Critical Thinking

The Research Project

The following assignment will be broken up into parts and will encompass the remainder of our semester together.

Our final essay will be an argumentative essay. For this essay, you will be identifying an issue, developing a controlling idea (thesis), and supporting that thesis with personal examples, examples from texts, facts, and explanations. The essay must incorporate from the materials found from your readings done in class, along with your own research.

You will be constructing your own research on the topic you choose. You will need to find sources any way you can. You may use academic journal articles, books, magazines, or the internet. While doing this you need to be certain that you are selecting reliable sources. In order to ensure your sources are reliable, you will be creating reading responses based on your sources. On top of creating reading responses, your will also make an annotated bibliography of your sources.

Let's get this thing started...

Your will begin by choosing a topic that not only interests you, but matters to you as well. Since you will be writing on it in detail for quite some time, try to choose something that will make you want to revisit your topic multiple times. Note: All topics must relate to the texts we read in class somehow, and must be cleared by your instructor. Try assembling a few topics to ensure that one of them will get approved.

Once you have an approved topic, the next step is narrow your focus onto your specific argument. There is a very big difference between having a topic and having an argument. The next step after defining your argument is to begin doing research. As you do research you will want to keep your topic and argument in mind. Finding a variety of sources will be crucial. The way you support your essay will determine if it is effective or not. Find support and counter-arguments to include. After you have gathered sources and pulled information, you will assemble your ideas into a detailed outline.

Once all the research and preparation is finished, it is time to write the essay. In your essay you need to think about how you can convince your audience of what you are arguing. In an organized, well-developed essay you will take a stand on a particular issue within your topic. You will argue for or against that issue and use evidence to support your claim. As you think about what position you will take, also think about what you can say to defend or explain your position. Draw as much as you can on immediate personal experience such as readings, class discussions, and incidents in which you have actually been involved. Consider re-using some of the material that was produced in reading responses. Feel free to push yourself beyond the obvious claims and challenge yourself to find the deeper, socially relevant argument to be made from your topic.

Guidelines: Typed, double-spaced, 12pt. Font, Times New Roman, 1 inch margins, 5-7 pages (plus a Works Cited page), Each body paragraph should include at least 2 different sources

Samples

Average

This paper was ranked average because it met the requirements of the prompt and satisfied the goals of the assignment. With multiple errors and some gaps in ideas, this paper takes a claim and attempts to prove it. The support provided backs up the author's claim in the paper, but is used hastily and without much explanation. The organization of the paper seems to follow along a single train of thought that may drift occasionally. The academic tone of the paper slips as well into a conversational tone throughout the essay.

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Above Average

This paper was ranked above average because it took the prompt and attempts to reach above and beyond the assignment requirements. The author uses sources convincingly and provides information that backs up the claim of the paper. While there are minor errors and spots with choppy transitions, the paper begins with a main claim and attempts to organize and develop that claim throughout. The essay maintains an academic tone throughout with minimal interruption.

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Excellent

This paper was ranked excellent because it is written clearly, coherently, and in detail. This essay follows the prompt and goes above and beyond the expected standards. The author uses sources seamlessly by providing introductions and explanations to the source material. The author also provides transitions between ideas and carries the main idea of the paper through the essay. The essay is easy to follow along with and provides convincing support for the claim. The essay establishes and maintains an academic tone early on and sticks to that tone throughout the duration of the essay.

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