Phase 3: Sharing Local Inquiry with Public Audiences
In the final phase of the course, students will apply the inquiry and writing practices and strategies they have been learning and using in the course as well as learn and develop additional research methods and writing skills. So far, we have focused our inquiry on questions related to “the omnivore's dilemma.” At this point, we hope students have begun to understand how critical inquiry into significant questions crosses disciplinary boundaries, drawing on a variety of sources and engaging diverse audiences. We also expect that students are learning to consider purpose, audience and conventions as they compose and are building a repertoire of strategies for addressing academic writing situations.
In Phase 2, students have had a chance to see how conversations about significant issues occur in layered contexts that are interrelated, much like an ecosystem. Phase 3 places students in an exploration of the local ecosystem of the CSU campus and surrounding community, focusing on sites of academic, social, cultural, recreational, political or personal interest to new students at the university. In this unit, we ask students to investigate a site of interest--a course, an academic program, a service, an activity, an organization—and explain the results to inform new students about it. Based on their investigation of the site and evaluation of its value to students, students will then write an argument to promote the site to students, to address a problem with the site, or to effect change.
Students will apply inquiry strategies practiced to-date by choosing a site of interest, formulating inquiry questions, and finding and selecting sources of information. While they may use library resources in some cases, their inquiry will focus on field research, such as interviewing, observing, and surveys. In Phase 3, we will help students develop effective field research skills, such as developing questions, gathering information, and note-taking. As the explanation of their investigation will be written for new students, we will also help students define and address yet another audience.
Writing the Public Audience Argument will give students the opportunity to solve a complex rhetorical problem, i.e. they will need to identify a debatable issue, determine the purpose for the argument, and target an appropriate audience as well as choose effective strategies for achieving their purpose with their intended audience. Focusing on a problem or concern discovered during the investigation of the site or on the need to raise awareness about it, students can build on the strategies for academic argument they learned and practiced in Phase 2. By asking students to take their concerns public, we hope they will have a positive experience of writing as engaged and informed citizens of the CSU community to address matters of local concern.