Major Assignment #1 Overview

Regardless of what subjects you are interested in, what kind of job you have, how you exchange ideas, or whom you interact with, your goal as a communicator is ultimately to reach and engage your audience in the way you intend. Your success as a communicator is largely determined by your ability to accurately assess your audience and its expectations, your familiarity with the features of the genres and contexts in which you communicate, and your capacity to assert logical arguments that are supported by sound evidence and clear explanations.

One common–yet difficult–rhetorical situation to navigate is engaging an audience that knows much, much less about a topic than you (i.e. “lay audience”). Intuitively, informing an audience about something you know a lot about should be a simple task, but the ability to make a lay audience actually understand advanced, technical information can be deceptively difficult.

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You will produce three different texts for MA1, and each represents a different purpose, target audience, and genre of writing. The foundation of MA1 is a scholarly research publication that you will close-read and annotate, critically analyze (deliverable 1), and summarize for a lay audience (deliverable 2). You will also write a report (deliverable 3) that explains how you made your summary understandable to a lay audience by justifying the decisions you made while writing it. MA1 is designed to help you develop skills as a close reader, critical thinker, and effective communicator with the ability to reach well informed as well as lay audiences. Specific target skills include close-reading; annotation; critical thinking; argumentation; rhetorical framing; adapting to genre expectations, audience, and context; identifying the styles and tendencies that distinguish discourse communities; critically analyzing; summarizing, paraphrasing, evaluating; and more.


Major Assignment #1 Goals and Purposes:

  1. To familiarize yourself with the genres, styles, tones, and features of scholarly publication,
  2. To understand the rhetorical, linguistic, and stylistic features of scholarly writing and how they are used to target a specific audience,
  3. To comprehend, analyze, evaluate, and critique the argumentative strategies and forms of evidence commonly used in scholarly publications,
  4. To summarize technical information in a way that lay audiences can understand, and
  5. To gain awareness of the rhetorical, linguistic, and stylistic decisions that writers use to make information accessible to lay audiences and to justify/explain their effects.


Description of the Scholarly Reading and the Three Required Deliverables:

  1. SCHOLARLY ARTICLEAll three of the texts that you will write for MA1 are based on a Business Economics scholarly research publication titled, “CEO Gender and Firm Performance”. You will close-read the article several times and use extensive annotation to understand its content and meaning, purpose, target audience, and features of its genre. In other words, you will think critically about the article’s main arguments and understand the information, evidence, and logic that support its positions. For some students, this may be the first scholarly publication that you have ever had to read in detail and understand on a comprehensive level. This makes the close-reading and annotation stage of MA1 just as important as the writing requirements.


  1. DELIVERABLE 1 (Critical Analysis of Scholarly Article) – Once you have a good understanding of the scholarly article’s contents, arguments, and evidence, you will critically analyze it. Your critical analysis will evaluate how effectively the article achieves (or doesn’t achieve) its purpose. Deliverable 1 will break the article down into its various elements (such as strength of evidence, quality of logic, credibility of the authors, the existence of biases, etc.), describe how each element impacts the article as a whole, and evaluate the article’s overall strengths, weaknesses, and effectiveness. Keep in mind that critical analyses are written for experts and knowledgeable people with a strong background in the subject matter (i.e. the opposite of a lay audience).


  1. DELIVERABLE 2 (Summary of Scholarly Article for Lay Audience) – In deliverable 2, you will “repackage” or summarize the information in the scholarly article in a way that a lay audience can understand. The goal of your summary is to retain as much of the article’s information as possible while presenting it in an accessible manner to a lay audience. To achieve this goal, you will make countless decisions about how to organize the information, whether to include or omit details, what word choice or phrasing to employ, which grammatical or stylistic features to emphasize, and so on.


  1. DELIVERABLE 3 (Report of Rhetorical/Linguistic/Stylistic Decisions Made in Deliverable 2) – In deliverable 3, you will compose a report that explains and justifies the rhetorical, linguistic, and stylistic decisions you made while writing deliverable 2. You will 1) identify and give examples of some of the decisions you made, 2) explain what effects they had on the lay audience, and 3) analyze/explain why your decisions were effective (or not) in achieving your goal of successfully communicating technical information to a lay audience. Deliverable 3 is only concerned with deliverable 2 and has nothing to do with the critical analysis.


Major Assignment Requirements:

  • All major assignments must be revised a minimum of three times. First, you will submit a draft and receive feedback from your instructor. You will apply that feedback and write your first revision. You will conduct peer review on your first revision and apply your classmates’ feedback to write your second revision. Your instructor will provide feedback on your second revision, and you will once again use that feedback to improve your deliverables in your third revision. Your third revision will be submitted with your 39A ePortfolio at the end of the quarter. You may revise your deliverables more than three times, and you are welcome to visit the Writing Center or take advantage of any credible resources that are available to you.
  • All major assignments must be a minimum of five pages in length (all three deliverables combined). Meeting this requirement should not be a challenge because most effective MA1 assignments tend to be at least eight pages by the third revision.
  • Combined, MA1 and MA2 must total a minimum of 12 full pages of writing by the third revision. This is a Department requirement that must be met to pass 39A/AP.
  • All plagiarism and academic integrity guidelines and policies must be followed.


Major Assignment #1 Due Dates:

  • Monday, 1/13 (Week 2) – By today, close-read, annotate, and understand the scholarly article titled “CEO Gender and Firm Performance”. Close-read it several times and use extensive annotation to get a detailed understanding of the information and argument. We will spend a significant amount of class time helping each other understand the article through small group and class discussions, so be ready to share you understanding and ask questions in class.


  • Wednesday, 1/22 (Week 3)Draft Due. Combine all 3 deliverables into a single .doc or .docx Word file and submit it to the relevant Canvas dropbox. Make sure to clearly label each deliverable. The goal of your draft is to show your understanding of this assignment, to demonstrate your comprehension of and critical thought about the scholarly article, and to organize your ideas on paper. There is no minimum page requirement on the draft, but your work should accurately reflect your efforts so far.


  • Friday, 1/31 (Week 4)Revision #1 Due. Rather than receive feedback from your Instructor, you will conduct peer review on Revision #1 and provide/receive feedback from a classmate. Rather than submit Revision #1 to Canvas, you will bring a printed hardcopy to class for peer review. While you conduct peer review, Simon will come around to make sure you have completed Revision #1. Grades will be entered into the gradebook manually. By this stage of the writing process, you should have at least 5 pages of well-developed writing.


  • Friday, 2/7 (Week 5)Revision #2 Due. Combine all three deliverables into a single file and submit to Canvas. By this stage in the writing process, you should have at least 6 pages of well-developed, refined writing.


  • Friday, March 13 (Week 10 – last day of class) Revision #3 Due (submit as part of 39A/AP e-Portfolio on the last day of class). By your third revision, your writing should be in excellent shape, both in terms of content/quality of thought as well as grammar/writing mechanics. You are welcome to visit the Writing Center, come by office hours, or use any other credible resource that is available to you as long as you retain ownership over your own work.



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