Touchstones are projects that illustrate your comprehension of the course material, help you refine skills, and demonstrate application of knowledge. You can work on a Touchstone anytime, but you can’t submit it until you have completed the unit’s Challenges. Once you’ve submitted a Touchstone, it will be graded and counted toward your final course score.
Touchstone 1.2: Write a Research Question, Thesis, and Outline
ASSIGNMENT: Following the Topic Selection Guidelines below, choose an argumentative topic to research. This will be your topic throughout the entire course, so the activities required for this assignment will provide the foundation for your future Touchstones. The topic for an argumentative research paper must be a debatable topic, meaning that it involves conflicting viewpoints. Additionally, it cannot be a topic that is already decided or agreed upon by most of society. You will need to take a firm position on the topic and use evidence and logic to support the position. Touchstone 1.2 includes a research question, a working thesis, a detailed outline, and a reflection on this pre-writing process.
A. Topic Selection Guidelines
DIRECTIONS: You may choose any topic you wish as long as the topic has two clear sides and is not agreed upon by most of society. Your topic should be current, appropriate for an academic context and should have a focus suitable for a 6-8 page essay.
In order to foster learning and growth, all essays you submit must be newly written specifically for this course. Any recycled work will be sent back with a 0, and you will be given one attempt to redo the Touchstone.
B. Research Guidelines
DIRECTIONS: Refer to the list below throughout the writing process. Do not submit your Touchstone until it meets these guidelines.
1. Research Question and Working Thesis
Keep in mind: The research question and working thesis are the driving force behind your research and eventual argument.
❒ Your research question should be a single sentence, framed as a question.
❒ Your working thesis should be a single focused sentence, framed as a statement that takes a clear position on the research question.
❒ Include your research question followed by your working thesis.
2. Detailed Outline
Keep in mind: Your detailed outline provides a map of the argumentative research essay that you will write, including your key claims and the sources that support them. You may not have all your sources yet, and that is fine. The outline is a way to organize your essay and determine which areas (e.g. your sub-points) will require researched evidence as support.
❒ Headings: one for each paragraph with a brief label of the paragraph’s controlling idea(s).
❒ An introduction, at least five body paragraphs, and a conclusion.
❒ Introduction includes your working thesis.
❒ Body paragraphs should each have their own unique title and key points.
❒ Conclusion includes notes on your final thoughts.
❒ Subheadings: two to five for each paragraph, below each heading, indicating key points that support the controlling idea
❒ Sources: one to three for each paragraph, as relevant, indicating the support for the key points
❒ For each source, include the author’s name and the idea or information relevant to your argument (e.g. “Lappé on mono-cropping corn/soy and production”).
❒ Have you displayed a clear understanding of the research activities?
❒ Have you answered all reflection questions thoughtfully and included insights, observations, and/or examples in all responses?
❒ Are your answers included on a separate page below the main assignment?
C. Reflection Questions
DIRECTIONS: Below your assignment, include answers to all of the following reflection questions.
Learning to conduct research is important because it is a skill you will use both in academia and in your professional life. It improves critical thinking and empowers you to find information for yourself. Consider the process of researching as a whole. What was the most challenging aspect of the process for you? (2-3 sentences)
The working thesis statement is a proposed answer to your research question. It should clearly identify a debatable topic and take a position on one side of that topic. Analyze the effectiveness of your working thesis statement. (3-4 sentences)
A detailed outline is an effective tool for laying out the progression of an argument. It allows you to consider the arrangement and organization of your ideas, as well as choose places to incorporate outside source materials. Review your detailed outline and summarize the argument you’ve presented. (3-4 sentences)
You will use the same topic on three of the remaining Touchstones in this course. What kind of feedback would be helpful for you? What are specific questions you might have as you go deeper into the research process? (2-3 sentences)
The following requirements must be met for your submission to be graded:
Double-space the outline and use one-inch margins.
Use a readable 12-point font.
All writing must be appropriate for an academic context.
Composition must be original and written for this assignment.
Plagiarism of any kind is strictly prohibited.
Submission must include your name, the name of the course, the date, and the title of your composition.
Submission must include your research question, working thesis, outline, and reflection questions.
Include all of the assignment components in a single file.
Acceptable file formats include .doc and .docx.
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