60 Sample Writing Assignments
Problem/Solution Persuasive Argument Essay
Role: You are a member of an advocacy group (real or imagined).
Situation: You want to educate the public about an issue you discovered by writing your exploratory essay, OR another issue that matters to you and impacts you directly. Your problem must be approved by your instructor.
Task: Weave the knowledge you gained in Essay One into a 6-8 page researched problem/solution argument essay to be published on your organization’s website or in a publication like the Boise Weekly or a national magazine.
Purpose: Win hearts and minds. Show your audience:
1) There is a problem.
2) They should care about it.
3) What can and should be done about it (solution).
- Your goal for this paper is to inform the public or a specific audience that has the power to change this issue, and make them care about your problem. It must, at a minimum, affect you and others you don’t know. It must somehow impact quality of life, affect the local economy, or violate human rights. In other words, this needs to be a significant problem—not just an annoyance or inconvenience to you.
- In choosing the problem you’ll aim to solve, consider what you learned (or didn’t learn) from your exploratory paper. What problems did you discover?
- If you don’t feel like your exploratory essay brought up any significant problems, or you’d rather work outside of your exploratory essay topic, that’s fine. Choose something you care about but are distanced from enough to be objective.
- However, finding a problem outside of your first paper topic means you’ll have more work to do. The benefit of choosing something even loosely related to your essay is that you’ve already done some of the work; you already have some connections, and possibly some sources to re-use.
- Step 1: Brainstorm—So what? Stake your claim.
- Step 2: Draft the essay. Rough draft due for peer review Thursday Week Five
- Step 3: Revise the essay based on peer review feedback. Final draft due Sunday Week Five
Final Paper Requirements
- APA style, 1500-2000 words, Times New Roman, size 12, double spaced, 1-inch margins
- 5 or more quality sources; You may only have one source that is not a person, a primary source, or a peer-reviewed journal article or book. If you are struggling with this requirement, please e-mail me.
This is used to help determine whether a paper earns full credit (110), partial credit (90/60) or no credit.
Format & length check:
- Final paper is complete and correctly formatted. Yes / No
Topic—The essay is on topic and contains a clear “so what”
- The role and situation are clear; the essay makes a clear claim about a problem that impacts the writer and others.
Yes / No
Argument—The essay makes a good argument for a solution.
- The premises are relevant to the main claim. Yes / No
- The premises are true. Yes / No
- There is plenty of good quality evidence to support the claim. Yes / No
- The essay provides an effective rebuttal to the strongest opposing arguments. Yes / No
- The author uses at least five high-quality, reliable sources.Yes / No
- Sources are integrated correctly; any quotes are explained (use quote sandwiches) Yes / No
- Source are cited for all “how do I know this?” informationYes / No
- The essay is thesis-drivenYes / No
- The essay has an effective introduction and conclusionYes / No
- Paragraphs are organized around topic sentencesYes / No
- The paper uses transitions to connect ideas logicallyYes / No
Citation and Mechanics
- All sources are properly cited in the text.Yes / No
- Errors in References entries are few and minor. Yes / No
- There are few errors in grammar, punctuation, and spellingYes / No
- Starting the paper with a brief story about how the problem affects you would be a wise choice for your hook. Concluding it with an echo back to that story would help bring the argument full circle.
- Remember the qualities of a good argument from the readings, and do your best not to be guilty of logical fallacies.
- Consider the examples we read for approach and structure.
- Try to start your research with a person or agency, not Google.
- Use our library. Its physical presence may be small, but most of what you need is available online. It’s a wonderful place to get some extra help.
- Use the CWI Writing Center. The tutors are there to help you. If you go, be sure to bring a copy of the assignment with you. Note that the Writing Center is also available via e-mail. Send a draft and the assignment to email@example.com and allow two business days for feedback.
Some Do’s and Don’ts:
- No big vague concepts, such as “no traffic control.” Be precise: There are no stop signs, traffic circles, or traffic lights for a 10-mile stretch between Hereville and Thereville.
- No absent solutions such as, “we have a lack of money and thus children don’t go to school.” Instead, the problem is, “school fees are not affordable.”
- No formulation of interpretations or snap judgments, such as “the government is lazy.” Instead, “Fish and Wildlife does not issue hunting licenses in time for bow season.”
Unit 2: Visual Argument: “Call to Action” PSA poster mock-ups and rationale (50 points)
Inspired by John Holland and colleagues at San Francisco State University
Overview: This assignment is designed to help you identify your audience and values for your problem/solution persuasive argument using a different genre: the visual argument, in the form of a PSA (Public Service Advertising) poster, infographic, or billboard design. Public Service Advertising (PSAs) are messages in the public interest, which are on television, radio, print or other media. The purpose of commercial advertising is to market a product or service. In contrast, PSAs are messages that benefit the public by raising awareness of an issue, influencing attitudes or actions for the good. Many PSAs are designed using the “Value, Problem, Solution, Action” structure. Examples of values are mobility, freedom, health, safety, equality.
- First, you will need to figure out what kind of claim you want to make with your visual argument,
- Then, you will need to figure out two possible audiences, their values, and the action you want them to take.
- Next, you will create two mock ups (rough versions) of an approach to making that claim using images and words together. These mock ups should target two different audiences but use the same problem. You will post the two drafts to a course blog on Blackboard.
- Finally, you will choose one of your two mock-ups for the audience you intend to use for your essay and write a rationale/reflection short essay (500-750 words, 2-3 paragraphs) explaining the value, problem, solution, and action you used for your final PSA/infographic/billboard and why you chose this approach.
Making a Claim Visual
Arguments consist of two things: claims (or assertions) and support (evidence: reasons for believing the assertion). In a visual argument, the claim is usually a “call to action,” or a statement about what you want your audience to do, believe, or think differently about. Many public service announcements make claims like this: don’t text and drive, stop smoking, or help prevent forest fires. The first step of this assignment is to figure out what you want your audience to do or believe about your issue or topic. What action or attitude do you want your audience to take?
Using Words and Images
Once you have identified your basic claim, spend some time considering what images come to mind when you think about that claim. Images, like words, can be used both literally and metaphorically. A visual argument about animal cruelty might show an abused animal (literal), or it might show a picture of a prison, likening it to a zoo or circus (more metaphorical).
Use software of your choice to construct your visual argument, and try out different combinations of images and words together to express your desired claim. You will want to balance words and images, so try to limit the number of words that you use. You don’t need much computer skill to do this. I recommend using www.canva.com, an online program that has poster templates, images, and text options (make sure that you limit your choices to free content). Word, PowerPoint or Google Slides can also be used, and feel free to use more advanced software if you know how to use it. Your early mock-ups can be hand-drawn and then transferred to a digital medium. What matters most is articulating the thinking and rationale behind your choices in creating the mock-ups, NOT the perfection of the visuals.
Writing the Reflection
After you have created your two mock-ups and chosen your final one, you will write a short essay (500-750 words, 2-3 paragraphs), which will accomplish two goals:
- Reflect on the PSA creation process itself.
- Explain why you feel that your visual argument is effective for the audience you chose. Basically, in addition to reflecting on the process, you’re also making an argument for why your mock-up works for that audience. Consider how your mock-up reflects your audience’s values and needs.
To reflect, address the following questions in essay form:
- How did you decide what claim to make?
- What values are you appealing to in your two PSAs?
- How did you determine your target audiences?
- How did you choose the images for your visual argument?
- What did you try to accomplish in terms of visual impact, emphasis, and organization?
- How was your visual argument different for your two audiences? How was it similar?
- What could you accomplish with your visual argument that would be harder than with words alone?
- How does your final PSA make and support a clear claim or “call to action” related to your topic?
- How does the mock-up create visual impact, coherence, emphasis, and organization?
- Two draft visual mock-ups of your claim for two different audiences, saved as .pdf, .png or .jpg files, due before class Week 7.
- One final revised mockup designed for the audience you will use for Essay Two due Sunday Week 7. Images must be cited, using a link to the source.
- 500-750-word short essay reflecting on the process and articulating a rationale for your choices due Sunday Week 7.
- Submit your images and rationale to our class Visual Argument blog in Blackboard.
- Consider “Opportunity Agenda’s” approach of values-based messaging for planning your visual argument: https://opportunityagenda.org/approach/why-values-based-messaging
- This list of core American values might help you identify your approach (note: These may not be the values of your intended audience). https://www.andrews.edu/~tidwell/bsad560/USValues.html
- This list of general, personal values might also help in identifying your approach and the values of your intended audience. http://www.motivationalinterviewing.org/sites/default/files/valuescardsort_0.pdf
- The Ad Council, one of the major creators of PSAs, has a gallery of campaigns. You will want to look most closely at the “print” PSAs, as these will be posters rather than videos, but various genres might still give you ideas. https://www.adcouncil.org/Our-Campaigns