Sometimes the assignments just don't make sense...by Penny Paper on 01/16/13
It does happen--more often than you would think! Many of the papers that get assigned have strange procedures and weird deadlines. For example, many writing projects require that the ABSTRACT or the INTRODUCTION should be turned in as the first part of a longer research project. Here's the problem--how can you write a summary/abstract or introduce material that has not yet been thoroughly read and researched? Really, it would make better sense (from a writer's point of view) to do an annotated bibliography or at least a literature review as the first assignment.
This does not always happen. Why not? Well, that's usually because the instructor is not used to teaching writing and probably does not write very much. They grade it according to the rubric, but they never tried actually doing one of these projects. It's kind of like coaching football without ever having played the game! Still, that makes the whole project a LOT harder on the students, and sometimes it causes so much frustration that people give up & fail the class even if their test scores and homework assignments are decent.
After all, upside-down writing assignments make you feel just that way--upside down, disoriented, and out-of-sync. It is also why what looks like a "little assignment" for the first or second week suddenly spirals violently out of control and leaves students wondering how they can possibly survive the class.