Cultivating Voice

The Op-Ed Project Helps Students Find, Embrace, and Showcase Their Voice.

In many undergraduate and graduate college classrooms, course assignments follow a standard formula where students read and review existing scholarly literature and piece together an argument that largely resembles a literature review with some argumentation. While learning the literature is important, it produces a group of research consumers who often do not learn to translate science into sense for everyday use. Additionally, traditional student argumentation is generally fairly loose and students proceed without much focus on efficiency, polemics, and persuasion.

The op-ed project offers a solution to this problem while also presenting students with an opportunity to meet the following objectives:

Objective 1: learn about and critically examine a topic;

Objective 2: translate scholarly/scientific work into everyday language and use it to persuade/argue a point;

Objective 3: engage in a national or regional conversation;

Objective 4: improve writing and editing skills;

Objective 5: learn submission & publication process; publish/disseminate.

For this semester-long assignment, students construct/write/edit and submit an op-ed on a topic related to the course topic to any outlet of their choosing. Students learn that an op-ed is part of a public conversation where an author states their fact-based opinion about a topic with the explicit goal of information and persuasion. The assignment consists of several iterative pieces so students learn and develop skills over time. The final product is a potentially publishable op-ed of approximately 1000-1500 words. Revision of drafts, peer review, and familiarity with target readers is important for a high-quality product.

Cultivating Voice Op-Eds Library



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