Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Assignment for Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Vocabulary: aura, diminution, exemplary, forego, maternal, paternal, subsidy
Reading: "The Parent Trap"

Questions to ask in evaluating web sources

  • Who is the author of the article?
  • Is the author writing as an advocate of a particular position or ostensibly writing as an impartial reporter?
  • Is the author expressing only his or her opinions or that of an organization, publication, or website?
  • Is the author qualified to write on the topic at hand?
  • Does the author have known biases?
  • Does the author have a reputation for telling the truth?
  • What is the parent website?
  • What organization is behind the website? Who funds it?
  • Does that organization take an official position on the issue at hand?
  • If so, what is that position?
  • Whatever the organization’s position or values, is its work reputable and trustworthy?
  • If the website is the work of a single author, is that author a legitimate authority in the field under consideration?
  • Is the article in question a primary or secondary source?
  • Does the article cite sources for information?
  • If so, do these sources appear to be valid for the subject at hand?
  • If the article purports to be an unbiased treatment, are both sides of the issue treated fairly?
  • If the article takes a position on an issue, does it acknowledge and interact fairly with opposing views?
  • Does the article deal with a broad enough subject to be of more than anecdotal value?

In-class exercise, evaluating web sources

Current economic crisis
Space exploration
Gender disparity in higher education
Cost of college education
Tea party movement

Instructions for plagiarism essay

If you scored less than 80 on the plagiarism exam (or missed the exam entirely), you can find instructions here for writing the make-up essay. Making an 80 or above on this exercise is required for passing the course.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Research paper topics

Update: This post has been changed to reflect a more accurate due date of Thursday, 11/18/10.

Choose one of the following topics for a 5- to 6-page research paper, due November 18, 2010.

  1. U.S. citizens should prepare now, becuase the current U.S. economic crisis is serious, deep, and will not improve for many years.

  2. The U.S. economy is strong, and the country should recover quickly from the current recession.

  3. The cost of a college education is rising faster than the value of a degree, and a traditional four-year college education is no longer worth the cost.

  4. Although the cost of a college education has risen dramatically over the past three decades, it is still well worth the heavy costs of earning a college degree.

  5. Colleges should act now to correct the growing gender imbalance on college campuses nationwide.

  6. Recent cuts to the NASA budget are a bad idea that will have seriously detrimental effects not only on America, but on the future of space exploration.

  7. Recent cuts to the NASA budget, although an apparent setback, will in fact help to usher in a golden age of private space exploration.

  8. The tea-party movement is truly a grassroots effort to restore constitutional principles and empower the average American.

  9. The so-called tea party movement is a dangerous and destructive movement of racism, hate, and intolerance.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

What makes a good persuasive essay

Here are a few points to consider in evaluating a persuasive essay (yours or someone else's):
  1. Does the writer take a firm, clear stand on a debatable issue?
  2. Does the writer employ adequate evidence to support that stand?
  3. Does the writer consider his or her audience?
  4. Are main arguments based on logic but employ emotion effectively?
  5. Does the argument take into account and refute counter-arguments?

This post is one worth coming back to throughout the semester.

Vocabulary and readings for Thursday, 9/9/10

These words and readings aren't due till next Thursday. It's a lot of work, however, so it's a good idea to get started now. Again, it helps to be familiar with the vocabulary words before doing the readings.

All the vocabulary words in PCW, p. 579

PCW, pp. 547-78
LBH, pp. 176-95

Take heart: the reading load won't be this intense all semester, but we've got a lot of ground to cover here at the beginning. There's a lot of good, important information in these pages.

Readings for quiz on Tuesday, 9/7/10

Vocabulary (Be sure to learn the meanings of these words before doing the readings).


"Really Bad Ideas: The Tyranny of Science"

"Social Harmony" (Old men should be dangerous)
Please be careful in printing this essay--the web page prints out as about 60 pages.