The Toulmin Argument Essay
After exploring your own personal story with the Literacy Narrative, the Toulmin Argument will test your ability to argue and defend your own position on a major issue. While you will be discussing hard evidence and researching the positions for your issue, no outside sources will be necessary within your essay, as you will be working primarily on the strength of your logical, reasoned arguments. The main goals of this essay will be for you to establish a reasoned, arguable stance on an issue, consider all relevant sides of an argument, and support your position with reasons and evidence in a fashion expected of a college-level essay.
Reading/Writing Resource Center and Tutor 24/7
The tutors in the RWRC and Tutor 24/7 are always on hand to help with essays and any issues you have with grammar, punctuation, organization, or other elements of your writing. I highly recommend that once you finish your first draft, you make an appointment with a RWRC tutor or with Tutor 24/7 on their Blackboard page to check your first draft for errors. As stated in the syllabus, you must have specific questions prepared about your essay for them to help you, so come to your appointment ready to address any problem areas you have. Remember to arrive on time, with a copy of your essay with a full heading.
After your first draft is prepared, we will be participating in a group writing workshop in class. Have a digital copy of your first draft ready on October 13th, where you will be put into groups to critique each others’ drafts. You may share the files with your fellow group members by email or allow them to edit via Google Docs. Once you read each others’ essays, you will offer constructive criticism and ways to improve each others’ essays in preparation for the final draft. Remember to be courteous and respectful with your criticism and accept the criticism of your classmates the same way, especially since these essays may cover controversial topics. If you need extra assistance in rewriting and revising your essay, please speak to me during my office hours or by email.
October 13th- In-Class Writing Workshop, have digital copy of your draft ready,
October 16th- Final Draft Due on Blackboard at 11:59pm
The range of topics for this essay is broader than with the Literacy Narrative, as you should focus your essay on an issue you are invested in and in which you can establish a position. The following is a short list of possible topics, and example questions within those topics, to get you started. Within the length of this essay, you should focus on addressing one question or issue of debate within your topic, come up with two to three reasons (supported by evidence) for your argument, and address one dissenting opinion and why you disagree. Read the examples of argumentative essays in The Norton Field Guide to Writing for more inspiration of what’s expected.
If you need more inspiration, 200 more prompts are available here: https://learning.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/02/04/200-prompts-for-argumentative-writing/?_r=0
If you also wish to get some background on controversial issues currently being debated, there are a host of topics in the Issues and Controversies database available through the TCC Library.
Questions to Consider
As you write, keep these questions in mind so that your essay remains focused and fulfills the requirements expected of you. If you are unsure how to answer one of these questions, or if you don’t know where to go next, bring your questions to the RWRC or myself during my office hours.
Caffeine by the Numbers
For teachers, students, and professionals in any line of work, caffeine is the lifeblood of modern society. Whether it’s for an all-night study session or a 12-hour work shift, caffeinated drinks (most commonly coffee and energy drinks) are our go-to solution for keeping our energy levels steady. However, over-consumption of caffeine on a regular basis can be a dangerous habit, and it’s easy to go overboard without a way to keep track of how much you’re taking in. While energy drinks usually have their caffeine content clearly labeled, this is not often the case with coffee products, and this needs to change for the safety of the consumer. Coffee products should label their caffeine content more clearly because of their elevated levels of caffeine, the health risks of regular caffeine overdose, and the possible long-term benefits of consumer awareness.
Because of the reputation and marketing of energy drinks, most consumers might assume that they far surpass coffee in caffeine content, but the numbers tell a different story. Three of the best-known energy drinks on the market- Red Bull, Monster, and Rockstar- come in uniform can sizes of 12 and 16 fluid ounces, and display their caffeine content below their list of ingredients: 114mg of caffeine for a 12oz Red Bull, and 160mg for a 16oz Monster or Rockstar. This comes out to a standard caffeine level of 10mg/oz. On the other hand, an average 8oz cup of black coffee contains roughly 163mg of caffeine, according to the calculations listed on Caffeineinformer.com. These levels can vary based on the brewing process used, but this averages out to a whopping 20mg of caffeine per ounce of coffee, twice the amount in the most popular energy drinks. These facts can be hard to swallow, but our drinking habits can make this consumption even more dire.
On top of the elevated levels of caffeine in coffee, the usual methods it’s consumed can very easily lead to over-consumption and dangerous health effects. Unlike with energy drinks, most people who regularly drink coffee don’t have methods of standard drink measurement. Instead of clearly identifying fluid ounces and caffeine levels on a can, most coffee drinkers either brew their own in a large coffee pot and refill their personal mug several times a day, or they grab a cup from a local coffee shop or convenience store on the way to work. Neither of these methods make it especially easy to keep track of the amount of caffeine a coffee drinker consumes, and the deceptively high caffeine content doesn’t help matters.
Caffeineinformer.com once again informs us that some of the milder symptoms of caffeine overdose, such as restlessness, irritability, nausea, anxiety, and heart palpitations, can occur from consuming 250-500mg of caffeine in a short period. This is roughly the amount you would get from three large cans of Monster, but only three 8oz cups of black coffee, based on our earlier calculations. Most consumers would probably balk at drinking 48oz of Monster in a short period, but drinking three small cups of coffee sounds more like a typical workday, which adds to the misinformation about caffeine consumption. In addition, habitual consumption of caffeine is known to lessen its effectiveness as the body builds up a tolerance, meaning you would need to drink even more to feel energized and might suffer from withdrawal symptoms without keeping up a high level of consumption. This is unfortunately an easy trap to fall into when people aren’t aware of how much caffeine they take in, and properly labeling the caffeine content of coffee products would help consumers avoid these negative effects.
Labeling the caffeine content in coffee more clearly is by no means a cure-all solution, but doing so would give consumers the opportunity to be more health conscious and aware of their own habits when it comes to caffeine. We can turn to the fast food industry for a positive example of this trend. Over a decade ago, McDonalds and many other fast food restaurants were pressured to include the nutritional information and calories of their menu items in response to the obesity epidemic which they were partially responsible for. These listings are now a staple on fast food menus everywhere, so that consumers can know in a glance exactly how much they’re taking in. Obesity is still rampant, but for consumers with few options for their daily meals, these listings can help keep their calorie count under control. Clear and unambiguous labels on coffee grounds, bottled coffee drinks and coffee shop menus listing the amount of caffeine you’re getting with your daily cup can keep the average coffee drinker better informed, and maybe force them to think twice about pouring a second or third cup.