What we'll do today in class:
- One last generation of issues based on their homework assignment
- Review research and take additional questions
- "Mini-Debate" to show positions
- Position analysis of one article
- Introduce Position Analysis Assignment
Connection to Course goals: The first two activities help students understand research, a requirement for meeting our context in Unit 3. The mini-debate emphasizes another requirement of the context - having to understand the background of an issue before making your own argument. The position analysis assignment will ask students to meet this contextual requirement for their own issue.
- WTL: After finding your article and the reading in the PHG, list one or two questions you still have about research. (5 min)
- Quickly cover the PHG reading.
- Touch on:
- Finding GOOD sources (we'll talk more about this in the days to come)
- Documenting sources (Again, we'll talk more about documentation. But do tell them to keep track of bibliographic info as they find sources so they don't have to go back and find the same sources to do the works cited page)
- Usefulness of a research notebook
- Pros and Cons of internet research
- Useful Internet research sites
Transition: We've spent time considering the range of topics, and you should have a pretty good idea of what topic you'll focus on for Essay 4. Now let's see how to research and become educated on an overall issue before making your own argument.
Define important terminology.
A topic is an important starting point, but there are sub-levels involved that must be understood.
A topic is the general subject you're writing on
An issue is a specific debatable question about that topic
A perspective are the generalized sides people take on the issue
A position is a specific stance based on specific value and concerns
- Thus, there are usually multiple positions for the same perspective on an issue.
Transition: Let's take a look at how these levels of an argument play out with a specific topic.
Mini-Debate on issue to demonstrate topic/issue/perspective/positions. Have the class consider what a debate on the issue of legalizing marijuana might look like. Your goal in this activity will be to emphasize important feature of academic argument such as: knowing the various positions, effectively addressing audience, accomplishing a purpose, etc.)
(NOTE: This debate can really be done with any topic, but legalizing marijuana has worked well in the past because it lends itself to easily describable groups and some interesting alliances that help distinguish between positions.)
- WTL: Take no more than 5 minutes to jot down your own feelings on the issue of legalizing marijuana. Then also consider the opposite side. What are your reasons for taking your side? What would be the reasons people might offer for the opposing view?
After they've finished the WTL, discuss what a pro/con debate of this issue might look like.
What are reasons for legalizing marijuana?
What are reasons against legalizing marijuana?
If a person from each of these sides sits down to debate the issue, what would you envision this debate looking like? How would they argue? What would each side say?
Would this debate likely get anywhere?
Academic argument must attempt to accomplish something, and must thus take into consideration the audience's concerns and values and attempt to address them. Also important is articulating a logical and well-supported argument, something that's hard to do (and typically not called-for) in many non-academic contexts
Academic argument assumes any issue will probably be more complicated than a simple pro/con stance.
Transition: Let's take a look at how to complicate these pro/con perspectives and really start to reveal and understand different positions within this issue.
Group activity to see positions within the Legalizing Pot debate.
- Divide the class into 6 groups.
- Assign each group one of the following groups
- Law Enforcement
- Cancer Patient
- Doctor For Legalization
- Doctor Against Legalization
- Drug Dealer
With their assigned persona, each group should address the following questions:
- Would this group be for or against legalization?
- Why would the group take that stance? What are they concerned about?
- Once the group is done, have them list their work on the board so we can start to see the breakdown of what different positions people take on this issue.
Once all of the groups have put their information on the board, have students look at the different responses to see the following:
- People take different positions because they have different values and concerns
- There can be different positions within the same side of an argument - for example, both drug dealers and parents might be against legalization, but for very different reasons.
- When we talk about positions, we're not referring to PRO, CON, and SOMETHING IN BETWEEN. It's much more complicated than that.
- In making an academic argument, you have to consider and address the audience's values and concerns (possibly their opposing arguments) in order to be effective.
- We research an issue to get a sense of what positions are there. For our purposes, legalizing marijuana lent itself to easily distinguishable groups who would take different perspectives.
For their issue, they can consider whether such a breakdown exists, but have to find research to show a position is actually valid.
Transition: Having seen what we're trying to do in terms of learning the different positions within an issue, let's take a look at the Position Analysis assignment, which asks you to undertake a similar exploration of your own issue.
Introduce Position Analysis assignment.
- Handout assignment sheet
- Emphasize that the goal of the assignment is to become informed on the variety of positions within your issue
- We're not looking for PRO, CON, and somewhere in between. We're trying to complicate an issue more than that.
Transition: Since most issues won't breakdown as easily as the legalization debate from above, let's look at how to flush these positions out by closely and critically reading what authors actually say.
Analyze Will/Wiesenfeld article to find different positions he takes or that he implies exist.
- A main goal here is to emphasize that people aren't necessarily going to come right out and say "here is my position on the issue of…" You have to look deeper and analyze what they're saying to really understand the different positions.
- Ask them to read through the WILL article and summarize his position using specific evidence from the text. What is his position? Where can you see that position in what he says?
- Ask them to look for specific places in the text that imply other positions.
- (10 min)
Discuss the issues they brought in from their articles. This will be the last activity that generates issues, and they should be set with their issue by the next class period.
- Have them list the issues they found in their articles while you list them on the board
- You might also discuss briefly the various audiences and purposes they found
- (5-10 min)
Using your article (or a new article if you so desire), come up with at least 3 positions taken or implied by the author.
Decide on your issue
Bring your article back to class
If you so desire, begin researching and finding articles on your issue
PHG, "Narrowing and Focusing your subject", pp. 551-555
PHG, "Evaluating Sources," 569-573