English 1A: Essay Assignment #1

Essay Assignment

You’ve read the articles “Why Procrastination Is About Managing Emotions, Not Time,” “Fixed vs. Growth: The Two Basic Mindsets That Shape Our Lives,” and “The Toxic Effects of Negative Self-Talk.” These articles all present ideas about mindsets and how they can affect people.

For this essay, you’re going to write a thesis-based essay that will respond to the ideas in one, two, or all three of these articles.

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Questions to help you brainstorm:

  • What did you think of the article arguments? Of the theories posed?
  • What did you think of the research results? Of the research processes?
  • Were the arguments convincing? Did they seem universally valid?
  • What did you think of the way the articles were presented/written?
  • Did the ideas interest you? Why or why not?
  • What audience would find the articles the most interesting? Why?
  • Did they have an effect on you?
  • Did they change your mind about anything?


This is not an opinion piece where you present your unsupported opinions. It’s not a memoir where you write about your own personal experiences. It’s not an essay where you simply agree or disagree with the author’s ideas. It’s also not a summary where you simply paraphrase the article ideas. This is an essay in which you will respond to the article ideas in the form of a single thesis, claim, argument, or assertion (that might have started out as your personal opinion), which you will then prove.

Each of your Main Point (MP) paragraphs will need a small amount of Evidence from an outside source. It might be paraphrased or quoted info from one of the articles or it might be something from another credible source, but either way its function is to support your Topic Sentence (TS) idea, which is supporting your Thesis. Remember, though, that this assignment is not a “data dump” or a report where you fill your paragraphs with Evidence from outside sources.

The bulk of your MP paragraphs will be your Analysis. This is your critical thinking, analysis, or explanation for how all the Evidence supports your TS idea, and how your whole MP paragraph supports your Thesis. Doc #1 and doc #18 present great examples of MP paragraphs after which you can model your work.

Also, make sure you don’t just scratch the surface of your topic. For example: “Procrastination is a problem for college students.” This is a shallow presentation of a topic with nothing specific or beyond what most of us already know. Instead you want to dig deeper. For example: “Procrastination is the biggest problem for college students because it affects their mental state, the grades they get, and how motivated they will be to continue their schooling.” This goes deeper and provides several different places for you to take the reader who will surely find at least one of these ideas relevant.

Finally, remember that showing how your info is relevant to your reader will not only add purpose to your paper and give your MPs a clearer focus, but it’s also necessary to keep your reader engaged. Your information is only important to the reader if they can engage with it in some way.

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