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4.3: The Summary/Response Assignment

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    Throughout this course and other courses, you may be asked to write one or more summary/responses to an assigned reading such as an essay or article. This assignment combines the skills of summarizing and responding to a text. Pay close attention to the assignment guidelines provided by the instructor as length requirements may vary, and sometimes a prompt or choice of prompts will be provided while other times the student may be expected to provide his or her own focus for the response.

    Following is an example of a Summary/Response:


    In his essay, “How to Make It in College, Now That You’re Here,” author Brian O’Keeney offers a process readers can follow to be successful in college. The author’s first tip addresses grades. He says that if students want good grades, they will need to apply themselves. This means finding a quiet place to study, completing all homework on time, and rewarding themselves when finished. O’Keeney says to glance over the textbook and get a basic idea of assignments before beginning. Then, take notes on key-terms and important subjects. Students need to look over notes frequently and study from them, so they really absorb the material. He stresses to ask instructors for help if needed, take a college skills course, or get a tutor. The second step in O’Keeney’s process involves managing responsibilities. He offers three tips: mark down all assignments and tests in a planner or calendar, block out times to study, and brainstorm weekly task lists. The author acknowledges that personal problems often get in the way of success. If the problems are serious, seek support from friends and a professional if needed. Also, be sure to utilize services offered at the school. O’Keeney ends his essay by analyzing why some students never succeed in college. He thinks it comes down to attitude. Students with good attitudes tend to succeed in school. He urges students to participate, be active listeners, be mature, and focus on their goals.

    Focusing question:

    “What obstacles to success have you encountered in school (college or high school)? How have you attempted to overcome these obstacles?”


    The biggest obstacle to success I have encountered was during my first semester at Bay. In high school, I earned pretty good grades, A’s and B’s, without having to work too hard. I handed in my homework on time and attended class regularly, but I didn’t spend too much time studying for tests, and I usually did the minimum required. I was able to complete most of my work during class, so I didn’t really have too much homework. When I started Bay last fall, I had a rude awakening. It was not as easy as high school. I didn’t get as much time during my classes to finish homework. Often times, especially in math class, the assignment was given the last few minutes of class, so I couldn’t even get a start on it. Being the procrastinator I am, I usually wouldn’t even start the homework until a few hours before class. Often times, I had to skip several questions because I just didn’t know how to do them. In class, I just handed in what I had. I didn’t ask questions or get a tutor. I figured I would still earn a decent grade. I was wrong. I failed the first test. I guess that was my awakening. After that, I got a tutor who helped me with the homework and helped me study for the next test. I got a B on the second test. My obstacle was definitely that I just wasn’t used to studying. I didn’t know how to do it effectively. I think I’ve overcome that obstacle pretty well.

    Another obstacle I encountered my first semester at Bay was a lack of responsibility on my part. In high school, I relied on my teachers and my parents to remind me of assignments, of where I put my books, of what I should do if I missed school. In college, it’s all on me. About two weeks into the semester, I overslept and missed my psychology class. The class didn’t meet until 10 a.m., so my parents and brother had already left for school. When I finally made it the college, I asked my psychology teacher what I missed, and he told me that there had been a quiz that I couldn’t make up and that I’d have to get notes from another student. I was surprised. In high school, the teacher usually handed me a packet of papers and told me to stay after school to make up a test if I had missed one. My psychology teacher told me that this policy was outlined in the syllabus. I must admit, I didn’t even keep that huge ream of stapled paper he handed out the first day of class. I guess I should have. I learned quickly that college was different and that I needed to get my act together and pay more attention to how college works. I was being treated as an adult, which was something I wasn’t used to. As for that obstacle—taking responsibility for my own success (or failure)—I’m still working on it. I’ve gotten better, but I still struggle. I’ve thought about hiring a secretary, but then I’d have to get a job, another responsibility that I’m just not ready for yet.

    This page titled 4.3: The Summary/Response Assignment is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Amber Kinonen, Jennifer McCann, Todd McCann, & Erica Mead.

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