Touchstone English Comp

Touchstones are projects that illustrate your comprehension of the course material, help you refine skills and demonstrate application of knowledge. You can work on a Touchstone anytime, but you can’t submit it until you have completed the unit’s Milestone. Once you’ve submitted a Touchstone, it will be graded and counted toward your final course score.

Description

GETTING STARTED

For Touchstone 2 you will be writing an argumentative essay on a topic of your choice. The topic you choose must be debatable and you must take a clear stand on one side of the issue. Your topic must also be on a small enough scale that it is appropriately narrow for a 3-5 page essay. Your essay must include a title, an introductory paragraph, which contains your argumentative thesis statement, at least three body paragraphs, which provide support for your argument and a conclusion paragraph. Research from at least two outside sources is required to provide evidence and support for your argument. Research must be cited using APA style. You must include a reference page, which lists the specific sources you used and properly cite the sources within your essay. An example essay is provided below for reference. Please read this before writing your essay.

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In order to foster learning and growth, all essays you submit must be newly written specifically for this course. Any recycled work will be sent back with a 0, and you will be given one attempt to redo the touchstone.

CHOOSING A TOPIC

You may choose any topic you wish as long as the topic has two clear sides and is not agreed upon by most of society. Your topic should be current and should have a narrow focus appropriate for a 3-5 page essay.

ESSAY GUIDELINES

Refer to the checklist below throughout the writing process. Do not submit your Touchstone until your essay meets all guidelines. We also suggest reading the complete sample essay before you begin writing.

Argumentative Thesis Statement and Focus
  • Does the topic of the argument have two clear sides?
  • Do you take a clear position on the argument in your thesis statement?
  • Is the topic appropriately narrow for a 3-5 page essay?
Development and Support
  • Are all details relevant to the argumentative thesis statement?
  • Is your position supported through use of rhetorical appeals?
  • Is your position supported through evidence?
Essay Structure and Organization
  • Does your essay have an introductory paragraph with a thesis statement?
  • Does your essay have at least three body paragraphs, which support your thesis statement?
  • Does your essay have a conclusion paragraph that wraps up the essay?
  • Are the essay paragraphs logically sequenced?
  • Have you used transitions to connect ideas between sentences and paragraphs?
  • Is it easy to follow the argument?
Style
  • Have you checked your essay for redundancies and imprecise language?
  • Does your essay employ a formal style and objective tone?
Sources and Citations
  • Have you referenced at least two outside sources as evidence for your argument?
  • Are your sources current and credible?
  • Have you properly cited the sources using APA style within your essay and included a reference page?
Conventions
  • Have you checked your essay for grammatical errors?
  • Have you used Spell-Check or another method to check spelling?
  • Have you used punctuation correctly?
  • Have you checked your essay for sentence run-ons and sentence fragments?
Reflection
  • Have you answered all of the reflection questions thoughtfully and thoroughly?
  • Are your answers to the reflection questions included on a separate page below your essay?
  • Have you met or exceeded the required length for each reflection response?
Before You Submit
  • Have you given your essay a title?
  • Have you included your name, date, and course at the top left of the page?
  • Is your essay between 3-5 pages (1,000-1,500 words)?

REFLECTION QUESTIONS

  1. How did your purpose and audience shape the way in which you wrote your argument? (1-2 sentences)
  2. What was the most difficult part of writing your argumentative essay? (2-3 sentences)
  3. Which appeals did you use and how do you think they strengthened your argument? (3-4 sentences)
  4. How has your understanding of argumentative writing changed after completing this unit? (2-3 sentences)

SCORING

Your composition and reflection will be scored according to the Touchstone 2 Rubric, which considers your essay structure, essay organization, argumentative claim and focus, development and support for your argument, style and conventions.

SOURCES AND CITATIONS

You are required to use at least two outside sources as evidence for your argument. The sources an author uses can either build or degrade his/her credibility. In addition, improper citation of sources is a form of plagiarism and is not acceptable in academic writing. Be sure the sources you choose are credible and unbiased. As a general rule of thumb- online sources that end in “.edu”, “.gov” or “.org” are usually more reliable than websites that end in “.com.” However, online news sources or online encyclopedias are credible sources as well. See the tutorials on credible research and research citation linked in the “helpful tutorials” section below for a reminder on how to properly cite sources in APA style and how to find online sources that are credible.

Should you choose to use a source that is not an online source and you need additional assistance on how to cite such a source, please visit the Purdue Online Writing Lab via this link: https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/

HELPFUL TUTORIALS

Requirements

  • Your essay, excluding your reference page and reflection questions, should be 1,000-1,500 words (approximately 3-5 pages) in length.
  • Double-space the essay and use 1-inch margins.
  • Use a readable 12-point font.
  • All writing must be appropriate for an academic context.
  • All writing must be original and written for this assignment. Plagiarism of any kind is strictly prohibited.
  • Submission must include your name, the name of the course, the date, and the title of your composition.
  • Submission must include your argumentative essay, your reference page with at least two outside sources and your answers to the reflection questions on a separate page.
  • Submit a single file only, including all assignment components.
  • Acceptable file formats include .doc, and .docx.

Example

→ Sample Touchstone

Scoring

Proficient (90-100%) Acceptable (70-89%) Needs Improvement (50-69%) Non-Performance (0-49%)

ARGUMENTATIVE THESIS STATEMENT AND FOCUS (20)

Has a clear argumentative thesis statement on a debatable topic and appropriate focus for the assignment length.

Includes a one-sentence argumentative thesis statement that makes a clear, specific recommendation on one side of a debatable issue. Includes a one-sentence argumentative thesis statement that makes a clear recommendation on one side of a debatable issue; however the thesis is lacking in specificity. Includes an argumentative thesis statement; however, it lacks specificity and does not make a clear recommendation, and/or the issue is not clearly debatable, and/or it is more than one sentence. Does not include a thesis or includes a thesis that does not take a position.

DEVELOPMENT AND SUPPORT (20)

Makes a well developed claim that is sufficiently supported by relevant details, use of rhetorical appeals and evidence.

Details are relevant to the thesis and consistently support the writer’s recommendation. The writer’s position is well developed and thoroughly supported using an effective balance of rhetorical appeals and evidence such that the essay’s argument is credible and persuasive. Details are primarily relevant to the thesis and support the writer’s recommendation. The writer’s position is adequately developed and supported using rhetorical appeals and evidence such that the essay’s argument is credible and persuasive; however, some parts of the essay may rely too heavily on appeals or evidence. Details are frequently irrelevant and/or do not support the writer’s recommendation. The writer’s position is not fully developed and/or relies primarily on rhetorical appeals or evidence, such that the argument is not credible or persuasive. Details are irrelevant. The writer’s position has not been developed and is lacking in rhetorical appeals and/or evidence.

ESSAY STRUCTURE AND ORGANIZATION (20)

The essay includes all required components such as an introduction with an argumentative thesis statement, body paragraphs that support the thesis statement and a conclusion. Logical organization of paragraphs and use of transitions impacts the flow.

The essay includes all of the required components of an argumentative research paper. Sequences ideas and paragraphs logically and effectively incorporates transitions such that connections between ideas (within and between paragraphs) are clear and the reader can easily follow the progression of the argument. As a result, the essay has a good flow. The essay includes all of the required components of an argumentative research paper. Generally sequences ideas and paragraphs logically and incorporates transitions such that connections between ideas (within and between paragraphs) are mostly clear and the reader can follow the progression of the argument. As a result, the essay has a good flow. The essay is missing one of the required components of an argumentative research paper. Sequence of some ideas and paragraphs may be illogical and some transitions are present but may not be used effectively such that connections between ideas (within and between paragraphs) are sometimes unclear and the reader may occasionally struggle to follow the progression of the argument. As a result, the essay does not have a strong flow. The essay is missing more than one required component of an argumentative research paper. Sequence of ideas and paragraphs is predominantly illogical and transitions are lacking or are consistently used ineffectively such that connections between ideas (within and between paragraphs) are predominantly unclear and the reader consistently struggles to follow the progression of the argument. As a result, the essay feels very disconnected.

STYLE (10)

Establishes a consistent, formal style and academic tone and makes thoughtful word choices and sentence variety.

Consistently demonstrates effective word choices, avoids redundancy and imprecise language, and uses a variety of sentence structures. Consistently writes in a formal style and academic tone that is appropriate to the purpose, audience, and focus of the essay. Demonstrates generally effective word choices, primarily avoids redundancy and imprecise language, and shows awareness of different sentence structures. Generally writes in a formal style and academic tone that is appropriate to the purpose, audience, and focus of the essay. Sometimes demonstrates poor word choices, redundancies, imprecise language, and/or repetitive sentence structures. Sometimes writes in an informal style or non-academic tone that is inappropriate to the purpose, audience, and/or focus of the essay. Frequently demonstrates poor word choices, redundancies, imprecise language, and/or repetitive sentence structures. Consistently writes in an informal style or non-academic tone that is inappropriate to the purpose, audience, and/or focus of the essay.

SOURCES AND CITATIONS (10)

Accurately and effectively incorporates sources to support the argument.

Accurately uses quotation, paraphrase, and/or summary to represent information from two or more credible sources. Incorporates sources smoothly using signal phrases and contextualization, such that the relationship between the paper’s argument and each paraphrase, quote, or summary is clear. Appropriately balances original writing and ideas with information from sources. Includes in-text citations where needed, adhering to APA citation requirements. Accurately uses quotation, paraphrase, and/or summary to represent information from two credible sources. Primarily incorporates sources effectively using signal phrases and contextualization, such that the relationship between the paper’s argument and each paraphrase, quote, or summary is generally clear, though they may occasionally be unclear. Primarily balances original writing and ideas with information from sources, but may occasionally rely on sources too heavily or fail to incorporate sources where needed. Primarily includes in-text citations where needed, adhering to APA citation requirements; however, some citations may be missing or not formatted correctly. Generally uses quotation, paraphrase, and/or summary accurately, but includes only one source or one source is not credible. Frequently does not incorporate sources effectively using signal phrases and contextualization, such that the relationship between the paper’s argument and each paraphrase, quote, or summary is often unclear. Proportion of original writing and ideas to information from sources lacks appropriate balance, such that the essay frequently relies too heavily on sources or sources are used minimally. Occasionally includes in-text citations where needed, adhering to APA citation requirements; however, citations are frequently missing or formatted incorrectly. No sources are included, and/or selected sources are not credible. Does not incorporate sources effectively using signal phrases and contextualization, such that the relationship between the paper’s argument and each paraphrase, quote, or summary is unclear. Author relies predominantly on information from sources or sources are not used. In text citations are not included.

CONVENTIONS (10)

Demonstrate command of standard English grammar, punctuation, spelling, capitalization and formatting. Formatting of essay meets requirements for appropriate line spacing, margins and font size.

There are no errors or minimal errors in grammar, punctuation, spelling, capitalization and formatting (line spacing, margins and font size). There are occasional errors in grammar, punctuation, spelling, capitalization and formatting (line spacing, margins and font size). There are frequent errors in grammar, punctuation, spelling, capitalization and formatting (line spacing, margins and font size). There are consistent errors in grammar, punctuation, spelling, capitalization and formatting (line spacing, margins and font size).

REFLECTION (10)

Thoughtfully reflects on the writing.

Demonstrates thoughtful reflection; includes multiple insights, observations, and/or examples. Answers all reflection questions effectively, following response length guidelines. Primarily demonstrates thoughtful reflection, but some responses are lacking in detail or insight. Answers all reflection questions, primarily following response length guidelines. Shows limited reflection; the majority of responses are lacking in detail or insight. Answers reflection questions inadequately: may not answer all of the questions and/or may not follow response length guidelines. Does not answer the majority of reflection questions or the majority of answers do not follow response length guidelines.

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