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Signature Assignment: Research Paper

The Signature Assignment assesses the following General Education Program Learning Outcomes (PLOs):

  1. Demonstrate competent written communication skills.
  2. Demonstrate technological and informational literacy by locating disparate information through multiple sources.
  3. Analyze ideas and make decisions using critical thinking skills.
  4. Articulate issues and arrive at a defensible conclusion, given a set of ethical dilemmas.

As the development of informational literacy and effective writing skills are key learning outcomes of the General Education Program (see #1 and #5 above), you will select a research topic from one of the textbook chapters and write a scholarly, 4-5 page paper (not including the required cover page or references pages).

You should select a specific topic from the course, first be framed in the form of a research question, then developed into a thesis statement. The paper requires research from a minimum of three authoritative literature sources in seeking to answer the topic question and support the thesis statement. (The textbook is not considered an appropriate literary resource for your paper.) The paper reports on that research and offer answer(s) to the original question, then supports the claim made in the thesis statement.

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Upload your paper to Blackboard assignment area by the 8th week. Papers will be returned to the Blackboard Gradebook as an attachment. Points are deducted for any paper written in less than four full pages and should not be longer than 5 pages. Additional pages will not necessarily improve the grade, and may result in points deduction.

  • Points will be deducted for:
    • Disorganized, excessively wordy papers
    • The use of improper grammar and/or syntax
    • Misspelled words
    • Failure to use the WCU standard, APA format exactly as prescribed by the APA
    • Sourced material that is not properly cited
  • Points will be added for concise, organized papers that clearly and effectively make major points.
  • Papers will receive no credit for a similarity index in excess of 25% (All papers are automatically submitted to evaluate originality.)
  • Plagiarized work (in addition, the student will be referred to the WCU Conduct Committee).
  • Use APA formatting, referencing/citations, and language preferences throughout. Include a title page, cite your interviews parenthetically within the paper, and include a reference page for any other resources you use, such as your text or course materials. For guidance, refer to the APA Style Webpage and visit the WCU writing resources (link found Blackboard in the “Student Resource” menu).
  • Papers will receive no credit for a similarity index in excess of 25% (All papers are automatically submitted to evaluate originality.)
  • Plagiarized work (in addition, the student will be referred to the WCU Conduct Committee)

Do Not:

  • Email your paper (Any paper not uploaded to Blackboard will receive no credit.)
  • Submit a printed copy in class (Any paper not uploaded to Blackboard will receive no credit.)

The following suggestions are emphasized:

Begin your work early (certainly no later than the 6th week of the term). Procrastination and hurriedly researching a question to write a paper in the final days before the due date results in little learning and usually produces poor results.

  • Do write an initial first draft and spend an equal amount of time editing that first effort. Do not submit a first draft.
  • Be sure to use spell checking and grammar checking software.
  • Be sure to proofread your work. Have others proofread your work.
  • Be sure to follow all aspects of the APA format including a cover page, abstract, bibliography, page numbers and running headers on each page.


Recommended: Review the rubric for further information on how your assignment will be graded.


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