What are we going to do?
Your fourth writing assignment is study of cause and effect. In this essay, you will argue in defense of a specific cause and effect relationship. At its most basic, you will be arguing that something causes or is caused by something else.
How can I choose a topic?
There are a vast number of potential topics for this essay, but there are two major restrictions:
• The cause and effect relationship you are discussing must be one that a reasonable person could disagree with. For example, if you wrote about how concealed carry laws deter crime, someone could dispute your argument and look at other reasons for low crime in areas with concealed carry laws. If you wrote about how the moon causes the tides, no reasonable person could disagree with you. That topic is off limits because it would be the equivalent of a process essay. You also cannot write about the causes of cancer, the effects of smoking, or any number of widely known, completely agreed upon scientific or medical issues.
• You cannot write on the following six topics: abortion; obesity (or weight loss or weight gain); cell phone use or texting; global warming or climate change; arguments for which political party is correct; or arguments for which god or religion is the right one. You can write about thorny or difficult topics, but make sure to avoid name calling or other forms of offensive or alienating argumentation. Remember that your audience might disagree with you, but you still want to try to convince that audience. What should the structure of the essay be? This paper will should follow a basic academic structure. You should have an introductory paragraph where you introduce your topic. This paragraph should end with a thesis statement clearly stating the cause and effect relationship argued in your paper. Then the essay should include a series of body paragraphs following the structure and order of ideas set up in the thesis statement. If an idea is in the thesis statement, it should be in one of the body paragraphs.
Finally, the essay must include a concluding paragraph where you remind the reader of the topic’s importance and take one last opportunity to argue in favor of your cause and effect relationship. If the cause and effect relationship you are discussing is a problem, you could also propose a solution to the problem in the conclusion. Do not propose solutions in the body of the paper, since the body should be focused on proving the cause and effect relationship.
Your cause and effect essay can follow a few basic outlines, as shown by these sample thesis statements.
o Your essay could examine how a single cause results in various effects: Insufficient high school English instruction (cause) results in lower standardized test scores (effect 1) and lower college grades (effect 2).
o It could examine how multiple causes contribute to a single effect: School shootings (effect) are caused by a culture of bullying (cause 1), negligent law enforcement (cause 2), and inattentive parents (cause 3).
o Or you can discuss how a cause leads to an effect, which in turn brings about another effect:
Insufficient high school English instruction (cause) leads to lower grades (effect), which in turn contributes to a higher dropout rate (effect).
What are the requirements for outside support and citation?
Your essay must cite at least two credible sources as evidence directly supporting your claim of a cause and effect relationship. These sources must be cited according to the MLA Eighth Edition format. Sources cited as historical background or padding do not count towards this requirement. The paper should be accompanied by a properly formatted Works Cited page. See your book’s MLA chapter for details.
For examples, review the assigned cause and effect readings. Your essay should be a minimum of four pages (roughly 1000 words) not including the Works Cited page and no more than six pages (roughly 1500 words). The essay should be typed in Times New Roman, 12-point font and be double-spaced. Your name and other information should be in the top left-hand corner, and the title of the paper should be centered at the top of the first page.
When is this assignment due and what are the grading criteria?
You will be submitting a first draft of this paper for peer review. Also consider submitting the first draft of this essay to eTutoring following the instructions posted in the content section of the course website. You should allow at least two full days for the feedback to be returned to you. After you receive your feedback, make the revisions suggested by the tutor and any other revisions you feel are necessary, then paste a copy of the feedback you received into the back of the final draft of the essay. If you have adequately applied this feedback, this is good for five points of extra credit.
How will I be graded? Your paper will be graded according to the following rubric:
A: The cause and effect relationship is well-explained and defended with well-chosen sources. The thesis statement is clear and effective, and the paper follows the logical structure it establishes. The writing style is clear and concise, but also interesting. There are almost no major mechanical errors or typographic errors.
B: The cause and effect relationship is explained and defended with sources. The thesis statement is clear and effective, and the paper follows the logical structure it establishes. The writing style is clear and concise. There are a few major mechanical errors or typographic errors.
C: The cause and effect relationship is explained and defended, but there are problems. The thesis statement is present and the paper mostly follows the structure it establishes. The writing style has some problems. There are a few major mechanical errors or typographic errors.
D: The cause and effect relationship is murky or poorly defined. The thesis statement is poorly written or missing. The writing style exhibits some major problems. There are major mechanical errors or typographic errors.
F: No cause and effect relationship discussed, no sources used, no works cited page, or incomplete submission
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