You will write one summary and critique paper on the readings in Modules 1-4. Pick *one* module to complete this assignment.
The summary is a short paper assignment, the purpose of which is to help you learn to critically evaluate and present social policy readings. This includes at the introductory level being able to succinctly summarize the important ideas and at a more advanced level to assess the merits and logic of those ideas. This is a difficult skill, but a very useful and important one, that we hope you will hone over the course of the semester. The summary paper should be a maximum of 4 double-spaced pages using font size 12 and is due on the day we cover that topic in class. Late papers are not accepted.
Step back and think about what are the key ideas that emerge from the reading(s). If there is more than one assigned reading or more than one chapter, think about and describe what you learned from all of them collectively first (in a paragraph), and then highlight the unique contributions of each one, respectively. Focus on the big picture—not each and every detail. Limit the entire summary to no more than 2–2.5 pages.
This may be the most challenging part of the short paper assignment. Think critically about the ideas in the reading(s) as opposed to how you feel about what the authors say, the style or structure of their writing, and whether it is “interesting.” Is the thinking in the reading(s) logical and reasonable? Why or why not? What are the strengths of the arguments? Where do you see flaws, weaknesses, or aspects that are not convincing? What would be a better way to think about the issue or topic? What is lacking or overlooked? What are your own innovative and well-reasoned ideas about the issue or topic at hand? If there is more than one reading, evaluate the readings as a whole in a paragraph. Then critique each one individually. These are designed to help you think about how to constructively and thoughtfully interact with the ideas the author(s) presents. Focus on one or at most two ideas. This part of the paper should not exceed 1.5–2 pages.
You will be graded based on the quality of your summary and the quality of your critique. Please see the detailed rubric on the submission pages. Please pay attention to grammar and punctuation. Points will be deducted for errors that should have been corrected during the proofreading of the paper before submission.
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