A Note about the Process.
- The purpose of assigning a Hypothesis very early in the semester was not to put you behind or thwart your progress, it was to get the ball rolling.
- You identified a topic. It wasn’t well-defined or as sharp as it would need to be to support an academic argument, but it was SOMETHING meaningful that prompted you to begin to explore source material.
- From here, the process is cumulative and flexible. Instead of wasting your time “brainstorming” about your vague notion, you start to read in your area of interest. From here, the process is cumulative and flexible. Instead of wasting your time “brainstorming” about your vague notion, you start to read in your area of interest.From here, the process is cumulative and flexible. Instead of wasting your time “brainstorming” about your vague notion, you start to read in your area of interest.
- AS YOU GATHER AND INVESTIGATE SOURCES, your vague notion begins to crystallize. You start to have ideas, find angles, develop theories, encounter surprising details you can’t wait to share!
- You gather the best of those sources into your White Paper and cluster them around WHATEVER HAPPENS TO BE YOUR BEST WORKING HYPOTHESIS.
- As the semester continues, you do more research, abandon early ideas, refine your thinking, place new sources into conversation with old sources, and DEVELOP A THESIS YOU CAN PROVE.
- AT NO POINT IN THE PROCESS is there a place where you can get stuck thinking, “I have to solve this problem before I can continue.” Moving forward is the solution.
- You write early drafts of short arguments along the way. First a Definition/Categorical argument. Then a Causal Argument. Finally, a Rebuttal argument, all based on your developing thesis.
- Each of these arguments can be revised as many times as you wish, always for grade improvement.
- Eventually, the entire project coalesces into a single 3000-word, well-researched, carefully argued Research Position Paper that proves a single thesis.
Today’s New Material
- Mandatory Conferences
- A Demonstration of Critical Reading
- Source Material for the Demonstration. Video:
“Let’s Harvest the Organs of Death Row Inmates”
- Task: Critical Reading, PTSD Claims
LINK TO THE ASSIGNMENT
- Claims Task
- The Claims Task assignment page includes a fairly comprehensive list of Claim Types and a very useful model of Student Work to guide you in formatting your work for this assignment.
Consider these claims, some obvious, others hidden
When Caleb was finally screened for the severity of his TBI, Brannan says he got the second-worst score in the whole 18-county Gulf Coast VA system, which serves more than 50,000 veterans.
— “finally screened” means that according to Brannan or the author or both, Caleb should have been screened long before. It suggests that the VA was negligent in delaying his testing.
— “the severity of his TBI” clearly contains the claim that he in fact has some degree of TBI. The fact that he hadn’t until then been screened for it means nobody knew for sure that he did, but the author makes that claim.
— “Brannan says” means that the author has not independently verified Caleb’s score or where it ranked against all other screenings.
— “the second-worst score in the whole 18-county Gulf Coast VA system” is offered as Brannan’s claim that her husband is suffering more than almost anyone. Considering her vested interest in promoting this perspective, we have to be at least a little suspicious of the ranking.
— “which serves more than 50,000 veterans” gives the impression that Caleb was hurt worse than 50,000 other veterans. But let’s be clear. Many of these 50,000 will not have served in combat at all. Many will not have had active engagement with enemy troops on the battlefield. Many of those who did see active fighting will not have been near explosive devices. So we’re not comparing him to 50,000 TBI sufferers.