How to Write a Good Summary and Reflections Paper


Each of these assignments invites you to compose a 1000-word paper in which you summarize your learning in certain areas and reflect upon a general question. 



To craft a good paper, you can do the following:


1.    Spell out the relevant and main points of the readings accurately and clearly.  This way you show me that you have read the assignments carefully.

2.    Try to think through the tradition or practice  rather than thinking about it.  By this I mean that you should try to see the world through the eyes of an adherent.  You can ask questions and offer reflections as an outsider too, but your thinking should always include an effort to put yourself in another’s sandals.

3.    Avoid mere opinion.  Instead, engage the material in dialogue and draw on your own experiences.


Bare-boned basics: 


Page length: The assignment has a minimum length of 1000 words.  You probably have way more to say that you think, and 1000 words will never do justice.  But it’s a start and hopefully will get your thinking going.  Anything less than 1000 words will always garnish a lower grade.  I will evaluate the content according to the criteria mentioned above.  Full length papers that meet the three criteria given above will receive full points (20).


Grading:  Most papers will receive a full 20 points because you guys are just so good.  Those that are accidentally written without regard for the three golden criteria, will receive either 0 or 14 points (a “C”).


Format:  Your paper should be typed, stapled, and double-spaced with 12 point font and 1” margins.  At the top left of your paper, please write the assignment number (e.g., “Summary and Reflections Paper 2”) followed by your name, on the same line.  That’s it.  The text of the paper should start two spaces down.  It should be well written and carefully checked for spelling and grammatical errors. 


Timeliness:  Because the papers correspond with discussions, late response papers miss the boat and cannot be made up, except when a student is on a documented absence. 


These are really basic criteria that should not hang you up in any way . . . unless you don’t meet them.  Doing the reading and reflecting on it requires some time and thought, but overall the reflection papers give you some low-pressure space (and points) for exploring these amazing traditions from India.  They should be enjoyable.