A reaction paper offers students the opportunity to respond to readings in meaningful and thoughtful ways.
Reaction papers might be used in order to confirm that students read a given reading.
A reaction paper juxtaposes personal response with texts, ideas, and concepts that inform that response.
It can be helpful to ask students to write reaction papers by contextualizing what they are responding to with readings done in class or elsewhere.
Doing so helps students see that ideas do not emerge out of a vacuum, but that they are part of a larger process of making meaning.
Doing so can help teach students how to make connections among various texts.
Doing so can also teach students how research functions and how one can integrate one’s research (in this case, the reading responded to and the readings that provide context) into a body of writing (the reaction paper itself).