Nurses need effective documentation skills in their professional practice (Crisp and Taylor, 2009). Practice is essential to improve writing skills. One way for nursing students to practice skills is by writing assignments. Through assignment writing, students demonstrate skills with the written word. Typically, students look for quick and easy ways to write assignments. However, in reality there are no shortcuts.
Assignment writing requires preparation, planning, drafting, re-writing, proof reading and editing. The preparation and planning phase of assignment writing is the first step to success. Gimenez (2011) asks us five questions that can give direction to students and help them understand how to plan an assignment. The questions relate to the audience: “who?”, the topic: “what?”, what exactly: “the focus?”, the rationale: “why?”, and the approach: “how?” Gimenez (2011) writes that “these questions will help you choose the right information for your essay as well as the right amount of information for your audience” (p.4). Students can access their work to further knowledge of writing. The planning process is completed after information, references and resources that relevant to the topic are gathered, read and organised (“Seven stages of writing assignments” 2010). Organising the information is important to ensure logical flow of ideas.
Pre-writing or drafting the assignment now begins. It is important that all assignments include an introduction, main body, conclusion and a reference page (Gimenez, 2011). An introduction is usually brief and offers some insights to the reader about the content of the assignment. The main body presents ideas about the content in a logical way. The conclusion is brief and notes important points and some overall conclusion about the topic.
All academic assignments require acknowledgement of sources used to write the content. The references are cited both within the body of the text and on a separate reference page (APA Sixth Referencing, 2011). References are required to avoid your committing plagiarism (Gimenez, 2011). Many students writing assignments are confused about acknowledging resources and how to make points in their own individual ways (Neville, 2008). Lloyd (2007) writes that “poor referencing spoils the presentation of the work and the argument that is being conveyed” (p. 52). Referencing practice is essential.
Proof reading and editing are the final steps in assignment writing. Writing allows the reader to grasp the intended meaning, which will have accurate spelling, grammar and paragraph formation. Correct grammar allows the