Guidelines for writing the Reading Reviews
Reading Reviews are to be handed in on the day that the material is being discussed. They
should be no longer than 4-6 pages double spaced. Over the course of the semester, you only
have to write one of your choice.
Definition of the Assignment
: This assignment is designed for you to interact with sources
outside of the typical classroom literature. Part of the purpose of this assignment is to help
expose you to other ways of thinking about social problems as well as help you make
connections between your sociological interests and the sociological study of social problems
that we do inside the classroom. In addition, this assignment should help to hone media literacy
The response should identify and connect the reading/viewings to the substantive area of
the discussion, and provide a
evaluation of the material and the topic under discussion.
To sharpen your critical thinking skills, spot inconsistencies, contradictions, paradoxes or
surprising statements in the non-academic material as compared to the Reading and elaborate on
them. Specifically, the paper should discuss how the non-academic material informs our
understanding of the substantive area we are discussing (whether correctly (as our reading
outline) or incorrectly). This paper should explore how the specific topic is framed and
discussed, how the form of the material functions in conveying the message, and the importance
of the analytical message each reading/viewing has.
Starting thoughts to consider:
How does the suggested material illuminate the social problem;
what questions emerge from your reading; short comparisons between concepts discussed in
previous sessions and the concepts discussed in your response paper; connections to that weeks
assigned readings as well as the broader understanding of the social problem.
What should you include
: The response should identify and connect the readings/viewings to
the substantive area of the discussion, and provide a
evaluation of the material and the
social problem under discussion. Specifically, the paper should give a brief summary of the
material and discuss how it informs our understanding of the social problem (whether correctly
(as our readings outline) or incorrectly). This paper should explore how the social problem is
framed and discussed, how the form of the material functions in conveying the message, and the
importance of the analytical message each reading/viewing has. Finally, each response should
include 2 discussion questions (not included in page length).
Important points about this assignment:
You should use the response paper to raise points for
discussion in class/help your understanding of the substantive area. In this course, you are
expected to make an effort to understand social problems as both products of structural failings
and social conditions but also as present “instruments” that can serve our thinking and research
purposes. You should acquire knowledge about the place of concepts within bodies of literature
and the potential contemporary uses of social problems. Thus, in your response papers, I would
expect to see a mix of insightful analysis and critique of particular readings, ideas, and authors
and interpretive appraisals. An interpretive appraisal is an effort to understand the ideas, and
authors “on their own terms.”
In addition, you will be unable to receive full credit for the assignment if you do not
discuss the reading in class. You will be considered the expert on this reading as you will be
reading it a lot more closely than your classmates. You will be expected to help educate the
class on the finer points and take a lead during the discussion portion of the class period. Failure
to do so will impact the final grade for this assignment.
: You can earn up to 100 points for this paper. You will be graded on content, style,
and formatting. I will not be looking to see if you agree or disagree with me or the readings, but
how well you argue the readings points. In addition, a small portion of the grade will be based
on the quality of your discussion during class.
This review is expected to be in essay format, which includes the conventions listed in
the syllabus. The style of your writing/essay is also taken into consideration. Please use correct
grammar as improper grammar detracts from your writing and will hurt your grade. Please proof
read your paper before turning it in to double check for errors or mistakes as well as readability.
The flow of your writing is always unique as it identifies you as a writer, but choppy and
awkward sentences (while sometimes useful in literature) have no place here and detract from
the paper overall.
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