Inquiry Series Writing Assignments for Academic Websites in Second Year Composition

Inquiry Series

3000 points


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.

Your Task

Write a series of 4 original posts of 750-1000 words each (the overall total must be between 3000-4000 words), meeting the following tasks: a rhetorical analysis, an evaluation of credibility, an analysis of stakeholders, and primary research. Each post must contain working links to sources sources with traditional MLA in-text citations and works cited. (Note: students may use the citation format from their field but must be consistent.)

Each post should have a specific title with keywords, headings, a main point or purpose clearly stated in the beginning, topic sentences that connect to the main point with keywords or synonyms, short paragraphs, and images to enhance the topic (images that you did not take or produce must be credited to their source in captions with working hyperlinks).


Write a detailed rhetorical analysis of about 750-1000 words on an article from The New York Times or a post from the New York Times blogs related to your topic. Try to find an article that challenges you, causes you to rethink some or all of the views you held on the topic.

Be sure to give titles with working hyperlinks (check them) and authors’ names (credit the authors or no credit for you). In your introduction, briefly introduce the topic, then give the main point of the article. Your thesis, which should appear near the top of the post, should explain how effective the writer is in persuading readers of this point. Address the rhetorical situation: author, audience, purpose, and setting. (See OWL at Purdue’s “Rhetorical Situation.”) In the body of the post, make sure to analyze the logic and structure of the argument (including a discussion of how the sub-points relate to the main point and the effectiveness of the evidence) and the rhetorical techniques the writer used to persuade the reader. Include specific examples and quotes from the article to illustrate your points. Analyze arguments and evidence. Include specific examples and quotes in quotation sandwiches with citations.

Due October 4th


Write a detailed analysis of credibility of about 750-1000 words on a non-academic blog or website, one that is not affiliated with a university, a government organization, or a respected news source. Be sure to give the title and provide hyperlinks (check them) and credit the authors and organizations behind the blog or website. In your main point, either show that the source is credible or expose it as noncredible and explain why. Find out who are the writers or organization behind the blog or website, and carefully analyze their specific credentials. Do more research on the authors to find out more information about them and to learn what other sources say about them. Check the credibility of the sources that they quote. Chase down 5-10 pieces of evidence to their primary sources to see if they are accurate and used fairly. If not credible, discuss why the arguments are invalid, why the arguments are irrelevant or unimportant, why the evidence is inaccurate, incomplete, or misrepresented. Include specific examples, facts, statistics, names, dates, places, anecdotes, summaries, paraphrases, and quotes in quotation sandwiches.

Due October 11th


Your goal in this post is to consider your issue as a set of differing economic powers, political pressures, personal investments, and values, all of which produce different arguments about an issue. Using at least two scholarly sources from the library databases, as well as other sources of your choice, write a post of about 750-1000 words on what different groups are saying about the issues, focusing especially on those who have the money and power in your topic. Don’t forget to include working hyperlinks and credit authors. If you include non-scholarly sources, be sure to discuss their credibility.

Questions to consider: Which arguments about your topic receive more attention in the media? Who is making these arguments? What arguments receive less attention? Who is making these arguments? How does the money and power control and frame the discussion? How do those with money and power influence public opinion and policy? How do they use their money and power to get what they want? How does money and power affect their rhetorical strategies? Look at various individuals and organizations who approach the topic from different angles, but focus especially on the groups or individuals that are blocking positive change with the power and resources they have. Why are they opposing change? What ulterior motives might they have? What are their goals and intentions? Be sure to back up every claim with detailed factual evidence.

Due October 23rd


Write a post of about 750-1000 words on one of the following choices. You may also use a different genre for this post, for example, a podcast or video; in these cases, the requirements remain the same.

1-Interview: Interview someone doing work on your topic. To prepare for the interview, carefully review “General Guidelines for Conducting Research Interviews.” Write an organized article on your findings. You may present the tapescript as an addendum to your interview, but I am mostly interested in an organized analysis of the interview. Integrate the interview into cohesive, academic paragraphs and analyze the comments of the interviewers, explaining their relevance to your points.

2-Survey: Conduct a survey of at least 50 participants to ascertain public opinion about your topic. To prepare for the survey, carefully review “Good Practice in the Conduct and Reporting of Survey Research.” Write an organized article on your findings with cohesive, academic paragraphs, analyzing the findings and explaining their relevance. Charts are very useful, but they should be used to support a detailed textual analysis.

3-Experiment: Conduct an experiment to test a hypothesis you have about your topic. To prepare, carefully review “How to Conduct Science Experiments.” Make sure you are following ethical principles if you includeanimal or human subjects and that you have taken all necessary safety precautions. If you have any doubts about the experiment, seek guidance from educators or professionals in your field. Once you have completed the experiment, organize your findings with cohesive, academic paragraphs, analyzing the findings and explaining their relevance. Don’t simply present a list of findings.

4-Observations: Purdue Online Writing Lab defines an observation: “Observations involve taking organized notes about occurrences in the world. Observations provide you insight about specific people, events, or locales and are useful when you want to learn more about an event without the biased viewpoint of an interview.” (Purdue OWL) Organize your findings with cohesive, academic paragraphs, analyzing the findings and explaining their relevance. Don’t simply present a list of findings.

Due November 1st


After you have reread and revised all of your posts for connective writing, multiple points of entry, main idea, organization, topic sentences, evidence, examples, textual support from other writers, clarity, specificity, grammar, spelling, and punctuation, write a 500-750 word reflection paper that analyzes your inquiry series. Provide links to the five main posts in the series and any additional posts that add substance to your website, answering the following questions:

  1. On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate your level of self-discipline in terms of keeping up with the workload while participating in an online course? One would mean not very well. Ten would mean exceptionally well. If you gave yourself a high rating, describe some of the things you have done to stay organized. What advice would you give to classmates who are having a harder time keeping up. If you gave yourself a lower rating, what could you have done differently to have been more engaged with the work of the class? Describe your action plan for staying engaged with the course from today until you submit your Final Portfolio.
  2. What has been easy or difficult for you during the writing process of the inquiry series? What approaches or techniques have worked well for you? What obstacles have you faced in the writing process? What do you think you should do differently in other writing projects for this class and other classes?
  3. Has the nature of your posts changed in the past four or five weeks? What changes do you notice, and how might you account for those changes? What ideas or threads in your posts do you see as worth revisiting and deepening?
  4. What are you most proud of? Where are you showing growth as a writer by communicating something important to your reader? What obstacles in your writing are you starting to overcome? Quote specific passages as evidence.
  5. What obstacles are you still struggling with? When readers seem confused by your writing, what aspects of your writing do you think interfere with their understanding? What do you need to keep working on? Quote specific passages as evidence.
  6. What writing skills have you gained that you can use in other classes and in your future career? How can you translate the skills you have gained in this class to other classes?
  7. What do you think of the hybrid nature of the course and online writing as the principal form of writing? What is working well for you in the course and what suggestions would you make so that the class functions more effectively in the second half of the semester and upcoming semesters?

Due November 6th

Assessment Rubric

Goal: Each post represents the type of well-organized, well-supported writing one would expect to find on an academic website.

1=strong; 2=good; 3=developing; 4=needs work; 5=no evidence 5 4 3 2 1
The reflection paper is a thoughtful, self-reflection on progress and areas for improvement.
Posts have multiple points of entry: catchy titles with keywords, headings, main ideas up top, topic sentences that relate directly to the main ideas, shorter paragraphs, and keywords or phrases that announce the topic of the paragraph in bold.
Posts contain links to titles of source materials, authors are credited, quotes are cited, in-text citations are used, and works cited list sources.
Substantial evidence in the form of examples, anecdotes, facts, and summaries supports every claim. Evidence is analyzed and relevance explained.
The writing is clear, specific, detailed, and relatively free of grammar, spelling and punctuation errors. Sentences have strong sentence focus and active verbs.


Acknowledgements: The basic ideas for writing assignments for this class were created jointly by Doreen Deicke, John Holland, Niki Turnispeed, Kory Lawson Ching, Jennifer S. Trainor, Dana Lomax, and Ronald B. Richardson.

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