Historical Writing Project

Writing Assignments -- Argumentative Papers

College: San Francisco State University
Course: History 114 World History
Website: http://userwww.sfsu.edu/~tgetz/

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The syllabus includes a great example of how to introduce students to writing argumentative essays.

College: University of Minnesota
Course: U.S. History to 1865
Website: http://www.hist.umn.edu/hist3347/assignments.htm

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The course is an intro level class. The student is to use a primary document from the Early American Imprints collection. The questions the student must answer lead the student through some rudimentary analysis of a single document.
The student is required to write a 3-page paper on how “religion shaped life in early America.” The point of the exercise is to give the student practice developing a thesis statement and using evidence to prove an argument. The assignment includes an explanation of what a thesis statement is and clear directions on how to format the paper.
The next assignment builds on the last by requiring the student to develop a thesis, use evidence, and now develop a scholarly voice. The five-to-seven-page paper is based off a book that compares historical accounts of the Boston Tea Party. The student is “to make an argument about which historical accounting of the American Revolution is most legitimate and why.”
The final theme paper requires the student to imagine teaching a high school class on “the topic [of] 19th century reform movements.” The student is to synthesis the materials from the second half of the course into a thesis and to develop an argument to support it by using evidence presented in class.