IT report: approaching the task

When you receive an assignment topic, you need to understand what you are being asked to do. Be aware that your assignment will be assessed in relation to how well it addresses the requirements. Your first step should be to analyse the question.

This analysis will assist you to:

  • determine how you should approach the task
  • clarify your thoughts on the topic
  • provide a starting point for a preliminary plan
  • identify what information is appropriate and relevant to the topic
  • provide an answer which is relevant to the topic.


Analysing the task

A task usually incorporates three parts. Click on the words below to gain an understanding of their meanings.

Here is an example of a task:

Assessment task

Title: Assignment 1 - Individual Written Report

Write a report (800-1200 words) on an IT article addressing the following topic: Keeping employees’ education level updated with the changing world.

Criteria for assessment are:

  1. Context setting in the report
  2. Depth of analysis of the characteristics
  3. Analysis of the sources used to write the article
  4. Independent research on the accuracy of the article using external sources
  5. Organisation of report and quality of writing
  6. Appropriate citation of sources using the APA style

A marking rubric (PDF, 0.08 MB) is also provided by the lecturer.

What do you think are the:

  • Instruction or direction words?
  • Content or topic?
  • Context or limiting words?

Activity

Developing a plan

After analysing the assignment question, you should be familiar with the requirements of the assignment. Now what you need to do is develop a plan. Make sure you take the steps below:

  • Think about the topic
  • Make a preliminary plan.

There are reasons why you should follow these steps instead of going straight to searching for resources, either by visiting the library physically or searching the library’s online catalogues and databases for resources. Making a preliminary plan will help you to search for information that covers the specific areas required to answer the question. Therefore, you should never skip this step or start reading right away.

Making a preliminary plan can also help you to be more focused in your reading instead of reading a mass of material which may be of limited relevance.

The main purpose at this stage is to think of many ideas rather than only 'good' ideas; you can edit them later. There are various ways to do this. Most people prefer to use one of the following. Click on each of the planning tools to view an example.

When you have completed this task, look at your ideas. Try to group similar ideas together, and also identify relationships between your ideas: for example, a main idea and a supporting detail. You may also wish to re-arrange your ideas, for example, in order of importance or chronologically.

Refining a plan

After thinking about the topic, you can use your ideas to draft a rough plan. This will provide you with a more focused approach to searching for information. You will probably find that as you read and think further about the topic you will need to alter this rough plan.

The next step in preparing the assignment is to search for information in the Library and on the internet, using your rough plan as a guide. There is no clear cut instruction on the range of sources and years of publications of the resources that you use in the report, but in the IT context it is a rule of thumb to use information or resources that are:

  • academic
  • published over the last two years
  • informed by a range of sources
  • by a range of authors.

A refined plan is relatively thorough and elaborative. It should reflect all of the report’s content and detail in point form and should not include many (if any) full sentences.

As a refined plan is an ‘almost ready to go’ draft of a report, you need to reflect on the components of the assessment task that you have analysed, which include the following:

  • Coverage - This includes the specific points that you want to cover in each section or sub-section
  • Sources in use - This may include details of books, articles, websites, and other references that you use to support the points you cover in each section.