Goals of this unit:

1.Apply genre-specific, academic writing techniques. (PLO 1)

2.Recognize, critique, defend, and apply rhetorical choices in writing situations. (PLO 1)

3.Effectively apply conventions of Standard American Academic English, including word choice, formality, grammar and mechanics, MLA formatting, and essay format. (PLO 2)

4.Expertly apply a process of writing from invention, drafting, revising, editing, and proofreading. (PLO 3)

5. Ethically collaborate through such writing processes as peer-review, constructive self-critique, or teamwork. (PLO 3)

6. Compose written work that reflects on connections between writing situations encountered in College Composition I, College Composition II, and beyond. (PLO 4)

7. Apply various research methods or techniques in order to synthesize multiple sources of information as a means of engaging with an ongoing academic conversation. (PLO 4)

8. Engage a variety of technologies in order to locate sources and write across multiple media for specific audiences and purposes. (PLO 5)

9. Evaluate and critique scholarly, scientific, and popular sources in order to determine reliability and to capably integrate sources with one’s own ideas. (PLO 5)


In 1301, you examined how different groups of people communicate with each other. You examined one genre in one community, one genre from three communities, and you completed your semester by analyzing the rhetorical choices published authors make. Now, it is time for you to join a conversation in your field of study by creating your own research on a topic that interests you. Joining a conversation partially means that you have knowledge to add on a specific topic. This knowledge, then, is the knowledge that you create through an experiment and synthesizing existing research on the topic. This project allows you to design your own experiment and then write up the results of your experiment in combination with others’ research. Your task for this project is to demonstrate a combination of personal and academic styles with a research paper to communicate the findings of your experiment.

Nuts and Bolts:

You will select a topic that interests you not only on an academic level but on a personal level as well. Think about the questions you have about this topic: what do you want to know about it? Your task is to develop a researchable question, then design an experiment in an attempt to answer your question. Then, you will research the conclusions you drew from your experiment to see what others who have researched the same topic have to say about it.

Your experiment must be safe, healthy, and legal and should not have a negative impact on you, your schoolwork, or those around you. The experiment should last 3-5 days. You cannot use an experiment from another class for this project. You will take the results of your personal experiment, research the outcomes or conclusions of others’ research, and synthesize them into a thesis-driven research paper. Your aim is to draw a conclusion, a claim,about the topic of your choice and use sources to support that claim.

Here are some examples to help clarify. Perhaps you want to know if working out for 30 minutes every morning affects your mood for the day. This experiment could help you better understand how physical activity influences your self-image. You would develop a research question (i.e. does physical activity for 30 minutes every day boost my self-esteem?) and an experiment where you wake up 30 minutes earlier each day for 5 days to work out. Then, you will record your exercise schedule and note how you felt during the day and your productivity levels throughout the day.

You could dye your hair pink to see what reactions you get—or you could dress in clothing that is not your typical style to see how those around you react or to discover how you feel about yourself in this new identity. Maybe you want to know if you read more effectively and efficiently if you have a cup of coffee. Maybe you want to discover the types of music that help you study best. Perhaps you want to teach your dog new tricks or teach yourself a new skill, like using YouTube videos to learn the play the piano. The options for you are endless, and the choice is yours to make as long as you are safe and establish solid research protocols. You will more than likely need to research different methods of uncovering your experiment design. There are loads of them on the internet.

Things to keep in mind while designing your experiment:

  • What is your purpose?
  • What do you really want to know?

Things to keep in mind when writing it up:

  • Who is your intended audience? How do you know? How does this affect the rhetorical choices you employ in your essay?
  • How much information or definitions will you need to present so that your readers clearly understand your point?
  • What rhetorical choices will you make to persuade your audience that they should believe you and your findings? Why?

You will be required to maintain a research journal, where you will take detailed notes: you will need them to write your essay (they are evidence for the findings of your experiment).

Each day of your experiment, you will answer these questions in your research journal:

  • How did the experiment go today? Were there positive, negative or neutral consequences? How did others react?
  • Have you observed anything yet that helps to answer your original research question? If so, what?
  • What challenges did you face today regarding the experiment? How did you overcome these challenges?
  • What emotional reactions did you have about your experiment?
  • What questions have arisen because of your experiment? Can you keep these as possible research questions to start from? Can you use these as places for future research?
  • What do you need to know more about? Where can you go to find out more? Who could you ask to find out more?

Once you have completed your personal experiment and revised your research questions about your topic in light of your experimental findings, you will write a research paper to report your findings.


Your audience for this essay will be those in the field for which your experiment brings new information. Your purpose for this essay is to communicate the findings of your experiment as they fit into the existing research available in the field. The research essay should be 1,000-1,200 words and should include specific, cited examples from your experiment and at least two peer-reviewed sources in MLA format. In addition, your essay should be written with an eye toward academic tone, voice, and Standard American English, and your essay should be free of most grammatical errors.

Features of the Genre:

This genre does not use pronouns, especially the second-person pronoun “you.” Do not include yourself (I, we, us, our) (even if you are a participant in the study) or your reader (you, your) in these documents. You should have your research paper divided into sub-points with appropriate section headers. Each section should be focused around only that sub-point but should connect to the other sub-points as well as the overall thesis, making the research you present clear, cohesive, and easy to follow.

You will have an introduction that reviews the available research on the topic and places your experimental findings in context with the current research (meaning the introduction connects what you discovered in your experiment with the findings of others). This literature review does not use sources that define words or that tangentially connect to your ideas (although those sources can be included). Instead, this literature review includes peer-reviewed sources that have research findings that support your findings. This review should logically lead to your argument, and your thesis statement should be clear and direct and should come in a thesis paragraph or at the end of your literature review.

You will also need to explain the experiment to your readers by including a brief section that states the materials used and the experiment design. This means that you will walk readers through how you conducted your experiment. Remember, omit “I” and “you” and other personal pronouns. This is a little tricky in this section, so pay special attention to how you describe your experiment.

You also need a section to report your findings and analyze those findings by explaining to your readers the significance of what your experiment discovered.

In the final section of your essay, you will present your conclusions about the research. In this section, you will explain to readers why your findings are significant and how they add knowledge to the field. This is where you really enter that conversation by adding your research to the existing research. This means that you will need to bring your conclusions of your experiment back into context with the existing research. In addition, conclusions to research essays answer three questions:

  1. Did I do what I said I would do? In other words, did you present enough evidence to support the argument that you made? This is more than a mere recitation of your thesis.
  2. Why is this important? This question moves your research beyond our classroom walls. What is the significance of your argument?
  3. What do you want readers to do with this information? You are the expert on this area and you need to tell readers what they should do with the knowledge that you have given them. In a research paper this often means that you will tell researchers what further research should be conducted and why.

A few reminders about paragraph structure:

  1. You should have a topic sentence that includes a transition and overviews the focus of the paragraph as it connects to your thesis.
  2. You should then expand on your thesis, describing how this idea (or sub-point) furthers your thesis.
  3. Give examples to which the audience can relate.
  4. Synthesize your outside sources with your ideas.
  5. Discuss how the source helps you demonstrate the sub-point.
  6. Finish the paragraph with a sentence that connects the sub-point back to your thesis.


  1. Choose a topic that is of importance to you
  2. Determine what you want to know about the topic: turn this into a research question.
  3. Determine what experiment would produce the best set of data for you to analyze
  4. Plan your research project
  5. Write in your journal every day of your experiment, taking as detailed of notes as possible
  6. At the end of your experiment, determine what claim you can make (in other words, formulate an answer to the research question you started with) 
  7. Organize your ideas around your controlling idea/claim (the answer to your research question)
  8. Decide what evidence you have from your experiment and from outside sources that best demonstrates your claim
  9. Write a rough draft of the research paper
  10. Go see your professor or the Writing Center if you are struggling
  11. Actively engage in the writer’s workshop
  12. Make changes based upon the information in the workshop
  13. Go see your professor or the Writing Center if you are struggling
  14. Attend the peer review workshop
  15. Make changes based upon feedback from workshop
  16. Go see your professor or the Writing Center if you are struggling
  17. Edit and proofread
  18. Hand in Unit 1 essay and reflection

To earn the minimum grade of a C, your essay must…

  1. Be in MLA format
  2. Be on time
  3. Have been peer reviewed in workshops
  4. Meet the page requirements
  5. Have a controlling idea (claim) with evidence from the experiment and outside sources that supports it
  6. Be cohesive and organized around your controlling idea
  7. Be specific and give details and examples
  8. Hand in essay and reflection on time

Essay 1 Reflection Questions

Directions: In a MLA format, construct a short essay that responds to these questions. Your reflection is due ­­the day of your Essay 1 at 11:59pm to the appropriate TurnItIn drop box and is worth 5% of your overall grade for this class.

1. What did you learn in 1301 that you used in your first essay in 1302? What did you learn in another class that you used in this essay? Give examples, explain, and be specific.

2. What did you learn in 1301 that you did not use/was not applicable to your first essay in 1302? What did you learn in another class that you did not use/was not applicable to Essay 1? Give examples, explain, and be specific.

3. What did you learn in this first essay that can be applied in other courses? Give examples, explain, and be specific.

4. What do you think you learned in this first essay that will not be applicable to other classes? Give examples, explain, and be specific.

5. How does the creation of an experiment with outside research help you improve your writing, in general? How will it help you approach writing tasks in the future? Give examples, explain, and be specific.

6. From the comments you received from the readers of your essay, what are your writing strengths? Writing weaknesses? Are these weaknesses and strengths the same or different from the weaknesses and strengths that you had in 1301? How so? Give examples, explain, and be specific. Remember, grammar is neither a strength nor weakness.

7. What was the most challenging aspect of this essay? Least challenging? Give examples, explain, and be specific.

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