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Project Three

Page history last edited by Abigail Heiniger 9 years, 6 months ago

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Research Tools: Course Materials

 Toolbox: Definition Project 


Some terms (and supporting texts) for "hard test cases": 

definition resource terrorism 2

definition resource marriage

definition resource child

definition resource beauty and body image


Research Databases: 

Course Materials

OED Online 



Questions to Answer: 

This paper is different than the rhetorical analyses we have done up to this point. When thinking about this paper, ask yourself these questions about the word/idea you are defining. You can incorporate (some) of the answers into your paper: 



  1. What word/term/concept/idea will you be defining and why?
  2.  What do you offer in defining this idea that has not been (well) covered elsewhere? What is your unique perspective?
  3.  What is the audience for this piece (be as specific as possible)? 
  4. How is your audience likely to feel about this issue/concept before the read your project?
  5.  What is your purpose in arguing this definition? (I.e, what's your point?)
  6.  What strategies (pathos appeals, resemblance arguments, etc.) do you plan to use in making this argument?


Thesis formula: 


Remember the components of a definition argument as outlined in Good Reasons:


"Something is (is not) a ____ because it has (does not have) features A, B, and C."


Project Three: Definition




This paper allows you to focus on an argument type which commonly arises before we can argue about what should be done to address an issue: “What is the nature or definition of something?”



The need for definition arises when people have diverging ideas about what a term means or an audience has difficulty understanding a concept. The purpose of this assignment is to define something—a condition or a concept you know well or have researched—either to change an audience’s thinking about its meaning or to help them understand it better. You will need to have some purpose for arguing this definition, and you will need to direct your writing to some audience whose thinking you want to influence. In other words, though our first two projects focused on the default audience of your classmates, this project demands that you formulate what "real" audience you will be writing for and where you might "send" or submit this piece when it is completed.



Remember your credibility is important here, as it is in all arguments. Take care to present yourself as someone who is reasonably well-informed about the issue you’ll discuss. If you have any established ethos with the audience, be sure to draw on that. You might also consider composing this project in collaboration with another class member. As mentioned way back at the beginning of the semester all projects save the first two may be done collaboratively.





  • Successful projects (A - C) will contain clear, cogent, and logically consistent transitions between paragraphs and between ideas within paragraphs. Likewise, paragraphs will be coherent and organized in support of a primary topic sentence. At the sentence level, writers are expected to employ a variety of basic and complex sentence structures and to employ each with a minimum of error.
  • Conversely, less successful projects (C- and below) will contain little evidence of logical transition between and within paragraphs. Paragraphs may lack clear topic sentences, fail to adequately support topic sentences, or be otherwise logically incoherent. At the sentence level, the project might contain only simply structured sentences or its complex sentence structures contain considerable errors.



  • The audience for this project is the writer's classmates. Successful projects (A-C) will provide necessary supporting information or details as well as employ diction and tone in ways that are appropriate for that audience’s expectations.
  • Conversely, less successful projects (C- and below) may not anticipate audience concerns regarding or objections to their arguments, fail to acknowledge supporting information relevant to a given audience’s expectations, and/or may also use tones, styles, or diction inappropriate for their assumed audience.


Rhetorical Situation

  • Successful projects (A-C) will be thesis-driven and motivated by a clear sense of purpose. They will illustrate that the writer was able to effectively balance the objectives of the assignment, their own point of view, and the nature of their audience.
  • Less successful projects (C- or below) will lack clear thesis statements or implied theses. The project may read less like an analysis of some element of advertising and more like a series of disconnected observations without a clear point. The lack of a clear focus may lead a reader confused as to the purpose and/or argument of the project.



  • Successful projects (A-C) will contain relevant sources and information to support the major claims of the writer's arguments. They will also illustrate that the writer is able to distinguish credible sources from doubtful sources, and be able to accommodate and address differences, contradictions, and oversights in the sources they employ. Sources will be incorporated into the writer's own arguments with ease, and sources will be documented and cited according to the standards of an academically-accepted style guide.
  • Conversely, less successful projects (C- and below) may employ sources indiscriminately or with little attention to relevance or whether the sources cited adequately support their arguments. These projects might also illustrate that the writer was unable to incorporate sources into their own writing and/or failed to adequately document or cite their sources.


Go to Project Three Rubric Activity

Go to Project Three Rubric


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