National Numeracy Network > Teaching Resources > Quantitative Writing > Examples > What is the main issue we face as a society?

What is the main issue we face as a society?

Semra Kilic-Bahi, Colby-Sawyer College and Ben Steele, Colby-Sawyer College
This material is replicated on a number of sites as part of the SERC Pedagogic Service Project


This writing activity will be completed in three stages.

Stage 1: At the beginning of the semester, students are asked to identify a main issue we need to address as a society. Then, they are asked to write an article for the local newspaper about this issue. The article should be able to convince an average reader why this particular issue needs to be addressed and give the reader an idea about the magnitude of problem. The students will propose a solution for the issue in hand in the final paragraph of the article. It will be graded for submitting the assignment with an attempt to include all the elements mentioned, regardless of the quality.

Stage 2: Each student will take the role of a local newspaper editor. They will critique, evaluate, and give editorial comments about a classmate's article.

Stage 3: Each student will revise and resubmit their article by taking the editorial comments and their own critique into consideration.

Learning Goals

  • Develop students' ability to give logical, persuasive arguments
  • Understand and use information presented in the media
  • Enhance students' written communication skills

Context for Use

This activity can be used in any class which emphasizes writing with numbers. We use it as a pilot study for an electronic portfolio assessment tool. All parts of this assignment is given as homework.

Description and Teaching Materials

The first part of the assignment is given at the beginning of the semester. After students submit the first part,we invited a librarian to give a presentation on how to research and find reliable, objective web sites. Then the second part of the assignment, where student take the role of an editor, is assigned. The last part of the assignment is given towards the end of the semester. Please see the attached files for all three stages of this assignment.

What is the main issue-Part I (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 30kB Sep27 08)

What is the main issue-Part II (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 33kB Sep27 08)

What is the main issue-Part III (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 33kB Sep27 08)

Teaching Notes and Tips

After the first part of the assignment was submitted, we invited one of our librarian to visit our class to talk about how to do research on line and how to evaluate a web site.


The comparison of the first and last part of the assignment in terms of the quantity, and quality of the quantitative information is used to assess the progress made by students. We use QuIrk writing portfolio assessment rubrik.

References and Resources