Academic Argument

Academic Argument.

I’m trying to learn for my English class and I’m stuck. Can you help?

Description, Purpose, and Relevance

Our purpose this semester has been to understand marginality as a real social, economic, and cultural phenomenon within the Appalachian context, and more specifically in relation to Birmingham and UAB. With the synthesis essay, you learned how to establish and join the scholarly conversation on the topic that you have chosen for this semester. Its purpose was mainly to provide an overview of the issues pertaining to your topic. The purpose of this assignment is to engage you in exploring the various arguments that relate to your topic, and then, on the basis of your research, to identify an argumentative position based on the evidence that you have gathered.

With the synthesis essay, you mainly established the context of the topic, without necessarily focusing on UAB, or Birmingham or Appalachia; however, with this assignment, you want to narrow the focus of your topic by identifying a specific issue in a specific context based on what your sources tell you. For instance, if your topic is international students on American college campuses, you will now have to focus more specifically on an issue or a problem that they face due to which they may feel marginalized. The best way to identify these problems/issues is to conduct research. In order to make the argument more specifically about UAB, you will use primary research by interviewing/observing members of the UAB community.

Argumentation is more than just a difference of opinion; it is significant for understanding different perspectives, evaluating the basis for different positions, eliminating fallacies, and arriving at an educated position based on the evidence from research. An academic argument does not just address an academic audience, but also emphasizes the importance of evidence-based approach. In keeping with the AGSC guidelines, the assignment aims at enabling you to develop the skills of critical thinking and argumentation by engaging in primary and secondary research, engage thoroughly in the processes of writing, demonstrate your knowledge of conventions, and most importantly, learn to explore writing as a means of self-discovery and communication. Ultimately, however, the purpose of the assignment is more than just academic exercise; it is an attempt to empower your voices as you learn to take a position on a topic backed by evidence.

Timeline

2/14: essay assigned; read the assignment sheet thoroughly and get started by gathering sources in order to identify the specific argumentative position you want to take; you can use some of the sources from the synthesis essay, but also try to identify your primary sources.

2/17: make an annotated bibliography of 5-6 sources (4-5 secondary and 1-2 primary sources); in class activities will include readings on argumentative writing, formulating your claim, and mapping out the essay.

2/21: make an outline of the argumentative essay; without such an outline, it is easy to drift away from your main argument.

2/24: write out the introduction and one of the body paragraphs for an informal class discussion and review; we will devote the entire class time to reviewing and addressing questions (good day to bring laptops).

2/26: your full rough draft is due for peer review; you will submit one draft online (before class) and complete one peer review in class; remember, no draft = no peer review participation.

2/28: revision of the rough draft based on peer review feedback; exercise in avoiding logical fallacies

3/2: editing workshop

3/4: in a two pocket folder, include your rough, rough draft, peer reviewed draft, peer review sheet on the left side; place the final draft with works cited, and self-evaluation on the right.

Over the next three weeks, we will devote all our class time to the processes involved in writing this paper, evaluating sample student writing as well as each other’s drafts, conducting exercises in argumentative techniques etc. You can email me with questions at any time or meet me during office hours for help with the assignment. I will have extra office hours both weeks.

Structure

As we learn the basics of argumentation and academic research, we will also learn how we might structure and develop arguments for our audiences. As we will see, there are many ways to invent and structure arguments.

Introduction: Your audience may not know the context of your issue or how the debate has taken place and the different positions on the issue. You will definitely want to set up this context in the introduction of your essay. In addition, you will want to develop your purpose by explaining to your audience how your perspective on the issue connects to or advances their understanding of the issue. Draw from the rich context of your synthesis essay to develop your discussion of these perspectives. Your introduction should demonstrate that you are entering a conversation that includes competing perspectives.

Thesis: At the end of the introduction, you will want to develop an arguable thesis that clearly maps out your focused claim about the issue, supports this claim with reason(s) and evidence. In addition, you will want to lead up to your thesis in a way that shows how your claim connects to the context or ongoing discussion of the issue.

Body Paragraphs: Each of your body paragraphs will need to have a strong Point or Topic Sentence that states the main idea of the paragraph and establishes how this idea supports the thesis. In each body paragraph, your purpose will be to provide a precise Reason that supports your thesis. In addition, you will need to draw heavily on your research for Evidence that support the arguments of your paragraphs. This is crucial to arguing your position successfully. In addition, you will want to develop Explanations/Concluding Ideas that explain your illustrations and also help your paragraphs pass the “So What?” test by pointing to the importance of the information in the paragraph for your thesis.

Body Paragraphs: In addition to the elements above, you will need to develop one or two body paragraphs that anticipate objections from your audience, and provide significant refutations to strengthen your position. This means that you will want to explain to your readers why these counter-arguments do not weaken or disqualify your position, or why they should still accept your argument.

Conclusion: The conclusions to arguments are crucial, as they are often the place where the author spells out the implications of their arguments. This means that the author connects the argument to the real world of the reader, informing them of the applications of the arguments for their own lives or perspectives. While this essay does not require you to recommend solutions or courses of action, you may want to emphasize the need for action.

Grade distribution

Introduction and conclusion: 30 points; thesis: 15; organization and development: 100; grammar and mechanics: 15; research and citation: 30 points.

Academic Argument

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