Topic Name Description
Course Introduction Page Course Syllabus
1.1: Defining the Rhetorical Situation Page Research Writing and Argument

When we write at the college level, we consider more than just the method of writing. The method includes our grammar, punctuation, and vocabulary. Writing in college is rhetorical, which means we consider how the reader will interpret your text. Who will read what you write? Why will he or she read it? What do you hope they gain from reading it? How do you present it to them? All of these elements work together to make up what we call "the rhetorical situation".

Specifically, the rhetorical situation asks you to consider your context. To do this, think about who you are writing for (your audience) and why you are writing to them (your purpose).

Page Think Rhetorically

Read this article. What advantages can you see by approaching a decision with a rhetorical perspective?

1.1.1: Identifying Your Audience Page What to Think About When Writing for a Particular Audience

The first rhetorical elements that influences the rhetorical situation is your audience: who are you writing to? Considering your audience impacts everything you write from the tone you use in an email to the sources you integrate in a research paper.

Page Rhetorical Appeals

Study the definitions and reflective questions in this table. Keep in mind that you should consider who you are writing to (your audience) and why you are writing to them (your purpose). How should your tone vary when writing an argumentative essay versus an informal email?

Page Consider Your Audience

Read this article about taking your audience into consideration as you write. Great writers consider their audience first. Ask yourself the audience analysis questions before you begin your next writing assignment.

1.1.2: Identifying Your Purpose Page Purpose

The second rhetorical element that influences the rhetorical situation is purpose. You have an audience, but why do you want to write for them? What are you trying to achieve? Purpose determines how you write to your audience, but also how your audience receives your writing. Aside from thinking about your own purpose, think about why the audience may be interested in reading your work. Read this article and think about the different types of purposes you might see in academic writing. How would each of these purposes change the way you write an academic essay?

Page Consider Your Purpose

Before you start writing, it is important to determine your purpose. Knowing what you want to achieve will help guide your ideas you draft. Read this article and think about how purpose influences what and how you write.

1.1.3: Identifying Your Medium Page Consider Your Media

An often overlooked element of the rhetorical situation is medium. Medium (or the plural "media") is the means or way an author uses to present a composition to their audience. This can be through a written essay, a video, an email, or a social media post, to name a few. Medium is directly impacted by your audience and purpose, since the medium you select should be the one that best engages your readers and holds their attention. 

In your own experience, how do you see media used to engage with an audience and present a purpose? How does changing media impact the rhetorical situation?

1.2: What is a Rhetorical Appeal? Page Rhetorical Analysis

In his fourth century treatise "Rhetoric", Aristotle presented four appeals speakers and writers use to effectively persuade an audience:

  1. Ethos (the composer’s credibility);
  2. Pathos (the emotional pull of the composition);
  3. Logos (the logical support for the composition); and,
  4. The less frequently noted kairos (the timeliness of the composition).

The first three appeals work in balance with one another in some call the "rhetorical triangle".

As you read this chapter, consider these questions: How are the rhetorical appeals used in balance? What might occur if one appeal was left out? How does re-balancing the appeals (say, by making logos stronger than pathos) affect a composition?

1.2.1: Ethos Page Ethos

Ethos is the Greek word for character, and rhetorically ethos refers to a writer or speaker's credibility. When a writer has a strong ethos, readers trust his or her ideas and are inclined to concur with the argument's line of reasoning. Read this article to better understand ethos and the strategies you can employ to build your own ethos as a writer.

Page Defining Ethos

Ethos is something the author builds through the choices they make as a writer. When a writer shows goodwill to the reader or audience, the reader is able to trust the writer. Read this article about ethos and think about the three ways writers can show goodwill to their audience.

Page Letter from a Birmingham Jail

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" offers clear examples of ethos. For example, by addressing the letter to "my fellow clergymen", Dr. King places himself among a group of leaders. Seeing him as a leader allows the reader to trust his statements. Read "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" and list the statements that evoke ethos.

1.2.2: Pathos Page Pathos

Pathos is the Greek word for "emotion", and the rhetorical method of pathos refers to appealing to the emotions of one's audience in order to persuade. Without offering evidence, pathos can be little more than an invalid, emotional response in your writing; however, using all rhetorical appeals (ethos, logos, and pathos) is the best way to strengthen an argument. Make sure to provide appropriate evidence when using pathos in your arguments.

1.2.3: Logos Page Logos

Logos is the Greek word for "logic". Logos refers to a logical rhetorical appeal when making an argument.

Page Logical Appeals

This article explains logos through the use of inductive and deductive reasoning.

1.2.4: Kairos Page Kairos

Kairos is a fourth rhetorical appeal, but it is not included in the rhetorical triangle. Kairos appeals to the timeliness of an argument, but can be difficult to pin down. When considering kairos, think about why an audience would need the information you are presenting right now. What is important about your purpose in this exact moment?

As you read this article, think about how the purpose of an argument can change with time. How might an audience adapt over time, changing the way a message is presented or received?

1.2.5: Avoiding Logical Fallacies Page Logical Fallacies

Read this article to learn about logical fallacies and how to avoid them. Logical fallacies occur when the chain of reasoning breaks down, which invalidates the conclusion. Try to identify any logical fallacies in your writing by revisiting one of the writing activities for this course or another course.

Page Identifying Logical Fallacies

Watch these videos on logical fallacies. As you watch, think about how the narrator finds logical fallacies used in persuasive appeals. How can you use these same skills as you read and conduct research?

1.3: The PWR (Prewrite, Write, and Revise) Method Page Research Writing as a Process

Writing does not occur in a vacuum. That is to say, writing is a process that involves more than sitting down at a desk and plugging words into a computer. When we write, we brainstorm and prewrite, we draft, we ask for feedback, we revise, we ask for feedback again, and we revise some more.

The process is recursive, meaning that is ongoing and turns back on itself frequently. For example, you may have a great idea for an essay and begin by brainstorming. After a bit of brainstorming you realize your idea is too broad and needs to be narrowed down. Then you do some research into your newly narrowed topic. The research you find makes you go back again and change the way you stated your topic’s main idea. As you begin drafting you realize some of your research fits nicely, but other pieces of research are of no use and you need to go back and do more research. And so on...

Read the following chapter and answer the following questions: How does the process approach differ from the product approach? Which do you prefer when writing an essay? Do you find that you follow any of the steps in these chapters when writing essays? Which prewriting activity works best for you?

Page Introduction to Writing Processes

Read this article on the writing process from prewriting to publishing. Do you find that you follow these steps when writing essays? Which prewriting activity works best for you?

1.3.1: Prewriting Page Plan Your Writing

Asking friends and classmates for their opinions can be a helpful step in the writing process. Try the suggestion in this article about using Microsoft Word's tracking and commenting features to help organize your peers' feedback.

1.3.2: Just Write – Freewriting Page Freewrite

Read this article on the pre-writing method called freewriting, and watch the linked video. Have you ever suffered from writer's block? Do you think freewriting would be a helpful technique to combat writer's block? Why or why not?

1.3.3: Brainstorming Methods Page Brainstorming

Read this article to learn about several methods of brainstorming. Previously, we took a look at freewriting to help combat writer's block. This article reviews the freewriting method and several other techniques, such as creating lists, developing concept maps, thinking of journalistic questions, identifying topic levels, and cubing. Which of these techniques do you feel will be the most helpful when starting an essay?

1.3.4: Outlines and Blueprints Page Outlining

Read this page. Why is outlining important? Try the exercises at the bottom of the page to increase your outlining skills.

1.4.1: Critical Reading and Writing as Complementary Activities Page Reading to Write

Read this article to learn about effective reading, note-taking, and writing strategies. Which of these writing strategies will work best for you?

Page Literary Criticism

Read this article on reading and interpreting literature, which will help improve your own writing skills.

1.4.2: Learning to Think Critically Page Improve Your Writing by Studying Critical Thinking

Read this article about the link between writing and critical thinking. As we write critically, we also develop skills to think and interpret more deeply. As you read, consider how you need to rethink topics and issues as you write about them. How does your thinking change as you plan, research, and draft an essay?

Page The New Colossus

This sonnet by Emma Lazarus starts a conversation about the Statue of Liberty. While it and Dan Sanchez's article below discuss same topic, they do so in different ways. The purpose, audience, tone, and context is different in each example. How they use ethos, logos, pathos, and kairos differs as well.

Page Mass-Producing Huddled Masses

This article by Dan Sanchez continues the conversation about the Statue of Liberty. The purpose, audience, tone, and context is different than Lazarus' sonnet. How does it use ethos, logos, pathos, and kairos differently?

2.1: Argument and Thesis Page Argument Requirements

How will you inform or persuade your audience? For example, is your purpose of your research paper to offer background information or to frame an argument so your audience will render a judgment regarding an historical event or current practice? Perhaps you are writing to persuade your audience to change its previous beliefs or to act in a certain way to improve their lives or help them avoid a certain danger.

What information does your audience need to know to make a decision or render a point of view? What opinions do they already have about your topic? How will you persuade them – do you want them to simply agree with your argument, or are you trying to provoke them to act in a certain way?

These study materials review how you can present your argument to your readers. You may also wish to review Research Writing and Argument from Unit 1.

Page Academic Writing

Read this article and review the list of academic genres you could be expected to write in.

2.1.1: Creating an Argument Page Understanding Arguments

Read this article about how to craft an argument.

Page The Guiding Idea and Argumentative Thesis Statement

Read this article and complete the exercises to learn about crafting a guiding idea or a thesis statement, depending on the genre of writing. Every essay needs a main point, regardless of the genre. How are the guiding idea and the thesis statement different?

2.1.2: Warrant – How Do Your Reasons Support Your Claim? Page Five Essential Parts of an Argument

Read article on the parts of an argument, especially warrants. How do warrants differ from reasons and evidence?

2.1.3: Qualify Your Claim Page Argumentation and the Toulmin Method

Read this article to review the Toulmin method and qualifiers. Do you need to qualify your claim to avoid overgeneralization (assertions that are too broad)?

2.2.1: Personal Narrative Page In the Moment

Read this article, which looks at an example of a personal narrative. How does this type of writing differ from literary analysis or a research paper? When is this type of writing appropriate?

2.2.2: Comparison and Contrast Page Comparison and Contrast

Read this article to learn about compare and contrast essays. How is this form of writing important beyond the classroom? Attempt the exercises to test your understanding.

2.2.3: Cause and Effect Analysis Page Causes and Effects

Read this article to learn about cause and effect and how it compares to correlation. How can type of writing help you beyond the classroom? What professions rely on cause and effect reasoning?

Page Using Cause and Effect

Read this article to learn how cause and effect can influence your writing.

2.2.4: Academic Tone Page Use Appropriate Academic Language

Read this article on using an academic tone in your writing. Why is it important to use appropriate academic language in college-level writing?

2.3: Academic Writing as an Ongoing Conversation Page Understanding How Conversations Change Over Time

Read this article to learn how conversations develop over time and how writers enter into a conversation when making claims in their writing. As you begin to write, keep the questions in this article in mind to help you consider how you might add new insights to the conversation through your writing. How can considering the conversation about your topic help during the research process of your writing?

2.4.1: Introduction – the Funnel Approach Page Introductions

Read this article to learn more about the role of introductions and effective strategies for developing your opening paragraph. The introduction is the most important part of an essay because it provides first impressions for your audience. In general, your introduction should provide an overview of your topic and should lead into your thesis statement. Try using one of the "attention grabber" suggestions in the reading for the exercise below.

2.4.2: Body – the Skeleton of Your Paper Page Using Paragraphs

Read this article, which will help you understand how to organize paragraphs in the body of your essay to help make your paragraphs cohesive and to smoothly transition between one discussion point to the next. Keep in mind that the paragraphs in the body of your essay should work to prove or address your main purpose or argument set out by your thesis statement.

Page Point, Illustration, Explanation

Read this article about the PIE method of structuring and organizing body paragraphs. This method breaks a paragraph into three parts: the point, the illustration, and the explanation. By using this method, you can keep your paragraphs focused and connected to your thesis.

2.4.3: Conclusion – What is in the Conclusion, and What is Not? Page Conclusions

Read this article on how to write a conclusion. Conclusions can be just as important as introductions. A conclusion provides the last opportunity to make your point to your audience. Which of the strategies provided in the reading do you feel would make the strongest conclusion? Which strategy would be best for an argumentative essay and why?

2.5.1: Subjects and Predicates Page Finding the Subject

Read this article to learn about the components that make a complete sentence. Every sentence needs a subject (noun or pronoun) and a predicate (verb). What is the subject of an imperative sentence? Pick a literary work, article, or one of your own essays, and try to identify the subject and predicate in 5–10 different sentences.

2.5.2: Parsing the Constituents of a Sentence Page Sentence Construction

Read this article. Varying sentence structure in your writing helps your writing flow for your audience and can help keep your readers' interest.

2.5.3: Identifying Fragments and Run-On Sentences Page Avoid Sentence Fragments

Read this article on sentence fragments.

Page Avoid Run-on Sentences

Read this article on run-on sentences.

Page Fragments and Run-ons

If you feel you need additional help with fragments and run-ons, read this guide.

2.5.4: Subject-Verb Agreement Page Subject-Verb Agreement

Subject-verb disagreement, where the conjugation of the verb does not match the point of view (first, second, or third) and number (singular or plural) of the subject, is a common error in writing.

Page Review Subject-Verb Agreement

Review this page on subject-verb agreement.

2.5.5: Verb Tenses Page Verb Tenses

Read this article about when to use the present simple, past simple, and present perfect verb tenses. A common mistake in writing is to shift verb tenses, such as by writing in the present tense and then shifting to the past tense. To avoid this, try to choose the appropriate verb tense and use it consistently throughout your writing.

3.1: Integrating Sources Page Evidence

Read this article. You can incorporate evidence into your essays in a number of ways. Try using various types of evidence in your writing including quotations, summaries, paraphrases, data, illustrations, and photographs.

Page Annoying Ways People Use Sources

Read this chapter and take note of how sources can be used poorly. How can you avoid this in your own writing?

Page Evidence

Read this article and watch the video. Is it possible to quote too much? How do you know if you are choosing the best information for your essay?

Page Distinguishing Between Main Points and Sub-claims

Read this article on main points and sub-claims. How do main points differ from sub-claims? How can you support sub-claims in your writing?

Page Provide Additional Support for This Point

Read this article about supporting claims in your writing. Why is it important to provide support for every point or claim in your writing? Where can you find additional support?

3.1.1: Evaluating Sources Page Evaluating Information

Read this article about selecting good sources. Why is it important to evaluate your sources before using them in an essay? What problems may arise if you do not evaluate your sources for currency, relevance, authority, accuracy, and purpose?

3.1.2: Engaging Strong Counterarguments Page Counterarguments

It may sound strange, but an important element of argument writing is anticipating what people who disagree with you might say. By acknowledging that there is a alternate opinion and then refuting that opinion, you build your ethos as a writer. When we show the reader that we understand the full conversation surrounding a topic and can hold our ground in a debate, the reader is more inclined to trust our argument.

Read this article about the reasons we use counterarguments and strategies for integrating them into your own writing.

3.2: Why Cite? Page Citing Sources: An Overview

Citing in academic writing serves a variety of purposes. First, it holds you accountable to your research and clarifies what you wrote and what someone else wrote. This avoids the problem of plagiarism, because you've given credit to those whose research you used. Second, proper citation differentiates where your sources leave off and your own ideas begin. Writing is a lot of work, and you've thought long and hard about your topic – make sure you get credit for your ideas and connections. Third, it builds your ethos as a writer.

When a reader knows that the writer conducted research into a subject, the reader can be confident that they're reading credible information. Read this overview about the reasons we cite and the different types of citation styles used in academic writing.

3.2.1: Avoiding Plagiarism Page Plagiarism

Plagiarism is when a writer uses the words and ideas of someone else and passes them off as his or her own. Put simply, plagiarism is stealing the work of others. Properly integrating source material and citing allows writers to use ideas while still giving appropriate credit to the original author. When does paraphrasing turn into plagiarism? How can you avoid plagiarism when incorporating the works of others into your writing?

Page Use Solely Your Own Words to Paraphrase

This article explains how writers can paraphrase properly without accidentally committing plagiarism. This skill takes some practice, but can be accomplished by using your own words even when describing someone else's ideas. As you read, think about the best ways to integrate source material into your own writing. How will you use your sources appropriately in your essay?

3.2.2: Quoting Page Follow MLA Guidelines for Block Quotations

While it's best to use your own words whenever possible, there are times when it becomes necessary to include large amounts of cited material. For example, when an author defines a specific term, or an well-known expert made an important statement. To cite large amounts of material, use a block quotation to set it apart from your own words. Read the following article for instructions on how to format a block quotation in MLA format.

Page Block Quotations (APA)

Read this article to learn about formatting longer quotations as block quotes in APA format.

Page Short Quotations (APA)

Read this article to learn how to format shorter quotations.

3.2.3: Paraphrasing and Summarizing Page When to Quote and When to Paraphrase

Read this article to learn when to paraphrase and when to quote. What is the difference between quoting and paraphrasing? When should you choose one over the other?

Page Mix Quotes with Paraphrasing

There are times when you will want to paraphrase a source, but you still need to quote some parts of it. This is done by mixing quotes with paraphrasing. Read this article for instructions on how to do this and how to correctly format the citation that follows.

3.3.1: Selecting a Citation Style Page Citation and Documentation

Citation styles serve different purposes and have different emphasis. APA, for example, requires writers to include dates, so the reader is aware of the currency of information. MLA emphasizes page numbers for easy look-up. Chicago style uses footnotes so that in-text citations don't distract the reader. Read this overview on locating reference information to familiarize yourself with the different types of citation styles used in academic writing.

3.3.2: MLA Citation Page Formatting In-text Citations (MLA)

Read this article to learn the correct way to format in-text citations using MLA style. MLA (Modern Language Association) style is one way to format an essay and document sources. MLA is commonly used in the humanities. Each citation style values something different and MLA values location (for example, what book was referenced and where you may find a quote in that book). What kind of essay would you write that would use MLA style?

Page Formatting the Works Cited Page (MLA)

Read this article on the correct way to format your Works Cited pages using MLA citation.

3.3.3: APA Citation Page APA Style

APA style is commonly used in education, social science, and psychology. Each citation style values something different, and APA values the currency of information (when it was written or produced). When do you think APA style would be useful for you?

Page Formatting In-Text Citation (APA)

Read this article to learn the correct way to format in-text citations using APA style.

Page Formatting the References Page (APA)

Read these guidelines on APA formatting.

Page Reference Page Template (APA)

Review this page on the correct format for APA reference pages.

3.3.4: Chicago Citation Page Chicago Style

Chicago style is another way to format an essay and document sources. Writers often use Chicago style to document the sources of historical research. Chicago style values readability by putting in-text citations in footnotes rather than in the paragraph. When do you think you might use Chicago style?

Page Chicago Notes and Bibliography

Read this article to learn the correct way to format citation notes and bibliographies using Chicago style.

3.4.1: Misplaced Modifiers Page Avoid Misplaced Modifiers

Read this article. Placing modifiers properly makes your writing more clear.

3.4.2: Pronoun-Antecedent Disagreement Page Subject-Pronoun Agreement

Read this article. Pronouns and their antecedents must agree in number and gender.

Unit 3 Essay Page Hetch Hetchy Valley, The Yosemite

For this assignment, you will read and respond to this excerpt by John Muir.

4.1.1: Sentence Patterns Page Sentence Patterns

Read this article, which reviews how to use different sentence patterns in your writing.

4.1.2: Wordiness and Concision Page Word Choice

Read this article about word choice.

4.1.3: Parallel Structure Page Use Parallel Structure

Read this article. Why is parallel structure important?

4.1.4: Active vs. Passive Voice Page Passive Voice

Read this article about passive voice. When is passive voice an appropriate choice for writing? When should you use active voice?

Page Avoid Unnecessary "to be" Verbs

Read this article. How can using stronger verbs in your writing keep your audience interested?

4.1.5: Word Use Page What Word Would Be More Appropriate Here?

Read this article to learn how to improve your diction (that is, your word choice) in your writing. Choosing appropriate words in your writing gives your readers a sense of harmony and makes it easier for them to understand your ideas.

Page Use Language That Is Sensitive to Your Audience

Review this article. Since you want your writing to be inclusive, it is important to use language that is sensitive to your audience.

4.2: Reviewing, Revising, and Editing Drafts Page Revising Drafts

Revision is an important stage of the writing process. You may find yourself revising multiple times throughout the writing process. Writing is a recursive process, and revising allows us the opportunity to go back and change things we already wrote, as necessary. How is revision different from proofreading?

Page Reorganizing Drafts

Read this article to learn strategies for better organizing the ideas in your essay, and how outlining can be helpful before, during, and after you write.

Page Editing

Editing and revising are very different practices. When we revise we look at the big issues in our writing (often referred to as "global concerns"). These may include the strength of the thesis statement, the validity and relevance of the supporting evidence, and the logical structure of the organization. Editing looks at lower-level concerns, such as sentence clarity, grammar, punctuation, and word use. Editing is the final step in the writing process before publication.

This article gives tips on proofreading and editing your paper to enhance your style of writing, make your writing more concise, and ensure that you are using proper punctuation. How are revision, proofreading, and editing similar? How are they different?

Page Read Your Paper Aloud to Check for Cohesiveness

A common method for catching errors and editing your own writing is reading aloud. This strategy helps you hear any errors that your eye may pass over if just reading.

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