Creating an Interest Inventory
In Unit Two, which begins next week, you will write an argumentative research paper; basically, this means that you will have to use your own reasoning and evidence from sources to develop an argument. All of the work you have done in Unit One should have prepared you for this next paper. You will follow the same pattern of conversation with sources, but you’ll have to include several sources in that conversation.
This time around, though, you will choose your own topic! And that’s what the interest inventory is for. Let’s get started.
In a document, create several headings for categories of topics: CONTROVERSIES, HISTORY, SPORTS, TECHNOLOGY, EDUCATION, TRENDS, FASHION, CAREERS, POLITICS, PHILOSOPHY, RELIGION, HOBBIES/GAMES, ETC..
Under each heading (and you don’t have to use all of the headings, but try for at least eight), list some topics in that area that interest you. Keep in mind that the research paper must make an argument, so your topic should be something that can be debated. For instance, you might want to write about nursing as a career, but within that topic you would need to find something arguable, such as whether or not an extra year should be added to all nursing qualification courses to improve overall health care.
Give yourself 20 minutes to sit with these headings and brainstorm lists of topics. I’d love to see you generate five ideas for eight categories! That’s 80 potential topics (see, English teachers CAN do math)!
Once you have finished your list, take some time to review it; then, highlight the three topics that interest you most.
Finally, after careful consideration, choose the ONE topic you are most interested in. Once you have that topic, you should pose a question about it that you’d like to pursue in your research paper. That question is called a research question, and it should start with WHY or SHOULD. For instance, maybe your favorite topic is “prayer in school.” A valid research question would be, “SHOULD public schools allow prayer in the classroom?” This would lead to an argumentative paper because you would have to support your answer to that question. Avoid “what” questions; they lead to reports instead of arguments. “How” questions are tricky: sometimes, they lead to arguments, but often they lead to reports.
Type your chosen topic and research question at the bottom of the inventory, and turn it in as Assignment #3.
Here is an example of what I’m asking you to do:interest_inventory.png
I have updated my policy about research topics to include the following list of topics that I will not allow you to write about. Here is the list of topics that you many not choose to write about:
Church Membership and/or Attendance
Legalization of Marijuana / Medical Marijuana
Legalization of Prostitution
Conspiracy Theories (Illuminati, 9/11, etc.)
Prayer in Schools
Children and Social Media
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