Reveal the Assignment’s Purpose
It’s worth spending a moment talking with your students about why they are writing this particular assignment. True, your students have to write the assignment. But you’ll get better results if they view the assignment as having real relevance.
You’ll find it useful early in the quarter to consider the function of this sort of writing in its discipline or even outside of the academy. Explain to your class why this sort of writing is produced. What’s at stake? Why should they care? What are they learning?
A comparison of two first-person accounts of the same public event, for instance, shows History students that “historical truth” is a complex concept. This understanding of the past is important not just for reading historical texts but for thinking about political discussions in the media.