How RAFT can help you to improve the quality and style of your academic writing for assignments.

Explore how you can apply RAFT to your assignments to improve the quality and style of your academic writing.


Your assignments provide you with the opportunity to communicate what you know. You need to provide a clear, well organised and reasoned argument which provides an answer to the question you have been set. You also need to demonstrate critical engagement with your course material.

RAFT is a great way to ensure that your writing has an effective structure, that it meets the expectations of your reader and that you stay focused on your subject matter.  

Role

It is crucial to recognise your role as the writer of the assignment; you need to read and analyse your assignment question very carefully to gain a clear understanding of what you are being asked to do. The question might ask you to persuade, to discuss, to inform, to justify etc. Each will require you to write in a slightly different way, so it is important to understand what is expected of you. 

It is useful to look for instruction words which tell you how your tutor wants you to approach your assignment:

Consider the following title: 

“Outline the benefits and drawbacks of online social networking for teenagers”

The instruction word is ‘outline’ which indicates your role. Your tutor is expecting you to give a description and explanation of the main benefits and drawbacks of social networking for teenagers.

Once you are clear about what your role is (and the job that you need your piece of writing to do) you are in a good position to start writing. 

Audience

Your audience for your assessed work is likely to be your tutor, it is helpful to bear your audience (or your ‘reader’) in mind as you write; particularly as your audience will be responsible for assessing your work, providing you with marks and giving you feedback on how to improve.

Your assignment is your way of communicating what you have learnt whilst studying the course and a good assignment will usually demonstrate:

  • knowledge and understanding of the topic studied.
  • an indication that you have researched the topic.
  • the ability to organise, present and critically evaluate supporting information.

In order to ensure that you consider the reader your work should be:

  • well structured, with a clear purpose that you outline at the beginning of the assignment.
  • well presented, ensure that you follow course guidelines regarding formatting etc.
  • referenced correctly using the agreed format to provide clear evidence of wider reading.
  • a critical engagement with the literature which shows that you take a clear position in regard to the question posed and that you provide evidence (with analysis) to support your argument.

Considering how your work will be received by your audience helps you to refine your writing and ensure that you communicate clearly.

Format

You should be given clear guidance as to how each piece of assessed work should be formatted, referenced and presented. Word count guidelines should always be adhered to otherwise you could lose marks. 

In some cases you may be given a choice over which format to use (for example, an essay, a blog post, a presentation or a video) and this can be an opportunity to try something different. However, if you are unfamiliar with the format required and its related conventions (for example, if you have been asked to write a report and you are not sure what this entails) you should make sure that you are fully aware of what is expected of you before you start writing so that you don’t lose any marks.

Topic

Your topic is the subject of your writing and you should make sure that you answer the question or fulfil the brief you have been given. Read the question carefully and break it down into sections to make sure you address each section. Look for topic words which set out what you should focus on and pay attention to limiting words to help you set the scope of your writing.  

Look at the example again:

“Outline the benefits and drawbacks of online social networking for teenagers”

The topic words here are contained in the phrases ‘online social networking’ and ‘benefits and drawbacks’. Your tutor will be expecting to see examples of some of these benefits and drawbacks in the content of your assignment. 

The limiting word in this example is ‘teenagers’ so you should focus on this group specifically (not on younger children or adults).

Last modified: Friday, 26 Jul 2019, 10:37