Guide to Writing a Reaction Paper

Guide to Writing a Reaction Paper

If you were to ask 10 people, “How do I write a Video Reaction Paper?” you’d probably get 10 different responses. No one seems to know exactly how to do one, yet almost everyone is assigned one at some point in his or her academic career. Here is a guide to what faculty are usually “looking for” in a well-written video reaction paper.

I.                    Summary/Synopsis – What are you reacting to? GOAL: Show that you understand the thesis, main ideas, and supporting ideas in the video you’re writing about. Identify all of the “basic information: about the video that you can, including: subject matter, producer, title of the piece, and the year of publication; the topic or subject of the piece—for example, “The Triangle Shirt-Waist Fire” or “Revitalization efforts underway in Roxbury’s Codman Square.” In other words, tell what the video is about in a word or a phrase; the purpose or motive—for example, “to expose the dangerous conditions factory workers in the United States faced prior in the early decades of the twentieth century” or “to show how residents can unite to improve their neighborhood”; the thesis statement (might be similar to the purpose, but not necessarily); the primary supporting ideas.

II.                 Analysis/Evaluation– What are the strengths and weaknesses of the video? Goal: Show that you understand what the video does well and what it does not do so well. Answer the “w” questions, like why, why not, what, what if, what for, where, why there, who, how, when . . . Specific questions you might take up include:

a.       was the videoconvincing? why or why not, specifically? is it well-researched? are the sources reputable? why or why not?

b.       did the video overlook or leave out anything important? what?

c.       did the video overemphasize or overprivilege anything? what?

d.       is the video one-sided (even if he or she takes your side), or does the video present a balanced view?

III.               Your Reactions– How do you react to the video on a personal level? How does the video relate to your experience?Goal: Share your own impressions and your own experiences with your professor. Here are some questions you might consider answering:

a.       did the video hold your interest? Why or why not?

b.       did the video bother or annoy you? why or why not?

c.       what would you ask, or tell, the producer or particular people in the video if you could?

d.       what did you realize as a result of watching the video?

e.        what questions does the video raise for you — about the material, about other things? does the video remind you of other readings or videos you’ve watched for this course or otherwise? compare and contrast the video to these.

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