Issue Inquiry


For many students, the mere mention of the word research induces heart palpitations or nightmares, or both.  And, while the reasons for our anxieties about research vary from person to person, they are often stemmed from bad past experiences.  Just think for a moment about the last research paper you wrote.  For many of you, the subject was probably something distant and of little personal interest to you.  Maybe your twelfth grade history teacher asked you to explicate one of the causes of the fall of the Roman Empire, or your biology teacher may have demanded an investigation into the diagnosis and treatment of some little known disease.   There is nothing inherently wrong with these subjects, but if you don’t care about them, you will not care about your essays, making the writing (and learning) process dull and excruciating.

I don’t want you to feel defeated by the research project before you even begin; instead, I want to give you the tools you will need to tackle future research assignments while allowing you to learn about something you actually care about. Therefore, this assignment requires that you investigate a subject that you are genuinely curious about–something that has directly impacted your life, or your local community and is connected to your abstract noun.  Once you choose your topic, you will decide on an issue within your topic and we will work together to develop a research question that will serve as the basis for your inquiry.

In the past, you may have approached research like a scavenger hunt for unrelated facts that you somehow must link together.  Don’t do that.  Instead, read a lot of different sources and learn how other people’s ideas inform your own.   You are researching to learn new things and perhaps to alter your way of thinking about your subject; this process will be more rewarding than simply collecting facts, and through it your essay will develop a purpose.



A major, underlying purpose of this assignment is to help you discover your writing process and ways to help you organize a larger writing project for other courses.  That being typed, there is no “one-size-fits” all approach to composing a paper (as we’ve seen so far).

Once you have narrowed your focus down, you will need to argue a side of the issue that you have chosen. You must do this by stating your claim, finding the best evidence to support your claim and to convince your readers to join your side, provide counterclaims (what your opponents would say and provide evidence against them) and finally, propose an answer.

The end result of this project will not be merely an informational report.   If your final project is very similar to how a Wikipedia article reads, you’ve missed the mark.  It should read as an essay arguing a particular angle of the issue you chose.  And as always… it is somehow connected to your abstract noun.

As always, keep your focus narrow.  For example, writing about baseball, way too broad.  The Boston Red Sox?  Still too broad.  How does the rivalry between Red Sox and Yankees affect a fan’s experience of the game?  That is a more manageable research question.  We will work in class to help you find your focus.


Keeping in mind that how one presents information is often just as important as the information itself, there are three different options to complete this product.

New Media Analysis —  As evidenced throughout the course so far, there are a multitude of ways using Web 2.0 tools for you to use to demonstrate your argument of the issue you’ve researched.  This option requires you to create supporting genres of work to take into account your analysis.  For whatever genres (see list of possible genres on the course site) you decide to do, you must create them to showcase your learning, to persuade the reader with clear-cut evidence from your texts and logical analysis to “see the situation from your point of view.” Genres will need to be approved by me but can range from, supplementary materials that are web-based, podcasts, a series of memes, video uploaded to YouTube, and more.  The options are endless.  You must have a minimum of three different new media genres with this option, Prezi not included.

  1. Digital Text — The numbers of people who now read, curate, and write digitally is exponentially growing.  From text messages, Facebook status updates, searching Wikipedia, reading the New York Times and watching the local, highly news podcast, we are composing and consuming text in a digital manner.  This option has you create your product with the digital writing in mind.
  2. Photo Journal – You must find/create 8-12 photos from various sources (all sources cited in your works cited) to highlight your text.  It might help to think of this as a digital scrapbook but with a more significant amount of text.

This product consumes a large chunk of our time together.  That should relay to you it’s significance.  There is no other course where you learn how to write in an academic setting.  For you to learn all you need to know to help you succeed in college, you must be present each day during this assignment and have the process pieces done accordingly.  Waiting until the very end will only succeed in you failing this product, and the course.


This product as lots of mini-parts that are due throughout the entire process.  Each part that is due will be marked per our contract as either, Above and Beyond, On time, Missed, Late or Ignored.  At the completion, the clean draft of this product, along with each component piece, will be reviewed and combined for an overall product marking.

Keep in mind…

Your clean draft (and all previous drafts) must be a minimum of 1750-2500 words.

  • Double spaced or it will be marked as an Ignored assignment and you can’t pass this course without completing this assignment.
  • Have a minimum of five sources, three of them academic (we’ll discuss this in class).
  • Have an adequate number of in-text citations to provide the evidence you need to back up your major claim.
  • Meet the requirements of whichever style you pick:  New Media, Digital Text or Photo Journal.
  • Prepare a presentation in which ever style you prefer.   During our scheduled final time, we will host an unconference where you will present your project to a small group of your peers.  We will discuss this more in class.