Your goals this week are to facilitate students’ field research and to discuss strategies for writing the Report. Remember that next week is Fall break and that when students return from break they will be workshopping their Reports. Because of this, you might devote some class time to drafting introductions. Otherwise, students may return from Fall break having forgotten about their research and having to draft their Reports rather hastily.
Connection to Course Goals. Discussing sample Reports encourages students once again to consider the rhetorical choices a writer makes in a specific rhetorical situation, and practicing interview and questionnaire techniques will aid in students’ field research.
Introduce interview and questionnaire techniques
Discuss the advantages and potential pitfalls of interviews and questionnaires using pages 320-322 in the PHG to guide a discussion. See if students can produce or add to the following points:
Discuss audience. Students should question a range of people in order to make their interview or questionnaire results the most meaningful. If, for example, a student is inquiring into how students incorporate church into their lives as college students, they need to talk to people from a variety of churches as well as people who don’t attend church regularly if at all.
Discuss effective questions. Use the PHG and the points below to guide this discussion:
Effective survey questions will:
Most importantly, effective questions will address the writer’s purpose, which in this case is to find out what people know and think about the topic at hand. In other words, interviews and questionnaires will give students a sense of the conversation surrounding their topic.
Tip. Be sure students understand the importance of a questionnaire’s design: if it looks confusing or complicated, it probably won’t work very well.
Practice interview and questionnaire techniques
Allow students time to draft potential interview questions or questionnaires. As students work, offer to address their questions and concerns one-on-one.
After students have completed a draft of their questions, have them exchange drafts in pairs or groups. Refer them back to the criteria established earlier to provide some useful feedback. Put some workshop questions on the overhead to guide students’ feedback. Before students provide feedback, they need to tell each other what their purpose is for the interview or questionnaire.
Interview and Questionnaire Workshop
Discuss the Report’s writing situation and brainstorm strategies
Show the assignment sheet for the Phase 2 Critical Introduction on the overhead, and ask students to take out the assignment sheet for the Report they’re working on now. Compare the writing situations. You may end up with a list like this:
Subject: climate change
The purposes are very similar: students need to write objectively, explaining what questions they asked and what answers they found. The major difference is audience. Ask students how they will write differently for incoming students than they did for their peers. Students have a choice of genre here—they may write letters, make informational brochures or posters, etc. They need to decide what will work best given their topic, research and audience. If a lot of their research is visual, for example, they may choose a more visual genre.
The point of this discussion is to prompt students to make some of their own deliberate rhetorical choices. They should be ready to do this, given all of the emphasis on rhetorical situations in Phases 1 and 2.
Tip. Students will need to be even more aware of their rhetorical choices when they analyze the Report and the Public Argument, so it’s good to practice now.
Read and discuss sample Reports
There are pros and cons to this activity. Discussing samples with your students can help as you brainstorm strategies for the Report. Be careful about letting the samples become “templates” for students, though. At this point students should be able to talk about samples in terms of the writers’ rhetorical choices. Try to keep the discussion focused on rhetoric, and remind students that the strategies the samples use aren’t the only way to accomplish assignment goals. You might ask students to propose alternative audiences or genres that the sample writers might have considered.
One possible activity is to conduct a workshop on the samples, treating them as drafts rather than finished reports. By doing so, students may be less likely to treat them as models.
Draft Report introductions
Once students have had a chance to gather strategies for writing the Report, give them time to begin a draft. Encourage students to stop at a place where they know what they want to say next, so when they come back to the draft, they’ll be able to get right to work.
Homework for Week 13: