I accept a variety of written assignments.  This attachment to the syllabus is to help you to prepare written assignments for this class.


Mechanics of all papers (including take home exams)

  • All papers must be typed! Font size should be 12 – not larger, definitely not smaller
  • Put your name on the paper, and class section especially if you expect to submit it via attachment!
  • I do not object to double-side printing for multiple page papers
  • Learn to use page numbers!
  • I do not object to single spaced papers as long as you double space between paragraphs, or questions!
  • Charts may illustrate discussion points – but if you lift one from another source – cite the source. The same goes for photographs, and maps!
  • Plagiarism is a problem – please remember to cite the source for information you include in your papers. Wikipedia is not an acceptable academic source! Textbooks should not be used primarily as sources for research papers.
  • Folders cost students money! Invest in a good stapler to fasten multiple page assignments!  Do not expect the instructor to provide it for you!
  • I do not object to humor (when appropriate) nor personal opinion when it is backed by legitimate authority!
  • Spell check, grammar check are useful utilities. Writing a paper, letting it sit a day or two, and then going back to re-read and edit is also an admirable habit!


Short Response Papers (1-3 pages)

  • I expect an understanding of the question/topic posed
  • You will research and defend a position on this paper, citing sources and presenting an objective and academic response!
  • Wikipedia and similar websites are not accepted academic sources. Likewise I will encourage you to refer to the text book and encyclopaedia only for background information, but not as the primary source of information for any paper!
  • I expect 1-3 sources for many short response papers.



This is a project culminating in a type-written paper/report (with maps, and tables (if required) and proper reference citations for all websites and sources visited.  You may also need to prepare a power point presentation of this research assignment especially if you are taking the course for honors credit.  Length may be determined by the format which you undertake to present:

  • an investigative paper with a thesis to prove (for which you will need to discuss 3 examples/factors), or
  • a descriptive paper showing the development of the issue you are discussing, or
  • an appropriate lesson plan for your use as an instructor/teacher at a specific grade level, or
  • a critical book review on an approved topic appropriate to the time period being studied.


I anticipate at least:

  • 8 – 12 pages of text, as well as map(s), charts (if any), and bibliography.

Format, grammar, and spelling errors will be considered in the grade calculation, as will lateness.   You must use, correctly, any acceptable and uniformly applied method of footnoting.

  • 3 to 5 sources. It is best to use a variety of sources, including books, journals, periodicals, and on-line sources.  See note above about textbook and encyclopaedia!

Issues or Topics – here’s a suggested list to help jog your imaginations and interest:

Select a topic proper to your academic interest and the class you are enrolled in.  Some topics that you might consider include: personalities, events, diffusion of ideas/people/inventions/diseases such as democracy, fundamentalism (not the same as traditionalism vs modernism), secularism, political affiliation, political correctness, immigration, refugees, peace-keeping forces, terrorism, any conflict from the mid-1900s to the present such as: conflicts in Africa, South African apartheid, Southwest Asia, the Balkans, SARS, AIDS, mad-cow or other food related diseases, fuel price issues such as locations of fuel reserves, origins or consumption, birthrates, cell phones, faxes, computers.  Note – this is not an exhaustive listing of topics.  Current topics may involve the world economic crisis, the rising destruction of rain forests, Islamic fundamentalism, western style constitutions for Islamic countries, divided Cyprus, violence in Western Europe threats to security/safety, political trends in the US (including NAFTA etc, hybrid fuel powered cars), the expansion of countries with nuclear capabilities and of course the raging conflict over terrorism, Afghanistan, and Iraq since 9/11, effects of any natural disaster.  These are just examples, you may select any topic of interest to you – but all topics will be approved by the instructor.  Request/approval can be done as a brief email using either of the following email addresses:   or .  You may also discuss the progress of your paper with me using these email addresses.


Form of Reference Citations

I prefer consistent use of any regular footnoting format – you may use traditional footnoting (University of Chicago) or MLA.  A list of references (minimum of 5, at least 2 of which must be from books, journals/periodicals – not encyclopaedia) will be included as the Bibliography at the end of your paper. The use of footnotes/end notes/parenthetical citations is required. The number of footnotes (or parenthetical inserts) will vary from paper to paper depending upon how much you rely on the sources.  Plagiarism is a serious academic offense, and will be penalized.  Remember for websites and sources consulted via the internet, you must include the entire source address and the date you checked the source. Again, WIKIPEDIA is not an acceptable source.


About the maps/tables you include in your papers. I would prefer you design your own tables, and as much as possible, also your own maps.  If you are talented enough to use the computer drawing tools and highlighting, by all means use them.  If you need to copy specific maps/tables, be sure to footnote the source.


Reliable sources for population and political topics:  Population Reference Bureau, the US Government Census, US State Department, US Commerce Department, National Geographic Magazine, and the United Nations websites are good initial sites for reliable statistics or they can provide reliable links.


The final draft of the paper will include:

  1. title page with your title, the course number, your name
  2. first paragraph should include topic/thesis statement
  3. body of the paper should be your descriptive history, examples/factors, maps and charts if any
  4. conclusion may be your personal conclusion provided that it logically follows the discussion (c)
  5. any supporting material you wish to include with the paper
  6. bibliography/list of references


I prefer the paper to be typed, 12 font.  It should be double spaced and fastened with a staple



Note that the examples cited below follow from the sample book being reviewed and you should modify your own writing according to your specific circumstance!


Preliminary Considerations

  • First, one must understand that a critical review is not a book report (a summary of the contents of a book) or recounting of the plot of a movie/play. A critical review is a vehicle for examining and discussing issues the book/movie itself raises or fails to raise. One writes a critical review for the benefit of those who might not presently have time to read/view the book/movie but who nevertheless need to learn more about its basic approach should they desire to read or study it at a future time.
  • The job of the book reviewer is to inform these readers concerning any merits and/or shortcomings the book may have. From information based on a well-written review, the reader may conclude that this book is either indispensable or inconsequential.


Components of a Critical Book or Movie Review

  • Give complete bibliographical information at the top of the page (title, author, publisher, place of publication, date of publication, number of pages, and name of reviewer).




Use the following format (sample):

Toward Rediscovering the Old Testament, by Walter C. Kaiser, Jr.

Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1987. 250 pages. Reviewed by:  your name.


  • Briefly state the reason this book/movie was chosen for review. State the author’s credentials (education, place of employment, previous achievements, etc.) as a preface to giving the book a serious hearing. Biographical information about the author should be included only as it demonstrates the author’s competency to write the book. Within the context of the paper, do not use titles (Dr., Rev., etc.). In most brief reviews, you will likely need to limit the introduction to one or two paragraphs.


  • Briefly (in one or two well-written sentences) summarize the thesis of the book/plot of the movie.

This is a crucial step because the thesis/plot contains the reason why the author produced this particular work (there may be dozens on the market with similar subject matter). The thesis will state the author’s basic presuppositions and approach. The critical nature of the review will then grow from the reviewer’s conclusion that the work does or does not achieve the author’s stated purpose.


  • The main body of a critical review will be concerned with “thesis development.” That is, did the author achieve the stated purpose? In this section the reviewer will inspect each of the chapters/scenes of the work to see how the thesis/plot is (or is not) developed. If the author makes progress and develops the thesis convincingly, providing adequate information and statistical data, the reviewer says so, providing concrete examples and citing their page numbers in the text. Given the limited amount of space in a brief book review, footnotes should not be utilized. Quotations or ideas taken directly from the text should be followed parenthetically by the page number of the quotation. The abbreviation for page(s) (p/pp) should not be used.


Rainer argues that evangelistic churches should focus on reaching youth (20). Indeed, he writes, “Many churches fail to recognize that adolescence is a critical time of receptivity to the gospel” (21).


  • If the thesis is poorly developed or if the examples are inadequate to support the assertions of the author, the reviewer will point this out as well. Most critical book reviews will contain both praise and criticism, carefully weighed and balanced against one another.


  • Remember the purpose of a critical book review is not to provide a summary of the book. You may assume that the professor and the grader know the contents of the book.


Questions the reviewer will seek to answer in this section might include:


  • Is there an adequate, consistent development of the author’s stated thesis? Why or why not?
  • What is the author’s purpose, i.e., what does he/she hope to accomplish through this book? Does the author accomplish the purpose? If so, how does he/she do so? If not, why not?


  • Does the author approach the subject with any biases, i.e., do the author’s theological, experiential, philosophical, denominational, or cultural perspectives

influence his/her conclusions?


  • Does the author properly support his/her thesis? Does the author adequately consider and refute opposing viewpoints? Is the work limited in application to specific factors ? Is the work relevant to contemporary culture?


  • Does the author have to resort to suppression of contrary evidence in order to make the thesis credible (slanting)? If so, what additional evidence would weaken the case?


  • Is the thesis sound but marred by a flawed procedure?


  • Is the author’s case proved, or would another thesis have been more appropriately chosen?


  • Finally, a summary section should be attached. How does this work differ from other treatments of the same subject matter? What is unique and valuable about this approach as opposed to the others? Would the reviewer recommend this book/film above others? Why or why not? This final summary should include the major strengths and weaknesses of the work and evaluate its merit for readers who may be interested in that particular field of inquiry. Your primary purpose in this section is to respond both positively and negatively to the book’s contents and presentation. Needless to say, this response should be more in-depth than, “This book is a good book that should be recommended reading for everyone.” On the other hand, “This book is a lousy book not worth reading” is also inadequate. Central to this is the basic question of whether or not the author has achieved the book’s stated purpose.


Answer questions such as:

  • What are the strengths of the work, i.e., what contributions does the work make?
  • Why should a person read/view this work?
  • What did you learn from this work?
  • How might you apply the lessons of this work in your profession?
    • Would you recommend the book to others? Why, or why not?

Do not allow your response to this question to become lengthy (for this paper is not primarily an evaluation of your circumstance), but do make some application.


Throughout your critique, be specific in your evaluations. Do not just tell the reader about the story line; tell and show the reader with concrete examples from the work. As previously suggested, include page numbers when making specific reference to the book, or scenes in the movie.


Your final copy of the book or movie review will include:

  1. The bibliography citation for the book
  2. Information about the author (credentials)
  3. General theme(s) in the text
  4. Discussion on salient points in the author’s argument
  5. Evaluation on your part on whether the author’s thesis was confirmed (validated by real world events). Obviously, you may disagree with the writer’s thesis, philosophy, ideology!


  • The length of the review should be between five and seven pages, double-spaced.
  • Style Issues for a Critical Book Review

Turabian’s A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations (7th ed.) is the accepted standard for style issues.


The following guidelines are included to counter common style errors:

  • Utilize this suggested outline to guide your book review, but do not include the specific subheadings (“Bibliographical Entry,” “Summary of the Book,” etc.) in the essay. The brevity of the review demands a smooth flow from one section to another without including the subheadings.
  • Use first-person sparingly; however, you may use “I” when referring to your opinion of a text.
  • Avoid contractions in formal writing.
  • Use active voice as much as possible.
  • Be clear and concise. A brief review allows no room for wandering from your objective.
  • Use your spell-checker, but do not trust it. A spell-check will not catch the error in such sentences as, “The whole church voted too pass the amendment.” Use your eyes as well as your spell-checker.
  • Proofread your paper.
  • Finish the paper, and proof it. Put it aside, and proof it again at a later time. If you do not catch your errors, someone else will.

















Common Writing Errors

  • ‘s does not make a word a plural construction
  • It’s translates as: it is. The possessive pronoun is: its
  • In academic papers, avoid the use of contractions, and words like however
  • Where is not the past tense of the verb to be: were
  • Affect is an action word – a verb
  • Effect is the result of an action
  • Know proper nouns – words which should be capitalized. When referring to the chambers or branches of government: House of Representatives, The Senate, The Capitol, The Supreme Court, The White House – these terms are normally capitalized.
  • C.E (Before the Common Era) has replaced B.C. (Before Christ) in contemporary, politically correct usage. Both of these terms follow the numerical date. )
  • E. (Common Era) has replaced A.D. (Anno Domini – year of the Lord) in politically correct jargon. And if you opt to use A.D. – remember that it precedes the numerical date.
  • Homonyms often create problems with spell check – especially if they are spelled correctly.
  • Know the difference between than and then
  • There, Their, They’re – all have different meanings and usage
  • The 1960s, 1970s, 1980s – get the picture?
  • When you copy a picture, map, chart – always cite the source
  • Whether is not always followed by or not
  • You have the ability to italicize on many word processing programs. This will allow you to avoid underscoring book titles, and to emphasize direct quotes in the text
  • Alter means to change, altar is a location of sacrifice!
  • Allot means to portion out, a lot means much, many!
  • Allowed means to permit; aloud corresponds to volume, ability to hear something!
  • Proper spelling of the Muslim holy book is: Qur’an, never Koran
  • Led is the past-tense of to lead. Lead can be an active verb, and it can also refer to the contents of a pencil
  • Apart generally means a separation. A part can imply inclusion among other things.
  • Certainty can be emphasized by the word definitely. In recent terms students are confusing definitely with another term:  defiantly which does not have the same meaning!
  • Know the difference between accept and except
  • To, Too, Two have different uses and meanings!
  • Our vs Are – one is a plural pronoun, the other is a copulative verb!


List to be continued


18 April 2020



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