Phase 2:  Extending the conversation and finding a way to contribute

In the second phase of the course, we extend our conversation metaphor.  Now that we have successfully listened closely and critically to the existing conversation employing the rhetoric of green, it is time to begin asking questions to propel the conversation forward.  We do this by identifying related issues to the rhetoric of green and examining them through various lenses, developing and refining research questions, and finally investigating those questions.  The focus of Phase 2 is to engage in the conversation.  We do this by first collecting information about our issue to help us support what we want to say and finally contributing to the conversation by way of an academic argument.

In the first phase, we learned how writers approach environmental concerns with varying rhetorics of green.  We read closely and critically, paying special attention to the rhetorical situation.  Now we will develop research questions to guide us in meaningful inquiry into the issues we read about in Phase I and investigate these issues in depth.  In the process of doing so, we build information literacy as we find and select sources that offer a variety of perspectives on the questions we pose, as well as credible and authoritative information.  Students will each ask a research question (stemming from the conversations from Phase I) in which she or he is interested.  Once each student is invested, we will work out how the questions the students posed can be grouped together under an umbrella issue.  In this manner, students will work collaboratively to investigate one issue and present their findings to the class in annotated bibliographies.  The work the student does for the group project will help them to create an individual inquiry essay, which will illustrate how the student came to discover the position he or she hopes to argue for in the academic argument.  Students will finally join the conversation on an issue related to the rhetoric of green by writing an academic argument.

Phase 2 builds on phase 1 by asking students to continue reading closely and critically.  In phase 2, however, students will refine and expand on specific research questions and select sources to answer them.  Throughout this phase, we need to work with students to develop focused, significant research questions relevant to the rhetoric of green.  With such questions in mind, we’ll guide students through the process of “listening to conversations” on the issue they’re investigating and evaluating what the “hear.”

Using library resources, especially research databases, comprises a key component of Phase 2.  During this phase, you will have a scheduled time to take your students to Morgan Library for a session with a librarian in one of the Electronic Information Labs (your scheduled Library day(s) will be distributed to you during Orientation).  Working with the librarian, you will help your students learn how to search the library’s collection using SAGE (the library catalog) and research databases such as Academic Search Premier and Lexis-Nexis for sources to help your students gain additional insight into an issue and its conversations.  We focus on developing critical information literacy in this phase, helping students find, evaluate, and select sources that further their inquiry into an issue.  We hope to move students beyond Google and accepting whatever they find toward conducting searches of a range of databases and selecting sources that support their guiding research question.

After students are introduced to effective academic inquiry while working collaboratively, they will define individual questions to inquire into further and write an academic argument that responds to their question.  Thus, this phase of the course will also focus on writing an argument in an academic context.