• Everyday Research

    Everyday Research

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Learning Objectives

  1. Research information from a variety of sources in order to develop and apply criteria to a decision about an item of personal importance.
  2. Incorporate narration, observation, and analysis in writing about the process of using predetermined criteria to evaluate alternatives in making a personal choice.
  3. Use a revision strategy such as peer review to re-examine some aspect of the writing assignment.
  4. Examine the theoretical framework of rhetoric and argument.


An Intellectual Curiosity

What are the characteristics and skills of good writers?

Video interviews with working writers play a key role in this course. In each lesson, a broad range of writing professionals discuss the details of their strategies, their stumbling blocks, and their solutions to real challenges that arise in the course of their work, from procrastination to paragraphing. In this first set of interviews, expert writers share their thoughts on the characteristics of good writers and the essential skills needed to become an effective writer. 


How can life experiences make you a better writer?

James RaglandJames Ragland, newspaper columnist

To be a good writer you draw from your life experiences, whether those experiences are in the classroom or outside the classroom. I did not know at twelve, when I was living in a small town in the South, that I was going to be a writer. I did not know when I was playing sports in high school or when I was on the debate team that I wanted to be a writer; or I didn’t know when I traveled to some small towns that I wanted to be a writer.

But all of those experiences of growing up poor, growing up in the South, growing up in a small town, selling fruit on the town square, working at a service station, all those things have formed who I am as a writer, all of those experiences matter. So think about a good life experience if you want to be a writer. Expose yourself to new ideas. If you can’t get there by car or plane, open a book and allow yourself to be transported to some place you’ve never been before.

—James Ragland


Person walking with dog on beach pauses to reflect.



  • How can my unique life experiences help me as a writer?
  • What can I do to broaden the scope of my thinking?



Chart Your Course

What traits make good writers better writers? Published authors suggest that reading books, open-mindedness, curiosity, and the ability to tell engaging stories are a few of the essentials. Use this activity to reflect on your own writing-related behaviors before setting out on your journey to becoming a better writer.

The act of writing is an act of optimism. You would not take the trouble to do it if you felt it didn't matter.

—Edward Albee