There are five short paper assignments for this course, and the possibility to write five more for extra credit (see the extra credit tab on the Blackboard course). To be successful in writing these papers, you should follow these five steps.
Step One: Understand the Assignment
Read the entire assignment sheet (no matter how long!). Then, re-read it. This time as you read it, underline or highlight what you think are the most important parts. What is the assignment asking you to do (Identify? Evaluate? Analyze?) Brainstorm how you will do this paper, and write down any questions that come to mind. Then, contact your professor to get answers to those questions. Make sure that you understand the purpose of the assignment, the audience for the assignment, and the requirements for fulfilling the assignment (for this course, pay particular attention to the bulleted points; you should address them all).
Step Two: Do Your Research
You cannot successfully fulfill the guidelines of any of the paper assignments for this course without research. To begin, you should see what your textbook says about the topic. Then, google it. You will find many sites. Skim through them to find a few useful ones. Also, if the topic is a piece of art currently in existence, learn where it is located and visit it via the web. Most art museums have extensive websites with very valuable information about their collections. Then, if you need more, contact your local library. KCTCS has a number of sources available completely online. You can log in for off campus access here: https://internal.jefferson.kctcs.edu:2443/login. There you can search for electronic books or through the electronic databases for additional research if needed.
Step Three: Look at the Example
As each paper deadline approaches (the first is due Feb. 6), I will write about the assignment on the blog (here) and post a student example from last semester. For the first paper, I will do this on Jan. 24 and 26. I will write about the extra credit and post an example here on Jan. 31. These examples are successful ones, ones for which students received good grades. Read them carefully, and ask yourself, “Why was this a successful paper?” Focus also on how the paper is structured (what is where and why).
Step Four: Don’t Plagiarize
Plagiarism is when you use someone else’s words or ideas without giving credit. Academic writing requires that you give credit to your sources of ideas and words. To learn more about plagiarism, I suggest you watch the Rutgers’s videos on it at http://library.camden.rutgers.edu/EducationalModule/Plagiarism/. They explain what plagiarism is and how to avoid it. When writing your papers, you should focus on writing everything in your own words. Copying and pasting is wrong ethically and has serious consequences in an academic setting (see your syllabus for course policies on cheating and plagiarism). Once you have written everything 100% in your own words or used quotation marks around the words of others, you must include a MLA-Style Works Cited page. The course on Blackboard has a tab labeled “MLA Style Guide” that has all of the information on how to create a Works Cited page. Purdue University’s OWL is a useful site for additional help and can be accessed here: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/05/.
Step Five: Review (the guidelines & your paper)
Once you have completed your paper, review it. Start by rereading the assignment sheet. Use the bulleted list as a checklist: did you include all of the information? Then, make sure that you gave credit to all of your sources. Last, proofread! Don’t turn in a paper without using spell check and grammar check and proofreading it! These things make a huge difference in your paper (and, ultimately, your grade).
Follow these steps to success!