Final Argumentative Essay
For your final exam, you are to write an argumentative essay of between 750-1000 words. (Yes--at last you get to have an opinion, as long as you can back it up!) The essay will deal with some aspect of the topic you have been researching this semester; I do not want you spending time tracking down additional sources, so use what you have.
What is an argument? An argument involves making a debatable claim. You may make a claim of fact (i.e. “The spread of invasive exotic species is both an environmental and an economic problem”), of cause and effect ("Invasive species are a primary cause of extinction"), of value ("Restoring and protecting native habitat is the best way to protect species from extinction""), or of policy (i.e. “To protect wildlife habitat and endangered plant species, the USEPA needs to prioritize the control of invasive plant species in sensitive areas”). The important issue with argument is to make your case in as compelling a manner as possible.
To that end, we will take some time to go over the following section of the OWL: Establishing Arguments - The OWL at Purdue). Before the end of this week, you will develop a thesis and general outline, by which I mean CLEAR topic sentences for three or four body paragraphs.
Today, take some time to analyze the audience for your paper. Who is likely to be reading it? What are these readers likely to know? What is important to them? If you are making a controversial claim (and many of you are), what values might you and your audience have in common? How might you appeal to those values? What sources will you need to be convincing?
Once you have decided who your readers are, what they know, and what they need to know in order to be convinced of your point, begin developing your thesis. Before Wednesday, you will also work through the Toulmin process for the claim you are making. (No, we haven't talked about the process, so you haven't missed anything. Relax!) An example of how to do this is found here.
When you arrive on the day of the final to write your essay, you may bring with you only the following:
Final Exam times: 12:30 class, Wednesday, December 13, 1:00-3:00
2:00 class, Friday, December 17, 1:00-3:00
Other Issues for Argument Papers
A) Every argument needs a clear thesis so that we can tell what’s being argued.
B) Do not stray from your thesis. For example, if the thesis concerns only the environmental effects of mountaintop removal, no information on economic effects belongs in the paper.
C) Information should appear in the paper in the same order in which it appears in the thesis. If the thesis is something like “Mountaintop removal mining affects the environment by increasing erosion, polluting streams, and destroying wildlife habitat,” the support paragraphs should be in that order.
2) Paragraphing. Paragraphs should have topic sentences, and all sentences in the paragraph should relate to the topic sentence. It is also a good idea if the topic sentence of each major body paragraph relates directly to the paper’s thesis. Essays are hard to follow (and lose points!) when the individual paragraphs are disorganized and confusing.
3) Transitions. Each paragraph needs a transition of some sort that shows how it relates to the previous paragraph. Sentences within paragraphs should also have transitions or other structures that relate them to each other.
4) Grammar and mechanics. I should not be seeing fragments, fused sentences, comma splices, or other major errors at this stage in your college career. Remember to proofread! You may bring a handbook to check the mechanics of your paper if you don't trust Word's grammar check (and I don't).
5) Use of sources. Remember: if you use more than a few words of a source’s language, or even select out one striking phrase, indicate that you are quoting directly! Also remember that your essay is your own synthesis and analysis of source material, so you shouldn’t quote more than ten percent of your paper.