For your first major, multi-draft assignment, you will be writing an Inquiry-Based Argumentative paper. Everyday we are presented with arguments. How controversial a given topic is, often depends upon a given situation, what is at stake, and who is involved. We hold opinions on a whole host of topics, from standardized testing, to environmental concerns, to regulations in drag racing, to issues over authenticity within the recording and production of music. Very often, we find that we are positioned on one side of an argument rather than another according to our values, traditions, beliefs, and our knowledge on and investment in a or many communities of practice (COP).
You have already chosen a COP and a topic of interest within that COP. You have also considered the big “D” Discourse of that community, and you have done some informal research into your topic of interest. Now, considering the role, the “who” that you want to be within a COP, you will consider the Discourse (ways of being, thinking, knowing, as well as the little “d” discourse, values, beliefs, tools, props, and technologies) of that COP in order to be identified as a certain type of “who” doing a certain type of “what.” In part, your “what” is determined by the expectations of this assignment: you will be contributing to a topic and a COP by making an argument that is clear, focused, and representative of your meaningful and unique engagement with the topic of interest. Since it is very likely that you will need to appeal to an audience that is not directly connected to your COP, you will also have to negotiate the tensions that surface between two conflicting Discourse practices. For example, let’s say that I come from a teaching COP and my topic of interest is standardized texting, and I want to argue against the use of standardized tests to measure students’ abilities. (Note: this is not a thesis; it is a stance? “ I want to argue against the use of standardized tests”). There are different matters at stake for me, as a writer, and for my audience. I would, nonetheless, have to appeal to an audience that has the ability to change the current system or affect it in some way. However, our values and beliefs are different: I would be valuing the student, but they are valuing test scores; though I believe that standardized tests are an inaccurate measure of a student’s abilities, they believe that the tests are representative of an entire class, a school, and even a region in some cases. These are just a few of the many conflicts that I would need to negotiate.
As you write and negotiate your rhetorical choices, you will need to keep in mind that others are going to naturally disagree. After all, an argument is an argument precisely because it is debatable and has multiple interpretations. Also, it is a bit counterproductive to write an argument aimed at an audience that already agrees with you: a COP has multiple members that do not always see eye-to-eye on an issue; a topic or an issue that your COP is interested in or that you are raising within your COP will likely intersect with another COP. And remember, all that applies to big “D” Discourse applies to COP, since Discourses are the result of different COPs.
What I will be looking for:
• Do you have a strong thesis statement?
• Are you doing more than providing information or regurgitating others’ arguments? Meaning, have you found something new to contribute?
• Do you use your sources effectively?
• Is your topic specific and focused enough to allow you to go into detail, as opposed to just writing in general terms?
• Is it clear that you have a target audience?
• Do you negotiate the needs of the Discourse practices that you are coming from and speaking to?
• Do you recognize that there are opposing views and arguments on the topic or an aspect of the topic?
• Do you back your claims up with supporting evidence and/or examples?
• Is it clear why your topic is important and for whom it is important? You can think of this as your “so what?”.
• Is your written register appropriate for a formal paper? For example, where it was appropriate to use contractions in your Inquiry Blogs or Free Writes, it is not generally appropriate to do so in an academic/formal paper.
• Do you take risk?
• Have you included all the required elements for each draft? (See draft requirements)
• Did you meet the assignment guidelines?
? Five page minimum—not including your citation page(s). You can certainly go longer if you need to, but try to keep it under seven pages. Use 12pt., Times New Roman font with 1-inch margins. Yes, double-spaced, but you should have no more than a double-space between your line and paragraph breaks.
? Citation: If you are entering your voice into a specific discipline, you will be using the conventions for citation according to that community of practice. For example, if you are entering into an ongoing conversation within the field of Engineering, you will use IEEE. Otherwise, you will be using MLA.
? You will be incorporating a minimum of five sources into your paper; however, it is likely that you will pull your information from more sources. You can use both secondary and primary sources for your research. At least three of your sources should be peer-reviewed, scholarly sources.
Draft Requirements and Due Dates:
*All drafts will be uploaded to Moodle and to your WordPress site. All drafts will need to be uploaded as Word documents, either as a .doc or a .docx file.
• Draft One: Due before class 10/2
• Draft Two: Due by midnight 10/6, with “track changes;” you will need to include margin notes and questions with this draft. Instructions for this part will be provided on Moodle.
• Draft Three: Due before class 11/15, with “track changes;” you will need to include annotations in the margins of this draft. Instructions will be provided on Moodle.
Additional Notes on Grading:
You will be expected to complete all process/draft work on time. Points will be deducted for all late work and for work that does not meet the requirements of length and substance. These points will be deducted from your final-draft grade. If you do not post a draft within 48hrs of the due date, I will automatically take off a letter grade (10 points) from your final draft grade. Plagiarism has heavy consequences. If you have questions about plagiarism, ask me or reference the university’s Academic Integrity policy (University Policy 407, The Code of Student Academic Integrity).