For our last assignment in our Writing 100 class we were required to write an argumentative paper, taking a stance to argue a point related to issues on college campuses, based upon research we conducted.
I chose to take a position on a problem and write my argumentative essay about diversity and how I believe that the University of Michigan offers a diverse campus to students. The argument becomes complicated though as I analyze that there are many different ways to define diversity, and that even though campus may be diverse we cannot ignore the fact that racial oppression still exists on the University of Michigan campus.
Similar to my experiences writing some of my other essays, such as my analytical essay of Hjortshoj’s, “Footstools and Furniture”, while writing my research essay I found that I didn’t get my thesis exactly right until the very last edition of my paper. As I have already explored how writing a thesis is sometimes not easy until writing the entirety of one’s paper, I would like to talk about the images I used.
At first I thought that it would be easy to analyze the images that I used for my research paper — a pie chart and a photo of a group of protestors on the Michigan campus. That was until I realized that although I knew what I wanted my reader to get from the images, I had to make sure that I described them well enough so that whoever was reading my essay would be able to understand the significance and relationship of the images to my paper.
Below is an image of the pie chart I created from student responses based upon whether students thought that Michigan’s campus was diverse or not. The image on the left illustrates the results from the first time I conducted the survey, and the image on the right illustrates what the results were after I was able to get about 50% more people to respond to my survey.
It was much better for me in terms of my paper to get more responses from students, because it allowed me a greater depth of analysis, whereas my results from only having a few people responded could have potentially seemed biased. As part of my survey students had to also include statements about why they thought campus was diverse or not. The second time around this information was much more helpful as I was able to incorporate better quotes into my essay. I learned that when conducting research through means of a survey one needs to make sure that they can try and get as many people to respond to the survey as possible, in order to ensure that the data represented by the results comes from a widespread amount of people who have different beliefs.
I think that surveys offer a really great way to provide evidence in a paper and I hope that I will be able to conduct more research like this for future papers.