Existing research identifies that students' approaches to assignments are related to their general approaches to study. It is suggested that students need to better understand the requirements of assignments and acquire new concepts such as 'argument'. This fine-grained study proposes four qualitatively distinct assignment pathways: gathering, connecting, minimalist and performing. Students negotiate assignment pathways to sustain a sense of control, confidence and connection. Making changes to their approaches to assignments is not straightforward. Suggestions are made for using insights from the research to more effectively support assignments as vehicles for learning.