Research-based Argumentative Essay

Below are the instructions for the research-based argumentative essay, which I’ve already assigned. (Lisa looked over my guidelines before I shared them with the students). However, I’m still open to any suggestions that don’t radically alter the assignment.


You will begin by choosing a topic we have discussed in class and formulating a research question about this topic. Your thesis will make an argument that answers your research question. You will prove that argument in the body of your essay.

(After I handed out these guidelines, we compiled a list of some of the topics we’ve covered. They included racial profiling, internet privacy, the relationship between an artist’s personal life and his or her work, male and female beauty standards, expectations of gender roles, the effect of social media on a person’s public and personal identity. The list was not exhaustive.)


Papers should be 6 to 8 pages in length, double-spaced in 12-point Times New Roman.

You must incorporate evidence from at least 1 of the texts we have read in class and at least 4 other peer-reviewed, academic sources.

You must cite all your sources using in-text citations and a Works Cited page. Your citations should follow MLA guidelines. We will spend time on Tuesday, November 10 and Thursday, November 12 reviewing research methods; going over MLA guidelines; and discussing the best ways to summarize, paraphrase, and quote directly from others’ work. You will also create annotated bibliographies citing your 5 sources prior to the draft deadline.


Research paper proposals are due on Tuesday, November 10.

Annotated bibliographies are due on Tuesday, November 17. We will also have one-on-one meetings on this date, during which I will give you feedback on your proposals and answer any questions you may have.

First drafts are due on Tuesday, November 24. Please bring 3 hard copies to class.

Final drafts are due on Blackboard by 7:50 a.m. on Tuesday, December 1.



I often find myself leaving these weekly readings with the same question: “But how?” Miller writes:

“…we might say that we must understand that what resides at the core of the writing process is the experience of being wrong. This is always the case, whether we recognize it or not. […] How can learning happen, in other words, if being wrong is always presented as a defining characteristic only of beginners or, at higher levels, evidence that one doesn’t belong?”

I am with his assessment of the writing process and yet, I wonder, how we can make students feel comfortable being bold, inquisitive, and, yes, wrong, when they’ve spent most of their academic careers receiving grades and being told they either are or aren’t good enough (good enough to graduate, good enough to get into the school of their choice) based on their writing. How to begin to break an attitude toward writing that’s been formed through years of education? I remember what Tonianne shared last week about sitting down with each of her students to give them their essay grades and I think this is a great way to begin creating a safe environment, while also adhering to traditional evaluation methods (i.e. grades). It demonstrates a care about each student’s individual process and shows that you are not a resource, not simply someone who gives out grades. It also shows that you are open to having a real conversation with them (versus the usual format of standing in front of the classroom while they sit in their seats), which might allow them to express some bolder thoughts in their writing and in group discussions. I wonder what others have found to be useful in creating a more trusting relationship with the students (and between the students), so they can have the experience of being wrong.