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          Assignment 3: Writing to Solve a Problem

In this assignment, you will develop a lengthier, more thoroughly-researched and explicitly- elaborated argument that identifies a specific problem, analyzes its causes and effects, and proposes a feasible solution (or solutions). The problem might be at school; at your workplace; in your community; at your church; in the local, state, or federal government; or in some other specific context. You will need to clearly identify the problem, providing evidence to support your claim that the problem is, in fact, a problem and analyzing the causes and effects of the problem. Then you will propose a feasible solution to the problem. The key word here is feasible. If the solution is too expensive, takes too much time and/or effort to implement, or is unlikely to be implemented for some other reason—such as logistics, ethics, etc.—then it is not feasible).

Another challenge with this assignment is that, depending on the problem you propose to solve, you might need specific unique sources to support your solution to the problem, and you might not be able to gain access to those sources (e.g., if they are proprietary, confidential, or require a “Freedom of Information Act” request). Therefore, in selecting a problem to solve, consider the availability and accessibility of relevant source information that you will need, not only to prove that a problem exists but also that your solution is feasible. If you need help finding sources check with your instructor; he/she might also direct you to one of CMU’s research librarians.

Assignment Instructions

1.   In TMHG, read Chapter 11, “Writing to Explain Causes and Effects,” and Chapter 12, “Writing to Solve Problems.”

2.   Write a 2,000 – 2,500 word research-based proposal to solve a specific problem in a specific context.  

See TMHG, Chapter 13, “Using Strategies that Guide Readers”; and Chapter 14, “Using Strategies for Argument.”

3.   Use a minimum of twelve (12) sources in your proposal to provide background to the problem (including its causes and effects) and to support your proposed solution. Your sources must be highly credible and relevant, so you must be selective in your research.  Keep in mind that some problems and solutions might require empirical data for support, not just someone else’s informed opinion.  However, given the limitations for human-subjects research imposed by law on students and faculty and enforced by CMU’s Institutional Review Board, any data used in your proposal must be gathered by some other source (e.g. the Census Bureau, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, The World Health Organization, etc.) and may not include data that you have obtained directly (i.e., you may not conduct any interviews, surveys, observations, etc.). Your instructor will expect you to upload with your assignment copies of all your print sources and URLs for all web sources.

See TMHG, Chapter 19, “Finding and Evaluating Information.”

3.   In addition to including information based on your own knowledge and experience, use a combination of summary, paraphrase, and quotation in your paper, but no more than 10% of the paper (200-250 words) should consist of quoted material.  Instead, rely on summary and paraphrase. And as you should have learned in ENG 101, all information from sources—whether quoted, paraphrased, or summarized, whether words or images—must be cited. Keep in mind, though, that your voice, not your sources’, should be most prominent in your proposal.

See TMHG, Chapter 3: “Writing to Understand and Synthesize Texts.”

4.   Format your assignment in a way that is appropriate for your intended audience and purpose.  This assignment could take a form different from a traditional school “paper,” e.g., it might take the form of a blog essay, a white paper, an article in a newsletter or magazine, a formal workplace proposal, etc. Whatever final format it might take, develop the text for the peer draft as a print document.

See TMHG, Part Five, Chapter 17, “Choosing a Medium, Genre, and Technology for Your Communication.” 

      Your peers and I will help you decide on an appropriate format, depending on what you see as your purpose and intended audience.

5.   Include any appropriate visuals that will enhance the effectiveness of your report.  Use of visuals in this assignment is required, and visuals might not count toward the total word count for the assignment; it will depend on what kinds of visuals you include and whether you created the visuals yourself or borrowed them.  All borrowed visuals must be cited.  Do not include gratuitous visuals, such as clip art; include only visuals that readers will find useful in understanding the problem and accepting your solution.

See TMGH, Part Five, Chapter 18, “Communicating with Design and Visuals”; and the e-handbook, Part 1, Chapter 4, “Drafting Paragraphs and Visuals.”

6.   Cite sources using MLA, APA, or Chicago citation style.

See TMHG, Chapter 20, “Synthesizing and Documenting Sources,” and e-handbook, Part 4, Chapters 23 -26.

7.   Give your proposal a title that will be effective and appropriate for the intended audience and purpose. Select a specific audience and purpose for your report, and write this at the top of your paper so your peer reviewers and instructor will know.

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