Purpose, Audience, and Topic: The position paper in Unit 2 is an introduction to the longer research paper you will
write in Unit 3. This shorter essay will help you develop the skills you need to write a research paper and will introduce
you to the task of doing research. Your purpose is to present a claim regarding an issue and successfully defend that
claim. Direct your essay toward an educated audience that is unlikely to agree with your position; consider potential
objections to your claim, and carefully and persuasively argue for your position.
Your essay will be on a topic related to the readings in RRW Ch. 19, “America’s Colleges: Issues and Concerns.”
After you have read all of the essays in the chapter, select a topic that is related to one or more of issues discussed by the
authors in this section. Use the questions at the end of each essay to spark your thinking about each issue. Focus your
paper on a limited subject, something you can carefully argue in 5-6 pages. A good way to narrow a topic is to think
locally about that topic—to examine it as it relates to a community of which you are a member. (Note: I must approve
your topic, and I reserve the right to veto any topics that are not likely to lead to successful essays.)
Sources: You will have to do a bit of research to find out what different people are saying about your topic. Then you
will be able to add your voice to that conversation by making a claim about the topic and successfully defending that
claim in your paper. You should provide adequate support (in the form of reasons and evidence), anticipate possible
objections, and answer those objections. You are required to find at least four credible sources, including one scholarly
source, to incorporate into your argument somehow, either as support for your position or as an objection to answer.
You may cite as many essays from RRW Ch. 19 as you like and as are relevant, but you must incorporate at least four
sources that are not from your textbook.
I must approve all the sources you plan to use in this essay by the date specified on the unit calendar.
Organization: Your essay should follow the classical model of argument and include the following elements:
Introduction (with thesis statement/claim at the end)
Reason 1 (plus evidence)
Reason 2 (plus evidence)
Reason 3 (plus evidence), etc.
Acknowledgment of and response to counterargument(s)
Conclusion (sums up the main points and points to larger significance)
For more details on organizing your argument, see RRW p. 104-107.
Steps in the Writing Process: (see calendar for due dates)
1) Choose a Topic: Class discussion and brainstorming should help you find a topic that is of interest to you.
2) Write a Topic Proposal: Your topic proposal is a relatively short statement of your subject to help you focus and
find a direction for your essay. See calendar for more details.
3) Do Additional Reading for your Topic: Find at least four sources on your specific issue. Keep copies of these sources
to turn in with your essay. Good sources are reputable and give you different perspectives on the issue.
4) Write an Outline: This is where you lay out your argument and plan your organization. You should include a
precise statement of your thesis in your outline. You also need to include a list of the sources you will be using.
5) Write a Draft: You may begin writing your draft at any point after you finish the topic proposal. See RRW p. 107-
108 on drafting your argument.
6) Rewrite and Revise: Review the feedback from your classmates and polish your draft. See RRW p. 108-111 for
excellent revision guidelines.
7) Write your Final Draft: The final draft is due on Thursday, March 5.
Length Requirements and Other Considerations: Your essay should be 5-6 double-spaced pages (at least 5 full
pages) in 12-point Times New Roman font with 1-inch margins. Quotations and paraphrases should be cited according
to MLA requirements. Include a Works Cited page, and remember this does not count in your page count. Submit an
electronic copy to Canvas before class on the day the essay is due. Bring hard copies of the following documents to class
on the day the essay is due: final draft, rough draft, peer review worksheets, conference draft, and copies of the sources
you cite in your essay. You need to submit copies of the sources used in the paper in order to receive credit for the
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