This assignment was a great base for a 200-level English composition course I worked with. It was a class being offered during our "May-mester," so there were only 7 students and I had almost two hours. The students were assigned a rhetorical analysis that compared a scholarly and popular article on the same topic. Their papers were to focus on the differences between the appeal to the attended audience, the effectiveness of the appeal, and the reason the texts were written differently, rather than on the content.
At the time of the class, the students had found their popular articles, but not their scholarly. I started off with some context about the information cycle and what the students think when they hear "not all info is created equally." This led to some good discussion of format and context. Then I split the students into two groups, and gave them each a pair of articles. I used the NY Times article and scholarly article on fracking from this assignment, and then located another pair (NPR and scholarly) on cyclist GPS data being used to make streets safer.
Each group answered the following questions about their articles.
1. Same as original assignment
2. Who do you think is the intended audience for each item? Are they effective in their appeal to this audience?
3. How do the authors of each article differ? Can you find information about them online?
4. List some ways you could use these two articles to locate more information sources about this topic.
We then came back together as a class and discussed the answers for 1-3. I followed up by asking them to identify the major differences between the two info sources and what they saw as the best uses for each.
We then went back to the answers for #4, which set up a brief discussion on the importance of searching with keywords, learning new vocab about your topic, and introduced the concept of citation searching. From there, I was able to show them how to use those keywords in the database using one of the student's topics, and then answered questions/helped out as the students searched for scholarly articles the rest of the time. The class got a great response from the instructor, and hopefully set the students up for success on their assignments, as they could continue to reflect on our group discussion as they compare their own sources.