Reaction Papers

click here to see a sample reaction paper

Every discussion class requires a Reaction Paper from every student (including Discussion Leaders).  Each paper is worth a maximum of two points. Papers must be submitted in person at the beginning of the class period in which they are due.

Purpose:
Reaction Papers have a three-part  purpose. First they are intended to demonstrate your comprehension of the assigned readings that will be discussed in class on discussion days.  They will help you keep track of important ideas that you will need to review again in preparing your Senior Thesis.  Most importantly, they are intended for you to give your reaction to the assigned readings.
 

Format:
Papers must be at least double-spaced one page in length and no more than two pages (250-500 words). It must have a title, your name, page numbering, and consistent use of footnotes/references.   Proofreading for grammatical errors is expected and plays a role in the evaluation of papers.  Make sure that your paper is in the form of an essay with an introduction, body and conclusion.  If you wish to discuss your work, please contact Prof. McLean by phone or email or office hours.
 

Procedure:
 Your Reaction Paper should demonstrate comprehension of the week's assigned readings and contain a critical and thoughtful reaction to the reading.  Reaction should make up the majority of the Reaction Paper.  There are a number of ways you might approach the task of reaction to the readings.
 

a. Focus on an aspect of the reading that you will argue pertains to some issue or idea we have discussed in class.  Does the reading support, undermine or come into tension with previous issues or concepts? Explain why it is significant.

b. Focus on a particular theme or issue raised by the reading and give your own perspective on it.   Be sure to elaborate on your opinion.  What is your thinking based on?  What are the strengths and the weaknesses of the main sides of the issue, as you see it?  Do you have any personal experience that is relevant to the issue?


What to Avoid:
A Reaction Paper is NOT a book report!  You must give some brief summary of the reading in order to write a good paper, but only summarize what is necessary to write your reaction.
It is also important to avoid vague impressions about the reading.  Base everything you say in something specific in the reading, such as a quote, or a concept or an argument.   Dig into something solid.  Make sure you make proper reference to these specific details.