Monday, January 18, 2016

Writing Research Papers -

Over the years of teaching I have learned that my writing students gravitate toward big world topics for their research papers - expository or argumentative. The problem with this is students then take half of the semester trying to figure out what their topic is, then the last half putting off their research and writing! Eventually their papers end up to be cut-and-paste papers, because, face it, they cannot add anything new to, nor filter through, topics such as these:

Gun control
Alternative fuels
Capital punishment
Sports (amateur, collegiate, professional)
Death Sentence
Mountain biking
College vs. Career
Affirmative Action
In-vitro fertilization
Health and Exercise

So, I've learned to assign my first semester writing students their topic - they are assigned to write about their name/s. And after giving them the correct writing tools, 90% of the students delight in this topic.

And then comes second semester writing - argumentative, and I'm faced with the issue of, "What should I write about?" I introduce the semester by asking my students what they're passionate about, what they think about during their free brain-time. What is it they care about. And then I encourage them to write about something they know something about but want to learn more. I want them to be enough of an expert in the area that they don't spend their time writing a cut and paste paper, but rather, they can do real research in this area. And then they struggle finding topics! I tell them this writing is not black and write or binary thinking, so they can't write a list on pros and cons of . . . but they need to explore their topic, all sides, and present all aspects of their topic, and then pick an angle.

Some of my best student papers over the years have been:

University parking
Science of happiness
Power of introverts
Need for first generation college students
Illegal immigrants and how they benefit the US
Working with hands
Anime and its influence on fine-art
College students as puppets
How to design a better higher education model
The science of getting married in Utah
We are what we eat
The benefit of sex surrogates
Small town celebrations and community
Polygamy and its benefits

I'll continue to add to both lists as the semester moves forward. In the meantime - if you could write an argumentative research paper, 10-12 pages, on something you were passionate about, what would your topic be? What would your argument be?

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.