Ideas or passages that are unclear or confusing

Reaction Papers
PSCI 4214/5344: Political Behavior
Fall 2020
Over the course of the semester, you will submit two reaction papers based on the readings.
The main purposes of this assignment is for you to focus your thinking and critically evaluated the required reading prior to engaging with the other module materials. This should not
be a mere summary of the readings. Your reaction paper should demonstrate your critical engagement with the readings, arguments, themes, questions, and issues at stake for that week.
There is no set formula for the reaction paper. The paper may be written on a topic or
idea that you find appealing or challenging. Below are some points of departure for your
response:
• ideas or passages that are unclear or confusing
• points the author(s) made that were particularly compelling
• problems or qualifications with the arguments presented
• ways the readings complement or conflict and explanations for the conflict
• alternate explanations that the authors ignore
• disagreements between the readings for this week and the readings for a previous week
• new possibilities opened up by the author(s)
• future research questions to be explored on this topic
• implications for voters and American democracy
Your paper should be about 2 pages (double spaced) in length. You should not try to address
all of these topics in one paper, but should focus and develop one idea. Generally, a more
focused paper will be a stronger paper.
You do not need to cover every assigned reading in your response paper, but I should see
evidence that you have read more than just one of the assigned readings. It is also important
that you engage with at least one (but ideally more than one) academic reading. You may
not solely rely on newspaper articles in your paper.
It is due to Canvas by noon on Wednesday, midway through when the module is open.
I strongly encourage you to complete the required readings and write your reaction paper
before engaging with the other course materials (e.g. activities, videos, audio files). This will
ensure that your reaction paper represents your analysis of the readings and initial thoughts.
Be sure to include parenthetical citations when you are quoting or referring to specific passages or ideas from the readings.
Papers that receive a grade of an A will not only demonstrate an understanding of the
reading, but will also offer a thoughtful, insightful, and well-articulated critique.

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