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UNIV 200

UNIV 200, “Inquiry and the Craft of Argument,” is a research and writing process course designed to increase your proficiency in critical reading, analysis, academic research and argumentation—skills necessary for advanced work in every discipline. A central goal of the course is to provide you with the time and opportunity to develop the processes and strategies that characterize confident and successful researchers and writers. Course activities and assignments will allow for practice in critical reading and the research and writing process that will help you to claim your authority as a writer and thinker.

Intellectual curiosity is at the heart of our work together. Thus, you will formulate research inquiries of your own and pursue them through a systematic and sustained research and writing process. Rewriting, rethinking, and revising will be encouraged throughout the semester as you develop your own ways of thinking and your authority about an inquiry you design. Each major course assignment will ask you to present your evolving thinking using a different modality (mode of presentation). Some of these modalities will look familiar (e.g., a “paper”) and others will challenge you to think more creatively and expansively about the presentation of research and argument. Ultimately, UNIV 200 provides you with the opportunity to develop the skills and strategies you need for success in your upper division research and writing challenges, as well as your professional and civic life.

Critical Reading and Evidence-Based Argument

You will work on further developing your critical thinking skills through close reading. As a class, we will study and discuss a series of texts, along with related material, to examine meaning and the rhetorical strategies and structures that deliver meaning. In particular, we will review the elements of argument and the essential role they play in the process of inquiry and the communication of ideas. Over the course of this unit, we will establish a common vocabulary for discussing arguments, and we will begin establishing a classroom culture of critical thinking by exploring how questioning a particular text can lead to larger academic inquiry and topic development.

Managing the Research Process

This segment of the course will provide you the opportunity to use the elements of argument previously introduced to focus on a topic of your choice and develop a research question. You will then design a research strategy, attend a library session, and begin locating sources that will address that research question. The focus area also emphasizes the importance of information fluency by exploring concepts and skills that will help you to a) locate and assess quality primary and secondary sources, b) practice reading and synthesizing those sources, and c) utilize proper documentation. Your research will ultimately provide the basis of your argument.

The Creation and Craft of Argument

Here you will develop and refine your inquiry project—an argument based on your understanding of the elements of argument and the research you conducted. You will start by drafting and developing an answer to your research question, which will become your tentative claim. Once you have established a tentative claim, you will begin the writing process by developing a clear plan for the structure of your argument. You will then write a first draft, which you will revise comprehensively in the light of your own critical reflection and feedback from your instructor and peers. Throughout the writing process, you will give and receive feedback on written work.

Remediation of Inquiry Project

You will explore the various ways that academic work can be shared in traditional and digital platforms. As a class, we will examine the relationship between form and content and consider the influence a writer’s chosen medium may have on the ability to convey an argument. In this unit, you will work individually or collaboratively to translate and present an argument from your research paper in a new medium.

Virginia Commonwealth University

Department of Focused Inquiry

Harris Hall, 5th Floor
1015 Floyd Avenue
Box 842015
Richmond, Virginia 23284-2015

Phone: 804-827-0838

Updated: 6/7/2019

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