More people are dropping out of college than are graduating, especially in public colleges and universities. A student’s chances of success are affected by motivation, study skills, persistence, learning styles and abilities, social factors, family background, economics, social integration, extracurricular involvement, student services, and governmental support. How can we help more students transition successfully to college?
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2000 Points, as part of Argument Series
At this point in the semester, you have spent quite a bit of time exploring a topic of interest to you. It is now time to take things to the next level. You will create a sustained argument, a research paper making a research-based persuasive argument about an important issue or controversy related to your topic, which you will then break up into about four posts on your website. Although this assignment is a more traditional academic essay, you should still adapt it to conventions of online writing: headings, images (with sources credited in a caption with working hyperlinks), very brief introduction, and shorter paragraphs. Keep in mind that most online readers only spend a few moments on a website, so deliver your main message quickly and offer those who linger multiple points of entry.
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Now that student-scholars have selected a topic and explained their historical, present and future interest in the topic, it is time to explore the topic through a series of academic moves in preparation for the Sustained Argument to follow. They should use this series to explore the topic with an open mind before they make any final decisions on their opinions regarding the topic.
Students are not allowed to change their topics at this point unless they improve or refine them. If students do want to change focus, they should discuss it with Ron right away to get approval.
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This semester you will find your own topic, currently in the news, that intellectually engages you and spend the semester exploring, researching, writing and creating content about it, so that you may become an expert on it. As your writing and content will be public, on an academic website you create, remember to pick something that will show a side of yourself you would like future teachers and employers to see.
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In this unit, we are exploring the various forms of English we use in different contexts and the power relationships that these forms of English create, acknowledging that “standard English” is not necessarily better, but is more appropriate in certain settings, especially academic and professional ones. Becoming a scholar and learning to use standard English correctly, however, does not mean people must set aside their other linguistic identities.
In a 6-8 page double-spaced essay in MLA format, make a persuasive argument, advising a specific group of people to make specific policy changes involving language and identity issues, backed up with compelling reasons and substantial support.
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Background: We spent the first half of the semester exploring our “hidden intellectualism,” the academic skills we use in non-academic pursuits, then turned to questions of language and identity. We have explored the various forms of English we use with different people in different settings, recognizing that one version is not necessarily better, but certain forms are more appropriate in certain settings. For example, so-called “standard” English is most appropriate in academic and professional settings, but learning how to use it correctly does not mean you must set aside your identity. Also, we have been reading from the book “They Say / I Say,” which explains that academic conversation happens when we put our ideas in conversation with the ideas of others. Now we are going to practice balancing multiple viewpoints in discussions of language and identity.
Goal: To respond to one or more of the readings from this unit in three ways by agreeing, disagreeing, and balancing opposing viewpoints.
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Background: As a class, we have examined issues involving language and education, including the effects of education on family life, motivation of students with non-academic interests, cultural literacy, national curriculum, agency within one’s inherited narratives, ethnic chauvinism, gender hierarchies in the classroom, the effects of new media on literacy, and grade inflation. We have read and discussed the importance of starting with inquiry, integrating reading and writing, identifying claims, analyzing arguments, identifying issues, forming questions, summarizing and synthesizing. Now we are going to use these academic skills to address an issue of language and identity in an argumentative essay.
Goal: To practice typical essay format, argumentation, support, summary, paraphrase, quotation, citation, analysis of claims, synthesis, grammar, punctuation, and writing skills.
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In this unit, we will look at hobbies and interests through which participants demonstrate “hidden intellectualism,” a term Gerald Graff coined to describe academic skills that participants utilize in traditionally non-academic pursuits, such as sports, cheerleading, comic books, video games, television, music, fashion, dancing, shopping, cooking, and so on. It’s not enough, however, to simply write about interests, student-scholars need to see their hobbies or interests through “academic eyes,” or as Ned Laff puts it, in “a reflective, analytical way, one that sees [their hobbies] as microcosms of what is going on in the wider culture” (qtd. in Graff 64). In other words, students need to show how the hobby relates to larger worlds of academics and culture.
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