Outliers Book Report Assignment and Directions
This assignment will serve as your opportunity to demonstrate your writing and research skills, while answering a question that is fundamental to democracy: are people successful because of their own abilities and effort, or are people successful because of the sum of the advantages they receive in life. Malcolm Gladwells book, Outliers: The Story of Success deals with this theme. You will both recount his conclusions and test them, using a top American public official. It will be necessary for you to lay a research background before drawing your own conclusion.
For this assignment, students will write a three-page book report. After a one paragraph introduction with a thesis statement, the first page of the paper will be dedicated to the central themes of the book that you intend to evaluate. If a reader were to only read the first page, he or she should be fully aware of what to expect to find in the rest of the paper. This is not, though, a listing of chapters or even the individuals Gladwell discusses. A three-page paper is not enough to discuss Gladwells every assertion. This page must narrow the topic to what the remainder of the paper will test. The final two pages should provide a short look at an American public official and why he or she has been successful. The short discussion of this figure should buttress your position on page one about Gladwells book. Because you should research before you write, it is unacceptable for you political figures life to dissuade you from your original conclusion. If you change your mind, you will be expected to rewrite your entire paper to reflect that. A final draft of a college-level paper does not discuss a topic in a stream of consciousness style. It is a report of conclusions that have already been drawn. You should finish with a conclusion paragraph. You should try very hard not to extend your paper onto a fourth page.
The paper should be double-spaced and in 11-point font with Arial typeface. In addition to the three-page body of the paper, it should have a cover page and a bibliography (works cited page). You should use APSA style, because this is an assignment for a political science course. There are several places to find these. The electronic version of this assignment will have both directions from the political science department at the University of North Texas (which I find very helpful) and the official manual, if you are particularly attached to precision (See below). Do not expect credit for the assignment, if you do not use a proper citation style. At the very least, this must include internal citations (sometimes called attributions) and a bibliography. Every year, a handful of students list only a list of web addresses or do not use internal citations, they receive a F for the course. There is no reason to go an entire semester without learning to do this correctly. You are strongly encouraged to utilize the writing center, located in the English Building.
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