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Writing Program at New College

Reading as Inquiry: Assignments

From Research to Writing

This assignment challenges students to put research to work. Completing four separate but related tasks, you will demonstrate your command of the knowledge you gained as a researcher by presenting what you’ve learned to an in-person audience, by critically documenting your sources, by integrating those sources in the form of a persuasive, academic essay, and by thinking forward from your research (inquiry) to your Final Project (action).

  1. Brief presentation to our class (5– 10 minutes) in which you will share the reason your research question matters for you and for others. You will briefly present the question and some key information from your research that demonstrates the importance of the question and highlights some of your discoveries
  2. An annotated bibliography (minimum of ten sources, approx. 1250 words overall). An annotated bibliography will accompany the essay and will demonstrate your skills as a critical researcher. This part of the overall assignment will persuade readers of your command of the material by addressing the content, credibility, and appropriateness of your sources. 
  3. A Research Essay of at least 1250 words defending the importance of your research question. The Research Essay asks you to explain the nature, context, history, and/or importance of your research question. Your goal as a writer is not only to explain the issue to readers; you must also persuade readers of its importance. The information you present here is based on the sources you have gathered and analyzed as a researcher. 
  4. A Project Proposal of at least 250 words anticipating your 10,000 Solutions project. Will you propose a solution to a problem on which your research question was focused? What is that solution? Will you host a challenge for the broader audience of ASU’s Changemaker Central? What is that challenge? Will you plan an action meant to address some important situation in a specific community? What’s the situation? The action? The community?

Paper Format (Research Essay and Annotated Bibliography): 2000+ words; double spacing; student name, course, professor’s name, and date in upper left hand corner; title centered on first page; 1” margins, page numbers, and in-text citations and works cited in MLA format (or another format approved by your instructor).

Assignment Goals:

This assignment poses six key, interrelated challenges:

  1. Making persuasive case for the seriousness of a research question / issue.
  2. Integrating a range of articles, books, etc. into your own writing.
  3. Evaluating your sources carefully for an audience unfamiliar with the material.
  4. Delivering research in a face-to-face presentation format.
  5. Linking your research (inquiry) to your Final Project (action).
  6. Producing work appropriate for effective academic discourse.

Part One: In-Class Presentation (5-10 minutes)                                                                                            

The presentation portion of this assignment allows you to share your work-in-progress with classmates and instructor. With this initial description of the assignment in mind, please note that you still need to organize your presentation in advance. The presentation is not your last word on the topic. Rather, it is a window into what you have been learning, researching, and writing about.

Listed below are some guidelines for thinking about and preparing your presentation. A successful presentation will cover the following:

  1. Your research question.
  2. Why you chose it.
  3. Why it is important for you and for others.
  4. Important things you’ve learned thus far.

In preparing your presentation, please feel free to share information and materials using whatever materials, technology, or props that will help project come alive. For instance, you might provide an outline, a poster, flip chart, Power Point Presentation, a single image, and/or any other kind of prop that helps illustrate your work. Just make sure that your prop relates to your presentation. NOTE: The “low tech” option is just fine. You may choose to simply talk to us about your work. Just be sure to be organized.

And finally, practice the presentation before sharing your information with the class. If you think it will be helpful, write out what you have to say on paper. Practically speaking, it takes about two and a half minutes to read a full page of double-spaced typed text. You have 10 minutes maximum, with a question and answer period of up to 5-10 minutes. Use your time wisely.

Please choose a format you feel confident you can produce and post without too much difficulty.

NOTE: Be sure to rehearse your presentation before you give it in class!

A successful response to this portion of the assignment will:

  • Share the research question
  • Make a clear case for the importance of the question
  • Clearly present some of what has been learned in the research process
  • Skillful use media and / or other materials to craft an engaging presentation
  • Adhere to the time guidelines
  • Consist of materials that are all effectively edited and well organized (that includes your spoken comments)

Part Two: Annotated Bibliography (approx. 1250 words)

Much of the success of your Research Essay depends upon the strength of your research. Beginning with a strong connection to your topic and creating a research question of personal significance are important steps, to be sure. But another vital element of the research process involves situating your beliefs among the work of others who are also interested in the issue or topic. To create a record of the process of reading the work of other scholars,, students will create an Annotated Bibliography. This work will be submitted prior to the completion of the research Essay to ensure that works consulted are relevant to the project; however, students will have time after the initial submission to revise and continue on with their research. The annotated bibliography will include both descriptive and evaluative annotations.

Descriptive and Evaluative Annotations
A descriptive annotation summarizes the main idea of a work with broad strokes. In essence, a descriptive annotation objectively presents the main points and overall thesis of the work; it is very similar to a summary. An evaluative annotation usually follows the descriptive annotation and provides critical commentary about or evaluation of the work. Generally speaking, evaluative annotations remark upon your findings of the source’s usefulness and/or quality. Points to consider include the following, although you do not have to comment on each idea in your evaluation.

  • Any author bias or affiliation
  • Accuracy of the information
  • Comparison with other works
  • The relevance this work has to your own research
  • The significance or importance this work has to the overall discussion of the subject

The annotations you write for this assignment will be a combination of the descriptive and the evaluative annotations.  Each entry should be around 100 - 150 words. Thus, you will have only a few sentences to achieve each goal. The annotations will be concise, well written, and demonstrate thoughtful consideration. 

Students need to meet a ten-source minimum for the Research Essay. The annotations will include both the descriptive and evaluative annotations. Each entry should be approx.. 150--200 words. While students may come to ENG 102 from a number of other disciplines, we will use MLA formatting for the annotated bibliography. Any citations in the text itself should follow MLA guidelines, with one exception. The most current version of MLA citation rules and guidelines does not require the inclusion of URLs in the works cited page; however, we are asking that you include web addresses for ALL online materials.

A successful response to this portion of the assignment will:

  • Include at least ten sources
  • Include only sources that are relevant and credible
  • Effectively summarize each source
  • Offer brief but clear evaluative comments for each source
  • Adhere to a style guide (MLA unless you’ve chosen another)
  • Be effectively edited

Part Three: Research Essay (1000 - 1250 words)

Let us be clear from the onset: Providing answers to your research question is not the primary goal of this essay. Instead, you have been called upon to convince readers that you have pursued a research question of genuine significance and importance. You do this with writing that is informative and persuasive. As in any Research Essay, you will share your research and draw conclusions that demonstrate logic and reason. The effectiveness of this portion of the assignment will depend on your ability to explain the context, significance, and importance of your research question.

Consider the following standard advice for structuring an academic essay of this kind:

Give your Research Essay a title. You may also consider providing subtitles to the major sections that follow. Use titles to engage and focus your audience. Remember that titles serve these practical purposes but can also set a tone and evoke important ideas from your essay itself.

Your introduction should be designed to interest your reader in your topic AND to introduce your particular research question. Since one of the main goals of the introduction is to inform readers, be sure that what you share is understandable to someone who may not know much about the topic. If needed, define unfamiliar terms. You don’t need to press the issue of importance quite yet, but including some general or overview statement about importance is a good way to preview the research material you are about to share as well as the argument you are about to make regarding that material Think of this as your thesis statement.

Background Section: Orienting Your Readers
After providing an introduction to the topic, begin presenting readers with information discovered in your research regarding the topic. For instance, what is the history of this topic or issue? What is its cultural significance? What work has been done on the issue already? Are you thinking about following the work of any particular researcher or scholar or school of thought? Are you arguing against beliefs commonly held about this particular issue? No matter how you choose to orient your reader to your research, your goal is to use information gained from your research to persuade readers of the importance of your topic and research question.

Importance of the Issue
In this section, which you may consider the “body” of your essay, make your best case for why your research question is important for audiences to seriously considerably. You will make this case by sharing the bulk of the research you have completed. Thus, you must decide, how are you defining importance? Is the issue raised by your research question important in terms of its economic impact? Its impact on health and wellness? The health and wellness of children? Senior citizens? Everyone? Is the question/issue important in terms of its impact on a particular industry, profession, or vocation? Is it a pressing matter of social justice? In what way? Does the question/issue impact our educational system? Is the impact environmental? Does it involve technology and / or the media? These questions are meant to suggest the kind of claim for importance that might guide you in pulling together your research into a focused argument. NOTE: You might include this claim about importance in your Introduction to give your readers a sense of where your essay is headed.

In this section and throughout your essay use quotation, brief summary, and in-text citations carefully, using some citation style (MLA or other) consistently. 

Conclusions should be brief. Consider these options for how to craft your conclusion:

  1. Conclude by summarizing your essay briefly, restating the importance of your research (traditional conclusion)
  2. Conclude with one final example or bit of evidence about the importance of your research (a bit more dynamic)
  3. Conclude with a brief restatement of the importance of your research, and then suggest what you take to be the most important direction for further research on this or a related issue (strongly moves your readers forward in their thinking)

A successful response to this portion of the assignment will:

  • Make a strong case for the importance of the research question
  • Effectively integrate sources into the essay
  • Be well organized according to the assignment suggestions or another logical structure
  • Make effective use of introductory phrases and attributive tags
  • Work carefully and effectively with summary and quotation
  • Adhere carefully to a style guide (MLA unless you have chosen another)
  • Be effectively edited

Part Four:  Project Proposal (approx. 500 words)

Researching the question you have posed should not only have taught you about an “issue” in the abstract, but should also have helped you to think carefully about the “real world” situation your question evokes. Now is the time to begin moving from inquiry to action. Do so by explaining for your audience the Final Project you will undertake in the second half of the semester. Following quite logically from your argument about the importance of the issue at hand, explain how you will propose a solution, pose a challenge, or plan an action through ASU’s Changemaker Central.

Don’t worry if you are not 100% sure how to answer the questions above. You will have the opportunity to change your plan as we move forward after Spring Break.

A successful response to this portion of the assignment will:

  1. Which of the three 10,000 Solutions options will you select for your project work
  2. The basic outline of your proposed solution, your challenge, or your action
  3. Your project goals: What impact do you hope to make?
  4. Be effectively edited

For more information on Changemaker Central and 10, 000 Solutions:

Mission and Vision of Changemaker Central

10,000 Solutions: How it Works

Five Steps to Writing an Effective 10, 000 Solutions Post:

ASSIGNMENT: ASU Changemaker Central: 10,000 Solutions Project

EDIT The Changemaker Central project at Arizona State University provides students a forum for sharing innovative thinking. As a opportunity for students to put their ideas to work and to create change, the Changemaker Central 10,000 Solutions Project offers New College Writing Program students to make the turn from inquiry to action.

Go to the full assignment description…

…10,000 Solutions Project

Consider this assertion by legendary journalist, Edward R. Murrow:

“Our major obligation is not to mistake slogans for solutions.”    

Now consider another assertion by founding member of the gospel group, Sweet Honey in the Rock, Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon:

“Life’s challenges are not supposed to paralyze you; they’re supposed to help you discover who you are.”

We like these ways of thinking about problems. Murrow pushes us to move beyond simple answers, now matter appealing they may sound. Real problems just aren’t that simple. Dr. Johnson Reagon reminds us that difficult situations are more than problems; they are opportunities in which creativity and self-realization can emerge.

By now, you have likely spent considerable time identifying and analyzing questions and problems, you now take the next logical step towards answers and solutions. This assignment asks you to write a short proposal argument (750-1000 words) and to use your essay as the basis for a project to submit to Changemaker Central’s 10,000 Solutions. Once again, you have the opportunity to put what you have learned to work, this time in the action-oriented process of problem solving and engaging a broader community of readers and thinkers at ASU.

The Essay

Your last essay challenged you to use your research to defend the importance of the question. Now you will return to your sources, and perhaps find others, to propose a solution a problem either explicit or implicit in your research question. If up to now you have now exactly thought of your research question as addressing a problem, you can take that step at this point. Your research question mapped out some situation in the “real world” that needs to be addressed. So ask yourself, what is at the heart of the matter? Where do you see the necessity of changing policies, procedures, or perspectives? Problems and opportunities are closely related! Your proposal might direct readers to a positive gain and not simply a way to avoid trouble.

Proposal arguments are challenging to make because they require writers to accomplish a number of things:

  • Convince readers of the seriousness of the problem / opportunity at hand
  • Clearly propose a solution or course of action
  • Convince readers that the proposed solution will address the problem / opportunity to a significant degree
  • Convince readers that the proposed solution can be implemented
  • Convince readers that the proposed solution it is feasible

These individual challenges suggest a logical structure for your argument. You are encouraged to organize your essay according to these five steps, and of course you will need an introduction, including a strong proposal claim and conclusion.

successful response to this portion of the assignment will:

  • Make a brief but convincing case for the seriousness of the problem
  • Propose a feasible solution that clearly addresses the problem
  • Incorporate credible supporting research
  • Be well organized
  • Be effectively edited

10,000 Solutions 

The second part of this assignment challenges you to take the core of your proposal essay, and adapt it as a community-based engagement. 10,000 Solutions offers students three opportunities for putting their creativity to work:

  • Propose a Solution: production of a video proposal
  • Host a Challenge: starting a solution-oriented dialogue within the 10,000 Solutions community
  • Plan an Action: plan and organize a community-based service project

NOTE: The staff at Changemaker Central will support any video and / or social media work your project may require.

Changemaker Central is a good partner for the kind of work we’re doing in this course. It defines its mission and vision as a commitment to nurturing “student-driven social change” as way of promoting “life-long civic engagement” and cultivating a culture of innovative and collaborative problem solving. The 10,000 Solutions initiative creates opportunities for students to share their ideas for solving problems. In this way you will have a chance to connect with like-minded people and to add to the growing collection of contribution at 10,000 Solutions.

Changemaker Central is located on the east side of the Verde Dining Pavilion. 

 A successful response to this portion of the assignment will:

  • Make a brief but convincing case for the seriousness of the problem
  • Propose a feasible solution that clearly addresses the problem
  • Incorporate credible supporting research
  • Engage audiences through effective use of electronic, and/or print, and/or, face-to-face formats
  • Be well organized and effectively edited

For more information on Changemaker Central and 10, 000 Solutions:

Mission and Vision of Changemaker Central:

10,000 Solutions: How it Works:

Five Steps to Writing an Effective 10, 000 Solutions Post:

Writing Program