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Monday, April 19, 2010

Research Assignment: The complete guide

Research Essay: Craft a well-developed argument. Shape that argument into a good thesis. Back your argument with a combination of fact and opinion. Devise claims for your argument based on the different types of appeals. Make sure your sources are credible. Be sure the paper adheres to Hacker guidelines for APA style.


NOTE: Consult with me if you are unsure of the appropriateness of a topic for the specific assignment given. The topics listed here are suggestions, many of which could benefit from updating and narrowing. They are meant to generate ideas for additional topics. Remember, too, that you should select a topic which you care about enough to invest the necessary time and energy for thought, research, and development of the ideas.

For additional assistance, the Writing Center offers handouts and help.

1. Should pornography be restricted by law?

2. What is the impact of automation on American culture and lifestyles?

3. Should newspaper reporters be required to reveal their sources?

4. Should law or custom regarding American funeral practices be revised?

5. Should parents and other interested citizens censor textbooks and other literature for children in schools?

6. Where and how, if at all, should sex education be conducted?

7. Should the United States have mandatory military conscription? For whom?

8. Should laws regarding minimum wage (or the forty-hour work week) be revised?

9. Should mandatory (or voluntary) prayer be permitted in public schools?

10. Should the government provide child day care centers for working parents?

11. Should donors or their families be compensated for organ donations? How should people be selected to receive donor organs?

12. Should homosexuals be permitted to serve in the armed forces?

13. Should genetic engineering be controlled by law?

14. What impact on the family (or the workplace) have changes in gender roles had?

15. Have the large salaries of professional athletes had a negative impact on sports?

16. How should colleges manage their athletic programs in relation to their academic goals?

17. Do certain children's toys create social or emotional problems?

18. Should public servants (like school teachers, hospital workers, trash collectors) have the right to strike?

19. Should imports of foreign cars or other foreign products be limited or restricted by law?

20. Does society have an obligation to protect privacy as a basic individual right?

21. Should sex and violence on television or in the movies be restricted?

22. To what extent does the private life and private morality of a public figure affect his or her ability to serve the public interest?

23. Should divorce laws be changed in ways that will be more equitable or just for all the parties?

24. What place should "creationism" have in the public education system?

25. Should controversial speakers (on whatever subject) be allowed on college campuses?

26. What types of regulations of smoking in public places should the legal system impose?

27. Do "beauty" contests (Mr. America, Miss America, etc.) serve any purpose in society?

28. Should "victimless crimes" such as prostitution and other sexual activity between consenting adults be free from governmental interference?

29. Are Native Americans being treated fairly in the 1990s?

30. What prevention techniques and/or penalties should be applied to child molestation and child abuse?

31. Does the American system of justice need reform to ensure that criminals are properly punished?

32. To what extent should individuals have the protection of the law and the assistance of the medical establishment in terminating their own lives?

33. What techniques should public schools use to strengthen literacy at all grade levels?

34. Should children be required to attend school past the age of sixteen?

35. Should a rating system be required for song lyrics?

36. To what extent should advertising aimed at children be regulated by law?

37. Should the courts require that contracts and other legal documents be written in nontechnical language so that clients can understand them?

38. Should English be declared the official language of the United States?

39. To what extent should bilingual education be offered in public schools?

40. What role should the federal government take in dealing with the problem of AIDS, homelessness, or other widespread social, medical, and economical problems (pick only one problem for a focus)?

41. Should surrogate motherhood be either banned or regulated by law?

42. Should unapproved drugs be made available as a last resort to patients with conditions for which conventional treatments are known to be ineffective?

43. Should tobacco companies be held responsible for smoking-related illnesses and deaths?

44. Should bartenders be held responsible for the behavior of their patrons?

45. Is rehabilitation of felony offenders possible? Desirable?

46. Should the federal government provide health care for all citizens who cannot afford their own?

47. Should juvenile offenders be tried and punished as adults?

48.Should sex in advertising be restricted and sanctioned by the government?

Step One: Develop your research question

1. Ask research questions that will help you highlight the most important aspects (or angles) of your topic.

2. View this as preliminary research on the narrowing of your topic.

3. Based on your PRELIMINARY research, you should be able to begin refining a clear, arguable statement that will become your thesis. I will meet with each family tomorrow to view these plans and check

*The more you do on your own, the more I will be able to help you. Vice-versea.

Step Two: Research Proposal: The research proposal is a very important first step that serves as a guide for your entire project. It has several necessary components. For each numbered section, write one paragraph.

1. Research Question

• What does the student want to find out? The research question once it is answered becomes the thesis of the resulting paper. The student can formulate her question after surveying the topic (getting an overview by doing some general reading such as wikipedia or “googling”-ing some key words).

2. Research Method

• What kinds of action will the student take to find what she wants to know?
• How will information be discovered and gathered?...library research? research?...original research (interviews, surveys, etc.)?
• What resources are known even at the beginning of the project?

3. The Thesis

4. Informal Outline: Follow any form you feel most comfortable with (See Hacker for a variety of outlining methods if confused). The outline should give me an idea of how you plan your paper…point by point at least…example by example if you wish. There should be a bulleted component for each paragraph. Keep in mind that this is the mode by which you will also present your research.

5. Bibliography (of sources needed to prepare this proposal) Use your Hacker to guide you in APA style. I will also accept MLA. If you would like a quick tutorial of citations in general check out the following website:


Step Four: The following outline has been provided to help you conceptualize how to put the paper together:

Intro: Include a personal introduction (1 - 3 paragraphs) It should be devisive and that explain your connection with the topic in any way you see fit. Should also hook, reader, preview tone & ...

Establish the thesis! (Your answer to the research question).

Background / Exposition: The 5Ws pertinent to your topic. Provide the necessary information to understand your points (1 - 2 pages). This is the who, what, when and where of your topic. Should be attributed and cited.

Support: Each aspect that will promote cultural understanding should be supported with a combination of fact and valid opinion from credible sources and your own experiences (3 - 6 pages). Must contain well attributed and cited sources. Must provide specific and concrete evidence to back your argument. Must contain at least two solid DQs.

Conclusion: As outlined in handouts, should be brief. It is done best when it brings up some type of lingering question or idea (1 paragraph)

Paper should be minimum of 6 pages.

• All information taken from sources needs to be cited (not just quotations)
• Use MLA/APA style for all formatting (see Hacker or Google for help)
• Use quotations sparingly. Better to summarize information in your own sentences and phrasing. Introduce all quotations with signal phrases
• Each paragraph should have a topic sentence and show unity.
• Each paragraph (except intros and conclusions) will contain at least one citation identifying where you got your information.
• This is your chance to SHINE on the fact that our multiple revisions have not been a total waste.
• Include a formal Works Cited page, following the models of APA pr MLA style sample in Hacker.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Portfolio Assignment Outline

Rhetoric & Composition Portfolio

Create a portfolio showcasing the work you’ve done (hopefully) this semester. The portfolio should represent the breadth of work you’ve accomplished by providing a retrospective of your final drafts.

Tenets of the portfolio:

A. Each copy should be a clean, fresh and newly edited version of each assignment.

B. In cases of total desperation, you may include a marked copy of an essay (will result in a point deduction, but will be less of a point deduction than not including it at all).

C. Should be created in some kind of binder or fancy folder. Can be three-hole punched, clasped, sheet protected, etc. I don’t care what you use as long as it is organized and presentable.

D. All names (mine and yours) should be removed from the tops of papers. Only assignment titles and dates should be included.

E. Your portfolio should contain some type of cover sheet or title page identifying who you are. Preferably something I can remove so that it doesn't look all ghetto when I scratch it out, or white out it, does anyone even use White Out anymore?

F. Put them in the numeric order as it appears on this blog. Formal Essays and Journals.  

G.  Write one additional piece: three paragraphs addressing the following:

1. What did you find most beneficial about the course? What most makes this course helpful or enjoyable?

2. What did you like least about the course? What parts of it did you dread?

3. What could I do to improve the course & myself for next semester?

Monday, April 12, 2010

A resource for you

RESOURCE for your USE:

1. Please use this reading to further your understanding of the cultural identity issues in BWLOW
At the Crossroads:Latinos in the New Millennium
by Rubén Martínez

It is the blessing and bane of my life as a writer that I am often called upon to explain – to others, to “my” community, to myself – just what is means to be “Latino.” Such an endeavor would be unnecessary in my mother’s El Salvador or my father’s Mexico; Salvadorans and Mexicans don’t have to explain themselves to anyone – they’re Salvadorans and Mexicans, period; they’ve got other things to worry about, like general strikes and monetary devaluations.

But I was born and raised in Los Angeles of immigrant parents and my family’s sense of place, somewhere in between the Old World and the New, has become the narrative of my life. Living in-between tacos and pupusas, rock and merengue, and Spanish and English has been an exhilarating journey. The problem is that living in-between also means that you can be misunderstood by people on either side of you.

Hollywood always had me pegged as a Mexican…a greaser…a bandit…a Latin Lover…a Ricky Ricardo. Even in polite, literary circles, my ethnicity comes before any other intellectual or cultural identifiers. There is a canon of “Western” literature in the United States, but I am not considered a Western writer. I’m not a “California” writer, either, not even an American writer. I am a Latino writer, a mantle that I embrace and reject at the same time, because I feel that I’m as influenced by Walt Whitman as I am by Pablo Neruda.

In Latin America, ironically, I am not seen as a “Latino” or Latin American at all. I am, to my Mexican and Central American colleagues, just another “American” writer. No matter that I speak Spanish, have brown skin and parents from the Old World. So I’m branded a gringo where I don’t want to be one, and where I want to be one, I’m rejected. Denied my in-between-ness by both sides, as it were.

(originally appears on PBS)
* * *

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Rhetoric & Composition: Class #17 Assignments

NOTE: Journal #9 was a rough draft of the FB reaction*


WRITE: Use notes and activities done in class as a model. Find a print opinion piece that you disagree with. First analyze it based on the variety of appeals the author uses to create and advance his/her argument. Then, look for a thesis. Is there a single statement that encompasses the breadth of the argument? Identify it based on the parameters discussed in class. Is there a classically logical strructure employed within? Write up your analysis as Journal #10.

Then, write a rebuttal that employs similar rhetorical devices but advances your view. This will be Formal Essay #8.