Reading Reflections


The main point of these reflections is to show your familiarity with the readings and make clear the work you have put into the course. You do this by composing a thoughtful response to the prompt BASED ON THE READINGS. There is no such thing as a “correct” answer—only more or less informed reflections. You’re being evaluated on how informed your reflections are. Make sure your reflection reflects your effort!

If there are a number of questions in the reflection prompt, you don’t need to answer each question one by one, although you can always do that. But your reflection should be clearly related to the prompt, even if you go in a slightly different direction.


  • ~350 words minimum. Remember longer responses that cover more material get extra points.
  • Coherent sentences with proper grammar, punctuation, capitalization.
  • Clearly and thoughtfully addresses topics/questions in the prompt.
  • Submitted on time via Canvas

Reflect more than summarize

Please resist the urge to simply summarize the readings. Of course answering questions in the prompt you’ll end up restating and paraphrasing ideas that you want to address. That’s important! But this exercise is NOT about just regurgitating the readings or identifying the “most” important points—everyone will learn something different from them. The goal is show me you can think critically about the questions USING THE SET OF READINGS!


We use a consistent grading rubric for basic reading responses—and this should always be visible to you via Canvas—but the criteria are:

Length / clarity: Have you met the minimum word count? Can I understand what you’re trying to say? This includes basic grammar issues like using clear paragraphs, avoiding run-on sentences, not starting every sentence with “this”, etc. It also includes a logical progression of sentences within paragraphs. If your post looks like a giant text message, you won’t get many points in this category.

Familiarity with readings/video: This is really the whole point of all reflections, regardless of topic: to show that you are FAMILIAR with the main ideas across the readings. This does not mean you need to agree with them. Not mentioning topics that take up a lot of space and are obviously central to the set of readings is the most common way to lose points. Not mentioning anything from a reading suggests that you didn’t read it, so make sure you find some way to bring everything into your reflection/quiz.

Specificity: Being able to provide specific examples to illustrate your familiarity is crucial for showing that you’re actually reading. You don’t have room in your reflections for lots of historical detail, but historical interpretation is all about evidence, so you make sure you provide some! Also, using specific examples helps you avoid making inaccurate generalizations.

Follows prompt: You shouldn’t just summarize the readings, but tackle head on the questions in the red boxes. Anyone with basic literacy can repeat what they read, but that doesn’t show any kind of learning or thinking. Real learning means understanding the readings well enough that you can use them to answer open-ended questions.