The core assignment of this course is a documented research paper (1500-2000 words in length = approx. 6 - 8 pages double spaced, 12-point font).
The essay should support a thesis statement with information gained from research or investigation. Your research paper will not be just a report presenting information, but will be an essay that carefully examines and presents your own historical interpretation of the topic you have chosen and your interpretation of the information you have gathered. Your research paper may include consideration of problems and solutions, define key terms, or refute arguments against your thesis statement. It is important to choose a topic of interest to you. Approach this assignment with an open and skeptical mind, then form an opinion based on what you have discovered. You must suspend belief while you are investigating and let the discoveries shape your opinion. (This is a thesis-finding approach.) Once you have found your thesis, write the paper to support it. You will use some of the following critical thinking skills in this process: Choosing an appropriate topic, limiting the topic Gathering information, summarizing sources Analyzing and evaluating sources Defining key terms Synthesizing information, comparing and contrasting sources Testing a thesis, making an historical argument, using refutation Amassing support for a position Documenting sources Because this may be a longer essay than you have written before and a complex process is involved, it is recommended that you complete this paper using the following steps: Choose a topic related to U.S. History to 1877 (Chapters 1-15) that you would truly like to explore and that you are willing to spend some time on. Your chosen topic should be focused.