Political Sciences

Instructions for the Writing Assignments
By Dr. H.D. Horton

The writing assignments (WA #) are 2-3 page summaries of the chapters that have been assigned
from the major text(s). Basically the goals of these assignments are to: 1) provide the student
with an opportunity to demonstrate that she/he has read and understood the assignment; and 2)
prepare the student for the major writing assignment that is due at the end of the semester. In
essence, like anything else one gets better at writing by simply writing. The more one does the
better one gets.
The final writing assignment tends to be a research paper or book report. The significance of this
report is indicated by the fact that it typically is worth 50% of your total grade. In the case of the
most likely scenario, the book report, the student is expected to write on two levels. First, there is
the descriptive level. At this level the student demonstrates that the book has been read. There
should be sufficient detail to support this fact. The second level of writing is analytical. The
student must show the ability to apply sociological theory to address cause and effect issues from
the book. Talk about the implications of the findings. Talk about the likely consequences of the
findings of the book for the specific group or circumstance at hand as well as society in general.
The next element to be considered in preparing a good (if not excellent) WA or book report is
structure. Each write-up should be organized as an essay with a clear introduction, main body,
and conclusion. A good strategy to follow is to remember what your high school English teacher
(hopefully) taught you: “first you tell them what you are going to tell them; you tell them; then
you tell them what you told them.” It is highly recommended that subtitle headings are used to
organize and present subtopics.
The next point of consideration is the quality of your writing. In short, BRING YOUR “A”
GAME!!! Your writing should be devoid of typos, misspellings, and poor grammar. Even
though this is not an English class, as a college student you are expected to be a good writer. A
recommendation: proof your writing. Prepare several drafts if necessary. At a minimum, give
yourself time to get it right!!! Assignments prepared at the last minute don’t tend to be well
written. By the way, the writing assignments are 2-3 pages and the book reports are 10 pages.
Realize that these are suggested averages. Be honest with yourself. IF YOU NEED AN EXTRA
PAGE OR TWO TO DO A GOOD JOB, THEN TAKE IT!!!!! You will not be penalized for
going a little over the recommended page limit.
Finally, it can’t be stressed enough that these assignments and book reports must be submitted on
time. The deadlines are real. Because of the volume of papers to be graded across various
courses, late papers will not be accepted unless there are some life changing circumstances
beyond your control that can be documented!! Good luck!!

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