Illustrative Essay Assignment The Assignment: A common assignment in college cou

Illustrative Essay Assignment
The Assignment:
A common assignment in college courses is an illustrative essay. An illustrative essay asks
students to connect course concepts to the real world and illustrate how those concepts provide a
way of looking at, understanding, or acting in the world.
In this class, like many college classes, students spend a substantial amount of time thinking
about their own approaches to learning. Whether through reading, writing, or discussing, English
classes directly and indirectly explore why students are successful or unsuccessful in college. For
this assignment, you will focus on student motivation in college classrooms, and how those
motivations provide a way of looking at, understanding, or acting in the world. More
specifically, you will consider how what you know and have learned about motivation applies to
your experiences and other’s experiences in college and beyond.
You will read three articles with different perspectives on student motivation in college, although
the articles do reach similar conclusions. Then, you will consider how those perspectives on
student motivation in college and your own experiences with motivation in college apply to the
Choosing a Topic:
While your topic is going to be related to student motivation, there are many ways you can
approach the topic. Students frequently choose an approach that relates to their personal
experience with motivation. Or, after reading the articles, students might choose to focus on a
specific idea related to motivation that provokes a strong response or that interests them.
For example, you might explore how intrinsic motivation, the type of motivation most
commonly accepted as superior in a college setting, differs from the motivations commonly used
for other situations. You might explore how different types of motivation could be used by
teachers, parents, or students themselves to prepare students for college and other situations. You
might reflect on your own experiences with motivation in college (or the lack thereof) and so on.
In previous classes, a vast majority of students have used the three articles that directly relate to
motivation. However, you are welcome to use any of the sources we have discussed together in
class; these sources are listed at the end of the assignment.
Writing the Essay
In writing an illustrative essay, you will need to make frequent and detailed connections to the
concepts in the supportive texts in order to support your thesis claim. It will be difficult, if not
impossible, to start this essay without a working thesis, so develop a working thesis before you
start writing the essay.
One way to create a working thesis is by directly answering a question related to the topic. You
are not restricted to the following questions, but they might help you get started:
● How much emphasis should colleges put on teaching students about different types of
motivation or different strategies for becoming/staying motivated?
● What could students, parents, professors, etc. do to increase student motivation in
● What are some ways you have seen students succeed or fail in college and how did
motivation factor into the outcomes?
● How have your experiences with motivation in college classrooms aligned with the
claims in the three texts about motivation in college classrooms?
● While the articles generally conclude that intrinsic motivation is the best method for
student success, extrinsic motivators (in the form of grades, rankings, scholarships,
recognition, prizes, a salary, raises, promotions, etc.) is often what others expect we
should be working towards obtaining. How realistic is it to expect that people will find
intrinsic motivation during their schooling and employment?
If you directly answer one of these questions, or if you come up with your own question related
to the topic and answer it, you will have a concrete working thesis statement. After that, your
paper will focus on proving that your thesis is true by using at least three of the sources we have
discussed together in class.

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