Problem/Solution Essay Materials

Essay Prompt

Essay #2: Final Research Paper (Problem/Solution)
Length: 7-8 pages, double-spaced
Sources: 15-20 sources (between Cited and Consulted)

For the Considering the Other Side essay, you wrote from an alternate position as though you were walking a “mile in their shoes.” That exercise gave you the chance to feel the force of an argument that perhaps you did not and still do not agree with. Now you can take an opposing position, or another you have discovered or constructed on your topic, and make it the main position of your final paper. This essay will be one sustained argument in which you argue forcefully for your position, but also take other positions into account. To maintain a thoughtful, substantiated position on the issue, you must consider other positions that have been taken on that issue. Once you recognize alternate or competing views, you will absorb or concede or refute those arguments.

Consider this final paper to be your opportunity to demonstrate your ability to use the rhetorical skills you have learned this semester. How can you best establish your own ethos as the author of this essay? What kinds of pathetic appeals will be most persuasive for your audience? What is the most effective order for making your logical arguments? What kinds of exigence can you provide to convince your audience to recognize the seriousness of the issue? You will also want to utilize the language skills you have learned throughout the semester in order to present your arguments with coherence and clarity.

To complete this paper, continue your research so that your bibliography contains a minimum of 15-20 sources (4-5 scholarly), including books, articles, editorials, non-print media, government sources, and interviews as appropriate. Make sure that your materials are up-to-date and that you select the most persuasive arguments. As you have learned more, your views may have been modified, may have grown more complex, or may even have changed entirely. Your final paper must demonstrate the competence in using and citing sources properly and in ways that support your position and purposes.

At this point you will likely find that some sources from your earlier Works Cited pages are no longer useful for your current task. For example, articles that helped you to create an overview for your topic may not assist you in writing your own sharply focused argument. Having become much more familiar with the current debate, you may discover alternative key terms that will present new avenues for research.

Audience and Purpose
Your hypothetical readers for this paper have never seen your Considering Another Side argument. You are starting fresh. Conceptualize your readers as a group that requires convincing, either because they are neutral or because they are opposed to your position (hostile). Arguing with people who disagree with you is the most challenging rhetorical situation, the one requiring the greatest skill from an arguer in selecting, arranging, and phrasing arguments. Though arguments addressed to those who are opposed rarely overturn their convictions, a well-argued case can nevertheless demonstrate to them that a reasonable and moral person can hold a different view. Arguments for a neutral audience have a good chance of influencing and even winning over readers.

Because your choice of arguments, your arrangement of those arguments, and even your wording depends so much on your audience, you will need to describe your intended audience (are they hostile or neutral?) and explain your assumptions about that audience in the audience analysis. Further, specify the publication in which you imagine your argument might be published. You might think about the variety of publications that you used for your research. Your paper might be appropriate as a companion piece to one of the articles you read. Alternatively, it could also be aimed at a specific scholarly audience and therefore appear in a specialized journal.

Arrangement Advice
This paper must be longer than the others you have written this semester in order to give you a chance to develop your own arguments in detail, to back them up with the appropriate support, and to respond to other positions. A full argument on a genuine issue where something is at stake deserves care and preparation.

The parts of a full argument will help you develop and organize your argument. You will need to contextualize the debate and let the readers know how you will discuss the issues. The most important decision you have to make is how to distribute the confirmation (arguments for) and refutation (arguments against). Should you refute the opposition first? This is the usual advice when an audience believes the opposing arguments. Or should your positive arguments come first? It is sometimes suggested that, even with hostile audiences, strong arguments boldly framed are more likely to persuade. Or perhaps characterizations of other positions should be mixed with refutation, concession, or bridging. The possibilities are extensive, so planning is necessary.

Though not required, the assignment could include a problem/solution component to help strengthen your argument, make it more specific, and focus your attention to a detailed proposal. Think of your essay as trying to solve a problem with a specific solution. Are you arguing about childhood obesity? Arguing that the problem exists may not seem as exigent as offering a possible solution – a specific proposal such as changing the content of school lunches.

The last weeks of classes will consist of individual presentations on your essays. This formal presentation should be 10 minutes long, contain visual aids, and attempt to convince classmates of your argument and action proposal. The presentation will count as 5% of the final grade.


Sample Essays

Co-Ed vs. Single Sex Education (.doc file)

Drugs Made in India and China (.docx file)

Reforming Islam is a Must (.doc file)

Closing the Achievement Gap (.doc file)

Antipsychotic Medications (.doc file)


Interview Component

Making your own source
One way to help join the academic conversation about your issue and insert your oar into the debate is to show how informed you are of the topic by interviewing or surveying others who you feel are credible sources. Creating a source is a great way to build your own ethos and become a qualified speaker on the issue. You will incorporate one source in Essays #1 and #2 that is based on an interview with an academic or professional in the field whose voice will help shape the context of the debate.

I would like for you to contact one or more qualified academics or professionals on your subject and briefly interview him or her to add to your essay research.
The questions you ask should be open-ended rather than closed to allow for more in-depth answers. However, you can ask closed questions if you feel it will add to the context.
Contact your source early so that you have time to set up the interview/survey and transcribe it. Limit yourself to 5-10 minutes of interview so that you do not have too much material.