Assignments, Platforms, and AI – Part 2

The follow-up to my last post: a new assignment that I’m calling, not very creatively, the argument analysis. Here are the directions to students:

Choose one of the peer-reviewed journal articles listed in the syllabus. Find an editorial published in the last year in one of the sources listed below that is about the same general subject as the article. List the bibliographic information for the article and editorial at the top. Then, in only four paragraphs, compare them according to the criteria below. Put the paragraphs in the indicated order and make each paragraph less than 200 words in length.

Which author: 

1. References the most comprehensive and relevant data? Why?

2. Infers the most valid relationship between cause and effect? Why?

3. Does the best job of refuting counter-arguments? Why?

4. Is the most persuasive to an audience of policymakers? Why?

I then provide a list of online news outlets that students can pull an editorial from.

Possible advantages of this over my old article analysis? First, the compare and contrast elements force students to engage in more complex thinking. With the article analysis, students sometimes focused too heavily on summarizing. Second, students engage with a recently published argument aimed at a general audience. Academic journal articles are written for a very narrow audience of specialists — not the people most students will be communicating with after they graduate. Also most journals whose contents are indexed in databases have moving walls that make their most recent issues inaccessible to students. Third, I’m hoping that students will be able to connect what they write about in the argument analysis to discussion topics, the reading responses, and maybe even potential future dissertation topics.

Even though the argument analysis is not machine-graded like the Perusall assignments are, I decided to simplify my life with a new rubric. My rubric for the old article analysis:

The rubric for the new argument analysis:

Fewer boxes to check so easier for me to use, but its criteria still hit my targets for the assignment.

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