Demonstrate that you have thought deeply about the class. This expectation relates to insightfulness,
thoughtfulness, and scholarliness. This expectation is difficult to specify in advance. In some ways, it is one of
those things that instructors only know when they see. However, the following guidelines may at least get you
The focus here is on “So what?” What is the significance, for you, of what you have learned and thought about in
this class? I want to see how you have appropriated the material to your life and thinking and integrated the
course material with your own experience and worldview. Here are some useful questions to ask yourself as you
get started on your paper: How has the course, or how has it not, impacted how you think about x or y? Which
approaches or concepts were most meaningful (or unique, or insightful) to me? Why? What self-awareness
insights did I glean from the materials? How did what I learned inform significant experiences outside the
classroom (jobs, social life, family, clubs, living groups, etc.)? Note: in pursuing this approach, be careful not to
use much space describing these personal experiences; keep the focus on an integration of the course material and
your own thinking.
Along the way, you will likely need to integrate various insights from various authors. What are the similarities
and differences in outlooks? How did the different materials support or contradict each other? What are the
strengths and weaknesses of the various approaches? Another indicator of depth is the ability to critique the
degree of support for particular assertions made by our authors. How convincing are the author’s arguments? If
the author appeals to common moral experience, do they do so accurately? Why or why not? Avoid making
superficial connections and remarks. Explain yourself! Better to say a lot about a few profound points than a
little about a lot.
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