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Essay: Argument
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Argument
People argue all the time—over what movie to see, what to have for dinner, whom to vote for. People generally have strong opinions, and many don’t hesitate to express them. Your friend doesn’t want to see the same movie you do because he doesn’t like gory horror. Your partner wants to eat at a restaurant that serves healthy food. Your coworker won’t vote for any candidate who doesn’t support universal healthcare.
Your argument essay is an amplified version of those types of arguments you have with family, friends, and coworkers each day. The difference is that you’ll be conducting research and using the information you find to explain a problem and then provide a solution.
Tip for Success: Be sure to check out the resources available to you in the Learning Resource Center for videos and worksheets to help you complete this assignment. There are also helpful resources about finding, choosing, and citing sources available that would help with the argument essay.
The argument essay is 1,600–1,800 words and must incorporate a minimum of four secondary sources.
There’s no graded prewriting assignment for your argument essay.
Assignment Objectives
Use prewriting, publishing, revising, and editing to write a formal, college-level essay.
Distinguish among different patterns of development.
Apply an appropriate pattern of development to a specific purpose and audience.
Write an effective thesis statement.
Develop paragraphs using topic sentences, adequate detail, supporting evidence, and transitions.
Employ responsible research methods to locate appropriate secondary sources.
Quote, paraphrase, and summarize secondary source material correctly and appropriately.
Use APA (American Psychological Association) citation and documentation style to reference secondary source material correctly and appropriately.
Apply the conventions of standard written American English to produce a correct, well-written essay.
Topic
Choose one of the following topics. Each topic focuses on a current problem that many students face.
The high cost of college or student loan debt
The lack of proper nutrition
Low minimum wage
You may narrow the focus of your topic as you see fit.
Purpose and Audience
The purpose of your essay is to identify, define, and analyze the problem, and then provide a solution to address it. You’ll use the third-person point of view.
Your audience is made up of your fellow Penn Foster classmates. Many will agree with you, while others will disagree. You need to present evidence to support your analysis and solution, and convince your audience through the strength of your argument and the feasibility of your solution, to side with you.
Research Requirement
You’re required to use a minimum of four secondary sources in your essay. Use the Research Writing and Citation and Documentation webinar, Journal Entry 16, and the Argument Essay Research Worksheet to help start your research and organize your essay.
The required secondary sources are
At least two articles from Penn Foster’s digital library database, Gale Academic OneFile Select
At least one nonprofit or government organization (online or print). Look for website domains .org, .edu, and .gov.
One source that you choose.
Remember that all sources, no matter where they come from, should be evaluated for accuracy and validity. You may use more than four sources, but you should avoid using more than six. Borrowing too much from too many sources will overwhelm your voice in your essay and negatively affect your grade. It could also lead to plagiarism.
Process
Once you’ve chosen your topic, read through the Argument Essay slideshow and watch the Argument Essay Instructions video. You should also complete the Argument Essay Worksheet. This doesn’t need to be turned in, but you should find it helpful.
You should develop your thesis statement, choose a method of organization, create an outline or graphic organizer, and begin publishing your essay.
As you publish your essay, ensure that you’re incorporating your sources accurately and responsibly. Remember to include the sources you use in your essay in your list of references.
You’ll be using APA citation and documentation style to give credit to your sources.
Begin with an introduction that gives a broad overview of your topic. End this introduction with a thesis statement. Your thesis statement must make your argument and name three supporting reasons. These reasons must be named in the same order they’re discussed in the body paragraphs.
Each body paragraph must describe one reason, with the exception of the last body paragraph before the conclusion; this paragraph must consider your opposition.
End with a conclusion that reinforces your thesis statement and names your three reasons.
Rubric
Argument Essay
Advanced—Score of 100%
The essay effectively addresses the purpose of the assignment and the requirements of the prompt.
The essay provides a clear thesis statement that effectively introduces the topic, states a claim that takes a position on one side of the issue, and previews the main points of the essay.
The essay provides specific, relevant evidence to illustrate ideas and support the argument in ways that are fresh, insightful, and engaging and employs elements of argument to convey ideas.
The essay effectively includes an introduction paragraph with a thesis statement that engages the reader, uses topic sentences to clearly define paragraphs, uses evidence that supports the thesis statement and topic sentences, and includes a conclusion that reinforces the thesis.
The essay includes the correct required sources. These secondary sources are used correctly and effectively to support the writer’s own claims. Ideas that cannot be considered common knowledge are cited and documented using APA citation format. The essay uses signal phrases, parenthetical citations, and a works cited page.
The essay effectively addresses the audience through an appropriate tone and point of view.
The essay is mostly free of errors in sentence structure, grammar, punctuation, and word choice while meeting the length requirement (1,600-1,800 words) and formatting requirements using the correct header, font, and margins.
Proficient—Score of 85%
The essay effectively addresses the purpose of the assignment and the requirements of the prompt.
The essay provides a clear thesis statement that effectively introduces the topic, states a claim that takes a position on one side of the issue, and previews the main points of the essay.
The essay provides specific, relevant evidence to illustrate ideas and support the argument in ways that are fresh, insightful, and engaging and employs elements of argument to convey ideas.
The essay effectively includes an introduction paragraph with a thesis statement that engages the reader, uses topic sentences to clearly define paragraphs, uses evidence that supports the thesis statement and topic sentences, and includes a conclusion that reinforces the thesis.
The essay includes the correct required sources. These secondary sources are used correctly and effectively to support the writer’s own claims. Ideas that cannot be considered common knowledge are cited and documented using APA citation format. The essay uses signal phrases, parenthetical citations, and a works cited page.
The essay effectively addresses the audience through an appropriate tone and point of view.
The essay is mostly free of errors in sentence structure, grammar, punctuation, and word choice while meeting the length requirement (1,600-1,800 words) and formatting requirements using the correct header, font, and margins.
Developing—Score of 70%
The essay partially addresses the purpose of the assignment and the requirements of the prompt.
The essay provides a thesis statement that is factual but offers no claim or assertion. The thesis provides direction for the essay, but does not explicitly outline main points.
The essay offers some specific evidence to illustrate ideas and support the thesis, though much of the information is obvious, and attempts to use elements of argument, though the essay lacks consistency.
The essay includes an introduction that is underdeveloped, body paragraphs with weak topic sentences that may lack focus, logical development or evidence relevant to the thesis, and a conclusion that is underdeveloped.
Some secondary sources are present, but they are inconsistently used to support the writer’s own claims. The writer has attempted to use a citation and documentation format, but does not adequately credit secondary sources.
The essay illustrates some awareness of audience but employs colloquial or idiomatic language, lacking appropriate tone.
The essay includes errors in sentence structure, grammar, punctuation, and word choice, some of which may interfere with meaning, and may fall short of or exceed the length requirements due to repetitive and unengaging content, while not fully addressing the topic and purpose. The essay may not employ the correct formatting.
Emerging—Score of 60%
The essay minimally addresses the purpose of the assignment and the requirements of the prompt.
The essay attempts a thesis statement, but it is factual and/or not related to the topic.
The essay offers general evidence and includes argument elements, but it does not address the topic or purpose.
The essay has an introduction that does not engage the reader, includes minimally defined main ideas, isn’t organized into paragraphs, lacks topic sentences, lacks evidence that relates to the thesis, lacks transitions, and/or lacks a conclusion.
Few secondary sources are present and they are inconsistently used to or do not support the writer’s own claims. The writer has attempted to use a citation and documentation format, but does not adequately credit secondary sources.
The essay addresses the appropriate audience but does not use an appropriate tone.
The essay contains some errors in sentence structure, grammar, punctuation, and word choice, making it difficult for the reader to follow and comprehend. The essay also does not meet or significantly exceeds the length requirement and does not apply the correct formatting.
Not Developed—Score of 50%
The essay does not address the purpose of the assignment or the requirements of the prompt.
The essay does not offer a thesis statement.
The essay does not provide specific, relevant evidence to illustrate ideas and support the thesis and does not employ elements of classification and division to convey ideas.
The essay has an introduction that does not engage the reader, lacks clearly defined main ideas, isn’t organized into paragraphs, lacks evidence that relates to the thesis, lacks transitions, and/or lacks a conclusion.
The essay lacks secondary sources and/or secondary sources do not support the writer’s claim. Sources are not cited and documented correctly.
The essay does not address the appropriate audience and does not use an appropriate tone.
The essay contains numerous errors in sentence structure, grammar, punctuation, and word choice, making it difficult for the reader to follow and comprehend, while also not meeting the length and/or formatting requirements.

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