English 1410 Overview and Outcomes

English 1410: Academic Argument and Research Rhetoric and Writing II, or English 1410, is the second course of a two-semester written communication sequence required of all UCCS students. The course focuses on academic inquiry and argument, building upon the basic analytical and rhetorical proficiencies learned in ENGL 1310.  In ENGL 1410 students write in-depth researched arguments on substantive issues.  Writers engage in extended inquiry (which encompasses identifying, evaluating, documenting, and integrating print and non-print sources), enabling them to examine their chosen issue in its full complexity. They write an extended researched argument cast in the stases they deem effective for their chosen rhetorical situations.

Text: The core text for ENGL 1410 is Jeanne Fahnestock and Marie Secor's A Rhetoric of Argument, which affords students theoretical and practical access to rhetorical principles, concepts, strategies, and instructional activities necessary for their successful use of classical stasis. Writing faculty also select additional texts based on their chosen topics of study.

Writing Assignments:

Students in 1410 follow a three-part assignment sequence designed to carry students through a sustained research project. Each part of the assignment sequence can be assigned as a single essay/project or as more than one assignment, depending on the preferences of the instructor.  Page numbers are intended as suggestive, with room for interpretation by faculty members.  The total number of pages of formal writing expected of 1410 students is 25-30 pages (300 words per page is considered standard).  Rigor and depth are more important attributes of 1410 writing than simple page count.

The assignment sequence follows:

Part One: Rhetorical Analysis (5-6 pages) In this first stage of the research sequence, referred to as the bridge assignment, students use rhetorical principles to analyze how a particular text makes an argument. It is designed to reinforce and/or introduce basic rhetorical concepts (i.e., audience, context, rhetorical situation, ethos, logos, and pathos).

 

Suggestions for the bridge assignment: This assignment has a dual purpose: to introduce the topic of the particular course and to introduce or reinforce rhetorical concepts as a sophisticated means of analyzing the value of a source. The assignment can also be used as a means for students to begin to define the aspect of the larger topic that is of interest to them.  It is suggested that the bridge assignment take no more than 3-4 weeks to allow time for the demanding work of the second and third steps of the assignment sequence.  Some instructors use a film as the first text; others use a written text, a book or articles.

 

Part Two: Texts in conversation (8-10 pages) This second assignment sets the stage for the research-based argument (see below), helping students understand the issues they will deal with in the larger project. It asks students to put texts in conversation with one other, moving beyond a dualistic or simplistic understanding of what is at stake. Students examine how different writers define and frame the issues and determine where disagreements lie.

In this second stage of the research process, typically called the stasis map, students map an extended inquiry into an aspect of the course topic they choose to explore.  Although it sounds like the stasis map might utilize a single kind of analysis, it incorporates several distinct sub-parts, which can be assigned as separate essays or projects, or it can be a larger assignment with several parts.  The first step is typically a definition of the broader issue and an identification of the stakeholders involved. This might also be called an analysis of the conversation/issue. Second is the assessment of sources in some kind of annotated bibliography.  Third is the stasis analysis of the sources, determining what stases the sources focus on, where the disagreements lie, and where further research is indicated.  Fourth, is a proposal in which the student indicates his or her research question.  This issue analysis likely includes the claim, audience, and rhetorical strategies to be incorporated in the third assignment of the 1410  sequence.

Suggestions: Regarding the kinds and numbers of sources, 1410 is the general education course required of all UCCS students in which academic research skills are taught.  Therefore, it is essential that all 1410 students learn to identify and use scholarly, peer-reviewed articles and books available through an academic library.  It seems clear that mandating a certain number of sources to be used sidesteps the real issue: to ensure that students have significant experiences with in-depth analysis of scholarly sources. It is suggested but not mandated that students examine 5-10 sources, most of which are scholarly, in this assignment, evaluating the sources according to a number of criteria agreed to be elements of credibility. One possible template for the critical evaluation of sources is the ROR (record of research) approach, which tracks the following elements of a source: inquiry topic, database / medium, search terms and strategies, MLA citation, objective summary, credibility, stasis questions, connections, additional questions, and additional search terms.  

Part Three: Research-based argument (10-15 pages, excluding works cited): This assignment asks students to produce a well-supported, focused argument drawing on traditional library sources, primary sources, and quality online sources. The final researched argument is cast as an argument in the stasis/stases of the student's choosing: definition, cause, quality, and/or proposal, determined through the extensive issue and source analysis completed in the second stage of the assignment sequence.

The completed essay should demonstrate a clear understanding of the issue it addresses, incorporate opposing views and multiple perspectives, integrate material from sources accurately and elegantly, and express persuasive rhetorical choices based on the writer's chosen purpose, context, and aim.

Additional writing: Apart from the three major writing assignments, students may be asked to do a significant amount of informal writing, including blogs, journals, online discussions, outlines, parts of drafts, and so on. Students may be asked to do an oral presentation at the end of the research sequence.

Total writing required: Overall the total amount of polished final-draft writing each student should expect to complete per semester is between 25-30 pages (about 300 words per page).  Good students may go beyond this total.

 

Course Outcomes

English 141 Outcomes: English 1410, Rhetoric and Writing II, at UCCS is aligned with the Council of Writing Program Administrators' Recommended Outcomes for First-Year Writing Curricula (College English, Volume 63, Number 3, January 2001). These outcomes have been recast to constitute a writing-about-writing curricular framework encompassing: 1) content knowledge-rhetorical theory, process theory and genre theory; 2) rhetoric and writing skills; 3) critical and meta-rhetorical reflection; and 4) information literacy skills as integral to research and inquiry within the disciplines and beyond. Students should expect reading, writing, research, and information literacy instruction in the following domains:

Rhetorical Knowledge
Students should...

  • Focus on a purpose
  • Use classical stasis theory for rhetorical invention
  • Respond to the needs of different audiences and rhetorical situations by casting arguments in appropriate stases
  • Use conventions of format and structure, and adopt a voice and tone appropriate to the rhetorical situation
  • Understand how argument and research genres shape reading and writing

Critical Thinking, Reading and Writing
Students should...

  • Use writing and reading for inquiry, learning, thinking and communicating
  • Extend inquiry to deepen their understanding of complex issues
  • Understand argumentative writing and research processes as a series of tasks, including finding, evaluating, analyzing, and synthesizing appropriate content and sources
  • Integrate their own ideas with those of others
  • Demonstrate dialectical reasoning
  • Use logical, emotional and ethical appeals as appropriate to rhetorical situation
  • Understand the relationships among language, knowledge, and power through the reading and analysis of argumentative essays

Writing Processes
Students should...

  1. Generate multiple drafts to complete a successful argumentative text
  2. Develop strategies for generating, revising, editing, and proofreading texts
  3. Use later invention strategies to rethink and revise their argumentative texts
  4. Generate multiple accounts [summative, analytical, argumentative, shifting stases] of an issue articulated incrementally across time
  5. Write in multiple argumentative stases
  6. Understand writing as a social process and use collaborative strategies throughout the process
  7. Effectively critique their argumentative essays and those of their peers
  8. Use computer technology throughout the research and writing process

Knowledge of Conventions
Students should...

  • Format documented argumentative essays, and research essays
  • Employ genre conventions relative to structure, paragraphing, tone and mechanics
  • Integrate ideas, cite course readings, and document research as warranted
  • Demonstrate control over their written language, including syntax, punctuation, grammar, and spelling