Portfolio 3: Making Your Contribution to a Publicly Debated Issue

Portfolio 3:  Overview


This portfolio culminates in a pair of Arguing Essays that contribute 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
  • read the PHG chapter on arguing (Chapter 10) in its entirety
  • analyze an academic audience for your academic context argument
  • write a rough and final draft of your argument for an academic context
  • continue to read the NYT, now with an emphasis on the Editorial and Op-Ed pages as well as on visual/graphic forms of communication and argumentation
  • choosea new context and audience for a revised arguing essay
  • analyze a publication for your argument for a public context
  • compare and contrast the similarities and differences between the contexts of the two arguments you are completing for this portfolio
  • write a rough and final draft of your argument for a public context

Evidence of participation in all these items will be compiled in your folder, turned in, graded.

For your Academic Context Argument, you will analyze the expectations of an academic argument (from the PHG) and apply strategies of academic argumentation to your writing.

For your Public Context Argument, if you targeted your article for Parents’ Magazine, you would write for a general audience of parents of young children. Similarly, if you were 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. The final draft of this argumentative essay must include a cover page that clarifies the audience and purpose you have in mind for your essay.

Essentially, this portfolio helps you add your voice to the public conversation you analyzed in your second portfolio. Now that you have learned what other members of that conversation have been saying about the issue, you are qualified to make your own contributions. The first essay, targeting a publication of your choosing, and the second one (a substantial revision) targeting the most read newspaper opinion page in the world, will allow you differing opportunities to stake your claim as well as two distinct opportunities to showcase your talents as a flexible writer—that is, one who is adaptable to differing contexts. In making your own contribution to the conversation on your selected issue, your goal will be to add something new to the discussion while also acknowledging the contributions of authors who have already contributed ideas and information. You may wish to go back to your notes on the idea of "newness" from the beginning of the course to recall the range of ways a paper than stake new ground.

Your grade for this portfolio will be based on the quality of your academic and public context arguments. Your success on both arguments, however, will be determined largely by the work you do on your homework assignments and especially the Publication Analysis and Context Comparison. It might be helpful, as a result, to imagine the homework assignments (including the News Clippings) and the Context Comparison as prewriting for your arguments.

Worth: 35% 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 specific audiences, to demonstrate your flexibility in writing for differing contexts.

Audience: Your arguments will be directed toward two differing audiences. First, an academic audience that consists of our class and the people in academia discussing and writing about your issue. Second, the audience of a publication (magazine, journal, newspaper, Web site) of your choosing. The academic context argument will be a minimum of six double-spaced, typed pages or 1500-1800 words. The public context argument will be of a length appropriate for the publication—probably 650-800 words. Your instructor must approve your choice of target publication for the first arguing essay.

Pick Up of Final Portfolios: You can pick up your portfolio at the beginning of next semester (after contacting your instructor ahead of time). Alternatively, if you would like to have your portfolio returned sooner, you must include with your final folder a self-addressed, stamped envelope that has been metered for the full weight of your completed portfolio.