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One of the most important skills you will use throughout your career and personal life is analytical thinking. Analytical thinking requires you to identify the purpose or intent of a document, and determine whether the assertions or claims are valid and reasonable.

This assignment will help you to develop the skills necessary to determine the meaning found within a text. You will find an op/ed piece from an online newspaper, then write an essay in which you analyze the article. The intent of this essay is not to argue for or against the content; instead, you are analyzing what the article does in terms of purpose, approach, and effectiveness.

*Note that no one writes a polished essay in a single sitting. Start early and give yourself time for multiple revisions.

Step 1:

Go to an online newspaper website such as:

Find an article in the Op/ED (Opinion/Editorial) section that is argumentative in nature.

Step 2:

Analyze the article using the following questions as a guide.

  1. What is the purpose of the text? In other words, what does the author want his or her readers to believe and/or do after reading the article?
  2. What strategies does the author use to achieve his/her purpose? Does the author use facts, examples, experiences, logic, assumptions, data, sources, expert opinion, and so on to prove his or her position? Be sure to give examples. You could also try to determine if the position is presented as more of a Classical argument or a Rogerian argument.
  3. What are the strengths and weaknesses of the approach the author used? Do you detect bias that is unreasonable? Does the author use unreasonable assertions, stereotypes, or faulty information to make his or her points? Does the author place the opposition in an unfair light? Does the author distort the arguments of those who disagree? Does the author fail to recognize the weaknesses in his or her own position? Does the author leave out important information? Does the author back up his or her assertions with evidence, or does he or she simply make assumptions? What would most improve the argument? Explain your answers.

Remember, you are not arguing for or against the content of the article you choose; you are analyzing how the author supports the claims that are made. Your analysis consists of identifying the author’s purpose, and determining whether the strategies used by the author are reasonable.  Be objective.

  1. To be clear: Your readers should not know what your position is about the subject. 
  2. Do not include personal opinion or personal judgments about the subject matter.
  3. Do not include personal narrative.

Step 3:

Analysis Checklist – Use these questions to evaluate your essay against the assignment requirements

  1. Does the source article discuss a current controversial topic?
  2. Does you analysis identify the argument (point of view)?
  3. Does your analysis use effective transitions as it progresses from paragraph to paragraph?
  4. Does your analysis avoid personal opinion, casual language, or first or second person language (I or You)?
  5. Is the analysis complete? Does information need to be added or deleted to complete the assignment?
  6. Does this analysis meet the assignment criteria?

Use APA Format for this assignment: This analysis should be presented in the form of a single essay, complete with a title page, an introduction, three body paragraphs (purpose, approach, and effectiveness), a conclusion, and a full References page.

Your analysis should meet the following criteria:

  1. Is based on a current topic and/or event;
  2. Is between 300-500 words in length, not including the title page, abstract (if used), and References page;
  3. Includes direct quotations and paraphrased passages from the text;
  4. Uses attributive tags that not only work to convey the mood of the writer, but establish him or her as an authority in the field of study;
  5. Avoids personal opinion;
  6. Is written clearly, concisely, and accurately;
  7. Is written solely in third-person;
  8. Includes a References page;
  9. Has been closely edited so that it contains few or no mechanical errors;
  10. Is ordered with a title page, an introduction, three body paragraphs (purpose, approach, and effectiveness), a conclusion, and a full References page.

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