Research-Based Argument Assignment

Overview:  The research-based argument (RBA) assignment asks students to produce a well-supported, focused argument drawing on library and web-based research.  The completed essay should demonstrate a clear understanding of the problem it addresses; engage successfully with realistically portrayed disparate views or multiple perspectives; incorporate appropriate material from well-chosen sources purposefully, gracefully, and ethically; and, exhibit reasonable and appropriate rhetorical choices based on the writer’s purpose.

In addition to a mandatory drafting and revision stage, the RBA assignment may include some of the following components: a research proposal, annotated bibliography, peer review, outline, reflective memo, brief non-graded oral presentation (substantial work on oral/multimedia presentations is reserved for PWR 2).

Length: 3600-4500 words; 12-15 pages. 

Sources: A minimum of 10 sources should substantively inform the essay, recognizing that a rigorous research-based argument may engage with many more sources in the research process but should actively draw on at least 10 in constructing its argument.

Student Learning Objectives:

  • Students will develop strategies for arriving at a productive research topic/question, narrowing it to an appropriate scope, and using research to arrive at an understanding about that topic/question
  • Students will practice strategies for finding and engaging with sources that represent the best quality of information available to them on their topic
  • Students will demonstrate an ability to construct a well-reasoned argument, informed by the scholarly conversation and research on a topic, and supported by evidence
  • Students will practice ethical use of source material through decisions about how and when to integrate source material (summarize, paraphrase, quote) and consistent use of citation practices
  • Students will explore pre-writing, drafting, rethinking based on feedback, and revising as part of the writing process

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