This week you will begin working on a cause and effect essay that will be completed in Week 6. Please see the Week 5 Cause and Effect Essay Assignment, as well as the Week 5 Lesson, for a list of possible topics and all of the assignment requirements. After selecting a topic, develop a rough outline and share it with the class in your first post. As is noted in our textbook and the Week 5 Lesson, there are three main ways to organize a cause and effect essay.

  1. Effects of a cause
  2. Causes of an effect
  3. Causal chain

As a visual reference, here is a simple example of an outline using the effects of a cause approach. You may use this as a basic template.

Thesis: Eating junk food, sleeping poorly, and not exercising will negatively impact your health.

  1. Feel terrible
    1. Headaches
    2. Stomach problems
  2. Look bad
    1. Weight gain
    2. Tired and haggard
  3. Perform poorly
    1. No energy
    2. Miss work and school

After making your initial post, provide detailed and helpful feedback to the outlines of at least two of your fellow classmates. For example, you may suggest additional effects of the cause, additional causes of the effect, or additional events in the causal chain. Scroll down through the posts to find students who have not yet been replied to first.

Analyzing causes and effects is something we do all of the time. At school, we may be asked to analyze the effect on society of a technological innovation. In our personal lives, we might want to find out the cause of why we gained or lost weight. At work, we might investigate the chain of events that led to the success or failure of a new product or service. This process of finding out the why is at the heart of cause and effect writing.

For this essay, you will be writing a cause and effect essay on one of the following topics.

  • The success of a well-known company (such as Amazon, Netflix, or Apple)
  • The failure of a formerly successful company (such as Toys R Us, Sears, Blockbuster Video, Enron, Arthur Anderson, or Theranos)
  • A major disaster (such as the sinking of the Titanic, problems with the Boeing 737 Max, the destruction of the Space Shuttle Challenger, or the Hindenburg tragedy)
  • The successful treatment, containment, or cure of a disease, or the spread of a disease
  • The causes of an increase, or decrease, in crime, homelessness, or poverty in a particular city
  • The reasons why a famous historical figure (such as John Adams, Richard Nixon, Nelson Mandela, or Margaret Thatcher) was successful or unsuccessful 
    • Important note: if you choose this option, the person you choose must no longer be alive.

Other topics are possible, but consult your professor if you have an idea that is not on this list.

There are three main possible ways to organize a cause and effect essay.

  1. Effects of a major cause (Example: The tremendous loss of life from the sinking of the Titanic was due to colossal arrogance.
  2. Causes for a major effect (Example: The two main reasons that Tesla is so successful are environmentalism and distracted driving.)
  3. Causal chain of events (Example: The break-in at the Watergate led to a cover up, which in turn led to Nixon’s eventual resignation.)

To help you to successfully write your essay, it is wise to begin with an outline. Sample outlines of these three main ways of organizing a cause and effect essay are available in Chapter 9. In addition, to help you to choose the best organizational structure for your essay and for additional tips and advice, please see the Assignment Connection in the Week 5 Lesson. The conclusion of the essay should synthesize the information and explain the enduring impact of the topic.

Research Requirements

  • For this essay, you will need to find four or more sources. At least two of them should be found in the DeVry Library databases, and two others may come from high-quality, credible Internet sources. The purpose of using these sources is to provide support for your ideas in the form of facts, statistics, or expert opinion. Any time you make a claim, it needs to be supported. Hint: Never start a sentence with "everybody knows …"
  • All sources listed in the references must be cited in text; all sources cited in text must be listed in the references.

Basic Requirements:

  • Length: Four to five pages (1,000 to 1,250 words)
  • Compose the essay using Microsoft Word and using 12-point Times New Roman.
  • Format and cite sources using the seventh edition of APA. Consult Chapter 14, pages 389–420, for a sample essay and numerous types of citations.

Cause and Effect Essay Assignment Rubric




Introduction and Thesis


An appropriate topic is chosen from the list of approved topics or was approved by the instructor. The introduction provides a rationale for the topic choice as well as a clear and convincing thesis.



The essay is organized according to the effects of a cause, causes of an effect, or causal chain. The chosen organization is logical and consistent throughout.



The essay features a well-developed discussion based on the organizational structure. The essay identifies the most important effects of the cause, causes of the effect, or elements of the causal chain. The essay meets or exceeds the minimum length requirement.



The essay includes APA style in-text references to at least four relevant, high-quality sources. The essay includes a correctly formatted references list.

Style and Mechanics


The voice of the writer is clear, distinct, and appropriate. The writer’s message is clearly communicated with appropriate spelling and use of grammar and punctuation. Errors do not significantly interfere with meaning.



The assignment meets or exceeds the above criteria.

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