Assignment Guide: The Argumentative Essay
For this assignment, you will be writing an argumentative essay–a piece of writing that requires you to take a position, what rhetoricians call a claim, on a debatable topic (that is, a topic with more than one side). Specifically, you will present a policy claim where you argue for or against a change of some kind. This claim should be supported by reliable, credible evidence (i.e. scholarly sources) backed by research. In addition to presenting your claim, you will also need to acknowledge the other side, which is called the counterargument. For this assignment, you may choose your own topic or select one from the list below.
Length: This assignment should be at least 750 words.
Sources Needed: The essay should integrate at least four reliable and credible sources, to help prove the argument for or against a policy change. Be sure to use MLA guidelines for all in-text and Works Cited citations.
Page Formatting: See Appendix C – Formatting and Submitting Your Work
When we talk about argument writing, we are not talking about an emotional and heated argument, but one that is neutral in tone and uses evidence/facts to convince your readers of a claim. Your argument is your claim, or the point that you want to convince readers of–in this instance, you will be making a claim for or against a policy change. Because everything depends on the strength of this claim (and the supporting points that you use to scaffold it), the organizational structure of an argumentative essay is incredibly important to its success. Every idea, topic sentence, paragraph, and page should always align with your argumentative claim. Be sure that you use scholarly evidence purposefully to support the claim you are making and do not veer too much into exploratory or informative writing, which is trickier than it sounds. You’ll also need to think carefully about how to integrate researched evidence with your own ideas, to build a fully developed and supported stance throughout. Finally, you will want to acknowledge the counterargument in the body paragraphs, even if you cannot refute it entirely.
Remember that this is an argumentative essay: that means your goal is to prove your claim for or against a policy change to readers. This piece of writing should be aimed at convincing readers through the inclusion of a strong argumentative thesis, specific supporting points, acknowledgement of the counter, and carefully chosen scholarly evidence.
The argumentative essay is written for someone else–a community of readers that is most impacted by the policy you are proposing to change (or keep the same). In this instance, you are writing to argue for or against a change (and thus convince readers that a change should or should not occur). Keep this audience in mind by angling everything in your essay towards a strong argument that can appeal to a more general population.
This is a formal writing project, written in third-person, relying on strong organizational strategies, integrating researched evidence (the academic sources you choose), and following MLA formatting guidelines.
- Physician-assisted suicide should/should not be legalized
- The drinking age should/should not be lowered to 18
- Colleges should/should not use proctoring for exams
- Weedkiller should/should not be illegal
- Self-driving cars should/should not be legal
- College athletes should/should not be paid as employees
- The U.S. should/should not switch to a single-payer healthcare system
- Drug possession should/should not be decriminalized
- The minimum wage should/should not be increased across the U.S.
Plan to use these appeals heavily throughout your Argumentative essay.
This is an ethical appeal. It relies on your reliability and credibility as the author.
- Includes reliable sources
- Is written from an unbiased perspective
- Shows the writer’s expertise through the presentation of careful insight and research
- Includes the writer’s values and beliefs
- Uses stories or examples that convey emotion
- Contains broader appeal and focus