Mining the News

This page is authored by Carol Rutz, Carleton College.
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This material was developed as part of the Carleton Teaching Activity Collection and is replicated on a number of sites as part of the SERC Pedagogic Service Project
Initial Publication Date: December 6, 2010 | Reviewed: November 25, 2019


In a first-year seminar that is Writing Rich, students spend the term completing a sequence of assignments related to research. At intervals during the term, they also complete these brief rhetorical analyses. The topics vary, and students expected to analyze the prose according to six different dimensions, included in the assignment prompt.

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Learning Goals

  1. Find appropriate material to analyze.
  2. Write a succinct summary.
  3. Address six features of writing.
  4. Appreciate audience expectations of various kinds of journalistic writing.
  5. Observe techniques used by real writers who have short deadlines.

Context for Use

This assignment assumes basic computer skills required for locating an appropriate textual artifact for each iteration and producing a properly formatted word-processed document. In addition, students should understand the difference between summary and analysis. First-year students probably benefit most from this series of assignments.

Description and Teaching Materials

The assignment sheet is uploaded here.

Assignment sheet (Microsoft Word 34kB Nov23 10)

Teaching Notes and Tips

Having revised this assignment a couple of times, I find that students better understand the expectations. However, some of them want to treat the assignment as a problem set, responding to the list of questions rather than composing a short analytical paper.


I have not graded these papers to date, and I could use some guidance for ways to assess them vis-a-vis the goals of the assignment.

References and Resources