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12 Tips on Common Errors in


Assignment Writing
THU 15TH OCT. '15 BY MANDY LEAVE A COMMENT

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Taking a Management & Leadership Quali cation involves writing assignments.


Assignment writing is an art and something all students need to learn to pass their
quali cation. Below are some examples of how to avoid the common errors.

Focus on the assessment criteria


Assessment criteria are shown as A.C. on your assignment brief. The assessment
criteria are the only area assessors look at in order to determine whether you get a
pass or refer. However, the task gives you some helpful background detail on what is
required. Therefore, a good assignment uses the assessment criteria as a heading
and a guide to keep your eye on the ball.

Pay attention to the command verbs


Command verbs are the key! Each Assessment criteria will start with a command
verb, starting with basic command verbs at level 3 and working up to analytical verbs
at level 7. Here are some examples of the verbs you will see at each level.

Level 3: Identify, describe, List


Level 5: Determine, discuss, evaluate, explain
Level 7: Evaluate, assess, critically review

It is essential you understand what each command verb is asking you to do so you
can be very speci c in your answer. For example, if they ask you to evaluate and you
describe you will not pass.

We will be writing another blog soon on command verbs and their meanings or you
can go to the Developing U resources section of the website to get a complete
breakdown of command verbs.

An Example from a Level 5 Assignment Brief


Task
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Based upon the stakeholder needs identi ed in Task 1, produce a work plan or work
scenario which illustrates how the primary needs of your stakeholders are being met.
As a rst line manager, demonstrate how you and your team have modi ed a work
plan or situation to meet stakeholder needs more e ectively.

Guideline word count: 500 600 words

A.C. 1.3 Identify work plans with the team, gaining commitment to meet stakeholder
needs

A.C. 1.4 Evaluate and modify the work plans to meet the stakeholder needs

Access management direct and your Pathways Workbook for your research and
make sure you reference your research sources

Remember it is essential to demonstrate you have researched around the subject. In


your assignment you must have several references in each task. They might be
quotes, diagrams, models, or citing the work of others. Without this you will get a
refer.

Management Direct and Pathways Workbooks are your rst port of call to support
your research. Here you will be able to get lots of helpful resources for use in your
assignment.

A Level 7 example answer:


A.C. Analyse the concept of managers as e ective leaders.

The Oxford Dictionary de nes Management as The process of dealing with or


controlling things or people (2014). This includes the application of skill or care in the
manipulation, use, treatment, or control of the thing or person. Managerial technique
encourages managers to dedicate themselves to tasks, process, politics, structures
and roles.

Leadership is de ned in The Supplement to the Oxford English Dictionary as the


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undertaking (Burch eld in Rost, 1976). John Adair (2002) expands on this in 100
Greatest Ideas for E ective Leadership and Management to add that leading is about
giving direction especially in times of change; inspiring or motivating people to work
willingly; building and maintaining teamwork; providing an example; producing a
personal output. The element of being responsible for planning and people is far
more important.

Draw your own conclusions


Whilst research is essential it cant be used alone. Your assignment must contain a
balance of research and your own views. For every section of theory you include
make sure you draw your own conclusions and state your own views.

An example from a Level 5 assignment:


It is my view however that x could certainly use innovation more e ectively to help
meet the other key priorities. The problem facing x is that lessening budgets means
that innovation is essentially restricted to working with what youve got. As indicated,
the emphasis on innovation seems to be on saving or raising money and doing things
di erently rather than on what ideas could primarily make things better for the
customer or the environment. For example, whilst the greater development of land to
provide additional housing will in part help provide a Better Environment and Better
Lives the main driving force behind this appears to be to increase revenues with
other advantages more of a bi-product.

Pay attention to the guidance notes


Every assignment brief includes guidance notes which are written by the CMI to help
you to know the main areas to cover. Before writing your assignment, always check
these notes as they will give you direction.

Example Guidance Notes for a Level 5 quali cation


2.1 Evaluate the meaning of quality to an organisation
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source (e.g. from a quality standard such as the ISO 9000 family or an author such as
Dale, Juran, Deming, or, Crosby) this de nition can then be matched against the
Learners own organisation where possible to evaluate the meaning of quality from
the organisations point of view. The following points may assist:

Does the organisation use quality control, quality assurance or total quality
management approaches? Does it know what its objective is around quality? Are
quality approaches explicit or have they simply evolved over time (ad hoc)?
Does the organisation know why it manages quality and what its expectations
are in terms of the business bene ts? Does it measure its progress towards
these?
Where does the organisation place the customer in their quality management
approach?
How does quality feature in the organisations culture?

Use su cient personal experience and models


Each task will give an idea of the amount of personal experience and models you
need to include within your assignment. It is essential if the task asks for two
examples you give two examples.An Example from a Level 7 Assignment

An Example from a Level 7 Assignment:


Task 1:

Describe a performance management process for ensuring that responsibility for


delivering strategic objectives is shared throughout the organisation. Use a practical
example to illustrate how team performance links to organisational objectives.

Describe a performance management process for ensuring that responsibility for


delivering strategic objectives is shared throughout the organisation. Use a practical
example to illustrate how team performance links to organisational objectives.

Identify a range of at least four di erent tools and techniques for setting team
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Assess their value then in the ongoing measuring and monitoring of team
performance during the year, using practical examples to illustrate what worked well
and what did not work so well in di erent situations or with di erent teams and
cultures.

Critically examine at least three methods you could use to agree performance targets
for individuals within the team when compared with their current performance.

Guideline word count: 1,000 1,100 words

A.C. 1.1 Assess the links between team performance and strategic objectives
A.C. 1.2 Evaluate tools and techniques available to set team performance
targets
A.C. 1.3 Assess the value of team performance tools to measure future team
performance

Look externally and internally for examples


Having an external and internal focus for your research adds credibility to your
assignment. Rather than just focussing on what your organisation does, look outside
for other ideas.

Here is an example from a level 5 assignment


Organisations, large and small alike, will rely on these types of creativity tools to help
encourage ideas and innovation across the business, mainly with a view to increasing
value. One such organisation that embraces innovation, and indeed is reliant upon it
to deliver its product, is Pixar Studios, the pioneers of computer animation. The
Harvard Business Review (2008) cites a number of factors that have been integral to
encouraging ideas and innovation at Pixar and these are held in the basic beliefs of
the organisation:

Talent is rare
Managements job is not to prevent risk but to build the capability to recover
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Must constantly challenge all our assumptions and search for the aws that
could destroy our culture

Write professionally, succinctly and clearly


Professional writing is key to success with your assignment. Try to write in the rst
person In my view .., in my opinion .. and avoid judgement statements e.g. all the
managers are rubbish in my company.

Remember your assignment should read like a professional report you would submit
to a senior manager in the organisation.

You must stick to the wordcount or your assignment will not be marked. This is a
challenge but helps you to stay focussed on the key messages in your assignment.

Use Bullets, Screenshots and Powerpoint slide


to illustrate your work
These methods do not count in the wordcount so they are a good way of increasing
the content of your assignment without over running the wordcount. Remember if
you are using lists you must write a sentence about each item on the list.

Put all the relevant information in the text


rather than appendices
The assessors will only look at the information in the body of your assignment so if
there is any information relevant to the assessment criteria this must be in the main
part of the work.

Include a Bibliography
So that assessors can see you have carried out su cient research you must always
include a Bibliography with your work. There is help on the Developing U website to
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We hope our guidance notes help. Please feel free to contact us on john@devu.co.uk
if you have any queries about your assignment.

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Filed Under: e-Learning, Training Development

About Mandy
Mandy Underwood FCIPD, FCMI is a Director of Developing U. Her
experience of training and development spans over 30 years, working
with both the private and public sectors at strategic and operational levels.

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