Assignments and Rubrics
Designed to support students as they transition from lower-division coursework in writing to the more independent, discipline-specific work done in the majors, Writing 300 is oriented around the research process and the slow-motion research paper. The course scaffolds both the search for sources and the writing skills needed to effectively use those sources to support arguments.
Writing 300 requires at least four (4) major assignments as outlined below:
- Two (2) short papers (3-5 pages) designed to scaffold elements of the research writing process including paraphrasing and synthesis;
- A Research Paper of 8-10 pages that draws on 8-10 sources;
- An Annotated Bibliography/Research Proposal that explores these sources and the proposed focus of the research paper. Some instructors split the annotated bibliography and research proposal into two separate assignments.
The three formal papers should be written under revision conditions: drafts should be submitted for feedback on content and organization by peers and instructor. Students should then engage in revising and editing their work. Do note that this process often requires an extended period of time between the initial assignment and handing in of the final copy.
Formal Assignment Guidelines
Paper 1 (3-4 pages; 2 sources)
Paper 1 focuses on students’ textual engagement and foregrounds synthesis, an essential research writing skill. The paper usually draws from two (2) assigned readings of the instructor’s choosing and asks students to analyze and draw critical connections between these two texts. The paper provides opportunities to practice close reading as well as accurate paraphrasing and quotation. If the instructor has chosen to use a theme for the course, this paper can also provide an opportunity to explore some element or thread of that theme.
Paper 2 (3-5 pages; 2-3 sources)
Paper 2 builds on the textual engagement work done in Paper 1, emphasizing supporting a thesis through the synthesis of multiple sources. Typically this paper asks students to work with two to three sources; these might be assigned course readings, sources the students have found for their own research paper, or some combination of the two. Many instructors use Paper 2 explicitly as part of the scaffolding for the Research Paper, seeing it as an opportunity for students to try and address some portion of their research question.
Research Paper (8-10 pages; 8-10 sources)
The Research Paper is the keystone assignment in Writing 300. The paper should address a focused research question and/or make an argumentative claim using at least eight (8) sources. This paper should be the culmination of the skills students have development throughout the semester: focused analysis, synthesis of multiple sources, citation and so on.
Some instructors ask students to select a topic for this paper that is connected to a course theme; others work with students to define a topic that connects to the student’s major or interests.
The final research paper should be more than just a literature review; it should make an argument or provide further analysis of the research question(s) the student has posed.
This assignment can help scaffold the collection and evaluation process for the sources students are locating for their final papers. The sources that students draw on should be primarily scholarly articles, books, and book chapters. While newspaper and magazine articles and websites can be useful, the majority of sources should be scholarly.
To help students prepare their annotated bibliography, you may wish to book a York College Library information session. You may also wish to book a computer lab and use class time to guide students through the process of finding sources through the library databases. Note: some instructors choose to combine the annotated bibliography with the research proposal; others chose to separate them; the choice is yours to make.
The research proposal, which may be done in conjunction with the annotated bibliography, is a short document in which students outline their research project and their proposed research question(s). Most instructors spend substantial class time helping students define their topic sufficiently narrowly so that it can be effectively researched during the semester. Additional time may also need to be spent on composing and refining the research question(s).
Sample Assignment sequences
These sample assignments may be modified as needed for your section of Writing 300:
Rubric design is left up to the instructor of each section. This sample research writing rubric is offered as one potential model, but please do feel free to adapt it to meet the needs of your particular assignments: