Paper 3 – Rhetorical Development and Success in College

First Draft Due: November 18 (1200 words, minimum)
Final Draft Due: December 5 (1500 words, minimum)

We have spent a good part of the term reading about ways to be successful in college. From Amy Cuddy and James Paul Gee, to Rebekah Nathan and Kenneth Bain, we have explored what it means to develop mastery in an area, the hurdles one encounters, and the potential ways one overcomes those hurdles. With Christina Haas, we look at this  issue from the more narrowly focused vantage point of reading. This third project offers you an opportunity choose relevant texts that enable you to explore features of successful learning in college.

Your Task

Write a five-page paper in which you develop your perspective on the role of what Christina Haas calls “rhetorical reading” in successful learning.

Be Sure To

  • Be clear about your perspective or point of view.
  • Work with Haas and two other texts we’ve read. (They are your source material!)
  • Briefly (and appropriately) introduce your texts in ways that set up your project.
  • Don’t assume that a reader knows the concepts you pull from the texts. If you talk about Gee’s Discourse or Haas’ “autonomous text,” you need to define it for the reader.)
  • Use at least four quotations and explain how they help support ideas or points (claims) that you are developing.
  • Paraphrase at least two passages as you develop your claims through textual engagement.
  • Document sources using MLA, including in-text parenthetical references and a Works Cited page

Questions You Might Consider

  • Why is rhetorical reading important for success in college, and beyond?
  • How might the structures in college support (or inhibit) this rhetorical development? (Haas, Bain, or Nathan might be helpful here.)
  • Are there elements of students’ approaches to college that interfere with this development? (Bain or Nathan might be helpful here.)
  • How might rhetorical reading be a key element of mastering Discourse, as Gee might put it?
  • How might rhetorical reading enable students to avoid some of the mental missteps Bain identifies?
  • Haas identifies four ways that Eliza’s education encouraged rhetorical development. In what ways might those explanations confirm, challenge, or complicate Gee’s ideas about how one masters a Discourse?

HINT: Consider yourself an “expert” on current ideas about learning in college. You know some of the key literature in the area and have already written  extensively (10 pages of papers, at least as much in informal note-taking work) on the topic. Almost all academic work is iterative, which means that we draw on ideas we’ve explored before as we build new ideas. There is no reason to “invent” wholly new ideas.  You should draw on workable ideas from earlier writing you’ve done.

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