Sample Assignments

On this page I will share sample assignments which include the assignment instructions, student replies, and feedback I provide for students.

Fan Theories and the Thesis. While teaching ENL 102, Critical Writing & Reading, I encountered a question from a student: what exactly is a thesis? Because the course is centered in the MCU, and I use pop culture references that students are familiar with, I decided to frame my response thusly: A thesis is sort of like a “fancy fan theory.”

The student who initially asked the questions, as well as the rest of the class, responded well to this answer: to them, visioning a thesis as akin to a fan theory made sense. They belong to various fandoms, and fan theories are a common occurrence in the various fan groups and online discussion boards they belong to. They are already familiar with the concept of someone presenting a fan theory and providing evidence to back it up, and the description translated well into helping them conceptualize a thesis.

Some of the fan theories students came up with in response to the assignment prompt

As a result, I designed an online module in which the students were asked to share their own fan theories, and provide multi-modal evidence to back it up (articles, photos, and video clips). They were then encouraged to respond to their peers by first commenting on what they liked in a peer’s theory, then ask further probing questions that would help that peer fully develop an effective argument by playing the role of the “naysayer.” This would then give the original student more factors to consider. The students were then asked to revise their fan theory and consider how they would address a “naysayer” who might not agree.

Towards the end of the semester, many students returned to their original “fan theories” and elaborated on them to arrive at a specific, focused thesis. In doing so, they described how the “fan theory” discussion board really helped them understand not only how to develop a thesis, but provide examples and evidence to then back it up.

Screenshot of an assignment in which students are asked to locate information within an assigned article and copy/paste it into the corresponding boxes.

To help ENL 101 students organize information from an assigned article, I created an assignment in which students are asked to read the article to locate the author’s thesis, the ongoing conversation they are responding to, and two examples of evidence, and copy/paste them into the corresponding boxes in the provided chart.

As we further progressed in the semester, sections were added into the chart which included examples of the author’s supporting claims, instances of the author introducing and addressing a naysayer, and a section where students could add their response to the article in terms of whether they agreed, disagreed, or some combination of both.

Screenshot of an assignment which ask students to assess the credibility of varying websites.

This ENL 101 assignment is designed to aid students in determining the credibility of any given website. Students were asked to choose from one of three sites provided, answer questions about the site, and use the responses to those questions to make an overall determination on the credibility of the website.