The purpose of this essay is to give students the opportunity to construct a researched policy proposal that presents a solution to a social conflict. Learning to integrate research and evaluation into a specific stance, students will be prepared for academic and professional communication. By completing this assignment, students will:
• Demonstrate the ability to identify a conflict and research solutions to the conflict. (Critical Thinking)
• Demonstrate facility with the writing skills of summary, evaluation and critical analysis. (Written Communication)
• Students will locate research in TCC Library Databases and demonstrate knowledge of MLA format and citation. (Information Literacy)
• Demonstrate understanding of the phases of writing, from pre-writing to drafting, revision and editing. (Writing Process)
Characteristics of a Policy Proposal
A successful position essay will do the following:
• The full essay will be written in third-person point of view. This is the standard for academic and professional writing.
• Assert and advocate for a clear and specific solution to a problem in the introduction
• Present evidence-based arguments that persuade the reader to adopt the policy
• Apply rhetorical strategies to present persuasive arguments
• Organize research and arguments into the four elements of a proposal: Rationale (Need), Goals, Activities, Obstacles
• Effectively integrate concrete evidence from research to support the argument, including proper use of MLA citations and Works Cited.
Essay Requirements (The essay must meet these requirements to earn above a 69%)
• The essay must be 1,000 – 1,500 words of original prose in length; information on the Works Cited list and long quotations do not count toward this total.
• The essay must actively incorporate information from FIVE outside sources:
o Source 1: an approved CQ Researcher report published within the last 7 years
o Source 2: statistical trend from a reputable public, governmental or research organization
o Source 3: an article from a TCC Library Database or TCC Library eBook.
o Source 4: an article from a TCC Library Database or TCC Library eBook
o Source 5: an article from a TCC Library Database or TCC Library eBook
• Information from secondary research must be substantially integrated in the essay. It must be cited within the body of the text and correctly included on the Works Cited list.
• The Works Cited entries must be complete, including initial publication source and secondary publication source (e.g. TCC Library Database).
• MLA format (page, paragraph, in-text citations and Works Cited list)
• The final draft of this paper must be uploaded to Canvas where it will be checked by Turnitin.
• The originality report generated within Canvas must show that the essay is substantially the original work of the student submitting the essay and that the work was completed this semester in this class.
How this Essay Will Be Graded
The final essay will be graded using the rubric provided in Canvas.
Topic Selection (Students may not write about marijuana, abortion or 2nd amendment / gun rights – these topics will not be approved):
Source 1: CQ Researcher Report – Identify the Topic Area and Define the Problem
Start your position essay by selecting a topic article from CQ Researcher. Your CQ Researcher article must meet the following criteria to be approved:
• Published within the last 7 years
• It must be a full report (not a “short report”)
• It must deal with a social issue that impacts U.S. Citizens primarily
• It should be a topic in which you have interest and about which you can keep an open mind.
• Your policy proposal will require you to identify a specific problem related to this issue, develop solutions, and then persuade the audience to adopt these solutions.
Not sure what to write about? You may use one of the CQ Researcher Reports listed below as the starting point for your position essay.
Expand Your Understanding of Your Topic – Required Research
Source 2: Identify the Size and Scope of the Problem – Find a Trend Statistic
You are being given considerable latitude in your choice of topic; however, the initial topic must be tied into one specific recent trend statistic that is part of a large social issue that impacts a large proportion of the U.S. society. A trend statistic is a measurement of the change in time of an issue. Your trend statistic must have three parts:
a. A number that measures the issue
b. A time span
c. The direction of a change (up or down)
Example: According to the United States Census Bureau, the number of adults 25 and older who have bachelor’s degrees has increased from 5% in 1940 to over 30% in 2015 (Ryan and Bauman).
Find Trend Statistics in recognized and authoritative governmental and research organizations such as the Pew Research Center, The Urban Institute, Annenberg Public Policy Center, online sites like Statistica.com, and government websites including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institutes of Health, Bureau of Justice Statistics and The Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Get specific – use research to develop the specific solution (Activities) the Goal and significant Barriers.
Sources 3, 4 and 5 (these three sources must come from the TCC Library Databases):
Using TCC library databases, explore the solutions to the issue attempted in the past, attitudes towards the issue, and facts about it. Use this research to formulate the solution you will advocate. Also collect support that you can use to argue for rationale, the goals and the significant obstacles that your solution will face. Helpful TCC Library Databases include: Gale PowerSearch, SIRS Issues Researcher, Academic Search Complete, US Newsstream (Major and Regional).
Begin research in these TCC Library Databases:
Gale PowerSearch, SIRS Issues Researcher, Academic Search Complete and US Newsstream are great TCC Library Databases to use as your starting point. Keywords including “impact” and “solve” will help guide the results. Also consider using a TCC library eBook on your topic. Keep your research focused.
Summary of the Five Required Sources
Your final essay must actively incorporate these five sources. Your ability to understand and convince the audience on the adoption of the policy depends on credible use of external research. These sources must be cited within the body of the essay correctly using MLA parenthetical citations and properly and fully cited on the Works Cited list.
• Source 1 – CQ Researcher Full Report. Your CQ Researcher starting point article. This article must be used in the final essay.
• Source 2 – An article that presents and explains a statistical trend. Consider using think tank reports (Pew Research Center, The Urban Institute, Annenberg Public Policy Center), online sites like Statistica.com, and government websites including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institutes of Health, and The Bureau of Labor Statistics.
• Sources 3, 4, 5– three different articles from TCC Library Databases such as SIRS Issues Researcher, Academic Search Complete, Gale Power Search and US Newsstream. Students may also use an eBook from the TCC Library.
How to Complete this Essay
This essay will be the culmination of research, analysis and careful evaluation. To be successful, complete it in the stages as assigned. Students will work on this assignment using the writing process. Pre-writing, drafting, revision and editing steps will be collected and graded along the way. This will ensure appropriate feedback and allow for time to fully analyze the text. Revision and editing are essential to completing complex writing assignments.
Organizational structure for this essay
Introduction (1 paragraph)
• Engage the readers’ interest in a specific way (e.g., a striking quotation or statistic, an anecdote or scenario, a related current event).
• Introduce the problem and need for the solution
• Present the thesis statement—the specific solution that will be explained in the body of the essay. The solution must be more specific than ‘understand’ or ‘new law’ – it must include the specific steps that will create a new understanding or that will create the popular and political support for a new law.
• Present a goal statement for key stakeholders of the policy – state how it improves the lives of direct and indirect stakeholders.
Argue for Need (1 paragraph)
• Present the rationale for why the problem must be solved.
• Use rhetorical appeals to engage and convince the audience.
• Discuss specific stakeholders.
Present Goals (1 paragraph)
• Describe short-term and long-term goals of the solution.
• Use rhetorical appeals to gain approval from the audience.
• Include analysis and research to solidify the viability of the goals.
Describe Activities (2-3 paragraphs)
• Present the specific implementation activities.
• Connect the specific activities to the overall goal of the policy
• Organize logically to make a persuasive argument for the validity of the policy.
• Utilize appropriate rhetorical appeals (to the reader’s sense of logic, invoke specific emotions, create urgency to encourage action) to persuade the reader of the validity of the policy activities
• Neutralize the opposition. Address the most significant challenge to this policy and explain how it will be handled or negated by the activities / goals described. In general, the description of the obstacle will be the first or last paragraph in the body of the essay (i.e. just after the introduction or just before the conclusion)
Address Most Significant Obstacle
• Present the challenge that will most likely block implementation of the policy.
• Use research to show examples of this barrier (need to prove it exists and the form it generally takes).
• Neutralize the opposition. Explain how this barrier will be handled or negated by the activities / goals described.
• In general, the description of the obstacle will be the just before the activities or just after.
Conclusion (1 paragraph)
• Restate the thesis – use different words.
• Remind stakeholders of goals and how the world will truly change once the policy is adopted. Identify the added benefits that can be expected beyond the scope of the policy.
Key Vocabulary – Policy Proposals
Policies are statements of problems and solutions common across all aspects of civic life. Problems related to experiences in the local community, such as from your workplace, school, social world (education, health care), life-stage, natural, industrial, or business economy, or family, as well as issues experienced in the wider world (city, state, nation, globe) are most often described and addressed through policy development.
• A written plan designed to gather support from a specific audience
• It contains the persuasive argument that will identify a problem in such a way that the audience realizes the problem must be solved. This section is the Rationale/Need.
• It contains the persuasive argument that the world will be a better place once the plan has been adopted. This section is the Goals.
• It contains the specific list of steps (the solution) and identifies who must complete the steps to put the plan into action. This is the Activities section.
• It contains assurances that the most significant barriers to adoption of the plan will be neutralized. This is the Obstacles section.
• This component describes the underlying problem, helping the audience understand the need for the policy.
• It includes descriptions of the problem to help the audience imagine it from the standpoint of those injured.
• It includes evidence to support the need for change, including the problem is significant, who is hurt/needs help, and why.
• It often also explains why/how previous attempts failed to solve the issue and why the solution presented in the current proposal is needed.
TIP: Never assume that the audience sees the issues the way you do. Do not depend upon previous experience or knowledge for adoption of the policy – explain why the change is needed.
• This component presents a vision of a future world that is better after implementation of the policy.
• Goals are more than simple accomplishments. They are a statement of one or two big-picture changes in the world-view the policy adopts. They articulate the overall change the policy will generate in the larger society.
TIP: Goals should be the broadest statement of the benefit of adopting the policy. Use the goals statement to capture the interest by stating the broad benefits of adopting the policy for both direct and indirect stakeholders.
• Policies are implemented by people completing specific activities.
• Present a description of each discrete activity. This means that the policy proposal must indicate which people or institutions must do what to accomplish the activity.
• The outcome for each activity must also be stated. The strongest outcomes are measurable (number of people helped; percent problem decreased; etc.)
TIP: Legislative change is often important as a single activity. Change in a society, however, needs broad support before a law can be enacted. The strongest policy proposals include activities that create support, as well as activities that create the desire for change in multiple institutions (educational, medical, economic, industry) – not just in Congress or state legislatures.
For examples of activities that make a policy a reality, see the following articles located in the Canvas module for this assignment. You will use your own creative imagination, logic and research to create the activities for the solution you will put forward in your proposal.
• No policy is perfect. Policy proposals must be honest to be credible.
• Describe the one or two most significant obstacles to the ultimate success of the policy. Consider finances, attitudes, familiarity of stakeholders, visibility of the issue.
• Strong policies anticipate and address obstacles. Explain how the proposed solution does this.
TIP: The strongest persuasive arguments are based on listening to the opposition and incorporating or addressing opposing claims to create broader support. “Preaching to the choir” rarely creates broad social change. Consider the values arguments you used to create the middle-ground position. Can you bring the opposition on board in your policy proposal?