Research Assignment

Part 1 due Monday, October 16

Part 2 due Wednesday, October 18

Part 3 due Friday, October 20

Typed and E-mailed

This assignment has three parts. In the first part, you will explain how your proposed area of research is related to the proposed area of research of other people in your research group. In the second part you will write one paragraph that traces the development of a major aspect of the problem that you have selected to write about and one paragraph about questions that the development of the aspect raises. In the third part most of you will write a one-paragraph personal narrative that describes your experience with the problem. You will be required to present all of your written assignments to your research group.

Part 1

Before you do Part1 you will join a research group. Everyone in your research group will learn in some detail about one of the determinants of community health covered in Portrait of Promise. As you do Part 1, you and the other people in your group should select a specific part of your group's topic to focus on. For example, if there is a research group on education, one person in the group might focus on CSUs and UCs, one person might focus on community colleges, one person might focus on Santa Clara County schools, one person might focus on an issue in a particular school district, and one person might focus on an issue in another school district. Before you do the written assignment you will need to discuss your topic with your research group. Your written assignment for Part 1 will be to explain how your topic is related to but different from the topics of all of the other people in your research group. It will be easiest if you compare and contrast research questions that will guide you in Part 2.

Part 2

In Part 2 you will provide the following information:

  1. Your current research question (which will be different from the research questions of everyone else in the class). Your research question will ask whether a particular group or government should change or create a specific rule, law, policy, or program in order to solve a specific problem for a specific group of people.
  2. One paragraph that traces the history of the development of a major aspect of the problem. Do not do comparisons with other aspects of the problem in this paragraph.
  3. One paragraph that contains questions for further research. The questions in this paragraph might refer to other aspects of the problem.
  4. Sources. Give the author if available, the title, the publisher, the publication date, and the URL.

You should create a separate document for notes for your research. You will not turn this in, but this will save you time. In the separate document you should take notes that record important information and you should indicate in the notes where you got information.

As you find sources you should identify an aspect of the problem you are writing about. Your written assignment should consist of one paragraph about how that aspect has developed.

This part of the assignment will test how well you can write a paragraph. It will be important for you to keep the paragraph focused, and keep in mind that the paragraph, if done well, will be a part of an essay that develops an argument over many paragraphs. You should have a topic sentence and the paragraph should stay on the topic set by the topic sentence.

It might be good for you to start with a timeline, but do not turn in the timeline. Example timeline for UC tuition and fees:

  • 1960: California Master Plan for Education (state support, no tuition, low fees)
  • 1968: Registration fee of $300 per year
  • 1970: Creation of "educational fee" (code for "tuition") of $150 per year
  • 1985-86: Tuition and fees $1,296 per year
  • 1995-96: Tuition and fees $4,354 per year
  • 2005-06: Tuition and fees $7,434 per year
  • 2008-12: Budget cuts, tuition increases
  • 2011-12: Tuition and fees $14,460 per year
  • 2012-13: Proposition 30

Note that the points on this timeline can be plotted on a graph, with UC tuition labeling the y-axis and time for the x-axis. Non-resident tuition, although relevant, would appear in another paragraph. Likewise, the Master Plan and Prop 30 are also large topics, and in a longer essay they would require their own paragraphs. If you have multiple graphs represented in your paragraph it is likely that your paragraph is going off topic. Ideally the paragraph from this assignment will be inserted with minimal edits into your argumentative essay. Remember to think of the paragraph as one step in an argument with multiple steps.

The second paragraph in the research assignment will not appear in your essay, but it should provide a sense of how concretely you are considering the problem and how your own thinking is relatively independent of your sources. 

For the later assignment, the research-based argumentative essay that will be due several weeks from now, you should use sources in order to extract information in order to construct your own argument. You should not follow the sentence and paragraph structures of your sources. Your final essay should show that you know many things that the writers of your sources did not know when they wrote. Furthermore, you will know many things that are covered in your sources that will not appear in the final draft of your essay. The final draft of your argumentative essay will be more up-to-date and more tailored to your specific concerns and circumstances than any of your sources.

Part 3

In this part of the research assignment most of you will write a one-paragraph personal narrative about how you have experienced the problem that you have identified. Most likely the narrative will begin with a short description of your relationship to the problem when you first became aware of it. In your narrative you should also describe how you tried to solve or cope with the problem. Note that you might not have a direct relationship to the problem. In some cases it will be ok if your personal narrative focuses on people you are in contact with who directly experience the problem as long as you state your relationship to the other people. Check with me if you have not had a direct relationship with the problem.

Those of you who are writing about English education will eventually have argumentative essays that will have substantially longer personal narratives than people with other topics. For this assignment you should instead write an outline of your personal narrative. Each point in your outline should represent a paragraph. Remember that personal narratives should be in chronological order and that you should have paragraph breaks when there is a shift in time, location, or to another character.

For those of you who cannot think of your relationship to the problem you should see me to discuss what you should do for this part of the assignment.

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