Essay #2: Entering the Conversation

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Essay #2: Entering the Conversation

In Essay #2, write an essay that makes a thesis-based argument about education. Your essay must respond specifically to at least one of the assigned articles from Ch. 14. You will choose the audience for your essay, but remember: your job is to “enter the conversation” about education begun by your sources.

Your essay should include all of the following features:

  • A precise thesis, or main claim
  • A clearly defined audience
  • Direct quotations or paraphrases of at least 1 article from Ch. 14 of From Inquiry to Academic Writing

Your instructor may provide more specific instructions for this assignment — check the Announcements for any updates or changes.

Guidelines for Essay #2

Length/Due Date: approximately 800-1,000 words, due Sunday midnight Central Standard Time (CST).

Style/Format: This, as all essays in EN106, should be formatted in a standard scholarly format. (Most students follow MLA or APA guidelines, which are outlined in Easy Writer.) No matter what format you follow, be sure to do the following:

  • Use 12 point, Times New Roman font, double-spaced.
  • Use 1-inch margins top, bottom, and sides.
  • Although no cover page is needed, you should include your name, my name, the course number/title, and date at the upper left-hand corner of the manuscript.

References: Your essay must use at least one source — the article from Ch. 14 that has begun the conversation. Most likely, you will also refer to additional outside sources. For each source you cite or reference in your essay, include in-text citations, using MLA or APA guidelines.

File format: Please submit your essay as a .doc, .docx, or .pdf file. These formats are available in most word processors, including Google Docs and Open Office, and will ensure that your instructor is able to comment on your work.

Works Cited/References: Please create an appropriate bibliography that lists each source you cite or reference in your essay. Use MLA or APA guidelines for your bibliography.

Titles: Include a descriptive title at the beginning of your essay that tips your readers off to your thesis. Do not format your title with quotation marks, boldface, underlining or italics. Quotation marks or underlining are only appropriate if the title borrows words from another source.

Deadline: Submit your final draft essay no later than midnight on Sunday at the end of this unit.

Use of essays for future courses: Please understand that your essay may be used— anonymously—as a sample for future EN106 students and instructors unless you expressly request that it not be used. Your work, of course, will only be used for educational purposes.

Assessment: See the Grading and Assessment content item under Course Information.

Why Is This Assignment Important?

This essay assignment is designed to reinforce three “habits of mind” of academic writers: making inquiries, seeking and valuing complexity, and seeing writing as a conversation.

First, to complete this assignment successfully, you must read closely and analytically. In doing so, you will practice observation, asking questions, and examining varied perspectives. The issue you are writing about is multi-faceted, so you must treat it that way. Do not present a simple pro/con view of an issue. Instead, read actively, asking questions of your source. In this way, this assignment will teach you to recognize and value complex perspectives — another habit of mind of effective academic writers.

Finally, completing this essay assignment will help you see how writing is a conversation. Each article is “in conversation” with other articles. Your job will be to “synthesize,” or tie together diverse perspectives. By arguing your own position to your chosen audience, your essay will also add to the academic conversation.

Rubric

EN 106 Online Rubric (Essay #2)

EN 106 Online Rubric (Essay #2)

Criteria Ratings Pts

This criterion is linked to a Learning OutcomeFocusA successful essay will stay focused on the controlling idea, message, or thesis it is trying to convey. Without focus, an essay seems disjointed, uncentered, and lacking clarity. Here I will assess how closely your essay focuses on a complex idea or thesis throughout. Do you wander from topic to topic? Is it clear what you are arguing? Do you attend to your central thesis/message throughout the essay?

15.0 pts

Exceeds Standard: The essay is clearly focused around a creative and insightful central thesis/message. The writer lays out clear reasons/points that contribute to the overall central thesis/message. Everything in the essay contributes to the development of the message.

13.0 pts

Above Standard: The essay is clearly focused around a creative and insightful central thesis/message. There are several interesting points that support it. One place may wander a bit or need more development, but otherwise the focus is clear and interesting.

11.0 pts

At Standard: The essay is focused around a central thesis/message. Parts of the essay might stray from this focus, but the overall message is there. The focus of the essay might be simplistic or obvious—it might be hard for the reader to feel engaged.

9.0 pts

Below Standard: There is no clear central thesis/message, or the focus is split across a variety of topics in a way that works against a specific focus. The overall point might be unclear, confusing, or the writer might indicate a focus, but little in the essay supports this focus.

0.0 pts

No evidence / no assignment submitted

15.0 pts

This criterion is linked to a Learning OutcomeDevelopmentEvidence is key to persuading a reader of your thesis. A successful essay will present enough evidence related to the topic or thesis to support the claims the writer is making. An essay without enough evidence to support claims will seem ungrounded and unconvincing. Do you have evidence and support for each of your claims? Is the evidence related to the claims that are made? Are the details specific or abstract? Is the evidence from relevant and reliable sources? A second—and very critical—evaluative criteria for academic writing is the complexity of the content. This means that the writer moves beyond summary, and beyond a surface analysis of the material to offer a new perspective on the subject. A writer might raise significant questions about a topic or reading, or make connections between and among varied texts. A less complex essay will stay on the surface by remaining summary or by pointing out only the obvious.

15.0 pts

Exceeds Standard: There is a variety of support (anecdotes, quotes, description, examples, etc.). The support is vivid, concrete, and connects clearly to the message of the essay. The essay raises well-thought out questions, or pursues a line of reasoning in an unexpected or unusual direction. The language and examples are clear and interesting. There are connections to other texts or examples that make the writer’s argument more vivid and clear.

13.0 pts

Above Standard: There is a variety of vivid support that illustrates and explains the points the writer makes. The evidence could be expanded in one or two places. The essay raises interesting and creative questions about a text or topic, and/or makes interesting connections with material. There are places where an idea is undeveloped or remains obvious, but the writer is clearly working toward moving beyond the obvious.

11.0 pts

At Standard: There are supporting details for many of the claims, but some parts of the essay may be overly general and vague. Some evidence might be unnecessary or distracting (doesn’t support thesis). The essay moves slightly beyond summary or pointing out the obvious, but the essay might still have a vague or generic voice. The essay may lack figurative language or details that would enhance the writer’s message.

9.0 pts

Below Standard: Details that would support the claims the writer is making are vague or missing. In key places, the writer has not effectively shown what he/she means. Almost all points remain abstract or general. The essay only touches upon the surface of a reading or topic, perhaps remaining only a summary, or only pointing out the immediately obvious about a topic. The wording is vague, and there is little evidence that the writer invested significant time or thought into the essay.

0.0 pts

No evidence / no assignment submitted

15.0 pts

This criterion is linked to a Learning OutcomeOrganizationA successful essay will have a clear beginning, middle, and end, with effective and creative transitions from idea to idea and from paragraph to paragraph. An essay without strong coherence will seem to wander from point to point, and each section will not seem obviously connected to the next. How is each point related to the next? Are the connections clear from paragraph to paragraph? Does the essay clearly develop an idea from beginning to end, persuasively ordering the main points?

10.0 pts

Exceeds Standard: The introduction and conclusion creatively tie the message together. Each paragraph is focused and effectively developed around an individual point. The overall paragraph organization is effective and creative. Transitions are effective and establish complex relationships between points.

9.0 pts

Above Standard: There is an engaging and well- organized introduction, body, and conclusion. Individual paragraphs are well-organized and developed. Essay may need paragraph breaks or more effective transitions.

8.0 pts

At Standard: There is a clear introduction, body, and conclusion. Several places in the essay need more effective transitions and/or paragraph breaks. Some paragraphs may need to be moved. Individual paragraph organization may be confusing in one or two places.

7.0 pts

Below Standard: No sense of introduction, body, and conclusion. There might be a clear middle, beginning and end with the content, but paragraph breaks don’t make sense or are missing. Overall organization of points might be confusing or jumpy.

0.0 pts

No evidence / no assignment submitted

10.0 pts

This criterion is linked to a Learning OutcomeMechanics“Mechanics” is used broadly here to encompass everything from word choice, sentence variety, and grammatical correctness to the accurate citation of sources using standard academic documentation guidelines, such as those compiled by the Modern Language Association (MLA) or the American Psychological Association (APA). A successful essay will use complex and effective sentences with sophisticated word choice, and will have very few, if any, significant grammatical or punctuation problems. An essay with a low level of linguistic maturity might repeat simple sentence structures and/or pose challenges to the reader due to grammatical and mechanical problems. Does the essay use only one kind of sentence? Has the essay been proofread to make sure all typos, grammatical and mechanical errors are eliminated? Are the ideas conveyed in sophisticated and interesting language? Has the writer acknowledged—with both in-text and end-text citations—all words and ideas gained from research?

10.0 pts

Exceeds Standard: The sentences are complex and effective, and the word choice is sophisticated. The writer uses sentence structure and word choice in creative ways to establish tone and meaning. There may be one or two very minor errors, but no patterns of error. All words and ideas from sources external to the writer are accurately documented via standard academic documentation guidelines (i.e., MLA or APA.

9.0 pts

Above Standard: The essay is clear with complex sentence structures. There may be a minor grammar problem such as misplaced apostrophes or missing commas in certain places, but the rest demonstrates a mastery of conventional grammar. Word choice might be off in one or two places. Documentation is essentially complete and accurate.

8.0 pts

At Standard: The essay is generally clear, but sentence structure may be simplistic and/or slightly repetitive. There are several grammar error patterns but nothing that seriously interferes with reading, perhaps a few comma splices and fragments. Word choice might be confusing in one or two places. Documentation is missing in some areas or incorrectly applied.

7.0 pts

Below Standard: There are several grammar patterns that seriously inhibit understanding, perhaps a pattern of fragments or run-ons throughout. Wording and sentence structure are confused to the point where they interfere with the reader’s understanding. Documentation is incorrect or absent.

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