Response Paper Guidelines

Response Paper Guidelines

Throughout the semester you will be submitting one paged, typed and double spaced responses to the assigned readings, as indicated on the course schedule.

These responses are meant to be an informal exploration of the ideas that you read and your reaction to them. You will not be graded on grammar, form, or sentence structure, although I do encourage you to practice the writing conventions that we discuss in class.

When you respond to the readings, you should have a minimum of two full paragraphs. In the first paragraph, you will provide a summary of the article—what was it about and what do you believe the author’s main argument to be? The second paragraph (although it could be more than one) will contain your response to the article.

As you respond to the writings, you might want to write about a reaction that you had to the selection. Keep in mind that your reactions should be clearly articulated and should show that you’ve given careful consideration to the ideas expressed. For example, “I thought the article was funny” or “I didn’t understand it because the vocabulary was too hard” would not be considered a thoughtful reaction. However, if you agree or disagree with an idea expressed, that might be a great starting point. Explaining why you agree or disagree, and using some examples, would make for a great response.

You might also want to explain your interpretation of a selection. Remember that an interpretation is not a summary—summaries express the literal information, and interpretations explain what you infer from the literal information on the page. With an interpretation, you can explain what you think the author is hinting at, or what you think he/she wants us to believe. Maybe the author has changed your mind about a particular topic—if so, you can explain why!

As you read, you might also develop some questions about the selection. A response based on some questions that you have about the author’s point would also make for a good response. Remember that we’re digging deep into the ideas here, so straightforward, obvious questions would not make for a good response. Think about questions like what the author would have to say about a similar example that you think of, or questions about what the author’s opinion seems to be. If you ask some of these deep questions, take a stab at an answer. Remember, with these kinds of questions, there isn’t a right or wrong answer!

That’s not all that you can write about, either! Your responses are YOUR exploration of ideas, and meant to spark conversation in class. Have fun and be creative. Just remember to dig deep!

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