96 Sample Writing Assignments
Below are some sample assignments that can be used for “Writing to Inquire.”
Essay One: Exploratory Research
By Liza Long
Licensed CC BY 4.0
Our first essay is an open topic, APA style research essay that answers a specific research question. Your instructor must approve your research question in advance.
- 1500-2000 words (6-8 pages, not including references or cover page), typed, double-spaced, 12-point Times New Roman font
- Minimum of five sources of at least two kinds (basic internet, magazine, newspaper, academic journal, book, personal interview, etc.). One of the sources must be from an academic journal.
- Follows APA 7th edition guidelines for format, in-text citations, and References page.
- Addresses a topic of interest to the student that is narrow enough for a relatively short essay.
- Should be an “exploratory” essay rather than an argumentative one. While you may suggest a solution or viewpoint, the essay’s purpose is not to persuade but to answer the research question (inform).
- The essay should use a mix of first and third person points-of-view. Use “I” when sharing about your connection to the topic, and otherwise use third person. Do not use the informal second person pronoun (“you”).
Grading and Major Due Dates
- 100 points for PeerGrade writing and review tasks (weeks 2-5)
- 25 points for draft submitted to Blackboard (week 5)
- 100 points for revised essay as part of your final portfolio—see the essay rubric for specifics (week 16)
- Choose a topic that really engages you—for example, Star Trek‘s influence on the development of technology or hot spring conservation in Idaho.
- Make sure your topic is narrow and focused enough for a short essay—for example, the history of the death penalty is too broad, but the application of the death penalty to a specific type of crime or population would be appropriate.
- Read examples of exploratory essays in our Unit One Readings Folder:
Here is a student example of an exploratory research essay: “Does Texting Affect Writing?” http://www.wwnorton.com/college/english/write/writesite/Web_Essays/Cullington2015.pdf
This is used to help determine whether the PeerGrade tasks and essay draft will earn full, partial, or no credit.
Format & length check:
- Final paper is complete and correctly formatted. Yes / No
Topic—The essay is on topic and contains a clear research question and answer
- The research question is focused and neither too narrow nor too broad
Yes / No
“They Say/I Say”—The essay summarizes five quality sources that address the research question.
- The sources are applicable to the research question. Yes / No
- The essay uses “They Say” templates to summarize and quote sources. Yes / No
- The essay includes “I Say” templates to agree, disagree, or both. Yes / No
- The essay includes personal experience where relevant. Yes / No
- The author uses at least five high-quality, reliable sources. Yes / No
- Sources are integrated correctly; any quotes are explained (use quote sandwiches) Yes / No
- Source are cited for all “how do I know this?” information Yes / No
- The essay is thesis-driven (the thesis should answer the research question) Yes / No
- The essay has an effective introduction and conclusion Yes / No
- Paragraphs are organized around topic sentences Yes / No
- The paper uses transitions to connect ideas logically Yes / No
Citation and Mechanics
- All sources are properly cited in the text. Yes / No
- Errors in References entries are few and minor. Yes / No
- There are few errors in grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Yes / No