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Eng 1500 Dyer 1

Cause and Effect Essay Assignment

It is your job to make an argument about a cause and effect relationship. The topic of your essay must be an issue or phenomenon of widespread social concern. It may not, for example, be an essay about what provoked you to come to college. It may, however, be an essay which argues to identify a leading cause for young people coming to college, using your own experience as one concrete example.

Topic Pattern A
Argue to identify a leading cause of a significant contemporary social issue or phenomenon. Topic Pattern B
Argue to predict some likely effects of a significant contemporary social issue or phenomenon. Acceptable Topics
Contemporary social issues or phenomena include, but are not limited to

content of television and/or internet dependence on cell phones plagiarism
mass shootings

global warming
political efficacy in young adults teen pregnancy

You may write on Topic Pattern AorTopic Pattern B. Use concrete evidence, trace a deep cause (not a superficial one), avoid the fallacy ofpost hoc, ergo propter hoc,avoid generalizations that cannot be proven, structure the paper logically, establish the significance of the issue, and speculate about or invite a change in the issue during your conclusion.

Your essay must consider alternative causality. This means, if you are identifying a leading cause, you should also explain at least one other cause that contributes to the effect to a lesser degree. Or, if you are sure that the effect has only one cause, explain why another popular theory that shows a different cause is invalid. Please see rubric on next page for specific point break down.

The length requirement is three to six pages (750 to 1500 words), double spaced, twelve point font, in MLA format.

Eng 1500 Cause/Effect

Dyer 2

Grading Rubric
(Use these criteria as a checklist)


A riveting introduction which succeeds in getting the reader’s attention and leading the reader willingly into your paper—this may be a good time to establish the seriousness of the issue or phenomenon that the paper focuses on.

5 to -40

A strategically placed thesis that either a) cites a leading cause of a widespread social issue/phenomenon or b) points out plausible effects of a widespread social issue/phenomenon


Consider and addressalternative causalityof effect(s)


Concrete evidence that links the effect(s) to the cause(s)


Cause shown is a deep cause, not a superficial, immediately obvious, circumstantial cause (see page 400 ofProse Reader).

-10 per

No claims of causal relationship can be based onpost hoc, ergo proctor hoc—just because one thing happened first, that doesn’t mean it caused the subsequent thing.


All claims, including thesis, are specific enough to be proven logically valid. Avoid overly general statements that cannot be supported adequately. Use qualifying language to limit claims when necessary.

0 to -10

The paper as a whole must be focused. Stay on track. If there are extraneous elements of the paper which do not work to promote your thesis or persuade the reader (however subtly), revise/remove them.


Aconclusionwhich suggests a solution to the problem, makes a value judgment about the causal relationship, or invites the reader to make a change in the situation

0 to -30

3-6(750 to 1500 words) double spaced pages in MLA format


Essay should beorganizedto show importance of issue, validate claims of causality, and suggest a solution. The organizational pattern should fit your logical strategy. Paragraph appropriately.


Smooth, natural transitions that guide the reader through the paragraphs of your paper

10 to -25

Correct grammar. Check for apostrophe usage, capitalization of proper nouns, fragments, subject verb agreement, verb tense, correct prepositions, comma splices, commas before coordinating conjunctions, run-ons, commas in lists, commas with interrupting phrases, commas after dependent clauses in complex sentences, correctly used colons and semicolons (if used at all), correctly placed modifiers, and pronoun agreement.

0 to -100

No outside sources necessary. If you do use one or more outside sources, be sure to cite them in MLA format and include a works cited page.Plagiarism will result in zero points for the whole assignment.

5 to -5

Style. Avoid faulty parallelism. As a general rule, avoid passive voice unless you feel it is absolutely necessary. If even one sentence is slightly confusing to the reader or to you, it is probably too long, awkward, or convoluted. Aim for a lean, athletic style that takes no prisoners.

0 to -5

An interesting title that hints at the content of the paper.