The list below describes what I look for in student papers in this class.  Generally, I believe that class papers should provide an opportunity for students to think with the material that is presented in readings and in class discussions. 

I would summarize the criteria for good papers as follows:

  • the paper presents an interesting idea—it doesn’t have to be original, but it should be fresh, your own, and/or compelling to you.  In other words: tell me something!

  • the paper is readable and presentable—run the spell-check, do a second reading, share it with a friend.

  • the paper is well-organized; papers need not be thesis-driven; they also do not have to reach a conclusion; they should show, though, that you’re working with an idea and that you think openly about what we have read and/or discussed in class; the organization should be logical.

  • the ideas presented in the paper are well supported.  Support can be any combination of the following elements:  personal experience, something you’ve read in another class, something you’ve observed/read outside of class, something that might apply to your future career (i.e. high school teaching), and/or something from another medium (TV, movies, etc). 

  • the paper makes direct connections to class readings that are apparent and clearly explained.  Use specific quotes from the texts to support and animate your own ideas. Even if you use other forms of support (see bullet above), make a clear and direct reference to our class readings as well.

  • response papers are at least two full pages long.  The final paper is at least five pages long. 

  • the paper employs MLA documentation conventions correctly; since this is an upper-division course for students who will graduate from college within months, I expect that papers employ the MLA citation style correctly.  So, look at a handbook and do your best to use the MLA documentation style.  I will mark  documentation mistakes in all papers. 


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