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 Critical Thinking
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Critical Thinking, Thoughtful Writing, Second Edition
John Chaffee et al.
Writing Projects
Chapter 8: Exploring Some Causes of a Recent Event

Write an essay in which you report and discuss some of the causes of a specific local or national event that occurred within the last three years. You might want to choose an event that had an environmental impact, or, depending on your interests or your instructor's directions, you might want to write about something else that has affected the lives of many people. Include material from two to four sources.


Purpose: Not only do you need to describe the event effectively, but you also need to be able to show how cause and effect are at work. This means thinking logically and writing clearly.

Audience: Since you are dealing with a current issue, your audience may extend beyond the classroom. Remember that you might be drawing attention to an important issue that is affecting people perhaps without them even realizing it. Who might be affected by reading your paper?

Subject: Try to choose an issue or event that is of particular importance to you, perhaps one that even has direct implications (i.e. effects) for you. List some possible subjects here.

Writer: Try to integrate material from your sources fluidly into your own work. Do not be afraid to defer to sources for supporting information, but do not let secondary sources dominate your work. In other words, don't let your voice get drowned out by other voices.

Generating Ideas: If you are having trouble choosing an issue or event, begin by thinking locally. Keep up with the news to get a sense of what issues are current. You may want to consult Jason Snart's Internet Research Guide if you plan to use the Internet for secondary research.

Defining a Focus: Your thesis should clearly state that you are analyzing causes and effects. Draft your thesis here.

Organizing Ideas: Take good notes—and annotate if possible—as you read through your various sources, in order that you can organize your source material more easily and effectively.

Drafting: As you draft, be sure that you have used your research materials to your best advantage. Do the quotes you've chosen to include go to prove what you say they do? And have you been clear about exactly why each quote is included? Remember to introduce quotes; do not just leave them hanging as their own sentences in your work.

Revising: Peer review can be helpful for this assignment; you can be sure that you have clearly communicated the logical link between causes and effects. You might know exactly what you mean, but does another reader?

Editing and Proofreading: Check your documentation and Works Cited in particular.

Submit your answers
Either print your answers out for submission or email them to your instructor.