Historical Foundations of American Education

Still looking for Academic Writing Help? Get it here.

Reading Response Papers

Throughout the semester you will compose six (6) reading responses to the required readings for
the assigned weeks. These responses will be formal, graded pieces of writing not to exceed both faces of
one (1) double-spaced page. All response papers are due in hard-copy in the Thursday class for the
assigned weeks. The four best response papers will count for the course grade, and together comprise
twenty percent (20%) of the final course grade.
The purpose of these reading responses is to engage more rigorously with the required readings

while honing several indispensable academic writing skills. Writing a good response paper is a
demanding exercise, because you must do two things well. First, the reading must be thoroughly digested
and understood – no quick or easy task given our readings. Second, you must effectively communicate
your understanding to a reader who knows nothing about the reading you have done. Let me say this
unequivocally: you will need to read our articles more than once in order to compose a good response
paper. A first reading of a history text is often an orientation to the content and argument; you may retain
the thesis statement, some of the salient facts from the evidence, and the claim or conclusion. And while
it is good to have a full sense of those after a single reading, we are after more than a rote regurgitation of
our readings. We want to understand these articles as students, but also as writers, and that means
attending not only to what the author has said, i.e. the content, but also both how and why she said it.
What seems to be the purpose for this piece of writing? What claim has the author made by the end of
their writing that they could not stake at the beginning? What smaller points does the author make as the
argument builds, and how do they support the overall claim or conclusion? What do different sections
accomplish, and how are they inter-related?
An adequate response paper will:

0 paraphrase the author’s claim or thesis statement

0 summarize the author’s argument

0 paraphrase the author’s conclusion
A good response paper will:

0 quote the author’s claim or thesis statement from the text

0 distill the argument into a focused paragraph or two

0 demonstrate how the author’s conclusion follows from her argument

0 interrogate or critique a part of the author’s argument or logic, with reference to the text
A excellent response paper can add any or all of the following:

0 address why the author is writing, i.e. the purpose of the work

0 explicate the argument as it develops in the text through quotations

0 examine and/or question the evidence the author relies upon

0 offer a critical perspective utilizing other course texts or lecture material

Still looking for Academic Writing Help? Get it here.

Last Updated on April 25, 2020 by