Category Archives: 1121 Unit 2-Research as Discovery

Inquiry Based Argument & Research

Day 2 Reflection: The Research Process

Getting Carried Away with Research

My father, several years ago, told me a story about his childhood that immediately drew me in. When he was a young boy in a one-room schoolhouse in 1943, a work camp for German P.O.W.’s had been erected in his small, rural Illinois town. The P.O.W.’s worked in the fields harvesting pumpkins for Libby’s canning company in the field next to their school. His casual statement spurred an entire, ongoing research and writing project: “We used to jump over the fence and go to talk to those guys. The guy in charge of watching them was always at Mrs. X’s eating her homemade pie.” He paused for a moment and then went on to say that when he later learned more about the war, he realized that at the time he was talking to those men, their homeland and perhaps their families and own homes were being “blown to bits.” Putting political reasoning aside as much as possible, I saw him working through what the POW’s might have felt while they were talking to this eight year old farm boy, in particular the German speaking Mennonites, and his neighbors who stole into the fields during recess.

That vivid image and his deep feeling while remembering spurred a long, very much in process project that has involved many levels of research and aims. It was a story, then a novella, and is now a far from finished novel. The research process has been varied but most interesting for this reflection is the advice a novelist friend offered when I mentioned I needed to read more novels written about that time to understand how people spoke. She said, wisely, that I needed to read what the people in the story would have been reading, those small town Illinois Mennonites and the German POWs. I ended up driving from one tiny town to another seeking out microfiche reels of tiny local newspapers (a dying breed) and looking through meticulously kept old church bulletins in Mennonite archives discussing church business and the challenges of their pacifist stance. I’ve looked into POW camp history (fascinating) and tried to determine what materials were available to the prisoners at that time (fascinating and difficult). I’ve listened to old radio shows and watched movies made during that time. 

So far, I’ve turned this research material into a conference presentation and successful grant proposals, but I really want to move forward on the book while I am still excited about the material. Like some of our students, I’ve learned that research can become a form procrastination from doing the actual work of writing, especially when the task seems daunting or intimidating.

How might we expand the definitions of a research project to more fully contain the curiosity and delight of research?

I am intrigued by the idea of introducing students to the process of making an Annotated Bibliography based on a question geared toward their own interests. I’ve never taught a research essay this way. When teaching a very traditional research essay model, I’ve asked students to summarize sources before writing their essay.  But I can see developing reflections into the annotated bibliography will encourage students to do more than simply analyze and restate what the authors are saying. Students will include why the source is important to them. The annotated bibliography, endnotes, and footnotes are in professional papers sometimes favorite sections. I think this may be for the same reasons that Graf offers in her discussion of teaching tools for developing “meta-awareness,” enabling students to articulate why this source or detail is necessary and unique to them as a reader/researcher. Footnotes and endnotes, I’ve found, sometimes contain ancillary information that the writer couldn’t squeeze into the paper but can’t bear to leave out. Annotated bibliographies often include why the writer was so excited about the source in addition to citation information about  where and how it can be found. Asking students to explain why an idea or detail or quote in a source that they’ve chosen feels to them so utterly “necessary” validates their excitement and their attempt at discovery.

I also think giving students wild freedom to choose topics, which I’ve tried unsuccessfully to do in the past (or it seemed unsuccessful) but would really like to try again, is  important. Kynerd shows this poignantly in her essay. The story of her student Malcolm  in addition to others emphasized the importance of providing students a space in which they can take true emotional risks and giving them a framework to make those risks pay off by gaining a sense of personal agency through writing is an ideal writing “situation.” Not all students will take the risks her students did, but Kynerd also shows (more than she explicitly states) how giving students a chance to be heard and to be truly read by their instructor encourages them to write and investigate their own ideas, in addition to understanding key elements of audience and purpose. She also shows how the more flexible final project allowed them to create something that mattered to them: a brochure, a book on language discrimination, an exploration of how to ask questions themselves. 

How could we put these goals for a research project into practice? By these goals I mean:

  • helping students develop “meta-awareness” about their own sources and the transferable writing process
  • a willingness to take risks
  • a sense of personal connection to the final product
  • and, skills that they feel they can apply to other classes.

I’m not sure yet! But I do know I want to revise what I’ve been doing because I feel like more can be gained for my students and for myself through developing and rethinking this often dreaded assignment. I’m really interested. I’m curious! I suppose that makes this all a research and discovery experience in itself.

Kieran Reichert FINAL 1121 Unit 2

Unit 2 – Research as Discovery

Formal Requirements:

  • 1250-1800 words (paper + annotated bib). Typed, double-spaced, 12-pt Times New Roman font, 1-inch margins.
  • You may NOT use the second person (you) in your analysis.
  • Must have quotes, paraphrases, and summaries with citations from relevant research sources.

Instructions:

Essay 3 will be a written Proposal, a Research Paper, as well as an Annotated Bibliography. Before you begin detailed research, you need to come up with a real-world, arguable research problem approved by your instructor, so writing this proposal will help you plan your project and articulate your potential arguments. The real-world, arguable problem for Paper 3 must come from your current or planned City Tech major or a potential career after graduation. The paper must include:

Introduction: Write an intro for the Research Proposal emphasizing your reasons for writing about your chosen topic and the importance of the issue to your future career.

  1. Hook: Remember to use a little pathos to hook the reader. Snag your reader’s interest with vivid, concrete language, with human interest. Be subtle but be interesting.
  2. Development: Discuss the problem in your future career with reference to discourse communities and include some audience analysis (Consider: Who is your audience/opposition? Walk in their shoes for a while and try to determine why they think like they do, and what are the best, most compelling arguments for their position. What about your argument for change, for a new perspective, scares them the most? Now that you have become them, have understood their fears and resistance, what would be the most persuasive ways to overcome their fears and resistance?) Transition to your thesis statement at the end of this paragraph and see if you don’t have a great suspended, or climactic paragraph.
  3. Thesis Statement (one sentence): A thesis statement is one sentence, and always an opinion. In this case it’s an arguable position on a controversial topic. You may end up taking a fairly moderate position on the topic, but your thesis is still specific. (Example: While many think political parties serve to organize the administration of government, mainstream parties in America have polarized the nation by building mistrust among lawmakers and stifling other potential voices in our democratic republic.)

 

Background/History of the subject: Trace a brief history of your controversy and bring the reader up to date on where the issue stands today. Do this section in chronological order, briefly hitting major landmarks from the beginning of the controversy until its current state. You should do basic research online (on the web and/or through the library website) to get this information. Direct quotations for basic history aren’t necessary, but any paraphrase or summary of sources MUST BE CITED using the MLA format.

 

Proofs: Based on your preliminary research, discuss what you want to prove {2 thesis points (not including the counterargument in your refutation)} as your paragraph topics. Use complete topic sentences to label each proof and include any quotes/paraphrases/summaries from your sources that you will cite as evidence. MLA CITATIONS REQUIRED. Explain how this evidence will support your proposed thesis and what kinds of other evidence you will need to fully develop the argument.

  1. Topic sentence about thesis point #1.
  2. Evidence, ideally paraphrased, MLA cited in parentheses.
  3. Explanation how this evidence addresses your point and relates to the further research needed.
  4. Evidence, ideally paraphrased, MLA cited in parentheses.
  5. Explanation how this evidence addresses your point and relates to the further research needed.
  6. Topic sentence about thesis point #2.
  7. Evidence, ideally paraphrased, MLA cited in parentheses.
  8. Explanation how this evidence addresses your point and relates to the further research needed.
  9. Evidence, ideally paraphrased, MLA cited in parentheses.
  10. Explanation how this evidence addresses your point and relates to the further research needed.

Refutation: While some elements of refutation should be covered in your Proofs, this paragraph will focus on naming and then refuting (disproving) any counterargument unaddressed or you have yet to overcome. The opposing view should already appear as part of your thesis, but the refutation should give the specific attack(s) that the opposing view would make against your thesis claim. Based on preliminary research, discuss these possible counterarguments and any evidence you have for refutation. CITE EVIDENCE.

Conclusion: Sum up what you’ve already proven about your topic and what still needs to be proved. Bear in mind that a conclusion is future-oriented, gives the reader a directive about the future, about why this topic is important and deserves further research. If possible, employ subtle yet effective pathos here, and vivid, concrete language.

Scaffolding

Day One: Library Visit. With Librarian, introduce notion of a research question. Give students many examples and encourage them to get into google/search engine wormholes within the constraints of the assignment and using library resources.

HW: Bring in working thesis and two sources.

Day Two: Thesis workshop. As a class, go over the features of an effective thesis statement, and put them in groups of 3-4 to comment on each other’s theses.

HW: Refine question and do more research. Reflect on one way you’d change how you approach the thesis-building process.

Day Three: Background paragraph & Refutation paragraph. Read samples and practice using preliminary research.

HW: Draft proposal, including outlined body paragraphs

Dav Four: Mini Peer Review for proposals.

HW: “Difficulty paper”

Day Five: Incorporating evidence and evaluating sources. Read sample annotated bibliographies and practice as a group in class.

HW: Evaluate three sources.

Day Six: Peer Review of Draft of Proposal + Anno Bib & Plan for Revision

HW: Put it all together and write out your body paragraphs. Final Draft due next class.

Day Seven: Turn in and reflect on process overall in class.

RGarcia Final 1121 Unit 2 Inquiry Based Research Assignment

Prof. Ruth Garcia

English 1121, semester ????

Unit 2: Inquiry Based Research/Annotated Bibliography (1800-word minimum)

Due: ?/?/2020

Assignment

In class we have read and discussed “The Declaration of Independence,” The U.S Constitution, and current pieces about social issues in occurring today. Inspired by these texts, we have brainstormed issues that are deeply important to you and you have picked one of these and worked over the last couple of weeks to develop a question related to your topic that you want to investigate.

Now, for this assignment you will do research and put together an 1800-word annotated bibliography of four sources that help you answer your research question.

Here is a useful site explaining what an annotated bibliography is and how to do one: https://guides.library.cornell.edu/annotatedbibliography

Your particular annotated bibliography should include the following:

  • Your research question at the top of the page.
  • An opening statement (a paragraph) explaining why this topic is important to you, what you know about it, and what you expect to find.
  • Four sources that are properly formatted in MLA style.
    • Note that your sources do not need to be articles. In fact, I encourage you to find information from a variety of genres. Examples of genres you might include are: newspaper articles, TED talks, personal essays, magazine article, scholarly article, organizations website.
    • You can find more on how to do MLA citations at the link below and throughout the Purdue OWL site: https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/mla_style/mla_formatting_and_style_guide/mla_formatting_and_style_guide.html
    • You can also use Purdue OWL, Easy Bib, or Citation aNchine to do your citations—you can google for the second two sites and the first is at the link above.
    • Make sure your citations are in alphabetical order by author’s last name.
  • After each MLA style citation, put a summary of the source that tells what the piece is about.
  • Following each summary, you should also include
    • a few sentences that explain the genre, audience, and purpose of the piece.
    • one or two sentences evaluating the usefulness of each source.
    • An important and useful quotation from your source.
  • A concluding statement (about two paragraphs) reflecting on the following: What did you learned about your topic? How did your thinking change? Which discourse community do you think would benefit from your research? Why and how would this discourse community benefit from this information?

Note: Below–after “How will this be graded” I have included a template for your annotated bibliography. This is to show you how to organize and format your annotated bibliography, which is its own genre of writing.

How will this be graded?

  • Your annotated bibliography should be at least 1800 words.
  • Your annotated bibliography should be on time.
  • Your annotated bibliography should have all the components listed above and be formatted in the way indicated by the template below.
  • You should proofread.

The template for this assignment begins on the next page.

Your Name Here

Prof. Garcia

ENG 1121

Date Here

Research Question: Insert your research question here in place of this red text. Then make the text black/automatic when you are done.

Introduction:

In place of this blue text, insert your Opening statement saying what you expected to find before you began your research—this should be about at least a paragraph. Make sure to return the text to black/automatic.

Insert your first source here in place of all this black text and make sure your citation is in MLA style and alphabetized by author’s last name. Notice that the first line of a citation is all the way to the left and other lines of the citation are indented.

In place of this green text, you should insert your summary. In your summary you should make sure to mention the genre, audience, and purpose of the piece. Also, make sure to return your text to black/automatic.

In place of this purple text, you should insert your evaluation of the source and return the text to black/automatic.

In place of this orange text, insert an important or useful quotation from your source and return the text to black/automatic.

Insert your second source here in place of all this black text and make sure your citation is in MLA style and alphabetized by author’s last name. Notice that the first line of a citation is all the way to the left and other lines of the citation are indented.

In place of this green text, you should insert your summary. In your summary you should make sure to mention the genre, audience, and purpose of the piece. Also, make sure to return your text to black/automatic.

In place of this purple text, you should insert your evaluation of the source and return the text to black/automatic.

In place of this orange text, insert an important or useful quotation from your source and return the text to black/automatic.

Insert your third source here in place of all this black text and make sure your citation is in MLA style and alphabetized by author’s last name. Notice that the first line of a citation is all the way to the left and other lines of the citation are indented.

In place of this green text, you should insert your summary. In your summary you should make sure to mention the genre, audience, and purpose of the piece. Also, make sure to return your text to black/automatic.

In place of this purple text, you should insert your evaluation of the source and return the text to black/automatic.

In place of this orange text, insert an important or useful quotation from your source and return the text to black/automatic.

Insert your fourth source here in place of all this black text and make sure your citation is in MLA style and alphabetized by author’s last name. Notice that the first line of a citation is all the way to the left and other lines of the citation are indented.

In place of this green text, you should insert your summary. In your summary you should make sure to mention the genre, audience, and purpose of the piece. Also, make sure to return your text to black/automatic.

In place of this purple text, you should insert your evaluation of the source and return the text to black/automatic.

Conclusions:

In place of this blue text, insert your concluding statement saying what you learned about your topic, who you think would benefit from this information, and why and how they would benefit from this information—this should be about a paragraph. Make sure to return the text to black/automatic.

 

FINAL DATES, DEADLINES, INFO AND ETC.

And so, we draw to a close.  It has been so great working with all of you.  I said it before, and I’ll say it again, but I have been truly impressed with your work this semester.  You really came through, especially during the pandemic, which goes beyond anything I have literally ever seen (of course). I’m excited to see those final assignments and portfolios.

I will eventually be sending you a little survey in which I ask you to do your own (brief, 1-2 paragraph) reflection on the semester.  This will help us plan next semester’s PD, which will be entirely online! I also want to let you guys know that, though the PD is done,  I am here as a resource for you whenever you need me.  I’ll be continuing Zoom office hours next semester (and a couple of times in August) and also will be around for one-on-one meetings if you need help, have some cool assignments to share or just want to talk!

Here are the amended dates:

May 29th: Final student portfolios to be uploaded to Google Drive.  I’ve sent you this link.  If you did not get it, email me and I’ll resend.

  • Please use the folder “’20 Current PD Portfolios.”
  • Please make a folder with your own name in this format: (HallCarrie_20)
  • Within THAT folder, make subfolders for each class you are teaching with course and section number. (HallCarrie_1101_351).
  • In that folder, you will have either a file or a folder, as you see fit, for each of your students.  Make sure these are also titled clearly by the students’ names (Blair_Ruben) so they can easily be accessed.

June 5th: All of your final drafts of assignments for 1101 and 1121 will be uploaded to the Open Lab.  This is a HARD DEADLINE– as in this is honestly the last possible day! The “deliverables” include: Syllabus (front matter only, you don’t need the full schedule), Assignment Sheets for Units 1,2, and 3 and the handout for the final portfolio: this would include info on the reflection and what the final portfolio should include.

I will attach a copy a template for the 1101 syllabus if you’d like to use it (it’s optional). The 1121 syllabus template is under “Readings: 2020 Winter Institute”

For each of your final assignments, I know this is annoying, but… you will have to post them separately under their correct category.  This will help the next PD be able to look up examples of each assignment.  So, please use the following  format:

  • Categories: FINAL and the unit you are uploading, such as: 1101 Unit 1-Lit Narrative
  • Subject line: (YOUR NAME) FINAL 1101 UNIT 1 ASSIGNMENT

Please don’t forget the category “final” OR the word “Final” in the subject line.  Believe me, it matters in the long run!  Also, you can select two assignment categories, in case you have an assignment sheet that includes, say, 1101 Units 2 and 3, as some of us do.  It’s fine to combine those two.  Please don’t combine all of your materials onto one sheet, though!

Download (PDF, 127KB)

Here is an example of my final portfolio assignment sheet– I gave this to you a MILLION YEARS AGO in the winter, before “the troubles”.  I don’t expect you to be a graphics dork like myself. I also think the reflection Christine and I wrote this semester was much (MUCH) better than this one. However, I include this because it shows what I had my students include in their portfolios:

Download (PDF, 3.41MB)