Creating effective and persuasive texts is essential not only in the academic and professional careers of an individual but also in everyday social interaction. Besides, the ability to conduct research, identify reliable and useful information, and critically evaluate the input messages is necessary to create a logical and coherent text based on strong evidence. The aim of this paper is to design a class, including various activities, such as analytical reading and writing practice, to develop critical thinking and reflection in students and contribute to their writing skills.
It would be appropriate to start the class with theoretical information about the rhetorical principles of persuasion and primary and secondary research methods. Students need to understand that from the rhetorical point of view, an effective text may apply to the audience’s emotions, the authority of the author, or the logic and reason (Nicotra 26). In connection to the last aspect, it is necessary to explain the difference between primary research, which is the direct gathering of information, and secondary research, implying the use of already collected data.
Practical writing is also necessary to develop the use of persuasion techniques in the text. For example, students can be asked to create texts involving several methods of persuasion. The practical exercise can include choosing a particular research topic and conducting primary and secondary research with an explanation of why the selected sources can be considered reliable. This activity would help students learn how to use evidence for persuasive purposes.
Creating persuading texts is impossible without understanding what defines their effectiveness and identifying these tools in the existing texts. Therefore, it would be useful to include a critical evaluation of some literary works and focus on understanding their means of emphasis and logical connections. For example, after reading “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson, students have to discuss the suppositions at the beginning of the story predicting the mysterious and cruel rite that took place later in the narration. After discussing Toni Bambara’s “The Lesson,” students can learn how details help understand the general idea of the author and how they contribute to the persuasion and effectiveness of the story. The choice of these works is explained by their underlying messages, which cannot be interpreted immediately and require careful analysis from the students.
At the same time, certain literary works from the reading list may be less complicated in comparison to the stories mentioned above, and therefore, can be omitted. For example, Amy Tan’s “Two Kinds” is a significant work from the point of view of its message. At the same time, the conflict in the story is revealed from the beginning, and the students are likely to understand the author’s idea without difficulties. Nevertheless, the unique language of narration, reflecting the speech peculiarities of Chinese immigrants, may serve as a method of emphasis. Therefore, this work can be recommended to students for independent reading.
Another reading that would be useful to analyze is “The Last Leaf” by O. Henry. This short story is considered one of the most significant works by the author and would be interesting to study from the perspective of methods of expression and the masterful use of details. Besides, there are several film adaptations of the story, which can demonstrate that visual and multimedia texts may have a different influence on the audience. In order to learn how to brainstorm ideas and use supporting evidence, students can take part in a group discussion and compare the effectiveness of written text and its film adaptations.
In conclusion, the English 1302 class is designed to develop several skills related to producing and understanding texts. Therefore, various activities, including theoretical research and practical exercises, should be included in the curriculum. Moreover, both independent and group work are necessary to help students learn how to support their opinion and evaluate their classmates’ points of view in an ethical way. These skills would not only contribute to their academic and professional performance but can be essential in different life situations.
Nicotra, Jodie. Becoming Rhetorical: Analyzing and Composing in a Multimedia World with APA 7e Updates. Cengage Learning, 2018.