Use this template to help design a paper assignment based on an outside-of-class experience. Expand the focus of the paper to include information literacy skills and library research for WR 15x courses. Sample paper assignments are provided at the end of the template.



To use observations, field notes, and/or reflections on outside-of-class experiences as one among a broad range of sources in the context of an academic argument.

Key Terms

argument-driven paper; academic paper; BEAM/BEAT; exhibit sources

Assignment Template for WR 120

  1. Purpose: Our second paper will be a longer, more complex exploration of one primary text, or exhibit, that engages a claim made by a writer other than yourself. Since professional scholars and researchers nearly always engage previous work in their writings, this paper will serve as an introduction to the dominant forms of argument found in academia—and allow you to experience writing as a member of that community.
  2. Sources: For this essay, Source A will serve as a theory source. Your own experience of a specific site, place, or event will serve as your major exhibit source. Sources B and C will serve as argument or theory sources.
  3. A Note on Places and Lived Experience as Exhibits: Writing about places as exhibits is both like and unlike writing about other kinds of texts. Like any claim, a claim in a paper based on outside-the-classroom observation needs to be a contention you can support with the type of evidence you can gather. The evidence you collect from sites you experience is different from textual evidence (and may include sensory details, physical characteristics of a space, interactions etc.), but as long as you have taken detailed, careful notes you can use your observations to support your claims.
  4. Task: In her essay, Source A, the author argues that … Her major claim is … Using her major claim (and any other elements of her essay that you wish you include) write an essay of 1500-2000 words in which you discuss the role of this concept in your experience of the urban landscape at your site of choice. Along with Source A, you should refer to at least one other textual source.
  5. Comments: For this assignment, Source A’s position serves as a point of departure for your own argument. How does Source A’s concept apply to your understanding of the urban landscape at your chosen site? How does this concept help you to understand, describe, analyze, or critique your own experience of the urban landscape? How does Source A provide a framework in which we can interpret the meaning and significance of your site and your experiences there?
  6. Remember that your essay should have an introduction composed of common ground, problem and claim, a body in which you develop your argument using evidence from your own observations of your chosen site (and possibly the shared observations of other students), and a conclusion.

Here’s one instructor’s example of a paper assignment for a WR 120, based on attending a production of a play and reading the text of the play, using the template above. Here is also an example of a WR 15x paper assignment, for a class that focuses on more scientific topics.