Unit 3 Assignments

This page contains copies of the prompts for each of your assignments in Unit 3. You can find sample essays for each of the written assignments in your copy of Controversies

Consult your own class syllabus for your deadlines; feel free to approach your instructor with any questions about the assignments.

On this page:

Assignment Prompt: Opposition Paper

In order to craft a persuasive argument (which you must do in Essay 3), you must address those with whom you disagree. In this paper, you will fairly summarize a good argument and then explain why you don’t agree with that argument. In short, you will prepare to write a persuasive argument by addressing your opposition.


Write a one-page (8.5 x 11) single-spaced paper fairly representing and then addressing the evidence and/or the inference of an argument that you disagree with. Choose an argument that relates to the controversy you’ve been researching this semester. Document the source of this argument, citing the source as appropriate and including the documentation information at the top of the page in proper MLA format. If possible, choose an argument that you would like to address in your persuasive essay at the end of Unit 3. Put your name in the top left-hand corner, and list the speaker’s name and the full citation information of the piece you’re summarizing. Set margins at 1 inch, spacing at single, and font at 12 pt. Do not exceed one page in length.


The summary portion of your paper must be fair to the source. Don’t distort or oversimplify your opponent’s position. Use direct quotes to show that your summary is fair to the source. This summary should take about half of your page. The second portion of your paper should feature some combination of concession, refutation, and/or rebuttal. Explain what you find convincing in your opponent’s argument, but also explain why these points do not matter. Explain what flaws you find in the speaker’s evidence and/or inference. If you find the evidence flawed, offer counterevidence to show why. If you find the inference flawed, don’t simply label your opponent’s argument a slippery slope or an overgeneralization. Explain how the argument is flawed and why the audience shouldn’t believe it.

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Assignment Prompt: Persuasive Essay

The culmination of all your work in RHE 306 is the ability to argue responsibly and persuasively. This essay will demonstrate that you have learned about your controversy, that you can fairly and accurately summarize sources, that you can evaluate and use rhetorical strategies, and that you can address a specific audience in a persuasive way.


Your purpose in this 6–8 page persuasive essay is to advocate for one specific position in your controversy. You’ll do this by situating yourself within the “map” of positions on your controversy that you constructed in Unit 1. Your goal for this essay is to produce an argument that advocates for a particular position using the persuasive strategies analyzed and studied throughout the semester.


This essay will require all of the information you have gathered and all of the knowledge of rhetorical strategies that you have gained. After doing so much research on your controversy, you should by now have decided which position you agree with. In this essay, you will argue for your position using the evidence from your sources as well as your own reasons.

Imagine this is an article that could be published in an existing journal, magazine, or newspaper or on a website, such as an entry on a blog. Above your title, briefly describe the audience and the venue: e.g., “An opinion article addressing students who are opposed to the top-ten-percent rule; to be published in the Daily TexanDaily Texan readers are generally aware of the top-ten-percent rule, but have many different opinions about it. Many don’t know particularly how the rule affects admissions.” Or, “An article to be published in Human Events ( Human Events readers tend to be very conservative especially on cultural issues.” When inventing your arguments and arranging your essay, keep this audience and this venue in mind.

This is your chance to finally say something about the controversy you have been studying, as well as to employ the rhetorical strategies that we have discussed. The objective is for you to consciously use these tools to create the best argument possible for your purpose, situation, and audience.

Minimum Requirements:

To meet the assignment’s minimum requirements and thus to earn credit for having completed the assignment, your essay must

  • be roughly 1,400–2,000 words long
  • present reasons and evidence that will appeal to the audience
  • strategically and effectively incorporate at least two credible sources
  • convincingly address an opposing argument by some combination of concession, refutation, and/or rebuttal
  • document all sources accurately (in-text and on a Works Cited page) according to MLA style guidelines
  • be written effectively and coherently, with very few errors in punctuation or grammar
  • have been peer reviewed at the in-class workshop and revised based on this peer review
  • be turned in on time and be accompanied by all previous drafts, prewriting exercises, and written peer reviews
Assignment Prompt: Persuasive Presentation

Persuasion always depends on the circumstance, the audience, and the medium. After you’ve written Essay 3, you should know how to persuade a particular audience in a particular medium (writing). Now you will try to persuade another audience (your classmates) in another medium (oral presentation). Though you should not have to complete any further research to complete this presentation, you will likely have to revise your essay significantly. You will have to speak to your audience’s particular interests, their knowledge, and their values. You will also have to recompose your work so that it works as an oral presentation.

As in Papers 3.1 and 3.2, your purpose in this presentation is to persuade an audience to accept your perspective concerning a particular controversy. The presentation, which you will deliver to the entire class, must be brief (5 minutes) and enhanced by some kind of visual element (a handout, Prezi, or similar). However, it is important that you approach the presentation as an act of translation and revision rather than summary: Ultimately, your goal is to adapt your principal claim and evidence for a new medium (oral presentation) and audience (your classmates).
As the syllabus indicates, this presentation is worth 10% of your final course grade: 5% will be determined by your instructor, following the requirements listed below, and the remaining 5% will be determined by your classmates, following a similar checklist that will be distributed in class. Each of your classmates will fill out a form to evaluate your work. That form is included at the end of this assignment description.

Perhaps the biggest difference between Papers 3.1 and 3.2 and this presentation is their respective audiences. In the papers, you identified a specific audience, and you utilized the rhetorical strategies that you believe are the most likely to convince this audience to share your point of view. In the presentation, your purpose is still to persuade an audience—in this case, the classmates you have come to know over the course of the semester—but since this audience has changed, so must the rhetorical strategies that you employ. As you prepare the presentation, ask yourself the following:
  • What do my classmates think about my controversy topic? Is the majority more likely to agree or disagree with my perspective? How does this differ from my audience in Papers 3.1 and 3.2?
  • Are there particular classmates whose opinions I can predict? Can I identify and address these opinions in a way that is friendly and contributes to my overall persuasiveness?
  • Have we ever discussed my topic as a class? Will referring back to that discussion help my classmates see me as a member of their community who shares interests in common?
  • Considering what I know about my classmates and their likely reaction to my perspective, what information is most essential to convey in my presentation?
Once you have answered these questions about your audience, you will be ready to put the presentation together. Generally, a strong presentation will be structured like an essay, with a catchy introduction, a clear statement of purpose, lots of evidence and explanation supporting the purpose, and a conclusion. However, when you present, it should not sound like you are reading an essay. 

Don’t forget to:
  • Engage the audience! Speak in an authoritative but inviting tone, and use humor, anecdotes, and rhetorical questions as appropriate for your topic and purpose.
  • Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. Memorize as much of your presentation as possible, and put only the most difficult information (statistics, quotes, etc.) on notecards.
  • Defend your perspective utilizing evidence (quotes, video clips, and so forth), but remember that it must be your voice—and not that of your sources—that dominates the presentation.
  • Prepare a visual aid (a handout, Prezi, PowerPoint, or similar) that reinforces your principal claim and effectively utilizes some of the rhetorical strategies we have explored this semester.
Minimum Requirements:
To complete the assignment’s minimum requirements and thus to earn credit for having completed the assignment, your presentation must:
  • be 4-6 minutes in length (no exceptions)
  • present reasons and evidence that will appeal to an audience of peers
  • be supported by some kind of visual (a handout, Prezi, PowerPoint, etc.) that effectively incorporates argumentative strategies we have studied in class
  • actively engage the audience and demonstrate thorough preparation (no notes)
Audience involvement is integral to the success of the assignment. For this reason, you are expected to attend every day of presentations and to complete a Peer Assessment for each student’s presentation.