Writing@CSU: Composition Teaching Resources

Portfolio 3: Making Your Contribution to a Publicly Debated Issue

Overview: This portfolio culminates in an Arguing Essay that contributes to the publicly debated issue you analyzed in portfolio 2. To complete work on this portfolio, you will carry out a series of homework activities, choose a target publication for your Arguing Essay, write a brief Context and Audience Analysis Report about that publication and its readers, write rough drafts of your Arguing Essay, and submit an Arguing Essay that is written and designed to conform to your target publication. For instance, if you are writing an article for TIME, you would write for a general audience and format your final essay in a manner consistent with articles published in that magazine. Similarly, if you are writing for a journal or magazine published on a Web site, such as National Review Online, you would write for the readers of that publication and design your document to conform to other articles published on that Web site.

Essentially, this portfolio helps you add your voice to the conversation you analyzed in your second portfolio. Now that you’ve learned what other members of that conversation have been saying about the issue, you can make your own In the same way that your own contribution to the conversation. In making that conversation, you’ll want to add something new to the discussion and acknowledge the contributions of authors who have already contributed ideas and information.

The majority of your grade for this portfolio will be based on the quality of your Arguing Essay. Your success on the Arguing Essay, however, will be determined largely by the work you do on your homework assignments and the Context and Audience Analysis Report. It might be helpful, as a result, to imagine the homework assignments and the Context and Audience Analysis Report as prewriting for the Arguing Essay.

This portfolio introduces the concept of design and format as argumentative strategies. As you analyze the specific publication in which you want your arguing essay to appear, consider the design of that publication. Look carefully at the use of visual elements, such as photographs and other images, charts, graphs, and other illustrations, and pull quotes and sidebars. Consider as well the role of columns of text in presenting the text of a document. And think carefully about the overall look and feel of the documents in a publication. You’ll learn more about design as an argumentative strategy as we work through this portfolio. For now, though, it’s probably enough to realize that you won’t be turning in a standard college essay at the end of this document. Instead, you’ll be creating a visually attractive and effective document.

Worth: 30 percent of the course grade

Purposes for this Portfolio: To learn how to contribute to a debate about a public issue; to learn strategies for designing effective documents; to think critically about writing situations and to strengthen your understanding of writing for a specific audience.

Audience: Your arguing essay will be directed to the audience of a publication (magazine, journal, newspaper, Web site) that you propose in your Context and Audience Analysis Report. Your instructor must approve your choice of target publication.

Portfolio Content: Your portfolio will consist of homework assignments, the Context and Audience Analysis Report, rough drafts of your Arguing Essay, comments you provide on classmates’ drafts, comments you receive from your classmates on your rough drafts, and the final draft of your Arguing Essay.