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So how do you deal with paper topics like this?


Replies to: So how do you deal with paper topics like this?

  • hikidshikids Registered User Posts: 1,284 Senior Member
    It is hard to know how to answer since one needs to know the basic course. However, ambigous topics are often given to force people to try and think "out of the box" as they say. One problem that job recruiters complain about is the inability of many graduates to operate on their own. I.e., the answer to the problem is on page xx. That is they need a step-by-step procedure or cannot function. Clearly, this can often be problemmatic in the workplace. I don't know if that is the case for the XYZ but it might be.
  • GoldShadowGoldShadow Registered User Posts: 6,160 Senior Member
    Why would you wait this long to figure it out? I never understood why people pull all-nighters.
  • spdfspdf Registered User Posts: 955 Member
    I once substituted for a third-grade teacher, and we were filling in a worksheet from a class history reading. Most of the questions had a blank where the student was supposed to write a particular word to make the sentence true, but a few of the questions were more open-ended and followed by a series of blank lines. These questions were aimed at finding out what the student was thinking, rather than just finding out if the student had grasped the factual material from the reading.

    On these open-ended questions the kids were like deer in the headlights. "What should we write on the lines?" one kid asked. He wanted to be told verbatim which words should be written to get the answer "right." Without being told exactly what words to write, he was paralyzed.

    An open-ended question like the one you got isn't just a lazy question or a poorly thought out assignment. It's a test of your critical reasoning ability. It's asking if you can find something noteworthy in what you've read, something that you made a personal connection with, and if you can articulate your thoughts in a convincing way. Staring at the paper in confusion and waiting until T-17 to ask your TA exactly what to write suggests that you're not really understanding the material at all. Maybe you're logging World Culture facts in your head, but that's not what the class is about.

    You're probably going to be faced with more open-ended questions like this before the semester is over. Maybe start thinking about which aspects of the material have been most surprising to you, and why they were surprising. Or ask yourself what some of the things you're learning suggest about the future for different regions of the world. Don't just absorb facts, start putting them to use in various "what if" situations. That's where you'll find your next topic for an open-ended paper.
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