Explanations and Exercises are types of writing which show that you have understood what you have read in textbooks, and what your lecturers have told you. Although these kinds of assignments can be very technical and can require you to know a large amount about your discipline, they do not usually require you to give your own opinion, or write anything which is not accepted knowledge.
The Primary Purpose of these Genre Families is Demonstrating Knowledge and Understanding.
What do you mean by Demonstrating Knowledge and Understanding?
Listen to the discussion between a student (S) and a lecturer (L) and use the words to fill in the blanks. You can listen to the recording as many times as you want and you can pause it if you need more time to put the answers into the spaces.
S: So what do you mean by demonstrating knowledge and understanding?
L: This is where you tell your lecturer everything you've learned about what they've been teaching. So what they've taught you in lectures, what you've read in the textbook, and they might ask you to find out other information for yourself.
S: So I don't have to do any research by myself. I just have to show that I've understood what I've been taught.
L: You have to show that you've understood, that's right. So you don't add your opinions necessarily, you don't really make arguments. You just explain what it is that you've been taught.
S: Oh, OK. Thanks.