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Topic 1. Identifying Your Topic, Thesis, and Reasons
The first step is to confirm your choice off topic or focus for your case study from among the three social issues we have discussed: language and power, freedom and security, health and wealth. Most students should stay with the social issue they selected for the Summary-Response Assignment. However, now is your chance to make a change if you think one of the other social issues would work better for your case study. Consider which of the three social issues you felt most passionate about or you understand the best. Consider whether you feel you have enough information on the issue to sustain a multi-paragraph essay.
Once you settle on a focus, you will need to write a thesis that will be the central idea for your case study. Think about what viewpoint(s) emerged in the Response portions of your Summary-Response Assignment. Look for a unique perspective, stance, or insight you have that can guide the direction of your case study.
Click on the image below for guidance on writing your thesis statement. For additional guidance on writing an effective thesis, you should review the UMGC Online Guide for Writing and Research.
hands typing on a laptop keyboard
(click image for information on thesis statements)
After you select your topic and develop your thesis, you will need to outline reasons to support your thesis. In other words, you want to explain why you hold the perspective that your thesis conveys. The following is an example of a topic, thesis, and reasons:
Education and Empowerment
Contrary to popular opinion, education does not always lead to empowerment.
(1) Everyone does not have access to a quality education.
(2) Even with a quality education, lucrative employment opportunities are not guaranteed.
(3) Educated individuals may still face discrimination and other inequities that limit opportunities for success.
The first discussion for this week asks you to post your topic, thesis, and reasons. You will receive feedback from your classmates and from your instructor that will help you finalize these elements of your case study. Discussion Topic
Task: Reply to this topic
In this discussion, you will share a draft of your case study introduction. You will also give and receive feedback from your classmates.
Initial Post (due by 11:59 p.m. on Friday)
Post a draft of your introductory paragraph. Be sure that your introduction includes a “real-life” instance of your social issue and your thesis. Refer to the sub-module on Writing Your Introduction for tips and sample introductory paragraph. Also be sure that you demonstrate all the previously covered grammar skills in your writing. Topic 2. After your introduction, the next few paragraphs are your body paragraphs. In these paragraphs you will support your thesis statement with reasons and support for those reasons. The following video from the Effective Writing Center provides guidance on writing strong body paragraphs. You should also review this handout for tips and strategies for integrating sources within your body paragraphs.
For your case study, your body paragraphs should explain the reasons for your perspective and use information from the course readings to support your ideas. However, it is important to keep in mind that you do not have to agree with every aspect of your source in order to be able to engage with it in your body paragraphs.
Before you use sources in your body paragraphs, it is important to think about how you can engage critically with sources—those that you agree with and those that you do not agree with.
Read the following chapter, “Listening to Sources, Talking to Sources” from the open-source textbook Writing in College.
Then, study the two sample body paragraphs. Both have engaged with sources, but while the author of one paragraph agrees with the source used, the author of the second paragraph takes issue with a point in the source being used, thinking beyond the argument being made on the surface. The important thing to note in the second paragraph is that the author does not simply say, “I disagree” with the source. Instead, the author engages the source critically and thoughtfully while questioning some of the underlying assertions from the source.
Sample Body Paragraph #1: Education Topic
One reason that education does not always lead to empowerment is that everyone does not have access to a quality education. As illustrated in Jean Anyon’s (1980) article, “Social Class and the Hidden Curriculum of Work,” American schools are set up to fully educate students from upper-class backgrounds and to give a limited education to students from lower-class backgrounds. She conducted studies of several public schools in the New Jersey area, and she found that wealthier schools prepared the students for high-paying careers, while schools in poorer areas prepared students for low-wage work. This was accomplished by giving the wealthier students exposure to advanced math and science courses, along with language arts courses that really taught the students how to read, write, think, and speak in ways required for success in college and in professional life. Student in less wealthy schools were taught only very basic math and very basic grammar, which makes it almost impossible to get into college or find a well-paying job. Anyon (1980) concluded that this how the rich stay rich and the poor stay poor. Without access to a quality education, it is impossible to have opportunities for success.
Sample Body Paragraph #2: Vaccinations Topic
An important consideration in the debate about how much the government should regulate vaccines is the role of better education for parents. Health care workers must provide parents with an education that sways deeply-held fears about the side effects of vaccinations, along with a general mistrust of much of the information that comes from the scientific community. There is confusion and mistrust in general that runs deeper than just the debate over the safety and importance of vaccines. In her essay, “The Truth About Measles,” Annie Sparrow (2015) writes, “Amid the controversy, it’s easy to miss the point: a very serious disease is getting on with its job of invading, infecting, and re-colonizing the country, and we are losing control of it” (p. 24). The scientific evidence is clear that the decrease in the number of children being vaccinated is having a negative impact on herd immunity and putting many lives at risk. Yet the health care community seems to be missing the point at the root of the issue—too many people do not trust the medical and scientific communities. Therefore, facts will fall on deaf ears. When there is an effort to address education within the context and understanding of this mistrust, health care workers will likely be able to gain more ground in their efforts to improve vaccination rates.
In addition to giving reasons and support for your thesis in your body paragraphs, at least one of your body paragraphs must discuss how your core values inform your perspective on your selected social issue.
The following is an example of a body paragraph for the case study that discusses core values:
In addition to the reasons discussed above, the core values of equality, justice, and truth inform the perspective that education does not always lead to empowerment. Some may consider the perspective that education does not equal empowerment to be pessimistic, but it is a truth that must be faced. Pretending that anyone with an education will be successful is dangerous because it hides the truth. If there is to be equality and justice, there must first be truth. By acknowledging that education does not always equal empowerment, light is shed on the roadblocks and inequities that many face. Once these roadblocks and inequities are identified, working towards equality and justice is possible. Working towards equality and justice in the area of education will hopefully make the connection between education and empowerment a reality for everyone.
Notice that the first sample body paragraph clearly states a reason to support the thesis (lack of access) and then ties in the information from another author as evidence that there is a lack of access to quality education. The second sample body paragraph also provides support for the thesis (better education on vaccinations) but does so by using the evidence from the source and then explaining that the source is missing a critical component of the issue.
Finally, the sample core values paragraph clearly identifies the core values (equality, justice, truth) and discusses how these core values connect to the thesis/perspective that education does not always lead to empowerment. As you draft your body paragraphs, be sure that you include each of the required elements.
The second discussion for this week provides an opportunity for you to practice engaging with sources and share one of your body paragraphs and to get feedback from your classmates. sion Topic
Task: Reply to this topic
In this discussion, you will share a draft of one of your body paragraphs. You will also give and receive feedback from your classmates.
Initial Post (due by 11:59 p.m. on Friday)
Post a draft of one of your body paragraphs. Be sure that your body paragraph includes a clear point that is supported by appropriate details, along with information and ideas from the course readings. Don’t forget to engage with a source in your paragraph. Refer to the sub-module on Writing Your Body Paragraphs for tips and sample body paragraphs. Also be sure to demonstrate pronoun-antecedent agreement and the grammar skills covered in previous weeks in your writing.