Please carefully read the following assignment details in its entirety.
Choosing a topic:
This Toulmin project will help you practice what you have learned so far in this course.
First, you will choose a topic of interest. Make sure that you choose a public debate with clear “sides and stakes” (see attachment to understand what this means!). Pay special attention to the attachment and fully understand what it’s saying because points will be deducted if a topic is chosen that does not reflect what the attached document explains, such as writing a paper on “gun control,” or “abortion,” etc.
Ideally you’ll choose a topic within your field of study–this will give you the opportunity to see what is a hot topic that is being debated within your own field of study. This isn’t required, but it is highly recommended.
For example: If I’m majoring in Secondary Education, a hot topic that is being debated in the field might be the teaching of the Holocaust.
Then, you need to research that debate to narrow the topic’s scope, so it can be easily discussed within the word count range.
For example: You may be interested in learning more about traffic issues in the United States. However, that topic is too large to cover for this assignment. After researching peer reviewed articles in the San Jacinto College database that discuss US traffic issues in general, you may discover that the metro system in the District of Columbia is underfunded and underutilized. Through your research, you find that you can make a claim that more funds should be made available in order to upgrade the metro system, which would improve traffic issues in the District of Columbia. This would make for a stronger and more specific argument. View the handout on “sides and stakes” that can help with this process.
As you’ll see from the requirements of the assignment (listed in the requirements section of these instructions), you need to find peer-reviewed sources using the San Jacinto College databases. Once in the database of your choice (or if you just use the general library search tool), you can do an Advanced Search and check the “peer reviewed” sources filter to ensure what you’re finding is peer-reviewed and scholarly rather than a newspaper article, blog, book, or otherwise.
This video will hopefully clarify the term, “peer-reviewed”. You may use eBooks; however, as discussed in our chapter readings, books generally are not as current as peer-reviewed articles. You may also use primary sources (interviews, statistics, etc); however, these primary sources should be obtained from experts within that field. If you cannot find strong sources for your chosen topic, then change your topic. If you have a question about the validity of a source, please email me, or post your question to the open forum.
Structure of the argument:
Make sure to include the following sections in your project regardless of the type of essay you choose to do:
an introduction and claim,
and a conclusion.
Within the body of your project, make sure to include the following in any order:
support for your claim,
opposing or alternate views,
the strengths and weaknesses of your opponents’ claims,
and your rebuttals of their claims.
For this assignment, you have creative options. This will not be a “traditional” essay, so part of the challenge is trying to apply the Toulmin model to a real situation in which you might use it, especially considering your topic choice and intended audience. Points will be deducted if a traditional essay is submitted. Choose what will challenge your writing and what would be appropriate for your topic, audience, and field of study. Really give this some thought as to what would be appropriate, as this is all part of that awesome grade you’re going for with the project:
Op-ed newspaper article.
Letter/proposal to stakeholders.
Letter to the editor.
Election speech (written only).
Application for a position related to the topic.
Defense attorney’s opening statement.
Meeting or conference speech (written only).
Report to supervisor or colleagues.
Call to action white paper.
You might need to do a bit of Googling on the type of document you decide to write. For instance, if you choose to write a defense attorney’s opening statement, you’ll want to find out how that is structured by looking up examples and tips. In terms of format, since this is not a traditional essay, use the format appropriate to the option you’ve chosen; for example, a blog will look like a typical Internet blog; a case brief will look like a typical case brief, etc. Note: Regardless of the option/format, you must cite your sources both within the body of the essay and in a final reference page. The citations must be cited correctly using APA, MLA, or Chicago, whichever is appropriate to your field of study.
***In the title page, state which document type you’ve chosen so that I know how to grade it, such as stating “letter to the editor”***
PURPOSE: To persuade using the Toulmin model
AUDIENCE: The applicable audience for the type of document you’ve chosen to write.
LENGTH: approximately 500 – 1000 words (Times New Roman font)
SOURCES: A minimum of 3 with at least 1 from the library, and at least 1 from a professional journal or organization
FORMAT: The citation style that is appropriate for your discipline: APA, MLA, or Chicago.
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