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ENGL U101 - Composition I - Professor Wilson Colyard: Assignment


Your final and most important writing assignment in this class requires you to:

  1. describe an issue or topic and three competing viewpoints regarding it,
  2. then support the position you find most reasonable. This essay should be directed to actual and implied audiences, both your fellow students and professor as well as an imagined audience you are trying to teach with your experience or interpretation and impress with your style of description and explanation. You must craft the essay to make it meaningful and appealing to others.

This paper should be five to seven pages long, double-spaced, in 12 pt. Times New Roman, with one-inch margins. You will have a minimum of five reliable sources, documented according to MLA conventions, both in the text and on the Works Cited page. Note: The Works Cited page does not count toward the required page count.

First, establish a topic and specific debatable issue of your interest and research it carefully. Possible topics might include immigration, health care, class in America, education policy, or any other matter of interest approved for class. Then, you should describe fairly and reasonably at least three positions on that issue and their justification. The introduction should identify the topic, its relevant context, the various perspectives available, and your thesis: a small and unexpected claim worth making. The next few paragraphs should describe more than two conflicting but reasonable positions on the topic, and you need to incorporate evidence in the form of quotes and statistics to substantiate your descriptions. The rest of the paper should demonstrate your position with respect to those you have described, offering careful evidence to support your claims. For your conclusion, you have earned the right to make more general claims, suggest what the broader implications of your analysis and position might be.

Assignment Schedule

You will submit the pieces of your Critical Response Paper according to the following schedule:

  • You will bring two hard copies of a topic proposal to class on Tuesday, Oct. 29. You will also submit a copy of the document to Blackboard.
    • The topic proposal should feature a brief statement of the topic, a longer explanation of the topic, a description of three or more conflicting but reasonable perspectives regarding the topic, and a brief list of possible sources.
  • You will bring two hard copies of the annotated bibliography for your Critical Response Paper to class on Thursday, Nov. 4. You will also submit a copy of the document to Blackboard.
    • The annotated bibliography is a Works Cited page that includes your analysis of your sources. It should feature five or more sources, cited appropriately, followed by a three to four sentence summary of the text and a descriptive and appropriate, cited quote from the text, related to the summary you write.
  • You will bring two hard copies of the introduction, thesis statement, outline, and Works Cited page to class on Tuesday, Nov. 19. You will also submit a copy of the document to Blackboard.
    • The introduction should be a paragraph clarifying the topic, its context, and a clear sense of the various positions, including your own, and its reasoning. It should end with your thesis statement. Your outline should begin on the following page, and your Works Cited on the page after that.
  • You will bring two hard copies of a nearly completed draft to class on Tuesday, Nov. 26. You will also submit a copy of the document to Blackboard.
  • You will bring two hard copies of a revised and completed draft to class on Tuesday, Dec. 3. You will also submit a copy of the document to Blackboard.
    • The draft of your Critical Response Paper should be your best work, incorporating your research accurately and demonstrating clear purpose, successful organization, and sentence-level correctness.
  • You will submit your final revised draft of the Critical Response Paper to Blackboard on Thursday, Dec. 5.

Critical Response Paper

The Critical Response Paper is worth 30% of your final grade. Your effort, accuracy, and timely submission of its components, from the topic proposal to the final revised draft, are considered in awarding your grade. Your paper will be assessed according to the following criteria:

PROCESS: You have submitted the topic proposal, annotated bibliography, introduction, complete first draft, and a polished final revision.

QUALITY OF THOUGHT and CLARITY OF PURPOSE: The essay effectively describes multiple perspectives on a topic and demonstrates its own position.

ORGANIZATION: The essay is organized effectively and includes smooth transitions between sections and paragraphs. Paragraphs are clearly focused on one idea relevant to the essay’s thesis; the ideas within the paragraph are clearly related and smoothly linked, and the main point of the paragraph is supported by examples and details.

USE OF LANGUAGE: Clarity of expression: the writing has been carefully proofread and adheres to standard conventions of grammar and punctuation; the essay presents an appropriate tone and precise diction.

RESEARCH: The essay effectively and appropriately cites relevant sources using quotes that are accurately introduced, cited, and analyzed. The in-text citations and the list of works are in MLA style.