(My students made that.)
Okay, just to clarify: in the second assignment, I want students to identify a problem that really bothers them—that they are truly perplexed and troubled by—what to do, for example, when a loved one becomes addicted to drugs, or—what to do about rising rents in NYC. I think I will steal a little from Kynard here and lead them toward questions that have both personal and public significance (while, of course clarifying that they need not share anything they are not comfortable sharing about their own lives.)
ASSIGNMENT TWO will be research investigating this question or problem. I do think I will have them begin with Wikipedia, as I mentioned, but the finished product will be something along the lines of a “research booklet” either physical or online, in which they analyze sources, both rhetorically and in content about this topic. They will need to have at least five sources, analyzed in depth—one of which will be an interview, one of which will be imaginative, one of which will be scholarly (and none of which will be Wikipedia.) The “audience imagined” for this assignment would be something along the lines of a “Think Tank” working on the problem. The purpose of the document is to gather and process information—and to do so, we must also assess the credibility and original purpose of our documents (which rhetorical analysis will help with.)
ASSIGNMENT THREE will USE the information gathered in assignment two. That is, students will produce a written document (video essays count) in the genre of their choosing, that they think will begin to take positive impact on this issue or problem. You’ve done the research—now, how can you best use it to inform or impact your audience to change their thoughts or behavior on the problem you’ve investigated?
We will discuss what this means—you are not going to, say, solve drug addiction. But perhaps a well-informed article that explains some early childhood factors that are correlated with drug addiction, or a video essay addressing what resources best serve those afflicted (and the lack of those resources) might be a good first step.
I do have some issues regarding genre, however. This semester, I took an “anything goes” tack with genre in 1121, and a couple of students kind of used this as a way to not write much at all. So I think there will need to be some sort of word count involved here (with recorded words counting as well.)
Final projects will need both words and images, working together in some way, which we will discuss in class.