English 101 Essay #5


The general subject of the semester is literacy. Because this is a synthesis paper, it will go beyond simply reporting your own gut feelings, but will rather use outside sources and evidence to give your paper depth and credibility.

Your Writing Task

Choose one of the three topics below:

  1. Since the beginning of the recent presidential campaign, we have heard an enormous amount about "fake news." Politicians seem to see only two categories: "fake" and "real," with no middle ground. For this paper:
    1. Develop your own working definition of "fake news," based on information from outside sources (not just your own feelings),
    2. Deal with the question whether there is a middle ground between "fake" and "real" news,
    3. Discuss the difference between "fake news" and plain error, and finally,
    4. Come up with a strategy by which a reader can tell the difference between "fake news" and "real news."
  2. Scholars who are writing papers have always struggled with credibility of sources; the advent of the Internet has simply made the issue more intense because anybody with a computer can put up a web page and claim that an assertion is true. What resources are available to the undergraduate scholar for evaluating the reliability of outside information—particularly of Internet sources? What strategy can you suggest for finding reliable information, particularly in an area where you are not an expert? (And why would your strategy work better than simply guessing or accepting everything that is thrown at you?)
  3. In "Mother Tongue," Amy Tan suggests that questions for standardized tests can imply certain cultural assumptions. Do some research on cultural bias associated with nationally normed or standardized tests such as ACT, PSAT, SAT, or Miller Analogies. Based on your experience with any of these tests and your research, do you think that cultural bias is a controversial issue worthy of discussion? What is your position on this issue? (Note that this is not a paper about Amy Tan or about "Mother Tongue." It's about cultural bias and standardized tests.)

Hints for Success:

A successful synthesis paper has several characteristics.

Mechanical Details

Length: The equivalent of a five-page paper. A five-page paper should be between 1520 and 1820 words long, not counting title, your name, etc. The Works Cited page does not count as part of the five-page minimum.

Research material:

Format: Standard MLA format. (12-point Times Roman type, double-spaced, 1" margin all around, MLA header.)

Submitting the paper:

Due Date

The body of the essay is worth 150 points.