Reaction Paper

Question description



Read all of this very carefully before you begin

your paper!



Students will also be required to write

a short

reaction paper

(typically 5


) critically evaluating one of the

“Contemporary Debates”

(CD) modules

assigned for a given

class (NOTE: Each


is a “debate” consisting of TWO articles; thus, your paper must critically evaluate BOTH sides of the



, BOTH articles).

These CD modules appear on D2L Brightspace and correspond to particular topics indicated in the

Schedule of Readings at the

end of this syllabus.

Each paper should provide a critical evaluation of the authors’ thesis, main arguments and evidence. You should approach the

arguments and evidence presented in these


very skeptically and you should be willing to challenge

any arguments,

evidence, or assumptions that you believe are flawed, inadequate, or not relevant. On the other hand, I expect students to

maintain a dignified, moderate, and scholarly tone in their writing, even when criticizing or challenging the ideas of

the author

do NOT approach this assignment as an invitation to engage in partisan diatribes or personal attacks on political figures,

parties, interest groups


or celebrities. I expect students to make a genuine effort to try and understand the point of

view of

authors with whom they disagree. You will not be able to effectively critique an idea until you are able to understand why

someone else would agree with that idea. An important part of this exercise is to encourage you to, as the saying goes, “wal

k a

mile in someone else’s shoes.”

There is no single format, template, or approach that is preferred

you have a great deal of discretion in how you approach

your critical analysis and argument. However, to give you an idea of what has worked in the pa

st for many students, I would

suggest you consider one of the following general approaches to developing a




., main argument)



You may decide that one article was clearly more persuasive than the other, so your thesis (typically articulated in t


introductory paragraph) will briefly indicate which article was more convincing and why;


You may decide that both articles contained central truths that should not be ignored, such that a combination or

synthesis of the two theories or views is the bes

t way to think about the issue or problem the authors have analyzed;



You may conclude that neither article has correctly or adequately addressed the problem they describe, in which case

you should explain how they fall short and describe what you belie

ve is a better way to approach the topic described

in the chapter.

Remember that you are every bit as smart and capable as the people who wrote these articles and it is very likely that you wi


find many flawed approaches, obvious oversights, or mistaken assumptions in these articles. Please assert your own voice and


confident, though not arrogant, in expressing your original ideas. Writing in the

first person


active voice

are encouraged

for your writing in this course.

General guidelines for your reaction papers:

Papers must be typed, double

spaced, in 12

point Times New Roman font with

the default margins (1” on top and bottom; 1.25” on left and right). Your paper must have a


that provides the reader with

a clear indication of your thesis


, what

argument will you be making in the paper

? (in

other words,

titles like


Paper #1”

or “Abortion” are


acceptable title


). An “A” paper will be well

written and well


ganized, will have a clear,


provoking thesis (


, argument, main point), will support that thesis through a critical evaluation and synthesis of the

readings, and will have a clear conclusion that summarizes the main arguments in support of the t

hesis, and perhaps even

raises an important question for future consideration.

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