ENGLISH 102 WRITING PROJECT I, Part 2: Synthesis and Response

This is the second of two parts into which Project I is divided – the first part was to write a summary. In the synthesis and response, you will read a second essay on the same topic and write a short essay in which you discuss the ideas about the topic that you found in the two pieces.


The Assignment: Write an essay in which you connect the ideas of the essay you selected for your summary/paraphrase with a second essay. If you wrote on David Brooks’ “The Organization Kid,” for Part 1, write Part 2 using “The Disadvantages of an Elite Education” by William Deresiewicz ). For Stephen Prothero’s “A Nation of Religious Illiterates,” write Part 2 using “America’s Anti-Islam Hysteria” by Reza Aslan (http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2010/10/12/sharron-angle-and-the-anti-muslim-scare-about-sharia-law-in-america.html). For Margaret Talbot’s “Brain Gain,” write Part 2 using “In Defense of Distraction” by Sam Anderson (http://nymag.com/news/features/56793).


Academic essays are expected to be “thesis-driven,” meaning that the thesis is stated early in the essay, and the material in the rest of the essay supports the thesis. In a synthesis essay, the thesis expresses your reaction to the sources; it may express your level of agreement or disagreement or indicate the ways in which you will extend or build on the sources. However, your thesis should NOT simply be a compare-and-contrast of the two sources. It must contain a new, original argument.


In your body paragraphs, you will then use the two sources to support the argument you make in the thesis. Each body paragraph MUST include text or ideas from BOTH sources in order to demonstrate synthesis.


The Purpose of Project 1 is to learn and to practice the skills of

  • Reading critically
  • Identifying claims and reasons
  • Quoting, paraphrasing, and summarizing
  • Citing sources


Each of these skills is essential to all research-based writing. You will use them in all of the other writing projects and the final exam. Your skills in these areas should improve with each project.


Use of Personal Pronouns: The use of personal pronouns (I, we, my, our) is appropriate in certain types of academic writing including in a response essay. Trying to write about personal experience without using the first person is difficult! Using first person also helps you to indicate views that are your own rather than those of the author.


Your Readers: A university group whose members have NOT read the original essays


Required Length: No less than two FULL pages and no more than three pages. If you do not meet the minimum page requirement, you will receive an automatic F.


Grading Criteria:

  • Appropriateness and effectiveness in synthesizing ideas from both texts
  • Accuracy in identifying and stating source writer’s ideas
  • Quality of paraphrase (clear statements of information in your own words and sentence structure)
  • Use of attributive words (variety, appropriateness of choice, integration of attribution into sentence)
  • Clarity and appropriateness of thesis
  • Effectiveness of introduction and conclusion
  • Effectiveness of essay title
  • Cohesion; use of connective devices
  • Style (word choice, sentence structure)
  • Mechanics (grammar, punctuation, spelling, typing)
  • Ability to follow directions (using correct MLA format, etc.)

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