Sample III

Essay 3 – Classical Argument Essay

A lot of good arguments are spoiled by some fool who knows what he is talking about.
-Miguel de Unamuno

For your final assignment, you will write a 6-8 page classical argument paper on an issue of your choice. The issue should explore a contestable topic (not a question with a clear yes or no answer) that can be supported with documentation and research.

An academic argument explores the happy medium between truth-seeking and persuasion. You, as a researcher, will seek the truth about your subject, agree on a stance, and persuade your audience to join your side.

An academic argument does not insult the opposing side, rant on without direction, debate pros and cons, or retell old arguments. A good argument supports the writers’ stance and considers alternative views to the issue or problem. The ‘truth’ is not always easily solvable and a third solution may exist.

Your introduction should capture the audience’s interest, give background details on your topic and provide your thesis. The body of your paper should use research and evidence to support your position and should address opposing views on your topic. You should also consider your audience’s beliefs and views.


Your paper should do one of the following:

1. Change the viewpoint of a resistant, opposing audience.
2. Persuade an uninformed audience to take your side. You must provide background information
for this option.
3. Persuade an agreeing, informed audience to act. Why is your issue so urgent, why should
readers act now?

Your topic is your choice but please avoid highly controversial issues. (Abortion, gun control, birth control, marijuana, is God real? Etc.) Check with me if you’re unsure about your topic.


Throughout this semester we have learned about brainstorming, research, prewriting and drafting, peer editing and rewriting, and the importance of time-management. For this paper, you will also make use of these ‘tools’. Work with your peer reviewers. Make global vs. local edits. Don’t start your research too late.
Your argument’s success depends on how much evidence you give and how well you support your claims with intelligent, academic research. You should develop a clear research question based on your initial findings. If you have any problems with your research question talk to me before you begin your paper.

You must include a Works Cited page and include no fewer than five secondary sources. No Wikipedia. You must use quotes or give credit to your sources within the body of your work. Copying and pasting without references is off limits. If you are worried you might be plagiarizing at any time, please see me.

Research Log Journal

As is stated in the syllabus, you will keep a separate journal to log your research for the classical argument unit. Every source you decide to use in your classical argument essay must be logged in this journal. It will be collected and graded at the end of the unit. Please refer to the example in Allyn and Bacon on pages 476 & 477.


First Draft Conferences: XXXXXX Peer Review: XXXXXX Final Draft: XXXXXX

Classic Argument Grading Criteria and Rubric

· Rhetorical purpose is clear and appropriate to audience
· Topic is compelling, timely, and of interest to the chosen audience

THESIS (15 Points)
· Paper is driven by a clear, overarching thesis
· Thesis takes a stand on an issue that is of interest to the chosen audience
· Thesis is arguable, not informative

· Title is compelling or surprising and appropriate for the genre
· Thesis, reasons, and evidence are ordered to effectively appeal to readers
· Introduction hooks reader and presents the material as interesting and important
· Conclusion reflects upon significance of the research

DEVELOPMENT (15 points)
The argument is thoroughly developed in the following areas:
· Contains clear, well-developed ideas that give a thorough treatment of the issue
· Reasons supported by appropriate evidence
· Treatment of opposing views (counterargument) is suitable for audience and rhetorical purpose

The writer uses secondary research appropriately as defined below:
· Attributes all non-original content, giving credit to sources
· Introduces secondary material with signal phrases as needed for comprehension; ends with parenthetical
end citation
· Mixes quote, summary, and paraphrase effectively for the chosen audience and rhetorical purpose
· Includes significant contribution from the writer (i.e. is not a patchwork of secondary sources with
little writer involvement)

· Portfolio demonstrates evidence of a thoughtful writing process, including invention, revision, and
· Final draft shows clear improvement from first to final draft with major revisions evident
· Attention is paid to peer reviews and conference feedback

STYLE (10 Points)
· Most sentences are clear and can be understood the first time they are read
· Syntax, punctuation, and spelling used effectively in service of rhetorical purpose

Classic Argument Rubric:

The “A” Essay: Excellent (90-100%)

An “A” essay demonstrates excellence. The title is original, clever, and intriguing, and alludes to the tone and content of the essay. The essay contains no or few problems with grammar, mechanics, content, and organization. A sound thesis sentence articulates the main idea, forecasts the topics of discussion, and governs the development of the essay. Ample support of the thesis results in a logical and convincing paper. The introduction and conclusion are provocative and intriguing. The paragraphs in the body are unified and coherent; they have topic sentences and effective transition. The essay reflects the author’s concern for style (clear, concise prose and effective diction). The diction demonstrates the author’s appreciation for meaningful language and effective word choice. The “A” essay reflects originality and is characterized by a confident and assertive voice.

The “B” Essay: Very Good/Good (80-89%)

The “B” essay might contain a few problems with organization but very few with grammar, mechanics, and content. Like the “A” essay, it has an intriguing title and strong thesis and is characterized by sound development, coherence, and unity. The author demonstrates a concern for style. The introduction is provocative and original, and the conclusion avoids “summing things up” or ending too abruptly. Some paragraphs in the body might need more support, development, or transition. Topic sentences might need more accuracy. Word choice and style are effective but not as effective as word choice and style in the “A” essay. The assertiveness and originality of the writing may not be as apparent in the “B” essay.

The “C” Essay: Average (70-79%)

The “C” essay has a good title, clear thesis, and sound organization and is, for the most part, coherent and unified. Overall, there are few problems with grammar, mechanics, and organization. Although the central ideas are clear, they may need more support, detail, and development. The writer may rely on clichés or fallacies. The introduction may be trite or unoriginal. The conclusion might not provide a provocative or interesting ending. Diction is satisfactory, but the author may use words incorrectly or unwisely. The “C” essay may contain awkward passages and syntax. The “C” essay is not a “bad” essay; it simply needs more revision and editing.

The “D” Essay: Poor (60-69%)

The “D” essay might have an uninspiring, unoriginal title and does not address a timely and significant topic. The introduction might contain a thesis sentence, but it is not supported throughout the essay. The thesis sentence is often unclear and/or does not forecast the order of discussion. The introduction is unoriginal and is not provocative. There are significant problems with content and organization that makes the argument incoherent or fragmented for the reader. Sentences that are too short might result in choppiness, or sentences that are too long result in awkwardness. The paragraphs are not characterized by strong topic sentences and effective transition. Diction is awkward, poor, and ineffective. The “D” essay typically contains significant problems in grammar, mechanics, and punctuation.

The “F” Essay: Failing (60 and below)

A grade of “F” indicates that the essay does not meet the minimum requirements of the assignment. Typically, an “F” essay fails in at least one of the following areas: grammar, punctuation, logic, organization, diction, or adherence to the assignment.


Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: