Literacy and Language Assignment #3: Locating Key Debates in Literacy Research

Broadly speaking, two of Mike Rose’s central concerns in Lives on the Boundary are 1) the plight of underprepared students, specifically how and why they often fail to receive the proper help they need to succeed, and 2) the respective roles and responsibilities of students and teachers in determining student success.  In this research essay, you will isolate an aspect of Rose’s literacy narrative that illustrates some aspect of these larger concerns and then use it as a starting point to investigate a current conversation (state-wide, nation-wide, or internationally) about a related issue of language and literacy. Possibilities for broader discussions into which Rose’s concerns might factor include but are definitely not limited to topics such as

  • standards of academic literacy in higher education
  • varieties of American English
  • bilingualism
  • gender and language
  • the relationship between class and linguistic stereotypes
  • the current attitude toward remediation in public universities

Audience: Readers interested in understanding the issues and consequences implied in a national conversation about your topic.

Format: 6 double-spaced pages; MLA style

Advice: Consider our readings this semester and the themes we’ve discussed, and then think about how your paper will utilize other sources [print and electronic, popular news sources and scholarly articles] to extend the discussion of an issue in the course text. The session on _[date]_ will guide you in finding sources by using the databases and other resources available at Rosenthal Library. The research process takes time and patience; as you find and read sources, your approach to your topic will change and evolve (if it doesn’t change at all from when you first articulated it, you may not be reading enough outside material). Keeping an open mind will result in a better paper. The research process is meant to help you name, define, and expand on the ideas that will eventually lead to the paper’s thesis.


Type: Develop an analytical argument using original research that includes both primary and secondary sources

Rationale: The purpose of this assignment is to help students to see a particular text as part of a larger issue-based conversation to help them transition from thinking about a “text” to considering a “theme.” This assignment could also be split in two, making the proposal and annotated bibliography one assignment and the paper itself another

Pre-Draft Activities:

1. Written proposal

2. Library session

3. Annotated bibliography

**Writers should be encouraged to think about how their research for this unit will relate to and inform the personal account they want write in Assignment 4. This is a good time to check back in with their literacy notebooks and to mine them for topics.

LiteracyandLanguage_Assignment3 (doc)

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