American problem analysis

Essay 2 Assignment Information (Prompt)


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Essay 2 Meets the Following Learning Outcomes for English 1301:

  1. Develop ideas with appropriate support and attribution, following standard style guidelines in documenting sources.
    3.         Write in a style appropriate to audience and purpose.
    5.         Use edited American English in academic essays.


Topic: Problem Analysis

In this essay, you will identify, and analyze, a significant problem in our society. If you would like to write about a problem in another country, that is fine as well.

I suggest choosing a “problem” which has a personal importance to you. What do you care about? Heath? Safety? Transportation? Education? Government? Business? Animals? Food? The military? Taxes? Religion? Relationships?  Technology? Retail? Etc. The list is endless, but there are a few topics which are off-limits.  See below.

The following topics are off-limits: abortion, drug legalization issues of any kind, drinking age issues of any kind, and cell phone issues of any kind. These topics are common, controversial topics often addressed in high school essays.   Please choose a more creative and challenging topic for Essay 2.

Remember: Essays must have a thesis (an argument) to be effective. In this essay, your thesis will give the specific problem and at least three, to four, reasons why (an advanced organizer / road map) that issue is a problem.

Thesis examples (Do not use these examples – come up with your own!):

  • Thesis Example: Child hunger continues to be a catastrophic issue in the United States for several reasons. . . . (three-to-four reasons here).
  • Thesis Example: One significant problem in the United States is the lack of access to affordable health care for low-income individuals. This lack of access to affordable health care negatively affects low-income individuals in the following ways: . . . (three-to-four reasons here).
  • Thesis Example: Air pollution negatively impacts Americans’ everyday lives  by… (three-to-four reasons here).



For this research essay, your paragraphs should follow the structure below:

• First paragraph: Introduction including a “hook” to grab the reader s attention, a brief discussion of the topic, a strong thesis, and an advanced organizer (road map – your three-to-four reasons) (1 paragraph)

• Body paragraphs: Minimum of four body paragraphs. Each body paragraph should be led by a clear topic sentence and supported with 1-2 direct “quotes” each from secondary sources. If you only have three “reasons,” rather than four reasons, focus two body paragraphs on different aspects of your most significant, or complicated reason. (4 paragraphs)

• Last paragraph: Conclusion summing up your arguments in the essay in fresh words and a final thought to leave the reader with a strong impression (1 paragraph)

The essay length is THREE FULL PAGES – AT LEAST 900-1,000 Words – typed, double spaced.

  • Paragraphs must be at least 6 sentences each.
  • Underline your thesis (thesis must be in paragraph 1).
  • Students who plagiarize a phrase, a sentence, or an idea will receive a ZERO on this assignment! No exceptions. Please cite your sources correctly and consistently.
  • As always, incomplete work will not be graded. Please finish the essay at 900 words.  Submit your Essay to the LATE ESSAYS dropbox, if more time is needed.


This essay requires scholarly research cited in MLA Style.

A research essay encourages the writer to perform in-depth analysis, develop a thesis and supporting points, and synthesize external sources in support of the thesis.

  • Students will create a separate Works Cited page in which they cite their sources in MLA style.
  • Students will also cite sources correctly in the body of the essay (in-text citations).
  • I suggest incorporating one-to-two short (1-2 line) “quotes” in each body paragraph as evidence supporting your topic sentences.
  • Do not use quotes longer than three lines. One-to-two line quotes are preferable.  Quotes of four lines, or more, are too lengthy for this short essay. Please do not use quotes which are four lines, or longer.
  • Be careful not to “over-cite” your sources. Seventy-five percent of your essay should be your own words and ideas. Only 25% (at the most) should be information cited from your sources.
  • Choose academic / library sources, such as:  an academic journal article (also known as a scholarly article), or an e- book.
  • Academic journals and e-books are currently available through our college library – 100% online. You do NOT need to go to campus!
  • See the “Ideas for Finding Sources for Essay 2” document in the Essay 2 folder.
    • Examples of academic journals: (There are thousands of academic sources available through our library! These are just a sampling!)
      • Harvard Medical Journal
      • Scientific America
      • Adolescent Psychiatry
      • Journal of Communication
      • Journal of Mass Media Ethics
      • Management Quarterly
      • Ecology Journal of America
  • Do not “GOOGLE” sources for Essay 2!  Only two, scholarly sources are required.  You will be able to find two, quality, scholarly sources through our library’s online databases.
  • You can also use the online databases of the public library, if you have a public library card.


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