DBQ essays are becoming more popular in high schools and universities to test student writing abilities and understanding of course content. DBQ stands for document-based questions and DBQ essays require learners to write document-based research papers. This new writing tool is now being used in many academic institutions as a testing instrument as well as a general writing assignment.
A DBQ essay is written by the student based on documents provided by the course instructor, or, in the case of an exam that uses a DBQ essay as a grading tool, the exam creators. The task of writing a DBQ essay requires students to write a college report based on the facts present within the documents rather than what might be in the history books. The idea is to get students to think like historians and gather facts, analyze them, and present them to others within a well-written DBQ article. Students are required to think outside the box rather than to merely restate what a text book or history book tells them.
DBQ essays are generally just one part of a writing assignment which combines questions about the documents in addition to a complete essay project. Such an intense writing assignment is obviously intended to gauge a student's critical thinking and analytical skills as well has his or her writing ability. The first part of a DBQ essay project is usually short-answer essay questions. Students are required to sift through the documents they've been presented with and answer each question as thoroughly as possible. The DBQ report itself is a longer writing assignment intended to supplement the short-answer portion of the assignment.
A DBQ essay is scored on a variety of criteria including the student's ability to evaluate the facts present within the document, address the historical perspective of those facts, and argue how the facts of the documents prove his or her viewpoint. In order to write the best DBQ essay possible, it is important that students correctly identify the historical period represented by the documents as well as identify the historical terms, names, and events highlighted in the documents. Students should also be able to separate main events and names from those that have little or nothing to do with the questions being asked.
Just like any writing assignment, a DBQ report should be presented as a well-written project with proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Students should also pay attention to using the proper format indicated by the instructor. DBQ essays are an exciting new way to require learners to think critically while writing creatively.
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