ENGL 102 Essay Assignment Description Reeves
Initial Planning Exercise: Completed in class Thursday, September 22
Essay Proposal: Hardcopy due in class Monday, October 3
Rough Draft I (2 copies): Hardcopy due in class Monday, October 17
Rough Draft II (2 copies): Hardcopy due in class Monday, November 14
Rough Draft lll (2 copies): Hardcopy due in class Monday, November 28
Rough Draft IV (1 copy): Hardcopy due in class Thursday, December I
Final Draft (1 copy): Hardcopy due in class Wednesday, December 7
For most of you, this will be the last English course you take in your academic career. Thus, this essay
will be something of a “capstone” project – an essay that marks the culmination of your learning. You
will be putting together an essay that displays a carefully-measured argument, with all your major
points backed up by quality research. And, of course, it all needs to be written at a collegiate level.
Writing this essay will be the work of several weeks and will include several key stages: Initial
Planning (this is where you will select a topic and do some of your first pre-writing), Proposal (this
short assignment will describe your topic, your angle, how and where you plan to do research, and
include a detailed outline), Research (from college-appropriate sources), Drafis (every draft needs to be
a complete essay that follows your outline, and you’lltake the feedback you receive from both me and
your peers and work on the essay some more), and Final Draft (the finished product, heavily drafted,
and meeting the assignment criteria).
Okay, Mr. Reeves, but what’s the topic
This semester, I’m going to take a different approach. Normally, I offer a list of pre-approved
topics and have students pick one and go from there, but this time, let’s try something a little less predetermined.
Answer this question (to yourself):
Whot is the single most important problem facing us today
There are a lot of ways you can go with this, so the first thing you’ll want to do is determine which “us”
you’re talking about. Depending on the size of the group you want to cover, your topic could change
greatly in size, scope, and importance.
Ilt Clark College students
D College/university students in general!
. Young people (or older people!)E
. Single people, married people, people in a committed relationship!
. Business OwnersE
. Men or Women
. Members of a religious or ethnic community
. All of HumanityE
Stumped Talk to friends and family members, ask them the essay prompt (“What is the single most
critical problem facing us today ”) and see what they think. Look at news sources (newspapers or news
magazines, cable news, online news sites like CNN.com, etc.) and look for articles that talk about
issues that strike you as profoundly important.
When making your selection, consider that – oddly enough – it is a lot easier to write a paper
when the topic if tightly focused, instead of covering too much ground. Your essay cannot be a direct
answer to that question; any wording that references the topic question directly or indirectly will need
to come out. I ask that question just to get you focused on a topic that matters to you. From there you’ll
need to develop a thesis statement that asserts something about that topic, not just that it’s critical, but
that hints at a cause, effect, solution, or so on. For example, if you chose cancer as the most critical
problem, your essay’s thesis wouldn’t be, “Cancer is the most important problem facing us today,” but
rather something like, “Quest for the Cure: Why Cancer Research Doesn’t Receive Enough Funding.”
Also remember: This essay is an argument, which is supported by extensive research. You must
take a position on this topic and support it with statistics, professional testimony, and other types of
. The essay must be 3,000 words in length or more (10-12 double-spaced printed pages). Do a word
count check using your word processing software; do not rely on page count alone.
. The writing must be professional, showing your highest level of writing skill.
. The introductory paragraph(s) must include A) an opening (it may or may not be “catchy,” but must
do its job), B) a summary of the essay’s overall points, and C) a thesis statement which encapsulates
your main argument.
. The main point (sometimes also called the main claim, the thesis, etc.) needs to be backed up by at
least three distinct supports, each with enough evidence.
. The conclusion must include A) a recap of the essay’s overall points, B) a restatement and expansion
of the thesis statement, and C) some suggestion about what should be done now that you’ve made your
. You must have at least seven different reliable, college-level sources from which you gathered
meaningful research. You must include relevant information, whether in the form of a quote, chart,
piece of data, etc., from all seven of those sources somewhere in your essay.
. You must have a Works Cited page at the end of the essay. It needs to be its own page, but still part of
the same document as the essay. Instructions for properly formatting a Works Cited page can be found
in your Pocket Manual of Style under the MLA section. Any source from which you quoted
information must appear in your Works Cited page, and similarly any source appearing in your Works
Cited page must be used somewhere in your essay.
. Every essay must have a title, something more than “Cancer Research” or some other flat statement of
the topic. Your title should be a little more specific, without being overly long or cutesy. “Problems
With Using Monkeys for Cancer Research” would be good, or “A Question of Ethics: Using Monkeys
for Cancer Research and the Clash with Modern Values” even better.