Rhetoric and Composition/Teacher's Handbook/Assignment Sheet Database

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This section will feature a random sampling of standard college-level assignments for freshmen students. Simple adjustments can be made to the requirements to suit 4-year or master's level students, and also may be adjusted easily to match the specific requirements of the class. Each assignment is based on one of many traditional academic papers, including the short story, memoir, argument paper, annotated bibliography, the proposal and literary analysis. As with all collegiate work, these assignments require the student to think critically and use clear and and stylistic (yet appropriate) language. Since these are assignment sheets, they do not include grading rubric or teaching guidelines. These entries were meant to be copy/pasted into a text document and printed for class distribution.


Assignment #1, The Short Story

Short Story Assignment Criteria:

The memoir and short story operate on a very similar foundation. They are both designed to convey either a life changing event, or a change in the writer’s community or environment. The principle difference between the memoir and short story is the voice of the narrator. A short story may be written from any perspective and is often fiction, whereas the memoir is primarily in the first-person perspective and depicts an actual event.

General Requirements:

Audience: You are writing to a general population, that is; anyone that can learn from a life lesson is a part of the short story/memoir audience.

Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to tell a story.

Length: 4-6 pages.

Major Requirements: The student will be required to write a fictional story set in the modern era (1995–2012) involving believable, yet unique characters (fanfiction will not be accepted!). Those characters must interact during a conflict that either one or more of them must deal with. This conflict may be drama between friends, the result of financial troubles, an investigation of a crime, turning a paper in on time, or another kind of social struggle you can think of. This story must also have a beginning, middle, and ending, and must end with the main character or audience learning something new about the world.

1. Use concrete language, avoid abstract word choices

2. Should not exceed 6 pages

3. Must be about a single event, preferably one that lasted an hour or two

4. Must have a title, feel free to be as creative with it as you wish, but keep it under 2 lines


Assignment #2, The Memoir

Memoir Assignment Criteria:

The memoir and short story operate on a very similar foundation. They are both designed to convey either a life changing event, or a change in the writer’s community or environment. The principle difference between the memoir and short story is the voice of the narrator. A short story may be written from any perspective and is often fiction, whereas the memoir is primarily in the first-person perspective and depicts an actual event.

General Requirements:

Audience: You are writing to a general population, that is; anyone that can learn from a life lesson is a part of the short story/memoir audience.

Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to tell a story.

Length: 4-6 pages.

Major Requirements: The memoir must be a story based on a factual event you have personally witnessed or been involved in. This event must have changed or added to your view of the world, a friend’s or family member’s views, or affected your local community. Instead of a changed world view, however, the story may be a life lesson or unusual experience, preferably one that still sticks with you today. Keep in mind while brainstorming topics that other people will be reading this story, so do not write about an event that you feel is too private or personal to be told in public!

1. Use concrete language, avoid abstract word choices

2. Should not exceed 6 pages

3. Must be about a single event, preferably one that lasted no greater than a day

4. Must have a title, feel free to be as creative with it as you wish, but keep it under 2 lines


Assignment #3, The Rhetorical Analysis Rhetoric is everywhere, it permeates all forms of media, and is the driving force of commercialism. The best defense against rhetoric is learning how it works, and being able to dissect it at a cursory glance. Doing so will also improve your ability to reason and debate with people around you, though with a much higher quality acumen. In an era when media bombards the general public with strobing colors and short-lived product lifespans, having an ally in your brain is an asset for everyday life.

General Requirements

Audience: Academics

Purpose: To analyze and determine the methods used in media rhetoric.

Length: 4-6 pages

Description: You will analyze a print ad; television, radio, or internet commercial, a billboard, or other similar form of advertisement. With the exception of radio, the advertisement must have a visual aspect to it. Infomercials and short magazine articles featuring new products are also acceptable.

Major Requirements:

1. You must select between 1 and 3 advertisements from the same company, preferably for the same (or similar) products or services.

2. You must explain in detail the strategies or philosophies behind the design (or wording) of the ad.

3. The paper cannot explore the social impacts or implications of the ad; this is not a “media in society” paper!

4. Must follow the proper formatting guidelines as listed in the syllabus.

5. You must have a proper introduction, body, and conclusion. This is an academic thesis.


Assignment #4, The Argument Paper

There are more than two sides to every argument, and as many opinions as humans on earth. Most arguments, however, have two distinct sides develop as either its audience or its topic grows. Examining the supporting evidence of either side will help develop an idea of the subject and the mindset arguing it. While examining arguments, new ideas form and whole new perspectives may be brought into the discussion. Adding these new perspectives is the crux of progress, as new ideas mingle with old ones to build new knowledge.

General Requirements:

Audience: Academics – you are studying a “conversation” and commenting on it.

Purpose: To demonstrate knowledge of credible arguments, and to judge the most effective.

Length: 6-8 pages.

Description: The argument paper focuses on two sides of a topic (often controversial) for the purpose of examining the support for each side, and indicating which side is stronger. Sometimes, an alternative viewpoint proves stronger than the current debate, or simply incorporates data the other sides don’t. For this paper, a controversial topic is suggested, and equal voice must be given to both (or all) sides. A judgment must be passed on the stronger side OR a new side of your own must be developed.

Major Requirements:

1. Choose an arguable topic!

2. Standard thesis format.

3. At least 5 outside sources, with proper MLA formatting.

4. Either compare two arguments and judge the stronger, or develop a new position.

5. Fair representation for ALL sides (equal representation), especially if you hate a certain side.


Assignment #5, The Proposal

The ultimate test of a thesis project is to prove the value of a new idea. New ideas, in turn, are created from the efforts of research and the creative spark of ingenuity. Though most, if not all, progress is due to careful or deliberate trials and experimentation, the occasional bout of genius has been known to infect many people, even the most unlikely. The proposal creates a jumping board for students to argue the value or significance of their ideas.

General Requirements

Audience: Academics. Assume the intended readers are a review board from a university.

Purpose: To demonstrate deep enough thinking about a subject to generate a new idea.

Length: 8-10 pages

Major Requirements

1. Must be no less than 8 pages

2. Must follow the 5 section format as follows: Introduction, Analysis, Detailed Plan, Costs-Benefits Analysis, and a Conclusion

3. Each section must be clearly labeled and follow the format for headings listed in a current APA handbook

4. Must have well-researched and accurate information pertaining to the implementation of the proposal


Assignment #6, The Annotated Bibliography

The Annotated Bibliography is a list of sources in MLA format. Each source is listed alphabetically just like a Works Cited page, but instead of a simple list of references, each entry has a paragraph explaining what the source is and why it matters. The Annotated Bibliography must beet these simple requirements...

General Requirements

Audience: A research team, or college students examining the research conducted for a project

Purpose: To demonstrate critical thinking or insight in examining the relevance of sources

Length: Between 3-5 pages

Major Requirements

1. A minimum of 5 entries are required, and one of those entries must be an empirical source

2. It must be in MLA format as listed in a current MLA handbook (Or Purdue Owl's website)

3. Each entry must have at least two full paragraphs summarizing the source, describing its credibility, and explaining why the source is relevant to your topic