Unit 8 Writing Assignment
Rhetoric courses require at least 30 pages of writing that the instructor reads and responds to, and that counts towards the student’s final grade in some way.Because this is a writing course, students should be engaged in writing in some form throughout the entire course.The following list describes the major forms of writing that instructors assign.
1. Essays (out-of-class papers). Instructors usually assign three to five essays.
These essays are 3-5 pages on average and address overall themes of the course that the instructor is also working through in readings and in-class discussion. 2. The research paper (assigned in 102, 104, and 105) is the biggest single project that students accomplish in the course. These papers are at least 8-12 pages and are the focus of at least 5 weeks of the semester. This project is a culmination of the skills taught throughout the semester (105) or year (102, 104). Instructors may assign a topic or scope of topics that also addresses the themes of the course, or instructors may work closely with the students to choose their own topics. .
In-progress writing. Essays and especially the research paper should be developed through a structured process. In addition to full drafts, such processes may involve students writing topic proposals, mini-drafts (e. g. , a 3-page draft of a 10-page research paper), annotated bibliographies, short oral presentations that include textual supports (handouts, screen projections), genre variants (e. g. , collage dialogues, narratives), in-progress reports and reflections, and so on.
4. Response papers are typically shorter papers (1-2 pages) that respond to a reading or in-class activity.Instructors may treat these as formal papers and assign a grade, or they may be treated as informal papers and receive assessment based on a number system or check mark system. The goal of these papers may be to ensure students are engaging with readings and to prompt class discussion. 5. Journals can be used for class preparation, essay and research preparation, or as an inducement to write every day (a journal is literally a “daily writing”). They can be assigned outside of class or as a topic to prompt discussion during class.
Instructors vary on the ways they assess journals. Some may give the entire journal a grade at the end of the semester, and others might treat it as informal writing and assess it based on a number system or check mark system. 6. Moodle posts or other online writings. Moodle is one of many online forums available for students writing. Instructors can easily request and build their own Moodle site and post topics for students to discuss about outside of class. This is another way to reinforce themes presented in class or prompt discussion for future classes.
Instructors use other online forums such as wikis, blogs, websites, webboard, Illinois Compass (some of which are available from the University, and some from outside sources) for many of the same purposes. Instructors are encouraged to assign some kind of online writing as it fits into the themes of their course. 7. In-class writing. Informal in-class writing makes students more comfortable with their own and their peers’ writing. It also allows students to discover and engage with ideas for their paper assignments. Instructors also assess these in various ways, for example, in the student’s participation grade.
Inclass writing could be journal entries, responses to in-class activities, reflections on the assignment that they are handing in, or online posts done in class. 8. Peer reviews. This writing could happen in-class or outside, in response to a draft of a peer’s paper. Sometimes instructors form writing groups for students and require them to respond to several students (3-4 students per group). These writings could also take the form of letters written to peers. This kind of feedback is useful in getting students to develop a vocabulary for how to talk about writing as well as reflect on and implement their own revisions.
Peer review could count towards the final assignment grade or also as part of a participation grade if it happens in class. These are the major types of writing that instructors typically assign. The idea is to get students writing early and often, both inside and outside of class, and to be responding to their writing both inside and outside of class. It works well when instructors are enthusiastic about the kinds of writing they assign; is not useful to assign writing as punishment to students. It is important for students to come to see writing as a central and positive part of their lives as students.Essentials for Composing Writing Assignments • Choose your writing assignments carefully. Spend time selecting and formulating your assignments.
Well-developed assignments are more likely to result in good student writing experiences than topics thrown together hastily. Try to anticipate how students will handle a topic: they may respond in ways you hadn’t counted on. Be specific about requirements. Always hand out your assignments in written form; specify due dates, length, format, background readings, grading criteria, and the purpose of the assignment. Integrate your assignments.Make sure there is a relationship between in-class work and outof-class work; encourage your students to talk about (and write about) their assignments in class. Devote a part of class discussion to the purpose and the position of a particular assignment within the syllabus.
Provide some background information, and create a context in which your students can understand the assignment. Allow plenty of time for questions related to the assignment. Schedule some time to do prewriting exercises in class. Sequence assignments so that students can build rich contexts and produce thoughtful texts. Time your assignments well.Do not overburden the students when you are working under heavy pressure. Don’t ask your students to hand in Essay #2 if you still haven’t returned Essay #1, graded and commented upon; they deserve to see what they did well, and not-so-well, in their last paper before they submit another one.
Try to return regular essays within one week; two weeks is reasonable for the longer research papers. Delays in returning graded papers considerably weaken the impact of your feedback. • • • • Use varied and interesting topics. Provide a choice of topics, or allow your students to create their own subtopics.Find out what the interests of your students are and use their suggestions whenever practical. Take into account that your own cultural background may not be the same as your students’; avoid unreflectively ethnocentric topics. Prevent plagiarism.
When you borrow topics, tailor them to your own purposes; never use a borrowed assignment verbatim. Make students turn in their drafts, notes, annotated articles, outlines, and written reflections with the final copy of the essay. Original thinking for topics, combined with sufficient guidance during the writing process, should diminish the possibility of plagiarism. See the “Use of Sources and Plagiarism” section for further discussion of these issues. ) Help students create an array of writing processes for different contexts. Many students do not know how to pre-write or do substantive revision. They compose their papers the night before they’re due because they don’t know what else to do.
Similarly, some of your students are unaware of the difference between an essay and an impromptu, that out-of-class essays will require more revision (and hence more time) than in-class ones, and so they think it’s perfectly normal to begin working on an essay the day (or hour) before it’s due.You can dispel such notions by encouraging students to be as self-reflective as possible about their writing. Encourage them to consider their own (and others’) writing processes, whether they’re working on an out-of-class essay, or an in-class one, or even a ten-minute exercise. You may want to share your own revision experiences (in classes or in work environments) to help students understand that drafts and revisions are not artificial work useful only in the writing classroom.Teach writing as a process: model it, discuss it, and give students a chance to practice it in class, under your supervision and with the help of their classmates. Allow for student feedback. Informal in-class writing provides your students with a chance to express how they feel about their writing assignments, which topics they want to write about, and how they see their own writing as part of the course goals.
Some instructors ask their students to write a paragraph about the essay they’re about to turn in, assessing its merits or describing their writing process; students then submit this paragraph with the paper.Expose students to their peers’ writing. Ask your students for permission to reproduce their papers for class discussion, or simply do it anonymously (don’t restrict yourself to what you consider a “good” paper; use “mediocre” papers as well). Turn peer editing into a constructive writing assignment. Encourage students to meet with you. Make sure your students know that they can make appointments for discussion of their work-in-progress. Use conferences or tutorial sessions to discuss drafts of essays.
• • • • • The Research Paper ProjectBecause this is the longest and most time consuming single assignment that students work on, we’ve provided you with more details for this one. You should also be receiving lots of guidance from your advisor and the program when constructing your research paper assignment and throughout the process of working on it in the course. Because the AWP research courses (102 and 104) last an entire semester, the form of the research project may vary some in terms of length, approach, and methodology. AWP instructors will discuss these options with their peer advisor.Rhetoric 102, 104, and 105 courses require students to produce a researched argument of 8-12 pages in length (excluding notes and Works Cited) that conforms to a standard documentation style. This barebones description may make the paper sound simple enough. In fact, the research paper project asks students to use all the reading skills of analysis, summary, and synthesis they’ve been developing.
It asks them to research thoughtfully, thoroughly, and efficiently, to encounter a variety of primary and secondary sources, and to acquaint themselves with current scholarly or professional knowledge pertinent to their subject.It asks them to put all they’ve learned from their research into service of their own argument. It asks them to produce polished, revised prose that observes the niceties of academic citation. No wonder, then, that students and their instructors often find the research paper daunting, and that the research paper project requires plenty of careful planning from both parties. Orientation sessions, teaching seminars offered in the fall, and peer advising meetings will explore the above in greater detail. The research paper typically serves as the culmination of concepts and skills you and your students have been working on all semester.The research paper not only requires extensive research, but also engagement with sources in a way students may not have experienced before.
One of the most challenging parts of your job as a Rhetoric instructor is to clarify both the purpose (why we write it in the first place) and the process (how we go about it) involved in writing the research paper. You may have to clarify the difference between a research paper and a report or narrative assignment. Incorporating other people’s arguments into a paper to support their own argument is a difficult skill for students to master.For this reason, the research paper is best taught as several discrete yet complementary tasks that build up to the final project. These tasks range from generating topic ideas, to formulating a central thesis and organizing material. The content of the research paper should be the primary concern, but with a large number of sources and often overwhelming amounts of information, the organization and presentation of this information need substantial coverage as well. Not surprisingly, introducing the research paper as a daunting assignment worth an awful lot in the grade break down might affect your students’ morale.
Consider introducing it as a unique opportunity to explore the world around them in a new way and develop their knowledge on topics they may have been interested in for years. Encourage students to pick topics that both interest them and allow them to expand their own assumptions or ideas. By making this a project where students can explore things of specific interest to them, you will receive happier students and stronger papers. It is a good idea to familiarize yourself with campus resources for research, and to take your students on a trip to the undergraduate library.The better informed you are, the more you will be able to answer questions and guide students as they research. Suggestions for a Good Research Paper Experience • Make the research paper an integral part of your course. You can do this work in several ways.
You can teach the skills of summary, paraphrase, and source integration early, rather than introducing them when students are surrounded by heaps of photocopies. If you allow students to choose their own subjects on essays, you can foreground the crucial process of identifying viable topics for research and then refer back to that process in the context of the final research project.You can forecast how the reading skills you emphasize at the beginning of the semester will pay off as students look for relevant research. You can show how each paper assignment asks students to practice skills they will rely on as they arrange and revise their research papers. Where appropriate, in your end comments on earlier graded papers you can suggest ways students might extend a line of argument to their research project. Allot plenty of time to the research project as you plan your syllabus.Most instructors devote at least a month to this part of the course; here, especially, it is important to emphasize the processes that precede finished writing.
Stage and set deadlines for major activities, and consider making grades for component processes—topic proposals, informal outlines, annotated bibliographies, drafts, and the like—a significant part of the project grade. Decide well in advance how you will guide students as they choose their topics, and begin the process of topic selection early in the semester.To put the matter baldly, many instructors will attest to the fact that students who choose a poor topic—one that’s not amenable to informed argument or meaningful research—doom themselves to poor grades on their research paper. Further, some student topic choices may force instructors to confront their own limits as readers, either in their expertise, their interests, or their ability to maintain an impartial stance in response to certain issues. Decide when you want to introduce your students to the library and its instructional resources.Students need some time at the beginning of the semester to concentrate primarily on the foundational skills of reading, critical thinking, and argumentation, but you may want to teach them the research process incrementally. You might, for example, require them to use two or three researched sources in their second or third paper, and during this unit ask them to attend the Undergraduate Library’s instructional seminars teaching students how to use library resources (which we highly recommend).
Also worth keeping in mind: in the latter weeks of the semester he Undergraduate Library is packed with students from many courses, all of them competing for resources. • • • Choosing Research Paper Topics On the one hand, we want students to write about subjects they care about and find important or stimulating for personal, professional, or intellectual reasons. On the other hand, we want these topics to be workable, and to lead to productive papers. And we have to think about our ability to grade a batch of diverse research papers consistently: How can we assess a critique of Freud’s “Femininity” lecture in the same breath as an analysis of embryo transfer techniques in dairy cattle?From the start, you may want to declare some topics, or types of topics, off-limits. Examples: • Cliched topics leading mainly to knee-jerk emotional responses and heavy moralizing (e. g. abortion, the horrors of human cloning, and like).
Such topics may prove frustrating for you as reader, and perhaps also for your students as they get overwhelmed with political propaganda Sensational topics (Jimmy Hoffa sightings, new theories on the Kennedy assassination, etc. ) Partisan political topics (e. g. , why candidate x should be elected, which political party is best).Topics that don’t lead to academic argument (perhaps the key problem with the above issues is that they are so likely not to lead to academic argument). From this admittedly vast and obvious category, you may want to focus on those topics that would work well for a specialized journal or commercial magazine but have no currency in an academic environment. As an example, you may encounter a student determined to research and argue the question of the best golf clubs (or skis, or computer equipment, etc.
) available for purchase. This topic is appropriate for Golf Digest, but not for an academic audience.Such topics can be converted, sometimes, to inquiries appropriate to our classes. Instead of determining the best set of clubs, for example, a student might ask whether there’s any evidence that purchasing new equipment improves one’s golf game (or ability to ski, or computing, etc. ), and then be led to examine advertising hype and consumer anxiety related to the product. Asking such questions may lead a student to useful encounters with primary sources and academic opinion, and ultimately lead to an argument much more interesting (for writer and reader alike) than the original topic. • • As the scenario above suggests, a crucial part of our work as instructors lies in helping students form a tangible idea of the expectations of an academic audience.
While each of us may harbor somewhat different versions of what constitutes a general academic audience, and of what topics are appropriate for that audience, all of us have an obligation to define our version to our students. As a corollary to this point, you may encounter some student topics deeply embedded within a student’s major (the aforementioned investigation of embryo transfer techniques, for example).You can make such topics more workable for yourself and your students by asking students to meet readers from other disciplines halfway; in practical terms, this means asking authors of such papers to show a general academic readership what’s at stake and why the paper’s findings are important. You may want to steer your students away from topics that are constantly used by students in writing or other classes at this and other universities . For one thing, students may have trouble finding necessary sources as they compete with others writing on the same subject.For another, they may benefit from realizing they have little chance of producing new knowledge if they take on such a topic. A final consideration: as you review student topics, think about whether the student will be able to find a wide range of relevant sources as she generates questions associated with her subject.
Ideally, the research project gives students a chance to confront primary and secondary sources—to analyze and develop relationships between a set of facts and interpretations of those facts, in other words.Ideally, the project brings the student into contact with relevant and current scholarly work through academic books or journals. If a topic is defined too locally or confined too narrowly to a recent event in the news, relevant scholarly work may be unavailable. Generating Topics We suggest that you start the process of identifying possible topics early in the semester, well before you start instruction in the research project itself. Heuristics and exercises are available in the Rhetoric office, and your peer advisor or an AD will be glad to guide you to these sources.The more practice your students have in identifying topics that lead to viable academic arguments, and the more questions they learn to ask in response to a given topic, the better. If you ask students to keep writing journals, you might ask them to devote some of their entries to identifying and developing research ideas.
These journal entries might then be shared in groups or full-class discussions. In the same spirit, you might allocate a few minutes of discussion each week to topic identification, with the aim of developing a roster of topics to which students constantly add.This roster might be distributed as a handout: you can then choose a handful of topics for further work, asking students to think about the kinds of questions each topic implies, and then about the kinds of research they would need to do in order to develop an argument related to the topic. The Topic Pyramid When considering possible topics for the research paper, consider using the following method, first as a classroom/group activity and later as a take home assignment that students can use more specifically for their own topics.On the board, draw a large horizontal pyramid with six lines through it, top to bottom. On the top line you start out with a simple topic, for instance “books,” and then as you move down the pyramid, you get more specific with each line, building upon the ideas of the previous lines. This assignment will work with almost any topic, from Spongebob to abortion.
For Example: Books Science-fiction books Science fiction books since the 1950s Science fiction books since the 1950s written by women Topics of Science fiction books since the 1950s written by womenHow topics of science fiction books by women since 1950 represent technology The worst that can happen is that the last line of your pyramid can become too specific. In this case, simply take a step up the pyramid and work from there. This is a good way to get students thinking and focusing on their assignments. Here they can see how many levels of inquiry they have to engage in when developing a topic. To help them narrow the steps of the pyramid, encourage them to use the following ideas to make their topic more specified.Time – era, decade, age group, generation Place – as specific as The University of Illinois, the city of Champaign, State of lllinois, The United States Aspect – What is it about the topic that you would like to find out? Purpose – What do you hope to accomplish with your inquiry? Audience – Who are you writing this paper for? How can you use your idea of audience to address potential concerns with your line of reasoning before they come up? Attitude – How do you feel about this topic? If this is something too personal, you may find you have a hard time writing a critical paper.If this is a topic you are not interested in, you will find the work of research a trying task.
Think about your reasons for choosing your topic and choose an aspect of it about which your feelings are well balanced. Shaping Fields of Inquiry Some instructors choose not to limit student topics in any way, other than stipulating that the topics be amenable to research, capable of producing argument, and suitable for an academic audience. The clear advantage of this approach is that it gives students every opportunity to write about a subject that interests them.Students who haven’t yet defined their academic or professional interests may find this freedom burdensome, however, and thus retreat to the most obvious and cliched topics out of desperation. If you choose an open topic selection system, you will want to give such students plenty of attention and plenty of opportunity, through the methods described above, to find a satisfying and productive topic. Other instructors ask students to develop a topic from within a shared field of inquiry.This method very likely mimics the research and writing situations students will encounter in their later courses, and removes some of the burden of topic selection mentioned above.
It may, however, frustrate students with clearly defined research interests outside this constructed field. (In such cases, a conference or two may help student and instructor negotiate a topic acceptable to both parties. ) Some examples of ways to limit topics: • The Decade Reader: Students vote on a decade in American history and decide on relevant subject areas (e. g. , music, politics, science) to pursue.Papers (or a selection of the “best” papers, as selected by the class) are then “published” in a class reader: given judicious management and a clear statement of revision tasks, the processes of editing and publishing these papers can be used as the final writing assignment for the course. Current Events/Geography in the News: Students select or are assigned an issue or location currently in the news and research related issues, places, personages (e.
g. , Columbian drug trade, global warming, Swiss banking scandals). Again, a class publication might ensue. •Here, as in the prior example, instructors will have to work to ensure that students produce arguments rather than informational reports. • Selection from a student-generated list of topics: This method is workable if the list is substantial, if all students have contributed to it, and if the class has ascertained that all the topics are researchable, capable of producing argument, and suitable for an academic audience. Thematic: If your syllabus reflects sustained attention to a core set of issues (popular culture, gender/race/class, education, literacy, etc. , you may want to ask students to choose a topic that extends and develops this inquiry.
The more students have an opportunity to participate in this thematic—the more it reflects students’ interests as well as the instructor’s—the more likely its success. • However you guide your students through the process of selecting a subject, students should submit their topics for your approval. Instructors often choose to make topic proposals a graded writing assignment. Often, you will find yourself suggesting, or requiring, that students narrow the scope of their topics; this is a process you can model, and students can practice, in class.Topic Development and Change As students begin to research their topics, they may find that their focus and interest change— often in dramatic ways. Therefore, it’s a good idea to ask students to submit weekly progress reports or reflections on their work throughout the research paper unit. In many cases, redefining a topic is an integral part of the research process, something many of us have experienced in our own work as writers.
First-year students may find this shift unsettling, however, and may be aided by reassurance that many of us change our minds and our focus as we learn more about a given issue.In other cases, however, topic shifts can signal problems. Students who want to choose a new topic because “the library didn’t have anything” on their topic, for example, may be sending a clear signal that their research skills are underdeveloped: before you approve a topic change, inquire about their research process. More troubling are topic shifts in the last two weeks before the paper is due. Late changes in paper topics may (but may not) signal a potential plagiarism problem; again, you will want to check in with your students often during this process so you can understand the student’s reasons for changing the topic.In order to integrate this large paper into your course and to obtain a full view of the students’ processes, you can: 1. Work out progressive assignments—three or four short papers that deal with the research paper topic.
Or have students do a mini-term paper before the big one. Thus you might assign summaries of source material, annotated bibliographies, and papers that define terms, sketch out background information, or deal with one aspect of the issue. 2. Check notes, etc. , regularly (in class, to save time). 3.Hold conferences before the paper is due.
4. Discuss in class what students are doing—they could, for example, give short oral reports on their research. 5. Require students to turn in copies of articles, printouts of websites, etc. they used as sources. Assignments Relating to the Research Paper Proposal The proposal assignment falls after you have engaged in some classroom activity involving generating good topics for research, and after students have done something such as the topic pyramid to narrow their potential fields of inquiry.This assignment typically asks students to narrate their topic, their research questions, and their argument more formally.
It can be useful in helping students articulate their projects and giving instructors an opportunity to respond to students’ research ideas early on during the research project. Annotated Bibliography The annotated bibliography is typically assigned after you have approved research topics and helps students find and evaluate sources for their final project.It allows you to preview the sources that students are considering and encourage diversity of sources; it allows your students to see what materials they need to find and what they might be missing. This assignment is also easily integrated with a visit to the library, where the librarian will show students some ways to find and evaluate sources for the research project. The Collage Assignment Following the annotated bibliography assignment, it is important to get your students thinking about ways that sources will interact with each other in their final papers.The collage assignment allows students to begin engaging in conversation with their texts and to see how the texts will interact with each other. This assignment asks students to write a script of a conversation that might take place between the student and all of the authors if they were ever in the same room.
Creative assignments like this one allow students to engage with their sources in a different way, opening up new opportunities for them to explore their topics. Primary Research You may want students to use some primary sources in addition to secondary sources in their research.Some instructors assign students to do surveys, interviews, observations, or archival research (the Student Life and Culture Archives are a popular choice), and they often find it to be a rewarding experience for instructors and students alike. Consider making the primary research one of the small assignments leading up to the larger research paper rather than just something students cite in the research paper; devoting time specifically to this process ensures that you can provide sufficient guidance in and examples of good primary research strategies and effective ways to turn primary research into writing. Good news: As long as students are doing primary research just for a class assignment, you probably won’t need to worry about having the University’s research board approve their research. ) Many research texts (including the defaults) contain an introduction to primary research, and the Rhetoric office has a variety of resources to help you construct a primary research assignment. Reflections or Progress Reports In addition to the more formal assignments such as the proposal and annotated bibliography, you might also ask students to write short reflections on the research project.
These 1-2 page documents, due once a week during the research project, have students articulate more informally where they are in the research process, and how they have developed their ideas or chosen their sources. This kind of document helps students to engage in the process of conducting research and reflect on that throughout the entire project and helps you to respond productively to students’ work and struggles. Drafts Instructors structure the drafting process of the research project in various ways. Some require a full draft which they comment on and have students peer review during the last week of the project.Others require parts of drafts to peer review several times throughout the project. It is important to have drafts due in some way during the research project in order to work with students on research as a process and ensure they are writing consistently rather than only during the final hours of the project. You may want to build in several sorts of response to drafts: written comments (from you) on the paper, peer review both inside and outside of class, small instructorled review groups, and/or full class discussions on parts of the research paper.
Helping Students Find Sources The Undergraduate Library staff has developed a bibliographic instruction program for students enrolled in introductory rhetoric courses at the University. The goal of this program is to give students the framework and skills necessary to do research in a large academic library. These skills include identifying, locating, and obtaining sources for a research paper. Our role in the process primarily entails guiding students through the process of narrowing their topics and exposing them to methods of evaluating, analyzing, and synthesizing sources.The Undergraduate Library staff is eager to work with you to ensure that your students receive a solid introduction to the University Library and research skills. Their program includes self-guided tours, online catalog workshops, instruction in locating periodical information, term paper research counseling, and general reference assistance. The Coordinator for Bibliographic Instruction will provide an overview of the programs during your orientation and answer any questions you may have.
Think about potential dates in the middle of the semester before the research project for a class trip to the library.A Note on Internet Sources: Some instructors, motivated partly by fears of plagiarism and partly by recognition that students must learn to use print resources, limit the number of Internet resources students can use, or even ban them. Since our goal is to teach students to research widely, effectively, and efficiently, imposing bans or limits on Internet resources may be counter-productive. Web sites published by Federal agencies provide a wealth of valuable information; the Internet is increasingly the site of scholarly activity; many Web sites might be used as the object of extended analysis.If you worry about student propensities to rely too heavily on electronic sources, stipulate that the research paper must use a certain number of print sources, and explain the reasons for this requirement to your students. As many have argued, the Internet offers writing instructors a fine opportunity to teach source analysis and evaluation—principles that apply to print sources as well. The Undergraduate Library’s page on evaluating sources offers a starting point for this instruction.
You might consider holding a class in a computer lab to facilitate discussions of electronic research.Speak to your peer advisor or AD about arranging lab space. Sample Research Assignments Sample Research Paper Proposal Assignment Your research paper proposal should be a brief narrative describing why you are interested in your issue. This should be more than just a topic; rather, you should outline a possible research question and discuss what you hope to explore and find throughout the course of this project. The research paper proposal is designed to start you thinking about how your paper will be organized and argued.It should be a brief narrative describing why you are interested in your issue. It should be approximately one page long, double-spaced, typed in 12-inch font with a title.
Think about the following (but do not limit yourself to) these questions in your proposal: • • • Why am I choosing this topic? Do I have previous knowledge of the topic? What specific questions do I have about this topic? What questions will my research help me answer? Do I already have an idea about what my argument/conclusion will be? The draft of your research paper proposal is due on October 29 in class.You will peer review the proposal in small groups in class. Your final proposal is due on October 31. Your proposal will receive a grade that will be worth 10% of your research project. Sample Annotated Bibliography Assignment This is your first step towards the big research project. Your annotated bibliography assignment will help you get started on the research paper even though you haven’t started writing about it yet. Indeed, you probably should not have a thesis set in your mind before you start researching.
If you go into the assignment thinking, “I want to find materials that prove X,” you will end up with stacked evidence and a paper, which really does not deal with the complexity of the issue. You should go into research with an issue in mind to write about, and a specific topic within that issue. You might also have a specific question about that topic, a guideline question that is going to turn into a thesis once you have gathered evidence. A good annotation both explains and critiques a work, so you should aim to summarize the work from a critical distance.You need to find and annotate at least ten sources for this portion of the assignment. Each entry into the bibliography must contain a full MLAstyle bibliographic citation for the source and a two-paragraph annotation that provides a summary of that source and indications of the use you might make of that source. Notes on the Annotated Bibliography: • The first paragraph in each annotation should summarize the main points of the source.
What are its major claims? What major pieces of evidence does it offer to support those claims?The second paragraph in each annotation should talk about the source in relation to your own project. In what ways might you use this source? Does if confirm or complicate what you want to say? To what extent might you agree or disagree with the source? Use your St. Martin’s Handbook to determine what format you should put the bibliographic information into. You will need some primary sources as well as secondary sources. You should strive for some variety among the types of sources: books, journal articles, magazine articles, newspaper articles, web sites, other on-line material, etc.You do not need a certain number of each type, but you need to have a fairly well-rounded bibliography. • • • • Criteria for Evaluation: This assignment will be evaluated according to: • • • • the correctness (in terms of MLA format) of each bibliographic citation; the thoroughness of the summary portion of each annotation; the degree to which you seem to have genuinely considered how you might use each source; and the degree to which you achieved variety among the types of sources.
Important Dates: • • Thursday, March 27: The first five sources of your bibliography are due.We will peer review your annotation of these sources in class. Tuesday, April 1: Final Annotated Bibliography is due. Sample Collage Assignment You should think of using sources by putting them into conversation with each other and finding your own role in that conversation. This assignment asks you to take that “conversation” metaphor seriously. Using all of the source material at your disposal, create a conversation or dialogue among the sources and yourself. That is, write a script of the conversation that might take place if you and all the authors of your sources could be together in the same room at the same time.
You can write whatever you want for your own contributions, but the contributions from your sources should consist mainly of direct quotations from those sources. Notes on the Collage: • Be creative. While the default format for this collage is a dramatic script (that is, written like a play), you may choose to represent this conversation in any way you like. Start by providing a “cast of characters,” a list of the participants in this conversation. Briefly describe the imaginary setting for this conversation. The majority of the collage should be direct quotes from your sources.Put quotation marks around everything you are taking directly from a source, and put the author’s last name and the page number for that quote in parentheses.
If you need to add anything to the quotes to make them “flow” better, put that stuff in brackets [like this]. Don’t just make a list of random quotes from sources. Rather, make the sources “speak” or respond to each other, or make them respond to questions you might pose to them. Also, don’t limit yourself to presenting quotes from sources that agree with you.Try to represent the range of possible positions concerning your topic. Make yourself a character or participant in this conversation. You might choose to mostly ask questions of your sources, or you might take a position of your own.
In addition to your sources and yourself, you may include “fictional” composite characters that represent a particular position or way of looking at your issue. Don’t overuse this function. The “conversation” part of this collage should come out to at least 1500 words. Provide an MLA-style “Works Cited” page at the end of the collage. • • • • • • • • • •Criteria for Evaluation: This assignment will be evaluated according to: • • • • • the degree to which this collage puts your sources into a genuine conversation with each other, rather than simply listing quotes from these sources the degree to which you fairly represent a range of possible positions or points of view on your topic the correctness of the in-text citations (see St. Martin’s Handbook), and the correctness (in terms of MLA format) of the “Works Cited” page (see St. Martin’s Handbook).
Dates: • Bring a 1-page dialogue to class on Tuesday April 1 for in-class activities. • The final collage is due on Tuesday, April 8.