Debate Synthesis Essay Debriefing

Here are some thoughts about your debate synthesis essays, in no particular order…

  • Most people scored a 4 or a 5. This is pretty typical. Usually what separates a 4 from a 5 is development, namely, using the required 3 sources. Some things don’t “count” as sources. If, for example, you use a quote from the question prompt instead of an actual lettered source, that doesn’t count. If you used a source in your introduction or conclusion, that MAY not count, but probably not.  You are supposed to use the sources in the body of the paper to support your arguments.
  • If your essay used the minimum 3 sources–but ONLY 3, and ONLY one specific fact/quote from each source, you probably earned a 5. Sixes and above are reserved for better developed essays. I consider essays well-developed if the writer had at least two specific examples per body paragraph. These examples can come from the same 3 sources, but one example per body paragraph isn’t going to cut it.
  • Speaking of using sources, be sure you actually CITE them. This means using specific information from the sources (including, but not limited to, quotes) AND including in-text or parenthetical documentation. Just mentioning something like, “Source A finds such and such idea interesting,” or some other MENTION of the source is also not going to cut it.
  • Also, don’t forget the reader of your essay has also read the sources. You cannot cherry pick information from a source and misrepresent the source’s position in order to support your own! You will be found out! Read the grading form–misrepresenting sources is mentioned in the 4 description!
  • For the most part, organization was fine in the debate synthesis essays. However, some people strayed from their original thesis. This usually happened when writers neglected to adequately explain their examples and  CONNECT them to the thesis. Other writers just literally strayed from their point and started proving something related to the thesis…but not really the thesis.
  • Speaking of your thesis, do not simply restate the exact words of the prompt. I know you have been taught to do this up until now. Now you have to grow out of it. At the very least, put the ideas in your own words. Ideally, add your own twist to make your essay unique.
  • But, if  you add that twist, it can’t be so twisted that you are no longer directly addressing the prompt! Again, refer to the rubric. Notice that under a 1, it says that the writer substituted a related but easier task for the actual task the prompt asks for!
  • Essays that scored above a 6 were not only focused and well-developed, but also demonstrated superior writing skills. This includes mature vocabulary and sentence structure and also use of rhetorical techniques–especially those that contribute to emotional appeal. There were not many essays that scored above a 6, but there were a few. If you want to read one, ask Scott S. in first hour or Schea B. in 5th hour to read theirs!

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