I’ve always been a firm believer in the power of critiques. Lately however, I’ve started calling them “Critique Essays.”
“Don’t treat these like off-the-cuff responses,” I tell my undergraduates. “You’re writing a paper about a work of fiction–only it’s still in progress.”
As much as I hate the word “paper,” it’s a word that students understand. It means they have to analyze. They have to say what they mean as clearly as possible, back up their points, refer directly to the text, etc.
I give them a rubric, a template that describes in detail how critiques should look, what I want them to include. Here is my assignment sheet for writing critiques. Day, Critique Essay Directions
And then I grade them. I give out a lot more C’s and D’s on these than on any other assignment in the course. Continue reading