Classical Argument Structure

Should College Students Be Required to Take General Education Courses?

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Providing feedback on classmates’ rough drafts

You have begun (or are beginning) your work on your rough draft of your argument paper on whether or not college students should be required to take general education courses. What you will post for this assignment is the current status of your rough draft of your paper. The “rough” part is really important. The closer a paper is to a polished, finished copy, the less likely we are to make sweeping changes to it. Also, we’re more likely to feel defensive when someone makes suggestions for revision when we feel like we’ve presented our best effort.

This means: No MLA formatting required at this point. Spelling and grammar errors are okay. You can leave big blocks of empty space with a note that says, “need to add more here” if you haven’t gotten to it yet. You can use strikeouts, ask questions in the middle of your paper, use bold and highlighting so you know where you have concerns… there are no rules to what a rough draft can or can’t look like! (Except that a rough draft should be in paragraph form, not a bulleted list/outline, and it should have the basic intro-body-conclusion organization we expect for an academic paper.)

Remember how I mentioned that your efforts in writing should be commensurate with the point values in the grading criteria? Here’s the grading criteria for the final draft of this argument paper, again, for reference:

Introduction, including background and thesis statement – 20 points

Evidence – 40 points

Integration of assigned texts – 20 points

Acknowledgement and address of opposing views – 10 points

Academic voice/proper MLA formatting – 10 points

You need to decide which criterion (of the five listed above) you would like your classmates to help you improve for your paper. I recommend you do NOT pick MLA formatting – we haven’t covered that directly yet, so your classmates might not be able to provide substantial feedback from that perspective. If you want to focus on the academic voice part of that criterion, that’s fine. You will select one criterion for your classmates to focus on. You will post your rough draft (either copied and pasted in or as an attachment), you will identify which criterion you want feedback on, and you will ask one specific question of your classmates to give them a sense of the kind of feedback you’re looking for.

Here are some sample questions related to the grading criteria (feel free to use one of these, or create your own):

Introduction:

Is my thesis statement in the best place in my introduction? Is there somewhere else I should move it so it will be more effective?

Is my position on the assigned prompt clear? How can I improve my language to better share my position?

Did I clearly share how the body of my paper will be organized? How can I make that clearer to my reader?

Evidence:

Do I provide sufficient rationale for my reasons (support) of my claim?

Can you tell what kind of evidence I used to support my position? How can I make that clearer?

Do I have enough evidence to support my position (on the page I shared)? What might improve my evidence?

Did I properly introduce my evidence? How can I improve upon that?

Integration of assigned texts:

Have I properly attributed outside sources?

Have I clearly marked where I’ve included others’ ideas, either with attribution or quotation marks (as appropriate)?

Did I provide enough commentary connecting the outside sources to my position? What might I add or take out?

Opposition:

Have I properly acknowledged, accommodated, and refuted an opposing view?

How might I better integrate my address of the opposing view?

Do you have suggestions of other opposing views I might include?

Academic voice:

Have I avoided first (I) and second person (you)?

Have I avoided unnecessary contractions and colloquial language?

Is my voice powerful enough to be convincing? How might I improve that?

1

Article Response

Student’s Name

Institution/Affiliation

Course

Professor

Date

1

Article Response

Student’s Name
Institution/Affiliation
Course
Professor
Date

Classical Argument Structure

ENG 112

I. Introduction (1-2 paragraphs)

a. Hook

i. Don’t just start with “In the article…”

ii. Convince the reader the issue is a relevant one! This might be with a shocking fact or anecdote, a personal narrative, or a hypothetical scenario.

b. Background

i. What does your reader need to know about the issue to follow your argument?

ii. Consider giving some history or context of the issue (but this is not a book report, so keep it to essentials)

c. Exigence (“urgency”)

i. What is it about this issue that needs to be addressed now?

ii.

Can you provide information to convince the reader that this is an issue that affects many people today?

d. Claim (thesis statement)

i. What is your specific position on this issue?

ii. Don’t use “I think” or “I believe” (here or anywhere in your paper – it

weakens your credibility, because you’re not an expert in the field)

iii. Use language that explains exactly in what contexts/ways you maintain that position – this might be by listing supporting ideas you will address in your paper

II. Body (4-10 paragraphs, depending on the needs of the idea/assignment)

a. Ideas (reasons) to support claim – these answer the “how” or “why” questions

skeptics will have

i. These are your ideas and should be your words

b. Evidence to support ideas

i. Kinds of evidence: facts, statistics, expert opinions, case studies, personal experiences, anecdotes, hypothetical scenarios

c. Commentary connecting evidence to ideas

i. In other words, don’t use evidence and expect readers to connect the dots themselves. You need to directly state WHY that piece of evidence supports your claim.

d. Opposing view

i. Acknowledge

1. What is the opposing view?

ii. Accommodate

1. Where do you agree? What common ground can you find?

iii. Refute

1. Why invalidates their position/what logical problems do you see with their position that demonstrate your position is the better one?

III. Conclusion (1 paragraph)

a. Restatement of best reasoning/evidence – remember the “recency effect”

b. Moving beyond the text

i. Call to action

ii. Statement of implications (if…then)

iii. Need for more research

Democracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion: The myth of the well-rounded student? It’s
better to be ‘T-shaped’.

Opinion by Je�rey J. Selingo

June 1, 2016

It’s graduation season at high schools and colleges around the country, the time of year when students are honored for

their accomplishments from the classrooms to the athletic fields.

Teachers and counselors have long encouraged students to be “well-rounded.” But the problem with well-rounded

students is that they usually don’t focus on any one thing for a prolonged period of time. Too often they seem to

participate in activities just to check off a series of boxes, instead of showing the deep and sustained involvement,

passion, and dedication that employers seek. Their résumés are filled with what some recruiters refer to as “sign-up

clubs.”

Well-rounded students typically turn into generalists on the job. While jack-of-all-trades were useful in previous

generations, these days students need to be what is known as “T-shaped.”

The idea of the T-shaped individual first emerged in the early 1990s as a kind of “Renaissance Man.” The vertical bar of

the T represents a person’s deep understanding of one subject matter — history, for example — as well as one industry,

perhaps energy or health care. The horizontal stroke of T-shaped people is the ability to work across a variety of

complex subject areas with ease and confidence.

“The people we like to work with are T-shaped,” said Jim Spohrer, who heads up university partnerships for IBM. Take

a task, such as detecting credit-card fraud. It requires skills in math, law, finance, technology, psychology, and political

science. “We want people who can wrap their head around the whole thing and be part of teams,” Spohrer said.

Spohrer told me, however, that he’s not finding enough T-shaped college graduates who had both depth in a specific

field and breadth across academic disciplines. “Truth be told, we would rather hire people from a start-up, acquire a

start-up, or hire them from a failed start-up than hire people out of a university,” he said.

People with start-up experience, he said, have the know-how to work in small teams, find customers, and solve their

problems. They have initiative and persistence to keep going in the face of adversity. And they recognize the need to

spring back from failure quickly and learn from what went wrong.

“In school, it’s all about individual performance,” Spohrer said. “You better get it right the first time, because we’re

going to test you. If you work in teams and something goes wrong, you blame another team member. I’m less

interested in the big successes. People don’t learn a lot from their successes, and they usually learn the wrong things.”

But there’s more to being T-shaped than just having breadth and depth. It’s also about having balance and the agility to

pick and choose from a set of knowledge and skills as they are needed.

Here’s the problem: Colleges don’t offer classes, majors, or activities designed specifically for building the T-shaped

https://www.washingtonpost.com/people/jeffrey-j-selingo/

individual, so undergraduates need to direct themselves — to act independently, be resourceful, and cobble together

experiences inside and outside the classroom to better prepare for the evolving workplace they will face. They need to

recognize that in high school, their learning was directed for them by parents, teachers, and counselors, and they need

to change into students who explore and discover what’s next for them.

They need to have what Carol Dweck, a Stanford University psychologist, calls a “growth mind-set.” Dweck has found

that praising children for their intelligence, rather than for their effort, often leads them to give up when they

encounter the unknown. It’s much better, in her opinion, to compliment children for their persistence. People perform

better when they can focus on things they can control rather than things they cannot.

“Hard working is what gets the job done,” Dweck said. “The students who thrive are not necessarily the ones who come

in with the perfect scores. It’s the ones who love what they’re doing and go at it vigorously.”

Dweck has conducted several studies that found people would do better if they thought of their intelligence as flexible

and not something fixed at birth. People who have a “growth mind-set” see challenges as opportunities to broaden

their skills. But people who have been constantly praised for their intelligence freeze in ambiguous situations when

they don’t know the answer and often tie themselves in knots trying to reach perfection.

Instead of encouraging students to be “well-rounded,” we should be encouraging them to have both breadth and depth,

and to have a flexible mindset to learn where their curiosity takes them. This will ensure that students have the ability

to navigate the ambiguity of an economy where entire industries and occupations are expanding and contracting at

alarming speed.

8/31/2021 Vocational training vs. General education: Research on what schooling model is best.

https://slate.com/human-interest/2021/04/vocational-training-general-education-debate-research-range-david-epstein.html 1/5

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P L E N T Y O F DAY- G LO , E X T R E M E R A D I T U D E

General Education Has a Bad Rap
Specializing earlier in life doesn’t necessarily better prepare people for careers.

B Y DAV I D E P S T E I N

A P R I L 2 7, 2 0 2 1 • 5 : 4 0 A M

Photo illustration by Slate

Slate has relationships with various online retailers. If you buy something through our links, Slate may earn
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This excerpt is adapted from the new afterword for Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a
Specialized World by David Epstein, published with permission from Riverhead Books, a
division of Penguin Random House, copyright 2021 by David Epstein.

One of the earliest recorded uses of the phrase “Jack of all trades” as an insult dates to 1592.
In the New Latin form “Johannes factotum,” it was contained in a pamphlet by a playwright
criticizing his own industry. The jab refers to a poet with no university education who was
apparently involved in various other roles, like copying scripts and bit-part acting, even
trying to write plays. The poet on the receiving end of the insult: a young William
Shakespeare. The phrase evolved over time, and today it’s usually “Jack of all trades, master
of none.” I think it is culturally telling that we habitually hack o� the end of the long version:
“A Jack of all trades is a master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one.”

W O R K

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8/31/2021 Vocational training vs. General education: Research on what schooling model is best.

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Our notions of the relative merits of breadth versus specialization are often based on little
more than adages like those above, but they needn’t be. In the nearly 430 years since that
barb aimed at The Bard, researchers have compiled a mountain of work examining whether
the Jack of all trades is, indeed, ever better than a master of one. My book, Range, which
came out in 2019, is a journey through that research, and it shows that most of us would be
better o� with the long version of that quote. We’ve come to believe that people who
specialize early and narrowly—like Tiger Woods, who was already on national television
gol�ing at age 2—have an insurmountable advantage. But the research shows that those
stories are in fact the rare exception en route to success, and typically con�ined to repetitive
domains, in which work next year will look just like work last year—what psychologist Robin
Hogarth termed “kind learning environments.” Most of us are not working in kind learning
environments; it was eye-opening to learn about the advantages of breadth and delayed
specialization. The research pertains to every stage of life, from the development of
children in math, music, and sports, to students fresh out of college trying to �ind their way,
to midcareer professionals in need of a change and would-be retirees looking for a new
vocation after leaving a previous one.

Needless to say, most people aren’t going to be William Shakespeare. And while many of
the stories in Range portray uncommon achievements, I hoped those would serve as
memorable portals-of-engagement into research that applies to a much broader swath of
humanity. In fact, international research that studied thousands of workers—more than
three-quarters of whom did not have tertiary education—produced �indings that resonate
with a major theme of the book: that sometimes the actions that provide a head start will
undermine long-term development, whether that is choosing a career or a course of study,
or simply developing a skill or learning new material.

A 2017 study published by four economists in the United States, Germany, and China
analyzed education and employment data in 11 countries with large vocational education or
apprenticeship programs, comparing people within each country who had similar
backgrounds—including test scores, family background, and years of education—but
di�ered in whether they received career-focused or broader, general education. Naturally,
there was considerable variation between countries and certainly between individuals, but
the general pattern was: People who got narrow, career-focused education were more likely
to be employed right out of school and earned more right away, but over time both
advantages evaporated; decades later, they had spent less overall time in the labor market
and had lower lifetime earnings than workers who received general educations.

The early specializers often won in the short-term, and lost in the long run. Workers who
received general education, the economists concluded, were better positioned to adapt to
change in a wicked world, where work next year might not look like work last year.

The pattern was particularly pronounced in two countries with famously extensive
apprenticeship programs, Denmark and Germany, an important �inding given that, over the
past decade, U.S. politicians on both sides of the aisle have advocated for a move toward the
German apprenticeship model. In 2017, President Trump issued an executive order to

We need to be aware of how easy it is to be fooled
by head starts.

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8/31/2021 Vocational training vs. General education: Research on what schooling model is best.

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expand apprenticeship programs to prepare workers for “today’s rapidly changing
economy.” The economists, on the other hand, concluded that the more rapidly a nation’s
economy is changing, the greater the long-term advantage of general education. Of the
three countries with widespread apprenticeship programs—Denmark, Germany,
Switzerland—early specialization only resulted in a lifetime earnings advantage in
Switzerland, which has had easily the slowest growing economy of those three nations in
recent decades. “This comparison is consistent with the idea that those with general
education are more adaptable to changed economic demands,” two of the economists
wrote. “Vocational education has been promoted largely as a way of improving the
transition from schooling to work, but it also appears to reduce the adaptability of workers
to technological and structural change in the economy.”

Does that mean we should have no early vocational training or apprenticeships at all? I
certainly don’t think so, and one of the economists who did this work pointed out that
apprenticeships still work well in speci�ic areas, like the building trades, but also that those
trades are a small portion of un�illed jobs. In my opinion, we should preserve a variety of
pathways, to �it a variety of life circumstances. But I also think we need to be aware of how
easy it is to be fooled by head starts, assuming that they represent terminally stable
trajectories, whether the head start be for child athletes, college students learning math, or
workers entering the labor force. “The advantages of vocational training in smoothing entry
into the labor market,” the economists wrote, “have to be set against disadvantages later in
life, disadvantages that are likely to be more severe as we move more into being a
knowledge economy.”

Over the past year, I have frequently felt behind. I’ve found it especially important to remind
myself of the theme of research in Range: Development is not linear, and diversions that set
you back in the short term frequently become powerful tools in the long term.

8/31/2021 Vocational training vs. General education: Research on what schooling model is best.

https://slate.com/human-interest/2021/04/vocational-training-general-education-debate-research-range-david-epstein.html 4/5

Riverhead Books

Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World

By David Epstein

$16.56 from Bookshop

$15.49 from Amazon

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8/31/2021 Vocational training vs. General education: Research on what schooling model is best.

https://slate.com/human-interest/2021/04/vocational-training-general-education-debate-research-range-david-epstein.html 5/5

David Epstein also hosts the Slate podcast How To! Listen to the most recent episode
below, or subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Slate is published by The Slate Group, a Graham Holdings Company.

All contents © 2021 The Slate Group LLC. All rights reserved.

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8/18/2021 Colleges should consider halving the gen-ed curriculum requirements (opinion)

https://www.insidehighered.com/print/views/2018/04/05/colleges-should-consider-halving-gen-ed-curriculum-requirements-opinion 1/2

Colleges should consider halving the gen-ed curriculum requirements
(opinion)
Submitted by Zachary Michael Jack on April 5, 2018 – 3:00am

On my campus, as very likely on yours, we’ve recently emerged from a difficult if not well-intentioned struggle over deep
general-education revisions. Raised on a Midwestern farm, I confess to being of a don’t-fix-it-if-it-ain’t-broke mind-set, but
even I can admit the old-fashioned distribution model baked into our gen-ed curriculum had grown a bit moldy around the
edges. While we ultimately decided on a new nexus model more relevant to a digital age, the battle left me asking why
gen ed itself wasn’t on the cutting board.

It sounds heretical, perhaps especially to me, a faculty member based in the humanities, but it’s been my observation over
the years that the unquestioned and often outmoded fixtures that institutions fight to preserve are sometimes those that
have the weakest rationales, which may explain our sensitivity and defensiveness where they are concerned. Just as
travel agents once fought bitterly to keep their monopoly against the rising threat of internet-based travel bookings, and
defensive real estate agents brought out the heavy artillery in an attempt to defeat the creeping threat posed by online for-
sale-by-owners, it’s worth asking if America’s colleges and universities need struggle so desperately for the 40 to 60 gen-
ed credit hours they often require.

Even a 40-credit-hour requirement, for example, amounts to one-third of many students’ total required credits, or roughly
the equivalent of one to one and a half years of tuition. Given the College Board’s calculation that average tuition and fees
for the 2017-18 academic year averaged $34,740 at private nonprofit four-year colleges and universities, the cost to
complete a general-education program could be in excess of $50,000.

The math is imperfect, but it still raises the question: As important a contributor to civil society as gen ed may be — and as
emotionally tied to its long-standing virtues as many of us are as teachers, scholars and mentors — can we adequately
justify its hefty price tag to our most financially needy advisees, many of whom are working one and sometimes two part-
time jobs to help foot the tuition bill, to say nothing of room and board?

A product of a humanities education and a liberal arts professor myself, I can easily articulate the time-honored virtues of
general education: it creates better-rounded individuals, develops more engaged critical thinkers and citizens, builds
common cause and community around a shared set of concerns, and so on. But during an era of record student debt and
continuing retention and demographic challenges, it’s worth asking whether we might find ways to reduce gen-ed
mandates by half. Putting gen ed on a diet may enable some students to graduate a term, if not a year, early, thereby
lessening the debt load they carry into a difficult job market.

Making gen ed lean wouldn’t necessarily mean surrendering our most sacred outcomes — writing, critical thinking,
scientific and mathematical literacy, physical education, service learning, and community engagement — but better
incorporating those outcomes into existing majors. For example, suppose a new, streamlined gen-ed package required
one rather than two composition classes, while asking students to enroll in a writing-intensive course within their major or
minor to make up the difference. Granted, such hybrid intensives may prove more difficult to administer and staff, but their
necessary economies would no doubt stimulate and incentivize interdisciplinary invention.

For example, I know a senior mathematics professor who piloted a course in the mathematics of square dancing. While
even he would admit the course presented students quantifiably more mathematics than physical education, its innovative
transdisciplinary curriculum got students moving, thinking and quantifying, all while tapping their toes.

While far from a panacea, and problematic in their own right, internships, co-ops, student-faculty research, undergraduate
theses, student teaching, study abroad and other substantive outside-of-class commitments could, if properly sanctioned
and supervised, help students acquire core competencies in areas like writing, communication and quantitative reasoning.

Published on Inside Higher Ed
(https://www.insidehighered.com)

Home > Colleges should consider halving the gen-ed curriculum requirements (opinion)

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8/18/2021 Colleges should consider halving the gen-ed curriculum requirements (opinion)

https://www.insidehighered.com/print/views/2018/04/05/colleges-should-consider-halving-gen-ed-curriculum-requirements-opinion 2/2

Why couldn’t more established internships with proven corporate and nonprofit partners be preapproved to meet a gen-ed
requirement? Rather than charge students a full three or four credit hours of tuition for an internship taking place off
campus that requires little if any on-site faculty supervision, low-overhead credits like these could be offered at a
discounted rate. Or, as an alternative, corporate internship sites could compensate students for a portion of the tuition cost
incurred in return for their labors.

Before we devote scarce faculty and administrative resources to building a bigger, better, more enlightened mousetrap,
perhaps it’s time to set students free by reducing gen ed’s appetite for increasingly expensive credits. Yes, we must be
careful, lest, like the travel agents of yore, we argue ourselves right out of a job, but surely we can acknowledge that
enlightened self-interest has limits. The credit-hungry gen-ed revision packages under consideration at so many
campuses this academic year may be giving faculty a free pass on necessary innovation and needlessly harming
students’ pocketbooks while damaging something far more valuable: their good faith.

Section:
Teaching and Learning [1]
Author Bio:

Zachary Michael Jack is an associate professor of English at North Central College, where he is a member of the
Leadership, Ethics and Values faculty.

Source URL: https://www.insidehighered.com/views/2018/04/05/colleges-should-consider-halving-gen-ed-curriculum-requirements-opinion

Links
[1] https://www.insidehighered.com/news/focus/teaching-and-learning

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