ENG W131NN section 7396                                                                  Graban – Spring ‘08

ARRIVING AT A CRITICAL POSITION                               /
As the final step in your sequenced writing project, this
assignment asks you to take a critical position on the issue you
identified earlier in the semester, and then develop that position
by arguing from synthesized and balanced evidence in
support of it. “Critical” does not mean “negative.” It means you
are discussing an idea through the lens of others, and you are
accommodating your audience by showing them how deeply
and empathetically you have considered the issue.

In about 1500 words (~ 6 typed pages), write an essay in which you state and support a position on your
issue by using at least 5 sources, including ones that you have already read or discussed in class. Three
of those sources should be academic articles and should run at least 1250 words. As you did for the
Literature Review, you should discuss one (1) additional multimedia source to help you frame your
argument. Be sure that your essay incorporates the following five “moves”:

    •   Write an informative introduction in which you frame your argument, orient your readers to the
        issue, discuss and justify its need or significance, and clearly articulate your position (your “main
        claim”). As part of this articulation, you should present a synthesis of the main ideas or
        perspectives that will help you argue. You want your reader to understand “Why is this issue
        interesting and why am I reading about it?”
    •   Develop your position with several points (“smaller claims”) that are interesting, original, and
        effective. Each of these points should represent new ideas or perspectives that are necessary for
        the reader to understand your critical position. They should not simply repeat the main ideas of
        the sources you have read.
    •   Following a point-by-point organization, discuss the connections between your sources on each
        claim (synthesize the sources to support each claim).
    •   Include alternate views or oppositions and then respond with evidence against the opposition (this
        is called “counterarguing”).
    •   Write a conclusion that “echoes” the introduction and leads the reader to a new point or
        realization about your argument. This can include a call to action, a suggestion about what needs
        to be done next, a new critical question, or any other strategy that helps the reader understand
        “Why should I care about what I have just read?”

The “critical position” you argue for should not just be a matter of fact, personal opinion, personal taste,
or claims of belief. It should not be something that is easily agreed upon, has already been resolved, or is
taken directly from a single source. Instead, this “critical position” should be an independent idea. You
will develop it by synthesizing your research sources into useful evidence. In crafting this evidence,
please use your sources accurately and with purpose. Your reader trusts that you will carefully interpret
any statistics or facts. Your reader also trusts that you will avoid using personal experience for support
unless your specific experience matches what has been verified through research.
ENG W131NN section 7396                                                               Graban – Spring ‘08

To articulate your position in a claim statement, begin with your most recent realization and decide
whether or not it is arguable. The following claim statements are not arguable because they are too broad
or rely on simplistic evaluation or causal statements:

•   Daycare options are better in the U.S. than in China.
•   Vegetarians need more food options on campus.
•   Exercise is an important component of healthy living and can prevent gaining weight in college.
•   Online gaming is obviously addictive and bad.
•   The issue of smoking on campus is too complex to have a single solution.
•   The best way to improve the education system in rural India is by providing financial resources.

However, the following claim statements are arguable because they offer specific responses, offer to
make new knowledge, and demonstrate an understanding of multiple perspectives or sides. They also
provide the justification for each claim:

•   Because of their emphasis on accommodation and holistic learning, daycare centers in the U.S. offer
    visiting families more varied educational options than in China. (evaluates based on a comparison)
•   The most important factor in designing transportation on college campuses should be funding, not
    convenience. (promotes one solution over another solution)
•   In my own reexamination of Pratt and Lambert’s (2005) levels of socialization, I have found that the
    barriers that exist at Level One all involve one common theme, which is that students must be
    prepared to leave their comfort zone and behave in a way that is not familiar to them. Thus, the
    “barriers” at Level One can be considered as positive stepping-stones to Level Three, since
    international students who go outside their comfort zone early are more likely to form Level Three
    friendships more quickly. (redefines the concept of “barrier”)
•   While study abroad programs offer good instructive experiences, they may not be worth the effort for
    students who need to graduate quickly and this is likely the main reason why more students at IUB do
    not take advantage of this program. (identifies a new explanation)

Your audience includes other students taking a writing-intensive course at IU. This means that you cannot
assume they have any familiarity of your specific topic but you can assume that they understand the
structure of an academic paper.

This assignment emphasizes important aspects of writing argumentative essays, such as making a formal
thesis statement, developing that statement through supporting claims and counterarguments,
bringing sources into conversation with one another on each claim or point, achieving paragraph focus
and coherence by making analytical or “lens” claims, and avoiding logical fallacies.

This assignment also emphasizes important conventions of writing argumentative essays such as using a
title that reflects the specific claim you are forwarding, using neutral language and maintaining a
balanced tone, using attributive tags, using cohesion devices, and citing and referencing published
sources in APA style.

This assignment is worth 250 points. The genre will be evaluated based on the following:

    •   Appropriateness or Effectiveness of Content (50 points)
    •   Development of Ideas (50 points)
ENG W131NN section 7396                                                              Graban – Spring ‘08

    •   Organization and Coherence (50 points)
    •   Language and Vocabulary (40 points)
    •   Grammar and Style (40 points)
    •   Genre Conventions and Formatting (20 points).

Please follow the “Paper Guidelines” on page 3 of our course syllabus.

First draft due – Monday, 4/21/08 :     1 paper copy in class, and 1 copy as e-mail attachment (.doc)
Final draft due – Monday, 4/28/08 :     by 9:00 a.m. to BH 474 in pocket folder
                                        • Final draft
                                        • First draft (peer review and with comments)
                                        • Peer review worksheets
                                        • Revision plan
                                        • Reflective Letter

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