Each activity should purposefully lead the student-writer into the next step of the process. The sequence does not simply develop from one assignment to the next. It builds toward something. The goal—to execute and produce a scholarly article based on genuine inquiry into a writing-studies related research question—is kept top-of-mind throughout the semester and in the presentation of each task. The assignment sequence for my section of ENC 1102 consists of five major assignments. Click the button under each project to view the full assignment.
Major Project 1: Initial Research Proposal
The Initial Research Proposal serves as a launching point. It marks a transition in the semester from our class discussions of theory about writing studies and research into practice. I want to make my students conscious of this progression. I also integrate the language of journey and destination to connect to the class’s overarching metaphor and to point their gazes down the road, too. Even as they begin they should be aware of a destination. Within the boundaries I provide, my students should feel they have permission (and are, in fact, encouraged) to pursue their interests. Curiosity and creativity should be at the forefront of our approach to research. Students are further guided to frame their research question in relation to our course interest in meaning-making within discourse communities. The study of a discourse community situates the task in an authentic scenario beyond the classroom and, ideally, one that is uniquely meaningful to the student-writer. The language in this assignment also reminds students that they will be returning to their proposals in a later assignment—the Revised Research Proposal. By beginning with an initial proposal they will begin to experience the recursive nature of the writing and research processes.
Major Project 2: Annotated Bibliography + Literature Review
Once students have identified their research topic, they are ready to explore the scholarly conversation that surrounds their guiding question. The Annotated Bibliography prompts students to conduct a thorough investigation into the relevant sources including texts that deal directly with writing studies. Listening is an essential first step in the research process, but effective listening requires efforts to achieve understanding, particularly of complex texts. The annotations ask students to summarize and evaluate their sources. As they work, students become familiar with research methods and gain confidence in how to utilize university resources for research. They will see models of rhetorical strategies and genre conventions in action that they may later apply to their own Scholarly Articles. A Literature Review is attached to the Annotated Bibliography so that students will take the momentum gained by listening immediately into the experience of interacting with what they have learned—and add another genre to their repertoire. This synthesis activity invites students to deepen their understanding of the intertextuality of writing and work to identify what gaps their research may fill within the conversation. Once completed, the bibliography and the literature review will form a backbone of research from which students will continue to refine their research questions and methods. They will also be able to directly draw upon the work done in this assignment as they compose their final papers.
Major Project 3: Revised Research Proposal
The Revised Research Proposal offers students the opportunity to revisit the work they began in their Initial Proposal. This time, they create a formal proposal with a research question and plan informed and shaped by their secondary research completed in the Annotated Bibliography + Literature Review. Ideas develop, and by returning to the ideas of the initial proposal the students engage in the recursive nature of writing. They are able to refine their thinking and begin to formulate an argument of their own. A primary objective of the course is for students to see themselves as writers and researchers with something of value to learn and to offer. Their formalized research proposal supports their efforts to enact an authentic, situated writing project based on genuine inquiry. The proposal invites students to consider the significance that their project may have for the community and the conversation. The Revised Proposal also arranges for students to undertake primary research into the niche they have established. Furthermore, their timelines ensures that the project is appropriate to the scope of what may be reasonably and effectively accomplished during the remainder of the semester. Students also begin to articulate the significance of their project.
Major Project 4: Scholarly Article
By the time that students reach their Scholarly Article, they will be able to draw upon each previous assignment to compose an argument of their own. In the Scholarly Article, student-writers will assemble the tools and strategies we have practiced and discussed through major projects and minor assignments alike to develop a clear argument based on their writing studies research question. The primary research established in the Research Proposal, the secondary source materials from the Annotated Bibliography, and interactions with the wider conversation come together to serve as the scaffold for the paper. The course’s emphasis on process is highlighted as students discover that much of the work has already been accomplished. In the article, students achieve targeted course outcomes by integrating, analyzing, and discussing research and data gathered from multiple types of sources. The Scholarly Article targets the students’ understanding of audience and challenges them to make conscious choices in tone, style, and organization to craft the most effective argument and reach their readers. While papers may follow similar traits, individual student projects reflect the diverse spectrum of student interest and creativity. The Scholarly Article results in a project that is uniquely meaningful to the writer and a genuine contribution to the discourse community and scholarly conversation.
Major Project 5: Final Portfolio
The Final Portfolio is the culmination of our ENC 1102 journey. When it comes time for students to develop their Final Portfolios and compose their course reflections, they should be able to chart the course they have taken and express how the pieces fit together to form a cohesive narrative of their writing and research journey. Through the development of their Final Portfolio and reflection letter, the student-writer can recognize how they see and think and observe far more than they could when they set out. I believe that this is what the process of research, investigation, and curiosity is all about. The portfolio project curates assignments completed from across the semester and connects the final products—which have been revised based on peer and instructor feedback—with the process the student took to reach their destination. The e-Portfolio format asks students to reinforce their understanding of and apply rhetorical strategies to visual media and technologies. As they reflect on their ENC 1102 experience, students will look at where they have been, what they have learned about writing and writing studies during their semester excursion, and consider where they are going next. While their ENC 1102 expedition has come to an end, the student’s writing journey is only beginning. The portfolio serves as evidence of progress made and a foundation from which students will continue to grow.