Exploratory / Inquiry Writing Assignment
· Learn to inquire to develop knowledge
· Understand and identify the historical and social context of text, including clear or subtle biases,
· Identify issues that are relevant to your major and how one’s discourse community influences the text’s content, use of sources and research, and format,
· Identify the range of genres in mainstream texts available to write this project in, identify bias based on publication and/or author, and develop stronger information literacy skills.
Assignment’s Learning Objectives
1 Writing as Inquiry: Students use their writing to develop their inquiry and knowledge.
2 Language and Meaning: students analyze texts’ historical and social context to discover how language both creates and reflects meaning/ power.
4 Discourse Communities: Students make informed and deliberate choices in their writing: content, language, genre, and style by critically analyzing how communities, disciplines, or professions craft their knowledge and values in their writing and speaking to create a discourse community.
7 Critical Information Literacy: Students will analyze what, where, and how to retrieve information consistent with their own purposes and make ethical choices about using that information in their writing so that they will be able to understand that information carries certain purposes, authority, values, and perspective which are shaped by cultural, economic, and political contexts. Moreover, in developing their Critical Information Literacy, students will understand that power relations often determine the distribution of and access to information. Students will analyze what, where, and how to retrieve information consistent with their own purposes and make ethical choices about using that information in their writing.
The Exploratory/Inquiry Essay builds on the thinking and rhetorical conventions you began developing with your literacy narrative: writing as inquiry and writing as a means of communication, requiring the writer be aware of their purpose, argument, and audience.
We move from exploring your own literacies to exploring an issue you are, at the very least, interested in, or, even better yet, are passionate about. You begin your college career facing some of our country’s biggest challenges in several decades: the Covid-19 pandemic, protests over racial violence and injustice, a widening economic gap between the very rich and the poor, as well as immigration and climate change, most notably now with fires raging across the West Coast.
Then there’s the 2020 presidential election, alleged voter suppression, reported interference from Russia, China, and Iran, and, finally, the role of Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms play in this election.
That’s just for starters.
For this Exploratory Essay you are to select an issue and explore it through the lens of your major/future profession using mainstream media news outlets.
For example, most news stories report how the pandemic impacts the general public, explaining the deaths and cases, but a business story on the virus would focus on the impact on small businesses, while a story on the health pages would look more in-depth at the causes and effects of the virus or possible vaccines. An environmental science approach would be to study how the virus has changed how we live and that effect on climate change, and a psychology approach would focus on impact of isolation.
The same variation on an issue can be applied to nearly all the issues we’re facing these days. So, in considering your issue, consider the lens [approach] the issue will be narrowed to. You’ll tell me this in a proposal you submit in Week 7, see Assignment Components + Requirements, below.
You will be exploring what mainstream media write on this, in part because that’s what you read, watch, or come in contact nearly daily. Your sources must be news stories, news analysis, or news explanatory texts. You cannot use opinion pieces or columns or editorials; these are written by people paid to offer their opinion. Your focus is reading stories where the aim of journalism is to seek the truth and to tell the story in a balanced, perhaps objective, way.
That doesn’t always happen, as you’ll soon discover, and that’s part of this assignment. Our class discussions and activities will help you begin to recognize credible news sources and biased reporting, a key element to gaining strong critical information literacy skills. You’ll be identifying this bias in your Exploratory/Inquiry essay
So, in exploring the issue, your goal is to tell your readers the following:
· Identify the issue’s central problem, based on your study of five sources, from a range of perspectives [i.e. central, liberal or left, and conservative or right.] We will use allsides.com and other media bias rating site. These sources and other resources will be in a Google file titled Exploratory Essay Resources. See Content Week 6 and Course Handout for this file.
· Identify the key reasons OR central causes and effect reasons for this problem and how it affects people and our society,
· Possible solutions or consequences these news agencies report,
· Identify where you see consensus and disagreement in the above issues, and
· Identify possible biased views or slant of the news in a direction.
*We will use the Explanatory Sample essay as a model for organizing and writing this project. See Content Week 6 and Course Handout for this file.
A strong inquiry begins with by asking strong questions. Here are some questions that should guide your investigation and writing of this essay:
· What is the problem the writer has identified in reporting on this issue? As you examine five sources do you see a consensus on the problem or do some news agencies frame the problem differently?
· What is the writer’s argument? What are the claims, supporting claims, and evidence the writer selects to support [ultimately prove] their argument? Have they succeeded? Is there a consensus among the sources the journalist cite? If so what, if not, what are differences?
· What sources does the article cite? Does the article provide a range of sources and viewpoints, providing balanced reporting? Or does the writer rely on specific source choices based on their political views?
· Where is there consensus in reporting the problem or the causes and effects? Where are the differences, and what are those differences based on—values, political views?
Assignment Components and Requirements:
1. Exploratory Proposal: [Due Week 7, Oct. 7, by midnight] In 1-paragraph [150-300 words] tell me what issue you will cover, why this issue interests you, and the point of view your college major or future profession examines that issue. Directions for uploading assignment: Blackboard_Week 7_Exploratory Proposal assignment.
2. Essay Genre Conventions: Essay will be divided into 3 parts and include an annotated bibliography. We will use the “Student Sample Exploratory: An Exploratory Essay,” found in Week 5, as an example. As a class, we will identify and develop this genre’s conventions and clarify/refine the essay’s content.
3. Sources: Integrate at least 5 credible mainstream sources into this essay. These sources must be news stories, news analysis, or news explanatory texts. You cannot use opinion pieces or columns or editorials. The sources should come from a range of political viewpoints, such as center, left, and right [also known as center, liberal and conservative]. We will use allsides.com media ratings, as our guide.
4. See Grading Criteria, below, for additional issues that should be clearly established in your essay.
Handouts to Help You Develop Working and Final Draft:
· Exploratory/Inquiry Essay: Getting Started, Part 1: Week 7
· Exploratory/Inquiry Essay: Getting Started, Part 2: Week 8
· Exploratory/Inquiry Essay: Getting Started, Part 3: Week 9
Exploratory/Inquiry Writer’s Reflection: This will be written in a separate file, saved as your name, and uploaded to Blackboard by Monday, Nov. 1 by midnight. Final draft of your essay should be in your e-portfolio folder.
Failure to include this will result in a 5 percent grade drop.
· single-spaced, minimum 200 words.
· First person narrative
· Part 1: In chronological organization, using your composition journal writings, explain your thinking and writing process as it evolved over the weeks. Be sure to address how your inquiry into the issue evolved, how you identified and developed your specific problem, and the question[s] framing the development of this piece.
· Part 2: Explain what went well and what gave you problems in writing this project, being as specific as you can. This discussion should include what you think are the strengths of this essay and its weaknesses, and why these assessments, again by citing specific examples from your working drafts.
· Part 3: Isolate 1 element of your essay you want me to comment on and why, so that I might provide helpful revision. This may be a thesis or a paragraph of evidence, in which you worked hard on, and either are pleased or still not pleased with the final product. I will only comment on.
1. Focus: Does the essay focus on specific common issues between the texts/articles? Does the essay follow these themes or does it drift into larger or indirectly related issues? Does it clearly examine the issue through the lens of your major or future profession?
2. Organization: Is the progression of this essay user friendly? That is, is it logically organized and easy to follow?
3. Coherence: Does the essay flow smoothly, with clear, connecting transitions, or are there abrupt, unpredictable jumps from one point to the next?
4. Development: Is there enough information provided to give the audience a clear, thorough sense of the issues, agreements, and disagreements at hand? Is your own position developed an
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