Essay

Course Learning Objectives Assessed

2.   Create and sustain across one or more pieces of writing a focused research question that responds to an exigent issue, problem, or debate.

3.   Compose cogent, research-based arguments, in print-based and/or multimodal texts, for specialist and/or non-specialist audiences.

4.   Locate, accurately cite (through summary, paraphrasing, and quoting) and critically evaluate primary and secondary sources.

5.   Demonstrate knowledge of writing as a process, including consideration of peer and/or instructor feedback, in one or more pieces of writing from initial draft to final revision.

Assignment Overview

This essay, the culminating project for the class, should showcase the rhetorical, research, and argumentative skills that you have developed throughout the course this semester. You are required to write an argumentative research paper on a focused topic, a paper in which you articulate a thesis: a central, controlling idea.  You are to organize the paper in such a way that it supports that idea.  I expect you both to discuss a certain issue or problem in depth, and to take a clearly defined position on that issue or problem, attempting to persuade the reader that your position is a valid one.

The Process

The various essays written throughout this course so far have simulated the steps for writing a research paper; picking a topic, exploring the idea, rhetorically analyzing some sources related to that topic, compiling an annotated bib on that topic, and then finally synthesizing the sources on that topic. Now comes the final step, entering the conversation yourself by creating an argument within the topic, taking a stance through a thesis statement outlining an original argument, and then defending that thesis through your writing.

If you find yourself stuck through the process, go back and look at your previous writing from this semester as inspiration, especially your exploration paper and annotated bib. Look at what your sources are saying on the topic, and see how you can enter the conversation—what is lacking from the ongoing debate, what perspective is missing, do you have a specific opinion on something within your topic?

When you are beginning to construct your argument, read/skim the text(s) you are writing about several times, taking notes on what seems significant/useful.  After formulating a thesis, it’s a good idea to read through the text(s) again, this time very carefully, taking note of everything that could be useful as evidence. You will still do a great degree of writing with sources, summarizing, paraphrasing, and quoting to support your points and provide evidence. But ultimately, make sure that you have several points to make of your own. Develop and support a thesis statement that answers your research question in a complex, insightful way that demonstrates your deep engagement with this research process. The argument should be yours, while your sources provide either context, background, or evidence.

Number of Sources

You should have a minimum of 8 sources, at least 3 of which should be scholarly journal articles. You may have more, but any more than 10 sources suggest that you are not engaging deeply enough with the sources that you have chosen.

Citation Guidelines

Any information that is not your own must be cited within the text and the Works Cited/References page. Quotation marks should be used any time you are using language that is copied directly from your sources. Information should be cited according to MLA/APA style.

Formatting Guidelines

§  Minimum 10 pages double spaced

§  8 total sources minimum, at least 3 scholarly

§  12-point Times New Roman font

§  1-in margins on all sides

Some Final Thoughts on your Paper

Does it…

§  make a well-reasoned argument that answers a focused, exigent research question; develop an argument with strong, well-articulated support and appropriately sourced evidence

§  engage with information and arguments from sources to make a relevant contribution to a conversation

§  have organization that is thoughtful and clear; paragraphs have strong unity and transitions

Grading Criteria

§  Requirements: Is your paper at least 10 pages? Is it in Times New Roman? Have you used at least 8 sources, are 3 scholarly? Do you have a clear, argumentative thesis statement that takes a stance on something? Are all your MLA/APA citations and works cited/references page correct?

§  Sources: Are all sources credible? Can all sources be used in a college level writing class? Are your citations correct; do you have one for each source? Do you use sources effectively as evidence for your own argument? Is there a mix between quoting, paraphrasing, and summarizing? Do you internally cite correctly?

§  Engagement with Content: Do you successfully argue on an exigent topic, one that is relevant in society today?  Are you able to engage in a short synthesis with your sources (the lit review) before moving on to the larger body of the essay? Are you able to move between analyzing your sources and producing your own analysis and commentary on them? Do you have a powerful intro and concluding paragraphs?

§  Thesis Statement and Argument: Did you effectively argue your own claim about the topic? Does your thesis mention the why/how/“so what” of your argument? Does your thesis contain a stance on the topic? Do your supporting paragraphs effectively argue your thesis statement?

Essays are graded holistically: remember that these are minimum expectations and completion of these assignment criteria will produce an essay that meets all basic requirements; essays that go above and beyond the satisfactory completion of these criteria can earn a B or an A.

 
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