ENG 102, as a baseline course aligned with the Integration and Problem Solving competency and written ability, has two broad learning objectives: that students will read and analyze literary texts and that they will write academic essays.
The students in ENG 102 are usually non-majors in the first or second year of their college work and are taking the class to meet the second semester of composition that is required of most majors. Consequently, many of them enter the class with limited experience in reading and analyzing literary texts, and so the assignment is difficult for many students.
This assignment requires analysis of a literary text and conveying the results of that analysis in an essay meeting academic standards in English. The assignment requires students to do individually the kind of close reading and analysis of a text that we have done together in class as preparation. This assignment prepares them for producing the research paper that is the most substantial assignment of the course. By working on their own to identify a question about their text and attempt to reach an answer to it by gathering evidence from the text itself, students are prepared then to seek out published work on that text and its author that will supplement the work they have already done.
In earlier versions of this assignment, most students were unable to meet all performance objectives of this assignment. Students were able to identify a worthwhile question regarding their selected literary text (often with help from me), and they did show in their essays some attention to details of the text, but often they were confused about what their essays should include and what it ultimately should accomplish. I have attempted to use one essay assignment to address three dimensions (framing the question, gathering some evidence, preliminary analysis of that evidence to support a hypothesis), resulting in an assignment that was too complex for most ENG 102 students to comprehend and master. To address this problem, I have developed the two worksheets included here. The first, the Close Reading Worksheet, prompts students to notice and list elements of their selected literary text that are important for developing an interpretation of the text, and it also asks students to identify questions the text leaves unanswered without some analysis. Then the two-page Essay 2 Worksheet prompts students to identify the question that will be their essay’s focus, and to gather and select the textual evidence that help them develop a potential answer. Through this means students produce what will become the content of the essay before they take on the challenge of turning that content into a coherent, organized essay.
The entire assignment takes about two weeks to complete and is worth 15% of the final grade.
Main Course Learning Objectives:
- Read and analyze literary texts
- Write academic essays.
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Bruns, Cristina, "Identifying and Exploring a Literary Question [English]" (2017). CUNY Academic Works.