Writing with a Point of View

Writing with a Point of View

This course aims to improve the writing and critical thinking skills of college students. In this course, students will study academic writing basics and conventions, and exercise independent and critical thinking to evaluate and integrate data to form and support arguments. Students will initially be taught what constitutes critical thinking and understand how to discover evidence, formulate inquiries, and determine writing purposes and target readers.

Students will then transform inquiries into researchable questions and establish arguments supported by factual information, statistical analysis and expert opinions. They finally make inferences or offer feasible solutions.

The course content includes constructing arguments, formulating questions, structing research papers, reviewing and critiquing literature, using linguistic features, and organizing paragraphs. Through classroom discussion and writing assignments, students will ultimately improve their critical thinking and academic writing skills.

Course Description

Do you have many ideas about current events or cultural affairs but have a hard time finding opportunities to share them? How can you present your points of view on a certain issue? Can you convince your readers of your points of view with reasonable evidence and coherent language?

Take the following three issues for example:

Issue 1: You are not happy that NTU students need to go to the cafeteria at NTUST for better food service. Can you offer recommendations as to how to modify the survey for customer satisfaction with NTU cafeteria service in which you help students voice their opinions so as to enhance the food service at NTU?

Issue 2: What is intriguing about Donald Trump being elected as the President of the United States is that he earned support from the groups of people whom he discriminated against. Can you analyze this peculiar phenomenon?

Issue 3: The considerable attention that the music video of Jolin Tsai’s Egoholic has received speaks volumes for the bullying stereotypes that have been ingrained in the consciousness of the general public. Can you offer your point of view on this in a manner that makes sense to your readers?

These three issues were explored by the students who took this course during the fall semester in the academic year 2016-2017. Applying what they learned in this course, they explored the issues that interested them and wrote well-structured, coherently presented, and reasonably supported mini-theses. Critical thinking and mini-thesis writing do not always fall within the realm of academic research. Mini-thesis writing itself is a great opportunity to develop critical thinking, to dig deeper into certain issues, and to demonstrate persuasive power in a coherent manner. In other words, as far as college students are concerned, mini-thesis writing is a powerful vehicle for demonstrating critical thinking.

The goal of this course is to enhance students’ academic writing and critical thinking abilities. Holding the spirit of independent thinking and critical researching, students in this course first learn academic writing fundamentals and rhetoric modes. They then formulate questions on current, cultural or international affairs, synthesize relevant information, and present their own points of view. Topics to be covered in the course include critical and argumentative writing, question formulating, thesis structuring, literature reviewing, language using, and paragraph/section managing. This course is conducted via lectures, discussions, and hands-on writing practices.

Course Objectives

At the first stage of this course, students understand what constitutes critical thinking. By way of article analysis, students understand what arguments entail and learn how to formulate questions, set writing goals, and target readers.

At the second stage, students learn to translate questions into arguments to present their points of view. They then evaluate their arguments on the basis of empirical evidence, statistical analysis or expert opinions so as to make deductions and offer recommendations.

At the third stage, students work on their mini-theses where they demonstrate their understanding of mini-thesis structures and support their arguments with cogent evidence and coherent logic.

The course objectives are as follows:

  1. To enhance Chinese expository writing abilities
  2. To develop literature reviewing and critical thinking abilities
  3. To cultivate academic reading and writing abilities

Course Requirements

  1. Students who do not show up in the first week are deemed to voluntarily give up the course.
  2. Students are expected to spend 2-3 hours after class each week working on the following post-class activities:
    a. Reading assigned articles
    b. Writing assignments
    c. Finalizing mini-thesis topics, collecting and analyzing relevant information, and writing well-structured mini-theses
  3. Students should submit assignments on time; grades will be deducted for late submission. Plagiarism is prohibited; if students get caught committing plagiarism, they will not pass this course.