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Summary/Response Essay Prompt Assignment Description
For this essay, you should find an article that expresses an opinion or claim that you summarize and respond to in an academic essay (see the information in the unit about finding an article
in The New York Times). You can respond to the article’s points by agreeing, disagreeing, or agreeing with some but not all of the arguments made in the article. You should include evidence (from the article, from your own reasoning, from examples, from experiences, etc.) to support your response. You will learn more about each of these steps in the unit. To see more about the grading of this assignment, please view the rubric at the end of this document.
Purpose and Learning Objectives
The purpose of writing a response paper is to encourage you to read actively and to evaluate the selected article critically. You will then add your own “voice” to the ongoing conversation being made about the topic as you respond to the article’s main ideas. Additionally, you should learn several key concepts in writing, including how to use the writing process, how to differentiate between your ideas and your source’s ideas, how to structure an academic essay, and how to write in MLA format.
- 600- 900 words (approx. 2-3 pages)
- An interesting and informative title
- MLA format with in-text citations and works cited page
- An introductory paragraph that tells readers what article you are responding to and that
includes a thesis statement showing your response
- One or more paragraphs that summarize the article
- One or more paragraphs that respond to the article
- A conclusion paragraph that wraps up the main ideas in the essay
You should not expect to earn a grade higher than a 60% if you do not meet the minimum requirements.
Process for Completion
- The first step in writing a good summary/response paper is to find a good article and to actively read the article. Active reading means consciously identifying the thesis, purpose, audience, and tone of the article (even if the thesis, purpose, and audience are implied and not obviously stated). Active reading means determining what main points the author is trying to convey with his or her article. Once you’ve identified what’s going on in the article, you can begin to write the summary.
- Once you have a firm understanding of the article, start formulating your response by asking questions:
a. What do I really think about this topic? Why do I think that?
- Do I disagree with any points being made? Why?
- Do I agree with any points? Why?
- Can I think of additional examples or evidence that support or refute the author’s
- Can I connect something in the article to my own personal experience?
- Can I apply the ideas presented in the article to some other subject?
- At this point, you should start to formulate your response. Once you have an idea of what you want to say, start drafting your essay.
- The introduction should clearly identify the author and article you’re summarizing. It may include a bit of brief summary to show what the main point of the article is. It should include a thesis statement that presents your response to the article.
- The body paragraphs should begin with a summary of the article that you’ve chosen (one or two paragraphs). Be sure to represent the ideas and arguments from the source accurately. Next, you should develop your response (between one and three paragraphs), usually with a statement of agreement or disagreement, followed by your reasons, examples, and evidence. Remember that the purpose of a response paper is to add your own voice to the mix, to join the conversation. I want to read your reactions, your interpretations, and your opinions. Take this opportunity to develop your own voice.
- The conclusion paragraph should reinforce the ideas you stated in the essay.
- Once you’ve drafted your paper, go back and review how you’ve organized your
paragraphs (do they have topic sentences?) and integrated evidence (all quotes should be seamlessly incorporated into your own sentences; signal phrases should demonstrate which ideas are coming from the article and which ideas are your own).
- As you write, you will receive feedback from your peers and should continue revising and editing your draft. You might find that some comments are more helpful than others. You are not obliged to take anyone’s advice, but you should at least consider every suggestion. When you are comfortable that the essay is in good shape, upload it to eCampus. The final draft will automatically be sent through a plagiarism checker to help identify plagiarism.