#2: Instructions

Worth 20% of your final grade

Important Dates

  • Proposal: Monday, 9/23 (In-class writing)
  • Rough Draft for Peer Review: Monday, 10/2
  • Due Date: Monday, 10/7
  • Deadline: Monday, 10/14 (last day assignment will be accepted)

Your Proposal

  • Browse some example instructions to get an idea of the genre and the topics typically covered. Look at online sites like WikiHow, Instructables, eHow, and Lynda.com.  You can also look at sites that directly relate to your field of study.
  • Once you have become familiar with the genre, brainstorm at least three different ideas for your own instructions. The task may involve a device or a process.
  • Try to limit yourself to topics with which you have some expertise (or at least some experience).
  • Do some feasibility research to decide which topic will make the best focus for your project. Think about the following questions:

    • Do you know how to complete the task OR are you confident you can learn it quickly?
    • Do you have access to the materials needed to complete the task?
    • Do photos exist online or can you take photos to illustrate your instructions?
    • Do you know someone who can test your instructions for you?
  • After you have conducted an exhaustive search and considered the feasibility of each of your potential topics, select one specific topic for your instructions.
  • Submit your idea in a proposal for your In-Class Writing on Monday, 9/23.

Your Instructions
Write instructions that your reader can follow to complete a task. Your reader is someone who has never completed the task before, but has a general understanding of the topic. Because each tutorial is unique, the specific requirements for this assignment are intentionally broad. At minimum, however, your tutorial should include at least five steps, 5 photos or illustrations, and 1,000 words of written text.  

Your document should include a short introduction/overview, a list of required materials, details on the steps to be completed, troubleshooting tips, and related materials (like documentation if you use outside sources, or a glossary if you need to define some terms). Also include safety notes or warnings if appropriate for your topic.

Your Analysis Memo
Write me a persuasive memo (no longer than 1 page) about your instructions that explains how your reader will use the instructions and outlines any information I should know before reading your assignment. Compose your memo in the submission box on this page. The usual headings for a memo are to, from, subject, and date.
Your memo should explain
·       Anything special you have assumed about your audience.
·       Anything unusual about your topic or how you approached it.
·       Any decisions you made about leaving something out or adding extra information.
·       Anything I need to know about the images or other resources that you used.
·       Any decisions you made about formatting that you want to be sure that I understand.

Save your instructions as “Lastname-Firstname-Asgt2.pdf” (for instance, my file would be named “Gardner-Traci-Asgt2.pdf”) and add it as an attachment to the assignment.
Evaluation Criteria

  • Completeness: Do the instructions consist of at least five steps, 5 pictures, and 1,000 words? 
  • Information: Do the instructions include a short introduction/overview, a list of required materials, details on the steps to be completed, troubleshooting tips, and any related materials or warnings?
  • Readability: Are the instructions written in a clear and easy-to-follow manner? Does the writer provide specific, step-by-step instructions? Does the writer avoid jargon?
  • Relevance: Does the writer stay on topic and avoid discussing unrelated concepts?
  • Memo: Does the memo provide the information necessary to frame the assignment? Does the memo justify the choices the writer made in creating the tutorial?

 Rhetorical Effectiveness

  • Audience Awareness: Do the instructions show an understanding of the needs of the reader? Does the information match the reader’s level of expertise?
  • Tone: Does the writer maintain a friendly, encouraging tone? Does the tutorial seem to be written by someone who cares about this subject?
  • Reliability: Does the writer demonstrate competence and trustworthiness?
  • Persuasion: Does the tutorial persuade the reader that the project can be successfully completed using the steps described?

Visual and Document Design

  • Appearance: How professional is the overall appearance of the two primary documents? Are individual steps numbers? Are the different steps easy to identify?
  • Consistency: Does the document use fonts, margins, borders, headings, emphasis strategies, etc., consistently?
  • Representativeness: Do the photos accurately depict the steps in the instructions?
  • Clarity: Are the photos crisp and well-lit? Has the photographer taken care to eliminate background “noise,” such as a cluttered apartment or random strangers?
  • Integration: Do the photographs work in harmony with the written text? Does the text refer to the pictures? Do the pictures refer to the text (using annotations)?

Standard Written English

  • Spelling: Does the text contain any spelling errors?
  • Grammar: Does the document follow standard grammatical guidelines for formal workplace writing? Do the instructions use parallel, imperative verbs?

Additional Resources
Rubric for Assignment #2
Instructions Checklist

Credit: This assignment was adapted from Quinn Warnick’s archived site, with his kind permission.

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