Handout Highlight: Response/Reaction Papers

In this post, we’ll highlight a handout on how to write response/reaction papers. Many professors require students to turn in these types of short papers throughout the semester in order to gain a better understanding of the material, but how do you write one?

Response/Reaction papers can ask students to do a number of different things, depending on the specific assignment:

  • Evaluate the effectiveness of texts individually
  • Discover how texts relate to each other
  • Discuss questions the texts raise for the student

There are many questions to consider before starting, including:

  • What is the main problem or argument presented and what evidence is used to support the author’s claims?
  • What are strengths, weaknesses, and counterarguments to the author’s assertions?
  • For multiple texts, how do they relate to each other? Do they agree or disagree?

Response/reaction papers vary based on instructor, so make sure you read the assignment carefully to understand what is being asked. Giving yourself enough time to think about the assignment will allow you to take the actions described in the full handout, including:

  • Explaining key terms and arguments presented
  • Weighing the arguments and inserting your own voice
  • Evaluating what side of an issue the texts support. Consider both sides and see if there are strengths, weaknesses, or gaps in the arguments.

Response/reaction papers give you the chance to take a critical look at the texts you read throughout the semester, so give yourself time to think about what you want to say to ensure you have as solid a response as possible!

For on writing in different genres and other handouts, visit the resource section of the Writing Studio website.

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