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Sophia Pathways for College Credit – English Composition II SAMPLE TOUCHSTONE AND SCORING

Logan Stevens

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English Composition II

December 1, 2019

Research question: How should ethical concerns direct the choices that people make about

eating meat?

Working thesis statement: For ethical and environmental reasons, people should limit their

beef consumption, and the beef that they do eat should be humanely raised, locally sourced, and

grass-fed.

Detailed Outline

I. Working Thesis in Introduction: For ethical and environmental reasons, people should

limit their beef consumption, and the beef that they do eat should be humanely raised,

locally sourced, and grass-fed.

A. Hook with description statistics on beef consumption.

B. Introduce two concerns: humane treatment, environment

Source: Davis and Lin on statistics on beef consumption in the U.S.

II. Ethical Issues

Comment [SL1]: Hi Logan! This is a very good research question. It is relevant, debatable, and is adequately focused for a paper of this length.

Comment [SL2]: This is a very well-constructed thesis statement. You take a very clear stance on the issue, indicating how you plan to argue one aspect of the research question.

Sophia Pathways for College Credit – English Composition II SAMPLE TOUCHSTONE AND SCORING

A. Animals feel pain

B. CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations)

C. Inhumane treatment of domesticated cattle

Source 1: Grandin and Smith, paragraph 2

Source 2: Pollan on ethical conflicts, paragraphs 32 and 40

III. Environmental Issues

A. Mono-cropping: feed for cattle and transport

B. Manure: contamination, transport, ground water

C. Antibiotics: rise in antibiotic resistant bacteria

Source 1: Lappe on mono-cropping com/soy and production, page 22

Source 2: Sager on manure issues, paragraph 7

Source 3: Palmer on antibiotics, paragraph 12

IV. Health Benefits of Grass-Fed

A. Higher in vitamins A and E and contains half the saturated fat and more omega-3

fatty acids, all of which fight cancer and heart disease

B. Cows are healthier, so their meat is healthier to consume.

C. Note that organic is a separate category.

Source 1: Ruechel on health benefits, page 235

Source 2: Sager on organic note, paragraphs 10-15

V. Environmental Benefits of Grass-Fed Beef

A. Local production is better for the climate

B. Forage is better for the climate than corn/soy

C. Some meat consumption is good for the planet.

Comment [SL3]: Good. You are indicating which sources you plan to use in support of your discussion and highlighting the specific part of the source which will be used here. This helps you to find exactly what you need when you are writing your final paper. Well done.

Comment [SL4]: Your argument is progressing in a very logical manner so far.

Sophia Pathways for College Credit – English Composition II SAMPLE TOUCHSTONE AND SCORING

Source 1: Lappe on climate change, page 11

Source 2: Pollan on local and diverse, end of article

VI. Counterargument

A. Rainforest razing in South America – increases carbon dioxide in the atmosphere

and depletes the ozone layer

B. Travel distance from S. America & Australia is environmentally negative –

depends on fossil fuels

Source 1: Brown and Funk, and Sage, on issues w/grass-fed cattle in the

developing world.

Source 2: Pollan (and possibly Lappe) on “season” for beef

VII. Conclusion

A. Grass-fed is better on both ethical and environmental grounds, but the real answer

is to eat less beef overall.

B. Emphasizing respect for animals solves ethical dilemmas

Source 1: Pollan on eating less and the ethics of being choosy, paragraph 82

Reflection Questions

1) Learning to conduct research is important because it is a skill you will use both in

academia and in your professional life. It improves critical thinking and empowers

you to find information for yourself. Consider the process of researching as a whole.

What was the most challenging aspect of the process for you? (2-3 sentences)

Comment [SL5]: Good. It is important to present the counter-arguments in order to establish a balanced perspective on the issue.

Comment [SL6]: Excellent. This summarizes the main points you have made throughout your essay and ties the discussion back to your thesis statement.

Sophia Pathways for College Credit – English Composition II SAMPLE TOUCHSTONE AND SCORING

One of the most challenging aspects of researching for me was how much time it took to

find all of the different types of sources for this paper. It was also very difficult to assess

each source and determine whether the information it provided was credible and useful

for my essay. I really thought this would only take an hour or two, but it ended up being a

much more involved process. Now I know that if you want to really learn about an issue,

it takes more than a quick web search for information!

2) The working thesis statement is a proposed answer to your research question. It

should clearly identify a debatable topic and take a position on one side of that topic.

Analyze the effectiveness of your working thesis statement.

My working thesis statement is one sentence that presents one side of a relevant and

debatable argument. In addition, I tried to be as specific as I could. Instead of simply

saying “People should not eat beef” I stated that it was for ethical and environmental

reasons. I offered an alternative for what should be done if people would not avoid beef

completely. I really tried to explain why this issue was important and discuss what could

be done to improve the situation.

3) A detailed outline is an effective tool for laying out the progression of an

argument. It allows you to consider the arrangement and organization of your ideas,

as well as choose places to incorporate outside source materials. Review your

detailed outline and summarize the argument you’ve presented.

I start by laying out the ethical issues and inhumane treatment of mass-produced cattle

and discuss the environmental concerns of feeding and transporting cattle. I then switch

Sophia Pathways for College Credit – English Composition II SAMPLE TOUCHSTONE AND SCORING

to discussing the health and environmental benefits of grass-fed, humanely raised beef.

The counterargument outlines a few issues that still exist with grass-fed beef and the

conclusion reiterates that eating grass-fed beef is better but eating less beef is the more

environmentally friendly option. I think that the argument progresses logically in this

way and I think that the information I provided in my introduction and conclusion will be

very helpful in introducing and summarizing the topic.

4) You will use the same topic on three of the remaining Touchstones in this course.

What kind of feedback would be helpful for you? What are specific questions you

might have as you go deeper into the research process?

I’m pretty confident in the information I provided, but I would like additional insight into

the structure of my essay. I think that my outline is clear, but I am not sure if it will make

as much sense to someone who is not as familiar with the topic. I would also like some

guidance on my use of formatting. I tried my best to use APA guidelines, but I’m not as

familiar with these Comment [SL7]: You’ve done a really great job with these things. It can be difficult to strike the right balance in providing enough information in the bibliography and outline, but you have summarized the sources well and your outline clearly shows how you plan to develop your topic. Your formatting is also very precise and adheres to all the conventional guidelines. Very well done!

Sophia Pathways for College Credit – English Composition II SAMPLE TOUCHSTONE AND SCORING

Touchstone 1 Rubric and Feedback

Rubric Category

Feedback Score (acceptable, needs improvement etc.)

Research Question

Your research question is very precise and represents a relevant and debatable topic.

8/10

Working Thesis

Your working thesis is also very clear and you clearly state which side of the issue you plan to take.

9/10

Detailed Outline Your outline is clearly labeled and demonstrates

the logical progression of your argument. You have provided sufficient notes so that the reader can easily see how you plan to use each source to support the discussion in each section. You also include all of the required components.

14/15

Style

Your tone is consistent and informative. 5/5

Conventions Your use of English conventions is consistent.

5/5

Reflection You thoroughly answer all questions and provide insights, observations, and examples in your responses.

5/5

Overall Score and Feedback: 46/50

Choose an argumentative topic to research. this will be your topic throughout the entire course. The topic for an argumentative research paper must be debatable topic, 

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