Academic writing as a conversation about topics of consequence

Academic writing as a conversation about topics ofconsequence.

Essay 2: Enter the Conversation. Academic writing as a conversation about topics of
Percentage of Final Grade: 15% or 150 points
Learning Objectives:
• Students will understand academic writing as a conversation about topics of
• Students will understand their responsibilities as writers – to accurately cite the
work of other writers, to provide their audience with reliable information, and to
consider multiple points of view.
• Students will understand academic writing as governed by the conventions of
specific discourse communities.
• Students will become more critical readers, learning strategies for previewing,
annotating, summarizing analyzing, and critiquing texts.
• Students will acquire informational literacy – the ability to locate and evaluate
source material.
• Students will improve their ability to write clear and compelling thesis
• Students will develop the skill of constructive critique, focusing on higher order
concerns during peer workshops.
• Students will understand the distinction between revising and editing.

Academic writing as a conversation about topics of

For Essay 2, you will summarize and then respond to one of the readings from this unit
(or the video, College Inc.). In your essay, you will summarize the reading/video and
then respond to it by discussing how your own experiences and knowledge have led
you to either agree, disagree, or both agree and disagree with the author and by
including the opinions of third parties (i.e., by incorporating secondary sources), which
is discussed in more detail below.

Most of the readings can be found in your textbook. However, I also assigned a couple
of outside readings and the video, College, Inc., which are posted under Course
Content. In addition to the assigned readings (or the video), you may choose any of the
other readings from Chapter 17 in They Say / I Say. Choose the one that you best
understand. Carefully read the example essays that I have posted under Course
Content, as they will help you to understand the expectations for the assignment.
Essay 2 is similar to the previous essay, with two additions:

  1. Rather than responding to the selected reading/video with your own opinion only,
    you will add other people’s voices to the conversation by including two secondary
    sources (i.e., in addition to the selected reading/video). You will use quotes both
    from the selected reading/video and from your secondary sources to support your
    Your secondary sources can be another reading from this unit. For example, in “Two
    Years Are Better Than Four
    ,” Liz Addison is responding to Rick Perlstein’s argument
    in “What’s the Matter with College?” Therefore, you might choose to discuss their
    opposing views. Instead, you might choose articles you find through one of the
    library databases, an article in another textbook, a radio show, a podcast, or a
    video. You are not required to use scholarly sources (i.e., peer-reviewed academic
    journals from a library database), but your sources should be reliable. For example,
    you may use The New York Times or Forbes, but you cannot use Wikipedia, a blog,
    or a personal website. If in doubt about your sources, please ask me.
  2. You will begin to answer the questions, “So what?” and “Who cares?” by considering
    your intended audience and by linking your argument to issues that your readers
    already care about.
    Use the templates (pp. 751-766 in TSIS) to situate your argument within the existing
    Note: If you do not have these templates, then you have the wrong edition of the
    Assigned Readings/Videos:
    • “What’s the Matter with College?” (posted under Content)
    • “Two Years are Better Than Four” (pp. 365-368 in TSIS)
    • “The New Liberal Arts” (pp. 336-343 in TSIS)
    • “Blue-Collar Brilliance” (pp. 377-389 in TSIS)
    • “Are Too Many People Going to College?” (pp. 344-364 in TSIS)
    • “Why Do You Think They’re Called For-Profit Colleges?” (posted under Content)
    • College, Inc. (link posted under Content)
    Unassigned Readings:
    • “Should Everyone Go to College?” (pp. 318-335 in TSIS)
    • “Hidden Intellectualism” (pp. 369-376 in TSIS)
    • “Shut Up about Harvard” (pp. 390-397 in TSIS)
    • “On the Front Lines of a New Culture War” (pp. 398-419 in TSIS)
  3. Length: 1,000-1,200 words
  4. Include 3-4 direct quotes from the reading/video that you are responding to.
  5. Include at least 1 quote from each of your two secondary sources.
  6. Your thesis should state whether you agree, disagree, or both agree and disagree
    with the author. You must respond to the author’s argument.
  7. Provide an adequate summary for your reader, but do not allow the summary to
    dominate the essay. The bulk of the essay should present your own ideas.
  8. Properly introduce, present, and cite all direct quotes.
  9. Include a Works Cited page in which you cite both the reading/video that you are
    responding to and your two secondary sources.
  10. You must adhere to the formatting guidelines set forth in The MLA Handbook, 8th
    edition. Be sure that all margins measure 1 inch and that you use Times New
    Roman 12-point font. You also should follow MLA formatting guidelines regarding
    the page heading, running header, page numbering, etc.
    General Guidelines:
    • Present and support your response (argument) with observations, details, and
    • Use correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Avoid slang, clichés, and second
    person pronouns. Since this essay requires you to respond to the reading using your
    own experiences and knowledge, you may use first person pronouns.
    • Point out the author’s strengths and weaknesses, but do not misinterpret the
    • Present your response so that readers can hear your distinctive voice.
    • Properly organize the paper. Provide clear transitions.
    • Use a variety of sentence structures and sentence beginnings.
    • Do not simply restate your thesis and main points in the conclusion! Your conclusion
    should be a fresh take on that thesis, and you should work to leave your readers
    with something thought-provoking.
    Evaluation Criteria:
    • Is the writer’s purpose/position clear?
    • Does the writer position him/herself within an existing debate/conversation?
    • Does the writer answer the questions, “So what?” and “Who cares?”
    • Does the writer spend too many, too few, or just enough words discussing the
    argument expressed in the selected reading?
    • Does the writer offer sufficient (quantity) and compelling (quality) support for
    his/her own position?
    • Is the essay effectively organized?
    • Are the paragraphs adequately developed?
    • Is the tone appropriate to the essay’s purpose?
    • Is there evidence of attention to language, of a conscious attempt to employ
    rhetorical strategies to achieve a certain effect?
    • Does the essay contain errors in grammar, punctuation, spelling, and/or mechanics?
    • Does the writer smoothly incorporate source material, using signal phrases and
    • Does the writer accurately cite all sources both in the text of the essay and on the
    Works Cited page?

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