Exploratory Essay Instructions
Issues rarely—if ever—have only two sides. This assignment asks you to explore, explain, and
analyze the multiple perspectives on the issue you have chosen to research.
Your Exploratory Essay should cover the same topic you explored in your Issue Proposal and
Annotated Bibliography. In order to develop your Exploratory Essay, begin by utilizing the sources
you identified in your Annotated Bibliography. As you have gathered, read, and annotated a
significant number of sources, you are ready to begin your Exploratory Essay (Note: You may need to
uncover more sources to fulfill the requirements of this assignment).
As you did in your Issue Proposal, begin by analyzing the rhetorical situation of your chosen
issue. Ask the following questions about your issue: What caused the issue? What prompted past and
present interest and concern with it? Who is interested in the issue and why? What are the various
views in the ongoing conversation about this issue?
Identify the multiple perspectives on the issue. Summarize at least three of those perspectives,
noting how people who identify with each perspective support their arguments. Support each
perspective with at least one academic source. This mean you should have a minimum of three (3)
academic sources in your paper. (Note: you should not reveal your own perspective on the issue
until the end of the paper).
Your audience is a group of readers who are interested in your topic and who hold firm opinions
about it. Make sure to represent each side of the issue in such a way that readers from all three “
sides” of the debate could agree with your description of their perspectives on the issue.
In the final paragraph of your essay, explain your interest in the issue and make a claim that
states your position.
Note: Your FYW textbook includes a sample Exploratory Essay on pgs. P63-65.
For this assignment you must:
Identify an issue for readers.
Explain the rhetorical situation and describe at least three perspectives on the issue.
Support each perspective with at least one academic source (for a minimum of three sources total)
Explain your interest in the issue and make a claim that states your position.
Integrate and cite your sources correctly.
Write 4-5 pages in MLA Style with Works Cited. Your essay must be double spaced and in 12pt. Times
New Roman font.
Just a few reminders and tips as you put finishing touches on your Exploratory Papers.
The Exploratory Paper’s purpose is to show that you understand the broader conversation surrounding
the topic and controversy you have chosen. Think of the Exploratory Paper as the “They Say”
component of your course assignments. What do “they say” about your issue? Who is for, who is
against, and who is somewhere in the middle? These perspectives are what you should have discovered
in your research for your Annotated Bibliography.
The Exploratory Paper’s organization is methodical. Your first paragraph (or 2) should be the
introduction to the topic and specific issue you have chosen. How many sides are there? Why is the
issue controversial? Whose perspective will be used in the Exploratory Paper?
Your body paragraphs should be very clear which perspective you are summarizing. Start your first
body paragraph with a claim, like this: Proponents of banning pit bulls claim that the animals are
too dangerous for a community like Cat Haven. The rest of the paragraph (or 2) should clearly
explain and provide evidence for the Proponents of a pit-bull free community. Your next perspective
should start with the second claim, like this: Opponents of banning pit bulls claim that the
animals are friendly guardians to the youngest members of Cat Haven. And, the rest of this
paragraph (or 2) should clearly explain and provide evidence for the Opponents of the pit bull ban.
The third perspective, again starting with a clear claim, could look like this: Another group, Pets
Anonymous, claims that all pit bull owners must register their dogs and participate in mandatory
training to ensure the owners know how to keep the peace between their dogs and the rest of the
community. Notice the pattern that emerges with the claims given in this paragraph? You identify
the group and the group’s claim that connects to the controversy in the paragraph’s beginning
Your body paragraphs need to provide evidence – not just chunks of copied information, but a
combination of your source material and your own explanations of how that group interprets the
evidence supporting their claim. For example, using the ‘ban the pit bulls’ perspective, you could
have a paragraph that looks like this:
Proponents of banning pit bulls claim that the animals are too dangerous for a community like Cat
Haven. They point to the breed’s genetic traits, especially the pit bull’s “hold and shake bite
style. According to forensic medical studies, similar injuries have only been found elsewhere on
victims of shark attacks” (Vegas, Calhoun, Mader 27). This means that anyone bitten by a pit bull
suffers bodily trauma that can be fatal.
Notice how the quotation marks set off the source material, and the citation that follows directly
after that source material. The sentence after the citation is the writer’s added explanation and
conclusion of the evidence. Notice also how there is a ‘lead-in’ to the quotation. Don’t just
‘quote and run’, leaving your reader to guess why that evidence is important to the perspective.
Your 3 perspectives should be balanced. That means that if you develop 1 perspective using 3
paragraphs, the other 2 perspectives need 3 paragraphs each.
Finally, your conclusion is the place to begin your entry into the conversation. The conclusion
should include your position and perhaps a bit of exigence to explain your interest in the
controversy. For example, the pit bull controversy might end this way:
As a resident of Cat Haven, I am very interested in whether or not pit bulls will be banned or
strictly regulated in my community. I am skeptical that pit bulls can be safe all the time, or that
pit bulls are always dangerous. I am willing to see if mandatory training sessions help reduce the
high statistics of pit bull attacks.
Remember, the conclusion is not the place to prove your own claim. It’s just your initial entry
into the conversation, a segue to be continued with your last paper, the Researched Position Paper.