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PWR 2HLA: Decoding Academic Persuasion: How Researchers Convince Audiences

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Catalog Number: PWR 2HLA

Instructor: Helen Lie

Units: 4

Grade option: Letter (ABCD/NP) 

Prerequisite: PWR 1, ESF, ITALIC 95W, or equivalent

Course Feature: WR-2 requirement

What does it mean to speak or write in an “academic” way?  In any field we may enter, we will use language to demonstrate our learning, build knowledge, and share insights with broader audiences.  However, academic language can feel at times peculiar or impenetrable. Each discipline has its own conventions, vocabulary, and ways of investigating problems and interpreting evidence.  Students and researchers must learn these discursive practices to understand and contribute to their disciplines.  But to convince interdisciplinary collaborators, funders and general audiences of the value of their work, they also need flexibility to move from discipline-specific to more popular academic modes of expression.  This course explores these communicative demands and strategies to handle them.

A goal of the course is to demystify general conventions of academic writing and speaking to help you navigate future writing situations and build communication confidence.  Readings will include studies that explore communication practices in disciplinary and professional settings, and the ways scholars use language to represent their work and relate to others.  For your research project, you have flexibility to choose a topic you are connected to that intersects with communication or rhetoric.  Examples of student projects include but are not limited to:   What rhetorical strategies do media organizations use to shape views on climate change?  Why did the CDC’s concussion awareness campaign fail to reduce concussion rates? How do AI research articles produced by academic institutions, private research labs, and company product developers compare in terms of structure and style?  How do Christians hear from God and verify their experiences? What makes philosophy writing bad and how can we fix it?

Major Assignments

Research Proposal

(5-minute live oral presentation; written text of 900-1200 words) Introduce the class to a communication problem or issue you would like to explore, the lens or framework you will use to guide your inquiry and/or interpret your findings, and why your question is important.  

Written Research-Based Argument

(3000-3600 words; 10-12 pages) Present your findings and advance a particular point of view, drawing from your primary and secondary research, and being careful to acknowledge limitations and respond to alternative viewpoints.  With the support of class activities and peer review, attend not only to scholarly writing conventions and the use of sound reasoning and evidence, but also on making your ideas accessible to a diverse and curious audience. 


Delivery of Research

(10 minute live oral presentation with appropriate multimedia support + Q&A)  Translate your WRBA into an oral presentation, in which you tell the story of your research and highlight key findings or contributions.  Illuminate your argument through the logical presentation of your ideas, and through your voice, body language, style, and audio-visual aids.


Genre/Modes assignment

(Research vlog and annotated bibliography) To facilitate your reading and synthesis of the literature on your project and develop your speaking skills, you will create a mini-series of 1-2 minute video journal entries, in which you will reflect on your research process or discuss one of your sources.  Your vlogs will be complemented by an annotated bibliography with 5 sources.