Reflection Paper Guidelines
“I am sorry to write such a long letter. I didn’t have time to write a short one.”
Variously attributed to Kipling, Pascal, Pliny the Younger, Proust, Rilke, Twain, Voltaire …
Each reflection paper should take an issue or topic from the assigned reading and develop your own thoughts into a coherent, well-considered paper. These papers are not intended to be research papers, but rather to give you an opportunity to interrogate the readings, challenging their assumptions, and to practice critical thinking skills. These papers must be limited to one single-spaced page with reasonable font size and margins and must be handed in at the beginning of the designated class; no late papers will be accepted for any reason. You are expected to hand in four reflection papers throughout the course, but I will throw out the lowest grade of the four; in other words, each paper is worth ten percent of your final grade.
A couple things to keep in mind. First, I am looking for your own voice in these papers. Your first paragraph should succinctly name the issue you’re addressing; the rest of the paper should be your own interrogation of that issue. I am not looking for a summary of the readings; I’ve already read them and know that you have, too. Keep in mind, though, that I’m looking for your voice in analysis, not your unsubstantiated “opinion.” In other words, I want to know more than just what you think of a reading (your opinion), but also why you think what you do. In order to do this, you need to provide evidence to back up your claims: quotes from the reading, examples, logical fallacies, etc.
This will be much more successful if you focus on one specific issue within the readings. A clear critique – whether positive or negative, or asking new questions – of a single idea is far more effective than a general, superficial reaction to a larger set of ideas. Don’t try to tackle too much in these papers. If you find one page is not enough space to make your point, then you need to choose a more focused issue; likewise, if you feel you need to cover more than one issue, you’re not going into enough depth on the issue you’ve chosen. One-page papers require very careful, concise writing – pay attention to your language so that you can communicate as clearly as possible.
Reflection papers must be on the readings that immediately precede their due date, as listed below. The readings available to write on for a given paper may change if the overall calendar changes . As always, feel free to contact me with any questions you may have.
April 7 First Reflection Paper Due for Groups A&B Hartley, Hoover, Meyrowitz
April 14 First Reflection Paper Due for Groups C&D Jenkins, Murphy & Pfaff
April 21 Second Reflection Paper Due for Group A&B Keenan, Sontag
April 28 Second Reflection Paper Due for Groups C&D Cole, Krabill, Warner
May 5 Third Reflection Paper Due for Groups A&B Warner, Children’s Rights readings
May 12 Third Reflection Paper Due for Groups C&D #BLM readings, Schmidt Camacho
May 24 Fourth and Final Reflection Paper Due for ALL GROUPS Any reading/text assigned by the research clusters, *except* for your own cluster.