In Week 1, you will select a topic that will sustain your interest for the next ten weeks. Once that first step is complete, it’s time to begin learning all that you can through the research process. In this first essay, you will inform your readers by providing a thorough examination of the issue you’ve selected.
Your Goal: The purpose of an expository essay is to inform and explain. Your essay is going to help your readers understand the issue you’ve chosen on the same level that you do. Your job is to analyze various perspectives on the topic you’ve selected and to present them to readers, along with background on the topic.
Remember, you are not offering your opinion on the issue you’ve selected; your objective is to inform and explain that issue. You will have opportunities to express your views on your topic later in the class, but, for now, your paper should be informative, not persuasive.
This means that, as an author, you need to remain neutral on your topic at this point. Part of the goal of research is to allow ourselves to be open to discovering new points of view on a topic, even if we start the process by thinking our minds are made up. Often, students find that their original point of view on their issue does not hold up after they read expert opinions and studies. Being willing to be convinced by research and personal reflection is an important facet of being an educated and fair-minded person. Once it is time to argue your position on your topic (in the second essay), you will be much better prepared to do so because you have put the work in now to really understand the topic.
Organization Tips: Begin with an introduction that builds readers’ interest in the topic and ends with a concise thesis statement that alerts your readers to the issue you’ll be discussing.
The body of your essay will discuss the important elements of the issue you’ve selected. Those body paragraphs should include topic sentences that encompass each paragraph’s content, the research you’ve gathered from your sources, and a smooth transition from point to point. You’ll want to provide background information to “teach” your readers about your topic, and you’ll also want to present them with the various perspectives on your topic. Do this by presenting the views of experts within the topic. Avoid seeking similar views; instead, the goal is to offer the various different voices within the conversation.
Don’t forget a conclusion that summarizes the main points you’ve discussed within the body of your essay.
To guide you through this process, we’ll work through several steps these next few weeks. Here’s how they will break down:
Step 1/Week 1 – Select your topic. Remember that you will keep this topic for the whole 10-week class, so give this lots of thought.
Step 2/Week 2 – Construct an annotated bibliography using two to three sources. This process asks you to find solid academic sources and summarize them; it’s extremely helpful in preparing you to draft your paper.
Step 3/Week 3 – Map the debate. Identify and summarize the various positions within your topic; this will lay out what each side of the debate brings to the table AND help you to firm up your own opinions on the issue.
Step 4/Week 4—Submit your Expository Research Essay.
IMPORTANT POINT: One last time, let us remind you that the topic you choose for this paper will be your topic for the entire class, meaning it will also be your topic for the argumentative research paper and the commentary article.
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