David Royse points his readers to a potentially useful set of guidelines for thinking about what you want to accomplish with your assignments. He quotes from Benjamin Bloom, whose "widely heralded set of educational objectives [...] may provide you with a useful starting place to begin thinking about the assignments you require."
"Bloom's Cognitive Taxonomy
(Arranged from concrete to abstract and simple to complex levels)
Knowledge (remembering factual materials): Students must remember, memorize, recognize, describe, and recall. Sample verbs that would be used: define, describe, list, name, cite, recall, state, identify.
Comprehension (grasping the meaning of materials): Students must interpret, describe, and explain knowledge. Sample verbs that would be used: discuss, explain, interpret, extrapolate, arrange, sort, classify.
Application (problem solving): Students must apply facts, rules, and principles to produce some result. Sample verbs that would be used: apply, illustrate, sketch, solve, demonstrate, use.
Analysis (an understanding of the structure and components of knowledge): Students must be able to break down knowledge and show relationships among the parts. Sample verbs that would be used: analyze, appraise, categorize, contrast, criticize, distinguish, examine, differentiate, compare.
Synthesis (creating a unique, original product; combining ideas to form a new whole): Students must bring together parts and components of knowledge to form a whole and build relationships for new situations. Sample verbs that would be used: compose, create, construct, formulate, propose, plan, design, organize, prescribe.
Evaluation (making value decisions about issues; resolving controversies): Students must make judgments about the value of materials for given purposes. Sample verbs that would be used: appraise, argue, assess, attack, compare, evaluate, predict, support, defend, recommend." -DG
Source: David Royse. Teaching Tips for College and University Instructors: A Practical Guide. Boston: Allyn & Bacon, 2001. 42-43. Benjamin Bloom. Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, Vol. 1: Cognitive Domain. New York: McKay, 1956.