will be looking for evidence that you are engaged in the course and thinking about the material and/or the essay question. These assignments are not research papers and do not require any outside sources. The assignment topics are designed to get you to think and I will be looking for your thoughtful responses to them. There are no \”right\” answers. Try to find your own voice. Think about these questions for a while. Develop your own thoughts. Put them into your own words, your own way of saying things.
Specifically, keep in mind the following:
Avoid overly generalized opening sentences that really say nothing and cannot be substantiated. Go directly to your response to the essay topic.
Put clear limits on what you will discuss. Resist saying everything! These are short assignments in which you demonstrate your ability to understand and to think; they are not your life work.
Provide transitions between topics; your thoughts should have continuity; they should \”hang together.\”
Support or illustrate your assertions. Don\’t just state, demonstrate. If, for instance, you agree with an author\’s point, do not simply announce your agreement, but make sure you go on to say why you agree.
Likewise, do not simply record your reactions (e.g., \”I found this lesson interesting\”) without saying more about your reactions (e.g., say why you found it interesting).
No reference is needed for common knowledge or for course material, but if you use course material, provide a page number in the text of your essay if it\’s available so I can follow up your reference if need be. No need to use a bibliography for course material.
If however you do use outside sources, provide full references for quoted material including page numbers. Choose a reference form (i.e., footnotes, endnotes, text notes) and use it consistently throughout. I don\’t care which style you follow, just be consistent.
As much as possible, avoid \”passive\” constructions; write as clearly and directly as you can.
If the topic asks for your views, use the first person if you wish.
Avoid trying to get too many thoughts into one sentence. If your sentences are getting too long, see if you could divide them into two or three smaller ones.
Use inclusive language. Avoid using words like `he\’, `him\’, \’man\’, \’mankind\’, etc., to speak for all human experience. These terms are not gender-neutral.
Feel free to support your ideas with examples from your own experience, but use these examples only to illustrate or challenge some point. In other words, do not simply recount some experience of yours for its own sake. I have no way of marking your experience.
Avoid arguments based on any religious or anti-religious assumptions and commitments you might have. It\’s not that these commitments are unimportant; it\’s just that this course is about an academic approach to religion. I have no way of marking your religious views. As with any personal experiences, feel free to talk about your personal religious views, but only for the purpose of making some larger point. In other words, do not preach or moralize from within any religious perspective.
Do not simply reiterate course material.
Proof-read your work! If you do well in the above skills, but don\’t have the writing skills to support your good thoughts, your mark will suffer.
Be sure to read the essay topic very carefully. You may have written a fine essay, but if you haven\’t actually addressed the essay topic, your mark will suffer.