College Writing Two, sec. 272 Assignment: Argument Essay
Mrs. Bingman Due Date: March 7th
15% of overall grade
A clear and debatable thesis
An appropriate title
Use of MLA style for format and source citation
Participation in peer review in class on 3/2 and via e-mail by 3/5 (by midnight)
Use of 3-4 outside sources, which are to be cited both in the text and in the Works Cited
page following the essay. These sources must be reputable—one academic journal and
the others may be news articles or statistical data. At least one of your sources should be
from a library database search; UMass has many scholarly journals and newspapers
stored on databases and many are readily available in full text electronically.
Your evidence should include relevant examples that support your thesis, represent a
range of opinions on your subject, and include facts, opinions, and examples to support
Argumentation is defined in Patterns as a process of reasoning that asserts the soundness of a
debatable position, belief, or conclusion. Argumentation takes a stand, supported by evidence,
and urges people to share the writer’s perspective and insights.
Grading criteria will involve style, clarity, use of mechanics (grammar, spelling, and
punctuation), organization, argumentation, and fulfillment of essay requirements.
Remember the Rogerian style of argumentation? Arguments need not be confrontational in order
to be effective. You can begin by emphasizing points of agreement between yourself and those
who would argue against your point. See the Rogerian argument guidelines and checklist on p.
563 of Patterns for College Writing.
To view a sample argument essay, please see p. 576 in Patterns “A Student Writer:
For this argument essay, you will decide on your own topic.
If you have trouble thinking of a topic, here are some possibilities:
Censorship of books and other media
Discuss the rights of gay/lesbian couples and their rights to adopt or get married
Immigration and its relationship to the work force
Cyberbullying and/or bullying in schools: Changing laws or policies to resolve this issue
Improving children’s health/childhood obesity in the U.S.
For peer review: please bring two copies of your draft to class on March 2nd. Your draft should
be roughly two pages. If you would like me to review your draft, please bring a copy in or e-mail
me a copy by March 4th at the latest.
You will be responsible for one in-class peer review session on 3/2, and one outside of class.
After the peer review on 3/2, exchange drafts (hard copy or e-mailed) with a peer, and you will
both write counterarguments for one another. This will count as a short writing assignment, and
will consist of a one to two page response to their argument, countering their points.
You will e-mail a peer by March 5th with this counter argument, forwarding me a copy of your
correspondence. I will issue you a grade of check +, check, or check-, depending on the strength
of your counterargument and quality of the writing. Your response will count towards your essay
requirements and will fulfill a grade towards short writing/quiz/groupwork grades. For this
assignment, you do not have to print out a copy of the paper; I will accept it via e-mail. You can
attach the assignment in MS Word or include it in the text of an e-mail.
Creating the counterargument:
- If your peer argues that capital punishment solves problems by deterring violent criminals,
preventing overcrowded jail cells, and righting a moral injustice, you will argue against that
point. You could write about the cases in which innocent people have gone to jail (a chance to
use emotional and rational appeal), argue that capital punishment does not deter future criminal
activity, or that the punishment does not show value for human life.
-By providing a counterargument, even a brief one, you can enlighten your fellow writer about
points he or she may not have thought about and considering how to address the
counterargument is a crucial part of strengthening one’s argument. Part of your counterargument
should include an antithesis, to counter your opponent’s thesis.