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
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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