Essays give instructors the ability to assess students’ critical thinking skills and understanding of the course’s content and texts. They also allow students to practice their communication skills in a written format. Most instructors require essays ranging from 5 to 7 pages twice per semester, but some have more frequent, smaller essays due every few weeks.
Below you will find examples of shorter analysis papers and longer traditional essays including their instructions. Along with the essay assignments, a brief explanation is given for each assignment.
Shorter, Frequent Essay Assignments: Shorter essays are great for ensuring students are keeping up with their reading but they do not allow more in-depth discussions. An alternative to short essays may be forum questions or weekly journal papers though this route increases the time instructors spend grading.
Longer Essay Assignments: These assignments require an extended analysis of course concepts and how the texts deal with these. Most, if not all, require academic paper conventions such as a claim/thesis statement, textual evidence, awareness of audience, etc. There are a variety of different emphases and focuses for essays, but some of the more popular types for 20th century fiction include traditional analyses of literary devices (plot, character, voice, setting, etc.), contrast and comparison essays, and utilizing an interpretive approach to elucidate the meaning of a text.