Problem Posing: What is Research Writing?

Contributed by Jan Roser

Course Name/Level:  First-Year Writing

This writing assignment is an example of one that reflects the principles in the Framework for Success in Postsecondary Writing. You can view a list of other assignments, activities, and program-wide approaches.


Brief Course Description for Assignment/Activity

This writing activity models the inquiry process by leading with the guiding question: What is Research Writing?  Using this question as a guide, students read a variety of research essays (creative nonfiction, academic, student writing) and write extended annotations for subject matter and critical reading analysis for reading rhetorically.  The final component is for student to critically evaluate an academic article in their major and determine the writing expectations in their field of interests.  With this overview, the students then write an academic argument (utilizing all of the readings as sources) to answer the question: What is Research Writing?

Framework Connections

This assignment meets the Frameworks for Success by challenging the students’ assumptions and expectations for college level research writing.   By extensively reading, writing, and discussing research writing, students experience a shift in their thinking (habits of the mind) about: good/bad research writing, the conventions of research writing, source work for good research, and the potential of genre. 

Assignment/Activity Description

This Unit 1 plan is the opening six weeks of my English 102 Research Writing course.  The Unit first models the inquiry and research process while reading academic articles on the conventions of college level research writing.  It stresses the FYW goals for meta-awareness, genre knowledge, writing process knowledge, research conventions, and MLA formatting.

Research/Scholarship Connections

Studies on composition and transfer (Wardle 2007, Beaufort 2007, Perkins & Salomon 1987, 1992) suggest that meta-awareness of rhetorical knowledge (both declarative and procedural) is essential for the success of transfer. 


Download the "Problem Posing: What is Research Writing?" assignment