The Final Research Project will present research relating the responsibilities of a critical thinker to contemporary society. In this assignment, you will do the following:
• Research one aspect of a contemporary social problem.
• Define the problem.
• Propose a possible solution for the problem.
• Create an argument that supports your thesis position. You should take on the perspective of a critically thinking researcher. The argument must present a thesis statement and evidence to support the thesis statement.
• Evaluate the ethical outcomes that result from the position you take on the issue and explain how those outcomes would influence society and culture.
• Interpret statistical data from at least two peer-reviewed scholarly sources.
• Evaluate evidence using the following standards: validity, reliability, and bias related to the chosen topic and accurately identify strengths and weaknesses.
Research and Define the Problem
You must take on the perspective of your major field of study and explain in your paper what that perspective is and how it informs your view of the topic. The topics listed above are far too broad to write about in 10–12 pages (3,300–3,900 words). Instead, you must choose a narrowly defined thesis and approach it from the perspective of your field.
Example: If you are an economics major, and you are interested in immigration reform, you should approach a very specific aspect of immigration reform through the lens of economic theory and practice. A specific thesis question would not be, “How does illegal immigration influence the U.S. economy?” One could write thousands of pages on such a topic. Instead, a better question would be, “How do illegal immigrant hotel workers in Chicago impact the economy of Northern Illinois?” You would then want to do the research and determine the positive and negative impacts they have, ultimately trying to conclude how illegal immigration in this area should be approached ethically.
How to Hone Your Thesis: It is important that you start your research early in this course. Try to find the most important contemporary questions and theories in your field of study and then align the most important questions with a very specific aspect of the general topics above. For example, if you are a psychology major, you might want to start thinking within the realm of healthcare reform or aspects of mental health and criminality in the prison system.
Your Argument You must present a complete argument, including a major claim with at least five points of evidence, information, or data that will prove the claim.
• The thesis statement must be
◦ A clear, simple declarative sentence as the first or last sentence in the opening paragraph of the essay.
◦ Of such a nature that it can be substantiated, corroborated, verified, and proved through appeal to primary or secondary academic research source materials.
• The introductory paragraph must
◦ Present the thesis statement, an explanation for the importance of the topic, and its relation to the student’s field of study.
• Beliefs, opinions, and personal opinions must not be introduced at any point in the essay.
• All beliefs and opinions should be supported with academic evidence. Sweeping generalizations with no supporting academic evidence do not reflect adequate critical thinking skills.
• Do not include rhetorical questions in your essays. All the questions that are pertinent to your project need to be answered in your essay and your answers again need to be supported with evidence from peer-reviewed journal articles and academically published books.
Attributes of Good Critical Thinking in Papers
• Your paper should include academic sources that explain multiple sides of the issue.
• The evidence that you use should come from high-level researchers engaged in your field of study.
• Your interpretations of the evidence should be objective and state the conclusions and theses presented in the evidence clearly and fairly.
• Your paper should place the various forms of evidence in relation to one another and demonstrate why one form or perspective is stronger than the other positions that one could take on the issue.
• Your paper should point out the limitations of current evidence and attempt to indicate areas for future research.
Ethical Outcomes of the Position You Take After you have defined the problem and created an argument about how one ought to respond to the issue, you need to explain the ethical outcomes of the position you have taken. This should again be in relation to the field of study in which you are working. There might be different ethical outcomes that result from your analysis. For example, going back to the example issue above, from an economic standpoint, illegal immigrants might contribute positively to the economy of Northern Illinois in a specific number of ways. Thus, an economist who believes that positive impact to the economy is the greatest good would say that one should promote the use of illegal immigrants. However, because these workers are often paid less than others and eliminate jobs that could be done by residents of Chicago, there could be other negative ethical outcomes that would outweigh the positive impacts to the economy. It is your goal to draw out the ethical implications of your thesis and explain the underlying rationale that is the foundation for your claim that one action is better than another.
• Critical thinkers are those who can outline the positive and negative ethical impacts of their positions. In addition, they are able to provide a rationale for why they believe a specific position is the right position, even when it leads to negative outcomes.
• Critical thinkers are also able to be honest and objective about the limitations and gray areas that pertain to their theses.