Missing tutorials and lectures and then attempting to write a term paper or other required document based upon the written specifications only, can be a minefield. While some professors are great and create paper outlines which are comprehensive and really do include everything they want to see, others are not quite so astute. Some professors assume you have been to every lecture and that they only have to clarify the most general terms of what they want in a paper. Often these same professors will downgrade your work for not including information you were never asked for in the project outline. This happens a lot!
One way to ensure you’ve covered most bases most of the time is to maintain a broad scope. That is, attempt to include various types of information, quotes, graphs, direct references, analysis and so forth. Many professors may never tell you what it is but they will have a preference for how information is presented. After your first paper you can often tell what these are by how much credit was offered in a particular area, and of course comments made.
Many schools will have a grading scheme which identifies clearly final results and what they mean but many professors don’t offer a rubric for understanding how to get there. With these teachers your grade will be dependent on a broad scope of information that supports a specific hypothesis or answer. For those who have never had a Prof provide a grading rubric this is how they are described by Wikipedia:
Grading Rubric Definition
“A rubric is a scoring tool for subjective assessments… A set of criteria and standards linked to learning objectives used to assess a student's performance on papers, projects, essays, and other assignments. Rubrics allow for standardised evaluation according to specified criteria, making grading simpler and more transparent… The rubric is an attempt to delineate consistent assessment criteria for grading… a rubric allows teachers and students alike to evaluate criteria, which can be complex and subjective. Rubrics also provide a basis for self-evaluation, reflection, and peer review. It is aimed at accurate and fair assessment, fostering understanding and indicating the way to proceed with subsequent learning/teaching... Increasingly, instructors who rely on rubrics to evaluate student performance tend to share the rubric with students at the time the assignment is made… In addition to helping students understand how the assignment relates to course content, a shared-rubric can increase student authority in classroom, through transparency.”
Transparent, objective grading, is of course a good thing so why don’t more professors use a rubric? At the end of the day, and this is a purely biased opinion, many of the younger professors do. Professors who have been around for a very long time seem to consider a student’s ability to decipher personal code as part of the learning process. Also, old school thinking supports the idea that students should not be able to miss tutorials or lectures without suffering. Professors who have this mind-set tend to limit written project specifications to force students to be in class.
It is for these professors in particular that a very broad range of reference and resource tools should be used, and it is probably good advice to maximize the word count on any paper to try and fit in as many types of data as possible. Filling your paper with variety will simply give you a better shot at hitting on the types of information that appeal to that grading professor. In this way you can attempt to please as many Profs as often as possible – if not all your Profs all the time.