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Assignment Template Sample


Directions

This assignment is designed to assess your critical thinking problem solving, and communication skills. Your answer will be judged for its clarity, relevance, coherence, logic, depth, consistency, and fairness. More specifically, the reader will be asking the following questions:
  1. Is the question at issue well stated? Is it clear and unbiased? Does the expression of the question do justice to the complexity of the matter at issue?

  2. Does the writer cite relevant evidence, experiences, and/or information essential to the issue?

  3. Does the writer clarify key concepts when necessary?

  4. Does the writer show a sensitivity to what he or she is assuming or taking for granted? (Insofar as those assumptions might reasonably questioned)?

  5. Does the writer develop a definite line of reasoning, explaining well how he or she is arriving at his or her conclusions?

  6. Is the writer's reasoning well- supported?

  7. Does the writer show sensitivity to alternative points of view or lines of reasoning? Does he or she consider and respond to objections framed from other points of view?

  8. Does the writer show sensitivity to the implications and consequences of the position he or she has taken?

Issue #1: Ecology

The nation is facing a variety of ecological problems that have the following general form: an established practice, whether on the part of business and industry or on the part of the public, is contributing to serious health problems for a large number of people. At the same time it would be costly to modify the practice so as to reduce the health problem.

People often say that the answer is one of achieving a "balance" between the amount of money we spend to correct the problem and the number of lives we would save by that expenditure.

Develop a point of view and some plausible criteria for telling how one would determine this "balance." Make sure you address any dilemmas inherent in your strategy for solving such problems.

Issue #2: Politics

There is a growing number of Americans who do not vote in national and local elections. Many of them explain their non-participation by saying that their vote would not make a difference.

Some go on to argue that this is true because "money plays such a large role in elections that the candidate with the highest paid, and the highest quality, media campaign wins." Most people agree that money sometimes plays an inappropriate role in determining the outcome of elections.

Develop a proposed solution to this problem that takes into account the view that people and organizations with money have a right to use that money to advance political causes they believe in. If you like, you may decide to develop a position to the effect that there is no solution to the problem and that we have no choice but to accept the status quo.

Issue #3: Morality

Sociologist Erving Goffman has pointed out that all social groups, including professions, develop a protective attitude toward members of their group, even when what some of the members do is seen as morally wrong. A sense of loyalty to the group often overrides what they would otherwise deem immoral.

Consider the arguments for and against exposing people with whom you are personally close or with whom you have close professional ties. Develop a position on this issue that could serve as a guide for anyone in such a position.

{This article is adapted from the resource: Critical Thinking Basic Theory and Instructional Structures.}

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Use your concept map or plan

Write your assignment using your map or plan to guide you.  As you write, you may well get new ideas or think about ideas in slightly different ways.  This is fine, but check back to your map or plan to evaluate whether that idea fits well into the plan or the paragraph that you are writing at the time. Consider:  In which paragraph does it best fit?  How does it link to the ideas you have already discussed?

Paragraph planning

For every paragraph, think about the main idea that you want to communicate in that paragraph and write a clear topic sentence which tells the reader what you are going to talk about. A main idea is more than a piece of content that you found while you were researching, it is often a point that you want to make about the information that you are discussing.  Consider how you are going to discuss that idea (what is the paragraph plan). For example, are you: listing a number of ideas, comparing and contrasting the views of different authors, describing problems and solutions, or describing causes and effects?

Use linking words throughout the paragraph. For example:

  • List paragraphs should include words like: similarly, additionally, next, another example, as well, furthermore, another, firstly, secondly, thirdly, finally, and so on.
  • Cause and effect paragraphs should include words like: consequently, as a result, therefore, outcomes included, results indicated, and so on.
  • Compare and contrast paragraphs should include words like: on the other hand, by contrast, similarly, in a similar way, conversely, alternatively, and so on.
  • Problem solution paragraphs should include words like: outcomes included, identified problems included, other concerns were overcome by, and so on.

Note:
Some paragraphs can include two plans, for example a list of problems and solutions.  While this is fine, it is often clearer to include one plan per paragraph.  

Linking paragraphs:

Look at your plan or map and decide on the key concepts that link the different sections of your work.  Is there an idea that keeps recurring in different sections?  This could be a theme that you can use to link ideas between paragraphs.  Try using linking words (outlined above) to signal to your reader whether you are talking about similar ideas, whether you are comparing and contrasting, and so on.  The direction that your thinking is taking in the essay should be very clear to your reader.  Linking words will help you to make this direction obvious.

Different parts of the essay:

While different types of essays have different requirements for different parts of the essay, it is probably worth thinking about some general principles for writing introductions, body paragraphs and conclusions.  Always check the type of assignment that you are being asked to produce and consider what would be the most appropriate way to structure that type of writing. 

Remember that in most (not all) writing tasks, especially short tasks (1,000 to 2,000 words), you will not write headings such as introduction and conclusion.  Never use the heading ‘body’.

Writing an introduction:

Introductions need to provide general information about the topic. Typically they include:

  • Background, context or a general orientation to the topic so that the reader has a general understanding of the area you are discussing.
  • An outline of issues that will and will not be discussed in the essay (this does not have to be a detailed list of the ideas that you will discuss).  An outline should be a general overview of the areas that you will explore.
  • A thesis or main idea which is your response to the question.  

Here is an example of an introduction:

It is often a good idea to use some of the words from the question in the introduction to indicate that you are on track with the topic.  Do not simply recount the question word for word. 

Writing the body:

  • Each paragraph should make a point which should be linked to your outline and thesis statement.
  • The most important consideration in the body paragraphs is the argument that you want to develop in response to the topic. This argument is developed by making and linking points in and between paragraphs.

Try structuring paragraphs like this:

  • Topic sentence: open the paragraph by making a point 
  • Supporting sentences: support the point with references and research
  • Conclusive sentence: close the paragraph by linking back to the point you made to open the paragraph and linking this to your thesis statement.

Here is an example of a body paragraph from the essay about education and globalisation:

As you write the body, make sure that you have strong links between the main ideas in each of the paragraphs.

Writing the conclusion:

This is usually structured as follows:

  • Describe in general terms the most important points made or the most important linkage of ideas
  • Do not include new information, therefore it does not usually contain references
  • End with a comment, a resolution, or a suggestion for issues that may be addressed in future research on the topic.

Here is an example conclusion from the essay on education:

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