Response Paper

Guidelines for Writing Successful Response Papers
Model Responses
Grading Scale

Response Papers give you the opportunity to express your thoughts more informally than in a longer academic paper and open them up for discussion with your classmates. Throughout the second half of the semester you will be asked to post shorter (150 - 300 word) weekly responses that are more interactive and conversational than the longer responses we did so far (see below). You are free to reminisce on a past class discussion or write a reaction to the reading for next class. You should, however, engage other postings, if you are not the first one to post. These weekly shorter posts will account for half your great on the Response Paper assignment (10% of total class grade); I will grade this portion at the end of semester. If you like feedback earlier, please come and see me during office hours.

In addition to those conversational postings, you will have to complete FOUR (instead of the originally assigned seven) slightly longer and more formal Response Papers, including those you have already submitted. The guidelines for those 350 - 500 word papers remain the same as before and are stated below.

You will be asked to complete FOUR Response Papers (350 - 500 words) throughout the course of the semester. Your first response has to be submitted via e-mail to the instructor on the date indicated on the syllabus. The remaining six response papers are to be posted on toolkit at any point of the semester but no later than by week 15; I highly recommend that you post them early and regularly!

When you post responses on toolkit, try not to duplicate the postings of others. This should be an incentive to post early and also an incentive to read what others have posted. If one of your colleagues has already posted something very close to what you wanted to say, make sure to refer to that particular posting by providing commentary and adding a new perspective and new references. In your formal paper, you will be required to reference and quote two of your peers' in a meaningful way, so stay on top the tooolkit postings.

Response papers include these types:

  • Reading Response: Before class, reflect on the reading and explore a question that interests you. At least two of your response papers have to be reading responses. Reading Responses are due by 8:00 p.m. the day before our class meeting.

  • Afterthoughts: After class or a class period, reflect back on the readings and discussion synthesizing what you take away. At least two of your response papers have to be afterthoughts. Afterthoughts are due by 8:00 p.m. the day before the classmeeting following the discussion on which you are commenting .

  • Debates: Engage your classmates in a debate about readings by responding to others' postings. At some point during the semester I may ask you to take a particular position and argue with those who represent an opposing view.
Please feel free to write in the first person. Possible approaches include, but are by no means limited to:
  • analyzing a passage or episode that puzzles, moves, or upsets you;
  • comparing different versions of tales;
  • analyzing the significance or motivations of a character;
  • comparing this week's reading with last week's;
  • reflecting on what you have learned in a particular unit in the form of "afterthoughts";
  • evaluating a discussion;
  • arguing with ideas presented in a critical article.


Guidelines for Writing Successful Response Papers

Response writing is different from paper writing. In your Response Papers you can be more intuitive and less formal than in the 5-7 page paper. However, a few basic guidelines might help you to write successful responses:

  • Audience - Your classmates and professor. Assume you are writing for an audience that is familiar with the texts and our discussion and that your reader is intelligent and curious.

  • Make a choice - A good response paper focuses on a specific idea and explores it in some depth. Choose an idea that you know is your own, one that is not based on a cliché, and does not present a broad generalization.

  • Be specific and concrete - A good response paper is like a mini argument using concrete examples and evidence from the reading to support your point.

  • Go beyond expressing your emotional reaction - Refer to your emotional response to a reading only if you proceed to analyze how it presents a key to an understanding of the text.

  • Proofread your response for grammatical correctness and show that you have read the texts by referring to characters and authors by their accurate names.

  • Turn in your response paper on time.

Grading Scale

v+ excellent (A)
v   good (B)
v-  average (C)