​Non-Academic Argument with PAM Worksheet

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Non-Academic Argument

You started the semester with a research question concerning an issue or a problem. You researched and became informed on the “conversation” taking place surrounding your issue (constructing an annotated bibliography). Based on what you learned through your research, you wrote a research paper that presented the issue or problem (identifying the issue/demonstrating that it is indeed an issue, etc.). Now it’s time to do something about your issue. Your next formal assignment is to propose a solution to a specific audience in order to achieve your desired purpose (enact some sort of change/call to action). You want to see a change? Then make it happen.

Tie to Course Objectives and Outcomes: This assignment will acquaint students with the skill of adjusting their writing for different audiences and purposes using a variety of complex rhetorical options. It will involve locating, researching, analyzing (critical reading), evaluating, and producing nonfiction writing. It will continue to develop the students’ skill in using the elements of effective argument based on informed research, while also incorporating the words of others in their writing.

Application to “real life”: Being able to adjust your writing to appeal to different audiences is a crucial skill not only in the university, but also beyond. Using our academic skills to inform a non-academic argument helps us actively participate as citizens in a democratic society. It allows us to add to the conversations or debates so that we can continue to grow as a society. For example, you will use these skills whenever you want to negotiate a better apartment lease agreement, petition a zoning board to allow you to grow your small business, or contact a local, state, or federal representative in support of (or in opposition to) new legislation.

Assignment: Write an argument in an attempt to persuade a specific non-academic audience. You are attempting to persuade your audience to enact the solution that you are proposing to address the issue you’ve identified.

While you are using much of the information you learned through your research (and that you presented in your research paper), this paper is very different from the last. You have a different purpose, a different audience, and a different genre (method of delivery). In your research paper for an academic audience, you identified the issue or the problem. In this paper you are proposing a solution to help address the issue or problem.

You will make rhetorical choices in an attempt to persuade your audience. Your tone, examples/evidence, choice of appeals, language, structure, background information, documentation of source information, etc. will be revised to achieve this new purpose with this new audience in this new format. It is NOT a new topic/issue. Same issue, but different purpose, audience, and method of delivery.

Length requirement: no shorter than 1,250 words and no longer than 1,500 words

Evaluation Criteria: The successful project will
Includes a Completed PAM Worksheet:
— identify appropriate, specific audience (noted in a PAM Worksheet, not part of the proposal itself);
— identify appropriate method of delivery to reach that audience (noted in PAM Worksheet, not part of proposal)
Non-Academic Arguement:
— articulate the problem/issue; describe the solution being proposed; demonstrate the feasibility of the solution (the solution will have the intended effects and that it fits the situation)/how the proposed solution will address the problem/solution; explain reasons why solution is best alternative; and end with a clear and direct call to action
— make deliberate, appropriate, and necessary rhetorical adjustments in consideration of the identified audience (tone/language, documentation of source material, ethos, logos, pathos, organization, etc.);
— demonstrate the skills and strategies developed over the course of the semester (focus, organization, development, and clarity)
— communicate the message clearly and consistently with attention to grammar, mechanics, and style

Due Dates:
March 21 PAM worksheet draft due to instructor
March 28 Non-Academic Argument due for Peer Review

March 30 In class work
April 4 Final version due for a grade

To prepare to write your non-academic argument you will complete the PAM Worksheet:
First you will determine your PURPOSE. In general, your purpose is to persuade, but you will need to determine what you are trying to persuade your audience to DO. You have the power to bring about change. What do you want changed as it relates to your issue? Go to your thesis from your research paper. Does it point to a need for change? For example, if your research paper was about light pollution and you determined that light pollution could be reduced by better lighting design, your purpose for a non-academic audience could be to change lighting design. Your purpose is NOT to “inform” or to “share.” You want to get someone up off their butt to DO something about the situation.

Next, you will identify your AUDIENCE. For anything to change, the right people need to be persuaded to change it. Who is in a position to bring about the change you want to happen? For example, for the light pollution example listed above, the student might choose as his audience the mayor and propose that the city adopt a “dark skies” designation as a goal by a certain timeframe. Or, the student might choose the head of a major outdoor lighting manufacturer as his audience. Your audience should NOT be “all American citizens,” “the general population,” “adults,” etc. You are expected to target your message to a specific individual or group of individuals who are in a position to enact the change you are trying to bring about. This may require a bit of research on your part.

Then, you will choose a METHOD OF DELIVERY. In order to persuade the right people, you need to know how to reach them. This may require a bit of research on your part. Is there a specific person you are trying to reach? Would a letter work best for that? Or is there a group of people you need to convince? How do you best reach them? You are restricted to making your argument in writing and your argument will have to fall between 1,250 and 1,500 words, but the form that argument takes is up to you. For example, the student above may write a petition to the mayor, or he/she may choose to write a letter to the lighting manufacturer.

Your PURPOSE, AUDIENCE, and METHOD OF DELIVERY will all be identified and justified in your PAM Worksheet (which is due – turned in for review — Wednesday, March 18). The argument itself will include your PURPOSE (stated as your thesis and/or call to action), but not any mention of your AUDIENCE or DELIVERY. The rhetorical choices you make in your argument will be determined by your audience and method of delivery.

Include the following with your Instructor Review, then Peer Review, then Final Draft:

  • A PAM worksheet that accurately reflects the purpose, audience, and method of delivery for your argument. This will serve as your writer’s memo for this assignment. However, remember that the PAM worksheet is part of your grade for this assignment. Points will be deducted if no PAM worksheet is submitted, if the PAM worksheet has not been updated to accurately reflect the argument submitted, or if the purpose, audience, and/or method of delivery are not singular, specific, or appropriate.
  • A draft of your Argument for peer review. Your PAM may be modified per my comments.

The final, revised printed version of your Non-Academic Argument assignment. Be sure that you have revised your paper during the process of review (peer review and conference), and that you have revised the date in your heading. Include an accurate word count as part of the heading for your paper (underneath the date). This is a requirement (remember that the word count must be between 1,250 and 1,500 words — no more, no less). Papers without an accurate word count will be returned and counted as late until submitted correctly

PAM Worksheet

Purpose, Audience, and Method of Delivery

This sheet will be turned in with your Non-Academic Argument and will be part of your grade for this assignment. Points will be awarded based on how well you articulate your purpose, how well you identify a specific audience, and how well you identify a specific method of delivery to reach your audience. The first completed draft of this is due to the instructor in class on Wednesday, March 18. You will receive my feedback on this draft that you can revise prior to submitting your final version with the final version of your Non-Academic Argument on April 6.

What is the ISSUE or PROBLEM that you have identified through your research?

What is your PURPOSE/SOLUTION (What do you want to persuade your audience to DO? What would you like to see happen to address the issue or solve the problem?) NOTE: You want them to DO something, NOT think, feel, realize, or believe something. What are you PROPOSING?

I want my audience to

Who is your AUDIENCE (be specific)?
NOTE: Your audience should not be “all Americans” or “adults,” or “people in general.” You should specify a person or position that has control over what you want to see happen and someone that you would reasonably have access to.

My audience is

What METHOD OF DELIVERY will you use? (letter, petition, etc.)
NOTE: Regardless of the method of delivery, the argument should be in writing and between 1,250 and 1,500 words in length.

My method of delivery is


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