advertisement is a promotional message or communication aimed at promoting a product, service, event, or idea to a target audience. It often uses persuasive techniques, visuals, and compelling language to attract attention and encourage consumers to take specific actions, such as making a purchase or seeking more information.
  • Client Report for an Agency: A client report for an agency is a formal document prepared by a service provider or agency to communicate the results, progress, or recommendations of their work to their client. It typically includes an analysis of data, achievements, challenges, and future plans related to the project or services provided.
  • News or Feature Story: A news story is a journalistic piece that reports on current events or recent developments, providing objective information in a factual and unbiased manner. A feature story, on the other hand, is a more in-depth and creative piece that explores human interest topics, profiles individuals, or delves into issues from a unique perspective.
  • Instructional Manual: An instructional manual is a detailed document that provides step-by-step guidance, explanations, and procedures on how to use, assemble, operate, or perform specific tasks with a product or system. It aims to help users understand and utilize the item effectively and safely.
  • Letter to the Editor: A letter to the editor is a written communication submitted by a reader to a newspaper, magazine, or online publication, expressing their opinion, feedback, or comments on a particular article, topic, or issue. It is intended for publication and allows individuals to share their perspectives with a broader audience.

Problem-Solving and Analysis:

  • Taxonomy: Taxonomy is the science of classification, categorization, and naming of organisms, objects, or concepts based on their characteristics, similarities, and differences. It involves creating hierarchical systems that group related items together, facilitating organization and understanding within a particular domain.
  • Budget with Rationale: A budget with rationale is a financial plan that outlines projected income and expenses for a specific period, such as a month or a year. The rationale provides explanations or justifications for each budget item, explaining the purpose and reasoning behind the allocated funds.
  • Case Analysis: Case analysis refers to a methodical examination of a particular situation, scenario, or problem. It involves gathering relevant data, identifying key issues, analyzing different factors, and formulating conclusions or recommendations based on the findings. Case analysis is commonly used in various fields, such as business, law, and education, to make informed decisions and solve complex problems.
  • Case Study: A case study is an in-depth analysis of a specific individual, group, organization, or situation. It involves thorough research, data collection, and detailed examination to understand the context, challenges, and outcomes associated with the subject of study. Case studies are widely used in academic research and professional contexts to gain insights into real-world scenarios.
  • Word Problem: A word problem is a type of mathematical or logical question presented in a contextual format using words rather than purely numerical or symbolic representations. It challenges students to apply their knowledge and problem-solving skills to real-life situations.

Collaborative Activities

  • Debate: A debate is a structured discussion between two or more individuals or teams with differing viewpoints on a specific topic or issue. Participants present arguments and counterarguments to support their positions, aiming to persuade the audience and ultimately reach a resolution or conclusion. Debates are commonly used in academic settings, public forums, and formal competitions to foster critical thinking, communication skills, and understanding of diverse perspectives.
  • Group Discussion: A group discussion is an interactive conversation involving several individuals who come together to exchange ideas, opinions, and information on a particular subject. The discussion is typically moderated to ensure that everyone has an opportunity to participate, and it encourages active listening, collaboration, and problem-solving. Group discussions are commonly used in educational settings, team meetings, and decision-making processes to promote dialogue and collective decision-making.
  • An oral report is a form of communication in which a person or group of persons present information, findings, or ideas verbally to an audience. It involves speaking in front of others, often in a formal setting, and delivering a structured presentation that may include visual aids, such as slides or props, to support the content. Oral reports are commonly used in academic settings, business environments, and various professional settings to share knowledge, research findings, project updates, or persuasive arguments. Effective oral reports require clear organization, articulation, and engaging delivery to effectively convey the intended message to the listeners.

Planning and Organization

  • Inventory: An inventory involves systematically listing and categorizing items or resources to assess their availability, quantity, and condition. In an educational context, students might conduct an inventory of books in a library, equipment in a lab, or supplies in a classroom, enhancing their organizational and data collection skills.
  • Materials and Methods Plan: A materials and methods plan involves developing a structured outline or description of the materials, tools, and procedures to be used in a specific experiment, research project, or practical task. It helps learners understand the importance of proper planning and documentation in scientific and research endeavors.
  • Plan for Conducting a Project: This learning activity requires students to create a detailed roadmap for executing a project. It includes defining the project's objectives, identifying tasks and timelines, allocating resources, and setting milestones to monitor progress. It enhances students' project management and organizational abilities.
  • Research Proposal Addressed to a Granting Agency: A formal document requesting financial support for a research project from a granting agency or organization. The proposal outlines the research questions, objectives, methodology, budget, and potential outcomes. It familiarizes learners with the process of seeking funding and strengthens their research and persuasive writing skills.
  • Mathematical Problem: A mathematical problem is a task or question that requires the application of mathematical principles, formulas, or operations to find a solution. It could involve arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, or other branches of mathematics, challenging individuals to solve the problem logically and accurately.
  • Question: A question is a sentence or phrase used to elicit information, seek clarification, or provoke thought from someone else. Questions can be open-ended, closed-ended, or leading, depending on their purpose, and they play a crucial role in communication, problem-solving, and learning.

More Resources

CTE Teaching Tips

Other Resources


If you would like support applying these tips to your own teaching, CTE staff members are here to help.  View the CTE Support page to find the most relevant staff member to contact.

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