Final Toulmin Analysis Essay

Focus

Strong thesis, sentence structure, paragraph cohesion & conceptual flow, integration of relevant & authoritative sources, focused intro & conclusion. Use of Toulmin Analysis as the basis for your evaluation.

In class we will discuss and evaluate the method of argument analysis developed by the British philosopher Stephen Toulmin. Afterwards, you will select one of the essays from the assigned section of our Blackboard page and write a Toulmin analysis of the argument(s) presented in the essay.

5-7 Pages, Double-spaced, MLA format.

  1. Select an essay from the assigned section of our Blackboard page.
  2. In your introduction, explore the overall topic, the main thesis of the article you are analyzing and your thesis on whether or not you find the argument effective and convincing. What, in Toulmin terms, makes the argument strong or weak?
  3. Try to find the central claim of the article you are analyzing. How do you know it is the claim? Is it stated or implied? Is it a claim of fact, value or policy? Does the author provide a qualifier and/or a rebuttal for their claim? If not, does the absence of these elements weaken the claim or not?
  4. Look at the data/evidence the author provides for their claim. Is the evidence clear? Is it fair? Is it relevant, reliable and representative? Do you get a sense that the author has selectively chosen evidence and ignored other evidence in order to strengthen their claim? Can you demonstrate this? Does the evidence support the particular type of claim the author has made (fact, value or policy)? Build upon the research you did in your Annotated Bibliography to help you to help you determine how relevant, authoritative and reliable the data is which the author of your chosen ar- ticle provides in support of its claim.
  5. Use examples from relevant sources (in the form of quotation, summary, and paraphrase) and your own discussion to create this thesis-driven essay. Try to move beyond just retelling your experience or opinion. You need to look at the underlying claims ABOUT the topic as well as what the most reliable and authoritative sources you can find have to say about it.
  6. Can you identify the warrant (the unstated assumption that connects the claim and the data) of the essay you are reading? Does the warrant do a sufficient job of connecting the data to the warrant? Why or why not? Is it a substantive (logos-based), authoritative (ethos-based) or motivational (pathos-based) warrant? Does this type of warrant best suit the type of claim the author is making and the type of evidence they provide to support this claim?
  7. Does the author provide backing (evidence) for their warrant? If not, would the presence of evidence for their warrant strengthen the argument in any way? Why or why not?
  8. Is there anything in the essay that needs an extended definition? How might this affect the overall argument with regard to the Toulmin-labeled relationships between the ideas?
  9. What is your assessment of the overall effectiveness of the argument? Is it persuasive? Why or why not? What, in Toulmin terms, could be changed to make it more persuasive?

Goals

  • Be able to analyze a larger cultural issue and respond to it.
  • Be able to clearly present your interpretation of the issue, without personal bias or with clear, relevant and authoritative support for the bias using the Toulmin model of argument analysis.
  • Be able to use summary, paraphrase, and quotation of relevant sources in your analysis.
  • Be able to clearly express your own thoughts about the topic under discussion.
  • Be able to create graceful transitions, introduction, and conclusion to tie together the various parts of your essay.
  • Present your argument or position in a clear thesis statement in the introduction.
  • Support your claim or focus with evidence and examples from relevant, reliable and representative sources. The body of your essay will explore the major points related to your thesis.
  • Present one major point (presented in a topic sentence) per paragraph and explain it fully, with detailed support and examples, before you move on to your next point/paragraph.
  • Wrap up your essay with a conclusion that revisits your overall topic and theme.

Research

  • Take advantage of the WR 122 Library Guide (on our Blackboard page) for help with finding relevant sources, getting your essay into MLA format and all other aspects of the research and writing process.
  • Consult the MHCC databases for relevant articles related to your research.
  • You may also use popular search engines, interviews and other reliable, authoritative means of support to develop your thesis.

Format & Length

  • 5-7 pages, double-spaced, 12.pt font. (Times New Roman, Arial or Helvetica)
  • MLA format. (Please consult your textbook and our Library page for help with MLA. I have also provided an essay template on our Blackboard page (in the “Writing Process” module) for you. Newer versions of Microsoft Word come with an MLA template as well. You have access to Microsoft Office as a student.
  • Consult the Class Syllabus and Overview for instructions on how to download it. Remember, MLA primarily means how you structure the first page headings, proper in-text citations and a properly formatted “Works Cited” page).
  • A minimum of 4 reliable, relevant external sources cited in the essay and on a properly formatted Works Cited page.
  • Give your paper an original title that is NOT simply “Final Essay” or “Social Media Essay.”
  • Grab the reader’s attention, provide a BRIEF summary of the major themes and your overall thesis (main point) in the introduction of your essay.
  • Present one major point (presented in a topic sentence) per paragraph and explain it fully, with detailed support and examples, before you move on to your next point/paragraph.
  • Wrap up your essay with a conclusion that revisits your overall topic, theme and thesis.
  • View Toulmin Worksheet #1
  • View Toulmin Worksheet #2

 

Due Date & Other Details

  • Your essay is due at our final class meeting. See calendar and course schedule for more details.
  • Take a draft of your essay to the Writing Center (link on our Blackboard Page) for feedback & extra credit. Include a signed document in your submission.
  • Please type your paper, double-spaced, in a readable font (about 12-point). Be sure to have someone look over your paper, after you have polished the final draft, to catch any mechanical errors. Final drafts turned in should be entirely free of such errors.
  • Make sure you are using the elements of argument construction and analysis we have learned this term to strengthen the presentation of your ideas. For instance, make sure you have established proper authority with your sources, have sufficient and reliable data, make appropriate appeals to pathos, and have a proper warrant that connects your evidence to your thesis.
  • Make sure to consider and include substantive responses to the major arguments on both (or all) sides of the argument in question. Especially those in opposition to your thesis.

Note: Tutors are available every day in the Learning Resource Center (upstairs in the library). Try to make an appointment well in advance. They also have online tutoring. See our Blackboard page for more details.

License

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Critical Thinking by Andrew Gurevich is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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