ENGL101: Controversial topic

by | Apr 11, 2022 | English

ENGL101 — Research and Writing I Portfolio Project Directions and Rubric
This Portfolio Project is worth 25% of your grade.

Completing this Assessment will help you to meet the following:

Course Outcomes

  • Apply the writing process to create clearly understood, well-structured documents through the study of various modes of writing.
  • Develop efficient means to proofread and edit writing to ensure clarity and grammatical and structural correctness.
  • Introduce students to fundamental approaches that allow them to acquire, evaluate, apply, and document data from multiple secondary sources.
  • Compose a research paper that incorporates appropriate references documented with proper citations. Institutional Outcomes
  • Information Literacy and Communication – Utilize current technology and resources to locate and evaluate information needed to accomplish a goal, and then communicate findings in visual, written and/or oral formats.


We have all had arguments with friends, acquaintances, or even strangers about a variety of subjects—sports, politics, classes, music. While most people enjoy hearing the viewpoints of others and expressing beliefs, some of these conversations leave us feeling frustrated at our inability to convince people our views are valid. Sometimes we wish we had been quick enough to think of a better response. Sometimes we simply do not have enough reliable information to argue the issue intelligently.

In this course, you will be writing a persuasive research paper on a controversial topic. This requires you to find those reliable pieces of information to support the position you take. As you begin to develop your argument, keep in mind your paper is directed at those who disagree with you, not those who believe what you believe. Once you have your audience clearly in mind, you can determine how best to convince them to believe or act on your thesis. Over the course of the term, you will establish a research question, delve into the research process, develop an outline, and write the persuasive research paper.


The first step in this research process is to choose a topic. Do not feel confined to traditional topics or topics on which you already have a strong opinion. As you delve into the research, you may find your focus and understanding of the issue alters.
Some ideas to explore:

  • Hacktivism
  • Facial recognition technology
  • Violent protest
  • Sugar tax
  • Supervised injection facilities
  • Mental health and police wellness checks
  • Abolishing the penny
  • Universal basic income
  • Media bias
  • Racism in America
  • The Electoral College
  • Drones
  • Social Media and ________

Explore other topics of interest to you as well then discuss the topic with your instructor. Avoid topics that have already been legislated or discussed in depth (legalization of marijuana, death penalty, bullying, religion, abortion, same-sex marriage, etc.). The topic you choose will be your research focus for the entire class, so choose a topic you are eager to explore.

As you move through the research process, you will have the opportunity to examine the issue critically, take a position, and develop a reasoned argument in support of your position. Your Portfolio Project will take the form of a well-researched paper using reliable sources and APA format for citations. Within the paper, you will need to interpret and intelligently discuss the issue and backup your findings with evidence. There will be portions of your research process required for submission throughout the class as listed below.

Requirements and Formatting

Your Portfolio Project must be formatted as follows:

  • APA formatting
  • Title Page
  • Times New Roman or Arial 12-point font
  • 1-inch margins
  • Page numbers in top right corner


Deliverable items for the Portfolio Project will be required at different points during the course. Details for each submission are included below in the Deliverable Descriptions.

Deliverable Descriptions

Week 2: Essential Research Questions

• Due by the end of Week 2 at 11:59 pm, ET.

Before beginning a research process, formulating a research question to guide your process keeps you focused on the topic you are exploring. An essential research question is an open-minded question that requires you to look at and explore both sides of your research. This question will lead you through your research process but will also lead to additional essential questions. These questions will help you narrow your topic, focus on important sources, and interpret your research.

For this beginning step of the research process, you will use an essential research questions worksheet to focus in on the research question you will seek to answer. To do this, you will complete the following steps:

  • Prewrite through a freewriting process to establish what you know
  • Continue the prewriting process by developing a list of questions about your topic you would like to know the answer to-the more the better!
  • Seek patterns within the questions you generated to help guide your thinking
  • Develop an essential research question to guide your research process. While this question may grow and change through the process, it becomes your launching point for the process.

When you have completed the essential research question worksheet to develop your research question, submit the worksheet to the course to receive instructor feedback. You can then begin seeking the answer to your question.

Week 3: Annotated Bibliography (Source Summary and Evaluation)

• Due by the end of Week 3 at 11:59 pm, ET.

The final draft of the Portfolio Project requires three to five varied and current sources; however, the first sources you find will not necessarily be the best sources. It is also important not to exclude a source that disagrees with the position you are taking on your question. Use your critical thinking skills to acknowledge those who disagree with you and develop an argument to reinforce your position.

Be aware that researching controversial topics can often lead you to information that contains misinformation or bias. Evaluating your sources and choosing verifiable sources will make your persuasive point stronger.

For this next step in the research process, spend time finding at least four sources that help answer your research question. Read and annotate those sources carefully to ensure you have a strong understanding of the information they contain.

Using the Annotated Bibliography template, do the following for each source:

  • Cite the source using APA format
  • Summarize the source: What is the main purpose of the article? What are the author’s main points? What conclusions does the author make? This should be in your own words with no direct quotation. The more precise and thorough your summary, the more helpful when you write your paper. Remember an article summary requires an in-text citation! o
  • Evaluate the source. Does the source pass the CRAAP test and why? Are there any concerns or weaknesses within the article? How will this source be a benefit to you as you move into the drafting process?

When you have completed your annotated bibliography, submit the document.

Week 4: Thesis Statement and Outline

• Due by the end of Week 4 at 11:59 pm, ET.

As you begin to finish up the research process, it is important to begin to organize the material you plan to use and the topics you want to emphasize in a logical way and create a path for your writing.

Using the template provided for a formal outline, develop a thesis statement that contains your topic and your claim. When you have established your thesis statement, create an outline that introduces your topic, reviews the literature, emphasizes your position, and indicates why this is an important topic.

When you complete your thesis statement and outline, upload the document to the course.

Week 5: Rough Draft

• Due by the end of Week 5 at 11:59 pm, ET.

Write the rough draft using your thesis statement and outline as a guide. Because you will receive instructor and peer feedback, it is important to submit a complete rough draft. As you begin to develop the rough draft, keep in mind these assignment requirements:

  • This is a persuasive research paper. You have completed the research and are now an “expert” on the subject; use the research to back up your position. The strength of your evidence is what will lead people to respect your opinions. The strength of your voice is what will lead people to change their opinions.
  • Always keep your audience in mind: they do not agree with you. Convince them.
  • Acknowledge opposing points of view and counterarguments. Gain your readers’ confidence and respect and create a favorable impression through your tone.
  • Your paper will need to be a minimum of 4 pages in length not including the title page or reference page.
  • You need to document your sources using APA format both in-text and on the reference page.
  • You must include three to five varied and current sources in your list of references. All sources listed on the reference page require at least one connected in-text citation.
  • Avoid extremely long quotations or using quotations back to back. A rough guideline to follow is no more than one quotation per page with only one long quotation in the paper. Use your voice—paraphrase or summarize. Do not lose your persuasive voice in the facts. Avoid meaningless statements like “Some people believe….” This is true in all situations.
  • This paper is not about you, so do NOT use the first person pronoun (I) to refer to yourself. There should be no “I think,” “I feel,” “I believe.” These statements weaken your writer’s voice and your argument.

When you complete your rough draft, upload the document to the course.

Week 7: Final Submission to ePortfolio

• Due by the end of Week 7 at 11:59 pm, ET. This week is the final submission of your Portfolio Project. Incorporate instructor and peer feedback, make any additional corrections, and submit the final draft to your ePortfolio.

In your ePortfolio, upload your Portfolio Project to the Institutional Outcome listed below. Use the following naming convention: ENGL101 – Portfolio Project:

• Information Literacy and Communication: Utilize current technology and resources to locate and evaluate information needed to accomplish a goal, and then communicate findings in visual, written, and/or oral formats.

For directions on how to upload your project to your ePortfolio, please see Student Resources on the navigation pane.

Week 7.5: Reflection

• Due by the end of Week 7.5 at 11:59 pm, ET.

For the final piece of your Portfolio Project, you will reflect upon the course and how it directly relates to your future workplace. This reflection will be delivered as a Word document 1-2 pages in length.

For this reflection:

a) Analyze the importance of this project and the research process to your future career. b) In your own words reflect on how this project meets the Institutional outcome as stated on the first page.

Upload and submit your final reflection.

For specific grading information, please refer to the Portfolio Project Grading Rubric and Portfolio Project Reflection Grading.

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