Please make sure that it is your own work and not copy and paste off of someone else work or article. Please read the study guide and watch out for spelling errors and grammar errors. Please use the APA 7th edition format.
Book Reference: Greene, S., & Lidinsky, A. (2018). From inquiry to academic writing: A practical guide (4th ed.). Bedford/St. Martin's. https://online.vitalsource.com/#/books/9781319071677
As an initial post, discuss the working thesis and model of your proposed research topic and your impetus for this topic. In subsequent posts, offer suggestions to your fellow students on their working thesis and models.
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Course Learning Outcomes for Unit III Upon completion of this unit, students should be able to:
2. Analyze the text of an academic document using a variety of methods. 2.1 Identify issues described in academic articles. 2.2 Ascertain the thesis in academic articles.
6. Develop a working thesis based on issues identified in academic literature.
6.1 Identify a preliminary thesis statement for a chosen topical area.
Course/Unit Learning Outcomes
Unit Lesson Chapter 5 Chapter 6 Unit III Scholarly Activity
Unit Lesson Chapter 5 Chapter 6 Unit III Scholarly Activity
6.1 Unit Lesson Chapter 5 Unit III Scholarly Activity
Required Unit Resources Chapter 5: From Identifying Issues to Forming Questions Chapter 6: From Formulating to Developing a Thesis
Working Thesis and Model The focus of this unit’s lesson is forming researchable questions from issues found in academic bodies of work and developing a thesis from those questions.
Identifying Issues to Forming Questions When reading academic literature, one should be reading from the view of a writer, a writer who could incorporate content of the document being read into their own writing. To do this, Greene and Lidinsky (2018) offer three suggestions:
Identify the issue, idea, or statement that motivates you to respond in writing.
Understand the factors or situation that shaped your response.
Develop a question that you would answer in your response. When identifying issues, it is natural to navigate towards a topic that one feels passionate about. Passion could come from connecting with a person’s worldview. Alternately, passion could emanate from connecting with another person’s experience. Regardless, as a novice researcher, you should be dispassionate in your
UNIT III STUDY GUIDE
Working Thesis and Model
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evaluation of issues. An objective approach will allow you to not rely on the experience of others but to use these experiences to strengthen your argument (Greene & Lidinsky, 2018). Another approach in examining issues is to identify differences, conflicts, or disputes in viewpoints. Greene and Lidinsky (2018) describe this as identifying the fundamental tension between two points of view. A novice researcher can start by examining the literature review of an article to view how the author(s) have compared prior research. Another way to deduce a conflict is by reviewing and comparing results of research. It might be possible to identify differences in replication (quantitative) or interpretation (qualitative) through this process. However, identifying differences may not be clear. For example, in a quantitative study, an effect size, such as Pearson’s r, will be reported along with confidence intervals (a range on either side of the effect). Comparing two studies using the same effect size, a difference (e.g., 0.20 vs. 0.30) may appear and maybe a conclusion that there is a significant difference between the numbers. However, the difference may be more complex than what it appears. When looking at the confidence intervals (0.10–0.30 vs. 0.20–0.40), it is plausible that the effect sizes are similar. This is an example of moving from binary thinking to complex thinking. Extending or building on the ideas of others, is yet another way to identify issues (Greene & Lidinsky, 2018). Extending prior academic research by using creative thinking can not only add to a domain’s body of knowledge but also extend the thinking on a subject. Another method, often found in qualitative research, is discovering the writer’s perspective, voice, and persona (Barnet et al., 2020, p. 229–232; Greene & Lidinsky, 2018, p. 119; MacGregor, 2018, p. 358–360). Much of qualitative research is based on the lens of the researcher. Thus, if a second researcher were reviewing the same material as the first research, but through a different (theoretical, in most cases) lens, the interpretation of events or descriptions could be different, although qualitative researchers often strive for inter-rater reliability depending on the design of the study (Saldaña, 2009, p. 27; Saldaña & Omasta, 2018, p. 6). Finally, situational constraints could be used to identify issues. While Greene and Lidinsky (2018) provide a few examples on p. 121, more common examples are (a) sample size limitations, (b) disproportionate demographical characteristics of a sample (e.g., gender, age, ethnicity), and (c) research bias (e.g., being too close to the subject and injecting bias).
Developing a Thesis Readers of academic work expect writers to be clear, specific, and demonstrate an understanding of issues and situations. The first step a reader takes is to evaluate the writer’s thesis. Greene and Lidinsky (2018) describe a thesis as an assertion made at the beginning of a written document, and support is provided with additional documentation (p. 141). However, a thesis evolves over time. Thus, a novice researcher should start with a working thesis. A working thesis helps select articles to read and tests a premise. Greene and Lidinsky (2018) suggest four models to guide thesis development:
modifying-what-others-have-said model, and
hypothesis-testing model. The correcting-misinterpreting model can be used to correct prior research arguments or results. Gelman and Loken (2014) pointed out errors or misinterpretations about the use of statistical significance in evolutionary psychology research performed by Petersen et al. (2013), and Beall and Tracy (2013), argue that the results of these studies should be ignored. Beall and Tracy’s study was extended and replicated by Hone and McCullough (2020), where the results were refuted. The filling-the-gap model is often used by novice researchers as they try to identify a gap in knowledge. For example, a novice researcher exploring the relationship between servant leadership and job satisfaction may take a position that the interaction of age and education moderates the relationship (Figure 1).
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Figure 1 Conceptual Framework of Interaction of Age and Education as a Moderator Between Servant Leadership and Organizational Culture
The modifying-what-others-have-said model involves identifying the similarities and differences in prior research and using an academic article to have a constructive conversation about an issue or problem. Finally, the hypothesis-testing model begins with an assumptive statement, and the researcher explores evidence via testing until evidence is found that refutes the hypothesis. In a sense, Hone and McCullough (2020) did that by refuting the results of Beall and Tracy (2013).
Summary Prior to this unit, the emphasis was on how to move from reading as a writer to writing as a reader, how to summarize and paraphrase, and how to identify claims and analyze argument. This unit focused on reading and thinking about how to develop a thesis and working model for proposed research. Next is an exploration of the differences between academic and non-academic literature, which helps frame your proposed research.
References Barnet, S., Bedau, H., & O'Hara, J. (2020). From critical thinking to argument: A portable guide (6th ed.).
Bedford/St. Martin’s. Beall, A. T., & Tracy, J. L. (2013). Women are more likely to wear red or pink at peak fertility. Psychological
Science, 24(9), 1837–1841. https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797613476045 Gelman, A., & Loken, E. (2014). The statistical crises in science. American Scientist, 102(6), 460–465.
https://doi.org/10.1511/2014.111.460 Greene, S., & Lidinsky, A. (2018). From inquiry to academic writing: A practical guide (4th ed.). Bedford/St.
Martin’s. https://online.vitalsource.com/#/books/9781319071677 Hone, L. S. E., & McCullough, M. E. (2020). Women are more likely to wear red or pink at peak fertility? What
about on cold days? Conceptual, close, and extended replications with novel clothing colour measures. British Journal of Social Psychology. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1111/bjso.12371
McGregor, S. L. T. (2018). Understanding and evaluating research: A critical guide. SAGE.
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Petersen, M. B., Sznycer, D., Sell, A., Cosmides, L., & Tooby, J. (2013). The ancestral logic of politics: Upper- body strength regulates men's assertion of self-interest over economic redistribution. Psychological Science, 24(7), 1098–1103. https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797612466415
Saldaña, J. (2009). The coding manual for qualitative researchers. SAGE. Saldaña, J., & Omasta, M. (2018). Qualitative research: Analyzing life. SAGE.
Suggested Unit Resources In order to access the video below, utilize the CSU Online Library. To help identify gaps in a research area, review the following video segment. Hein, W. (2020). How to identify gaps in your research (Segment 2 of 4) [Video]. In Top tips for conducting
qualitative research. SAGE Research Methods. https://methods-sagepub- com.libraryresources.columbiasouthern.edu/video/top-tips-for-conducting-qualitative-research
The transcript for the video is available to the right of the video under the Transcript tab.
In this section we present several steps to identifying an issue. You don’t have to follow them in this particular order, and you may find yourself going back and forth among them as you try to bring an issue into focus.
Keep in mind that issues do not simply exist in the world well formed. Instead, writers construct what they see as issues from the situations they observe. For example, consider legislation to limit downloads from the Internet. If such legislation conflicts with your own practices and sense of freedom, you may have begun to identify an issue: the clash of values over what constitutes fair use and what does not. Be aware that others may not understand your issue and that in your writing you will have to explain carefully what is at stake.
◼ Draw on Your Personal Experience
You may have been taught that formal writing is objective, that you must keep a dispassionate distance from your subject, and that you should not use I in a college-level paper. The fact is, however, that our personal experiences influence how we read, what we pay attention to, and what inferences we draw. It makes sense, then, to begin with you — where you are and what you think and believe.
We all use personal experience to make arguments in our everyday lives. In an academic context, the challenge is to use personal experience to argue a point, to illustrate something, or to illuminate a connection between theories and the sense we make of our daily experience. You don’t want simply to tell your story. You want your story to strengthen your argument.
For example, in Cultural Literacy, E. D. Hirsch personalizes his interest in reversing the cycle of illiteracy in America’s cities. To establish the nature of the problem in the situation he describes, he cites research showing that student performance on standardized tests in the United States is falling. But he also reflects on his own teaching in the 1970s, when he first perceived “the widening knowledge gap [that] caused me to recognize the connection between specific background knowledge and mature literacy.” And he injects anecdotal evidence from conversations with his son, a teacher. Those stories heighten readers’ awareness that school-aged children do not know much about literature, history, or government. (For example, his son mentions a student who challenged his claim that Latin is a “dead language” by demanding, “What do they speak in Latin America?”)
Hirsch’s use of his son’s testimony makes him vulnerable to criticism, as readers might question whether Hirsch can legitimately use his son’s experience to make generalizations about education. But in fact, Hirsch is using personal testimony — his own and his son’s — to augment and put a human face on the research he cites. He presents his issue, that schools must teach cultural literacy, both as something personal and as something with which we should all be concerned. The personal note helps readers see Hirsch as someone who has long been concerned with education and who has even raised a son who is an educator.
◼ Identify What Is Open to Dispute
An issue is something that is open to dispute. Sometimes the way to clarify an issue is to think of it as a fundamental tension between two or more conflicting points of view. If you can identify conflicting points of view, an issue may become clear.
Consider E. D. Hirsch, who believes that the best approach to educational reform is to change the curriculum in schools. His position: A curriculum based on cultural literacy is the one sure way to reverse the cycle of poverty and illiteracy in urban areas.
What is the issue? Hirsch’s issue emerges in the presence of an alternative position. Jonathan Kozol, a social activist who has written extensively about educational reform, believes that policymakers need to address reform by providing the necessary resources that all students need to learn. Kozol points out that students in many inner-city schools are reading outdated textbooks and that the dilapidated conditions in these schools — windows that won’t close, for example — make it impossible for students to learn.
In tension are two different views of the reform that can reverse illiteracy: Hirsch’s view that educational reform should occur through curricular changes, and Kozol’s view that educational reform demands socioeconomic resources.
◼ Resist Binary Thinking
As you begin to define what is at issue, try to tease out complexities that may not be immediately apparent. That is, try to resist the either/or mindset that signals binary thinking.
If you considered only what Hirsch and Kozol have to say, it would be easy to characterize the problems facing our schools as either curricular or socioeconomic. But it may be that the real issue combines these arguments with a third or even a fourth, that neither curricular nor socioeconomic changes by themselves can resolve the problems with American schools.
After reading essays by both Hirsch and Kozol, one of our students pointed out that both Hirsch’s focus on curriculum and Kozol’s socioeconomic focus ignore another concern. She went on to describe her school experience in racial terms. In the excerpt below, notice how this writer uses personal experience (in a new school, she is not treated as she had expected to be treated) to formulate an issue.
Moving from Colorado Springs to Tallahassee, I was immediately struck by the differences apparent in local home life, school life, and community unity, or lack thereof. Ripped from my sheltered world at a small Catholic school characterized by racial harmony, I was thrown into a large public school where outward prejudice from classmates and teachers and “race wars” were common and tolerated. . . .
In a school where students and teachers had free rein to abuse anyone different from them, I was constantly abused. As the only black student in English honors, I was commonly belittled in front of my “peers” by my teacher. If I developed courage enough to ask a question, I was always answered with the use of improper grammar and such words as “ain’t” as my teacher attempted to simplify the material to “my level” and to give me what he called “a little learning.” After discussing several subjects, he often turned to me, singling me out of a sea of white faces, and asked, “Do you understand, Mila?” When asking my opinion of a subject, he frequently questioned, “What do your people think about this?” Although he insisted on including such readings as Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech in the curriculum, the speech’s themes of tolerance and equity did not accompany his lesson.
Through her reading, this student discovered that few prominent scholars have confronted the issue of racism in schools directly. Although she grants that curricular reform and increased funding may be necessary to improve education, she argues that scholars also need to address race in their studies of teaching and learning.
Our point is that issues may be more complex than you first think they are. For this student, the issue wasn’t one of two positions — reform the curriculum or provide more funding. Instead, it combined a number of different positions, including race (“prejudice” and “race wars”) and the relationship between student and teacher (“Do you understand, Mila?”) in a classroom.
In this passage, the writer uses her experience to challenge binary thinking. Like the student writer, you should examine issues from different perspectives, avoiding either/or propositions that oversimplify the world.
◼ Build on and Extend the Ideas of Others
Academic writing builds on and extends the ideas of others. As an academic writer, you will find that by extending other people’s ideas, you will extend your own. You may begin in a familiar place, but as you read more and pursue connections to other readings, you may well end up at an unexpected destination.
For example, one of our students was troubled when he read Melissa Stormont-Spurgin’s description of homeless children. The student uses details from her work (giving credit, of course) in his own:
The children . . . went to school after less than three hours of sleep. They wore the same wrinkled clothes that they had worn the day before. What will their teachers think when they fall asleep in class? How will they get food for lunch? What will their peers think? What could these homeless children talk about with their peers? They have had to grow up too fast. Their worries are not the same as other children’s worries. They are worried about their next meal and where they will seek shelter. Their needs, however, are the same. They need a home and all of the securities that come with it. They also need an education (Stormont-Spurgin 156).
Initially the student was troubled by his own access to quality schools, and the contrast between his life and the lives of the children Stormont-Spurgin describes. Initially, then, his issue was the fundamental tension between his own privileged status, something he had taken for granted, and the struggle that homeless children face every day.
However, as he read further and grew to understand homelessness as a concern in a number of studies, he connected his personal response to a larger conversation about democracy, fairness, and education:
Melissa Stormont-Spurgin, an author of several articles on educational studies, addresses a very real and important, yet avoided issue in education today. Statistics show that a very high percentage of children who are born into homeless families will remain homeless, or in poverty, for the rest of their lives. How can this be, if everyone actually does have the same educational opportunities? There must be significant educational disadvantages for children without homes. In a democratic society, I feel that we must pay close attention to these disadvantages and do everything in our power to replace them with equality.
Ultimately, the student refined his sense of what was at issue: Although all people should have access to public education in a democratic society, not everyone has the opportunity to attend quality schools in order to achieve personal success. In turn, his definition of the issue began to shape his argument:
Parents, teachers, homeless shelters, and the citizens of the United States who fund [homeless] shelters must address the educational needs of homeless children, while steering them away from any more financial or psychological struggles. Without this emphasis on education, the current trend upward in the number of homeless families will inevitably continue in the future of American society.
The student shifted away from a personal issue — the difference between his status and that of homeless children — to an issue of clashing values: the principle of egalitarian democracy on the one hand and the reality of citizens in a democracy living in abject poverty on the other. When he started to read about homeless children, he could not have made the claim he ends up making, that policymakers must make education a basic human right.
This student offers us an important lesson about the role of inquiry and the value of resisting easy answers. He has built on and extended his own ideas — and the ideas of others — after repeating the process of reading, raising questions, writing, and seeing problems a number of times.
◼ Read to Discover a Writer’s Frame
A more specialized strategy of building on and extending the ideas of others involves reading to discover a writer’s frame, the perspective through which a writer presents his or her arguments. Writers want us to see the world a certain way, so they frame their arguments much the same way photographers and artists frame their pictures.
For example, if you were to take a picture of friends in front of the football stadium on campus, you would focus on what you would most like to remember — your friends’ faces — blurring the images of the people walking behind your friends. Setting up the picture, or framing it, might require using light and shade to make some details stand out more than others. Writers do the same with language.
E. D. Hirsch uses the concept of cultural literacy to frame his argument for curricular reform. For Hirsch, the term is a benchmark, a standard: People who are culturally literate are familiar with the body of information that every educated citizen should know. Hirsch’s implication, of course, is that people who are not culturally literate are not well educated. But that is not necessarily true. In fact, a number of educators insist that literacy is simply a means to an end — reading to complete an assignment, for example, or to understand the ramifications of a decision — not an end in itself. By defining and using cultural literacy as the goal of education, Hirsch is framing his argument; he is bringing his ideas into focus.
When writers use framing strategies, they also call attention to the specific conversations that set up the situation for their arguments. Framing often entails quoting specific theories and ideas from other authors and then using those quotations as a perspective, or lens, through which to examine other material. In his memoir Hunger of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodriguez (1982), Richard Rodriguez uses this method to examine his situation as a nonnative speaker of English desperate to enter the mainstream culture, even if it means sacrificing his identity as the son of Mexican immigrants. Reflecting on his life as a student, Rodriguez comes across Richard Hoggart’s book The Uses of Literacy (1957). Hoggart’s description of “the scholarship boy” presents a lens through which Rodriguez can see his own experience. Hoggart writes:
With his family, the boy has the intense pleasure of intimacy, the family’s consolation in feeling public alienation. Lavish emotions texture home life. Then, at school, the instruction bids him to trust lonely reason primarily. Immediate needs set the pace of his parents’ lives. From his mother and father the boy learns to trust spontaneity and nonrational ways of knowing. Then, at school, there is mental calm. Teachers emphasize the value of a reflectiveness that opens a space between thinking and immediate action.
Years of schooling must pass before the boy will be able to sketch the cultural differences in his day as abstractly as this. But he senses those differences early. Perhaps as early as the night he brings home an assignment from school and finds the house too noisy for study. He has to be more and more alone, if he is going to “get on.” He will have, probably unconsciously, to oppose the ethos of the hearth, the intense gregariousness of the working-class family group. . . . The boy has to cut himself off mentally, so as to do his homework, as well as he can.
Here is Rodriguez’s response to Hoggart’s description of the scholarship boy:
For weeks I read, speed-read, books by modern educational theorists, only to find infrequent and slight mention of students like me. . . . Then one day, leafing through Richard Hoggart’s The Uses of Literacy, I found, in his description of the scholarship boy, myself. For the first time I realized that there were other students like me, and so I was able to frame the meaning of my academic success, its consequent price — the loss.
Notice how Rodriguez introduces ideas from Hoggart “to frame” his own ideas: “I found, in his description of the scholarship boy, myself. For the first time I realized that there were other students like me, and so I was able to frame the meaning of my academic success, its consequent price — the loss.” Hoggart’s scholarship boy enables Rodriguez to revisit his own experience with a new perspective. Hoggart’s words and idea advance Rodriguez’s understanding of the problem he identifies in his life: his inability to find solace at home and within his working-class roots. Hoggart’s description of the scholarship boy’s moving between cultural extremes — spontaneity at home and reflection at school — helps Rodriguez bring his own youthful discontent into focus.
Rodriguez’s response to Hoggart’s text shows how another writer’s lens can help frame an issue. If you were using Hoggart’s term scholarship boy as a lens through which to clarify an issue in education, you might ask how the term illuminates new aspects of another writer’s examples or your own. And then you might ask, “To what extent does Hirsch’s cultural literacy throw a more positive light on what Rodriguez and Hoggart describe?” or “How do my experiences challenge, extend, or complicate the scholarship-boy concept?”
◼ Consider the Constraints of the Situation
In identifying an issue, you have to understand the situation that gives rise to the issue, including the contexts in which it is raised and debated. One of the contexts is the audience. In thinking about your issue, you must consider the extent to which your potential readers are involved in the dialogue you want to enter, and what they know and need to know. In a sense, audience functions as both context and constraint, a factor that narrows the choices you can make in responding to an issue. An understanding of your potential readers will help you choose the depth of your discussion; it will also determine the kind of evidence you can present and the language you can use.
Another constraint on your response to an issue is the form that response takes. For example, if you decide to make an issue of government-imposed limits on what you can download from the Internet, your response in writing might take the form of an editorial or a letter to a legislator. In this situation, length is an obvious constraint: Newspapers limit the word count of editorials, and the best letters to legislators tend to be brief and very selective about the evidence they cite. A few personal examples and a few statistics may be all you can include to support your claim about the issue. By contrast, if you were making your case in an academic journal, a very different set of constraints would apply. You would have more space for illustrations and support, for example.
Finally, the situation itself can function as a major constraint. For instance, suppose your topic is the decline of educational standards. It’s difficult to imagine any writer making the case for accelerating that decline, or any audience being receptive to the idea that a decline in standards is a good thing.
Steps to Identifying Issues
1. Draw on your personal experience. Start with your own sense of what’s important, what puzzles you, or what you are curious about. Then build your argument by moving on to other sources to support your point of view.
2. Identify what is open to dispute. Identify a phenomenon or some idea in a written argument that challenges what you think or believe.
3. Resist binary thinking. Think about the issue from multiple perspectives.
4. Build on and extend the ideas of others. As you read, be open to new ways of looking at the issue. The issue you finally write about may be very different from what you set out to write about.
5. Read to discover a writer’s frame. What theories or ideas shape the writer’s focus? How can these theories or ideas help you frame your argument?
6. Consider the constraints of the situation. Craft your argument to meet the needs of and constraints imposed by your audience and form.
IDENTIFYING ISSUES IN AN ESSAY
In the following editorial, published in 2002 in Newsweek, writer Anna Quindlen addresses her concern that middle-class parents overschedule their children’s lives. She calls attention to the ways leisure time helped her develop as a writer and urges parents to consider the extent to which children’s creativity depends on having some downtime. They don’t always have to have their time scheduled. As you read Quindlen’s “Doing Nothing Is Something,” note what words and phrases Quindlen uses to identify the situation and to indicate who her audience is. Identify her main claim as one of fact, value, or policy. Finally, answer the questions that follow the selection to see if you can discern how she locates, defines, and advances her issue.
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