In the last year, I have made a few presentations about using Google Docs as a venue for student essays at SLA. During those presentations, I tended to gloss over the assignment we first adapted for GDocs — which is a shame, because it deserves its own moment in the spotlight.
The original brainchild of Mr. Chase, the instructions for 2Fers currently read as follows:
A 2Fer is an analytical paper on any topic you choose. There are four basic guidelines that must be followed:
1. The 2fer has a thesis statement that is unique, insightful, and debatable. It does not re-state a commonly held belief or choose sides in a worn-out debate — it reflects an observation and conclusion you have come to on your own.
2. The 2fer uses at least two outside sources to support your thesis, and cites them correctly. This includes integrating the information seamlessly into the text of your essay, and using correct MLA citation for both the in-text citation and the works cited page.
3. The 2fer never uses the first or second person (“I” or “you.”) Instead of writing “I think that…” just write what you think! If you quote a source where the speaker says “I” or “you,” that’s fine.
4. The 2fer proves its thesis statement through the quality of analysis and factual support, not raw force of opinion. Avoid topics where your personal feelings dominate the paper, or rely heavily on individual experiences or beliefs (the existence of an afterlife, the nature of love, etc.) Look instead for topics where there is a wealth of credible outside material you can mine for support. A well-written 2Fer doesn’t argue, it proves.
You want to write about the magazine you’re reading? Do it. The video game you’re playing? Awesome. The mysteries of SEPTA? Absolutely. Are you feeling meta today, and want to attempt the 2Fer-about-a-2Fer? A valiant endeavor, where many students have gone before (with amusing results.)
This freedom of choice is obviously a blessing and a curse. To help students narrow it down, we’ve been talking about how to come up with a viable thesis statement — which, of course, first requires that you ask the right question. See the slide deck below for a glimpse into our conversations.