Name ______________________________ Argument Essay Topic: Are digital books the best choice? None of us could have

Name ______________________________

Argument Essay Topic: Are digital books the best choice?

None of us could have predicted the many changes to our circumstances that 2020 has brought us. It has been a year of significant upheaval and change. One of those changes has been a move toward online digital textbooks. Some people may say that the online textbook is more affordable; others think it’s easier to use or has more features than a traditional textbook. Some people consider it a better option for environmental reasons. Still, digital textbooks present a series of technological challenges that all students are not prepared to take on; also, it requires internet access, which can put students who do not have or cannot afford the high speed internet access necessary to simply use the book. Do we really need more screen time? Is the savings worth it? Using your own experiences and the attached 2018 article, your essay should answer the question:
Do you think online digital textbooks are the best choice for SAC students today?

Take a position on the issue and defend it through 2 good reasons in a 5-paragraph argument essay. Make sure you meet the stated requirements.


· An
introduction with a clear underlined
thesis statement.

· A
minimum of 2
paragraphs of your argument (one paragraph for each point of your position, including sufficient support).

· A paragraph with a counterargument and your refutation.

· A

· In MLA format:

Two in-text citations –
paraphrases, not quotations – with information from the attached article in support of your position or against it.

A Works Cited page.

Your grade will include the following

Step 1 – Read the attached source article. Take notes about your ideas as you read.

Step 2 – Choose your position and brainstorm on it.

Step 3 – Outline the main points of your argument and create your counterargument.

Step 4 – Develop your 2 main points and include 2 paraphrases.

Step 5 – Type your paper (font 12, double space).

Step 6 – Edit and proofread your paper before you upload it to the appropriate spot on Canvas.

You may use a dictionary, a thesaurus, the attached article, and
The Writer’s Reference during the exam, but NOT the Internet. You may ask questions. If you need help uploading your document, call the bilingual IT help line at 773-878-3855.

This is the rubric that will be used to grade your exam:

Argument Essay Rubric – EXAM (Composition II)



A – Excellent

(10-9 points)

Ideas are clear, relevant, thought-provoking, and related to the thesis.

Both argument and counterargument are clear and meaningful.

Structure of the argument is strong, expressed through
coherent (logically flowing), and effective sentences, arranged around
2-3 main points (ideas).

Transitions between ideas and paragraphs are smooth.

Introduction has a
hook (attention grabber), appropriate
context (background information of the topic), and a clear, complex
thesis statement with 2-3 main points in support of the argument.

Body contains paragraphs with clear
topic sentences, offers enough
evidence (facts, statistics, examples, illustrations, expert testimonies, etc.) to support the main points, and presents a
counter-argument (opposite side) and its

Conclusion goes beyond restating the argument and main points; it offers insights (deeper understandings of topic), predictions, recommendations, or warnings.

Style (the use of precise vocabulary, correct grammar, syntax, spelling, punctuation, and mechanics) is confident and rhetorically effective.

MLA style format is correctly used (e.g. in-text and end-text citations/ Work/s Cited page/bibliography).

All requirements of the assignment are met (essay has an introduction, body and conclusion; introduction has a thesis statement; argument is developed in 2 paragraphs; counterargument and its refutation are addressed in 1 paragraph; minimum of 2 clear paraphrases used, not just quotations; the source is mentioned in Work Cited; essay is typed in size 12” and double-spaced).

B – Strong

(8.5-8 points)

Ideas are clear, relevant, and relate to the thesis.

Structure of the essay is clear, but minor mistakes in coherence (logical flow of ideas) occur.

Introduction has some background information and a clear
thesis statement with 2-3 main points.

Body paragraphs have clear topic sentences, offer sufficient evidence in support of the main points of argument, but the counterargument and its refutation might be too simplistic.

Conclusion summarizes the argument and its main points, and offers some final thought/s, but it is not impressive.

Style is readable and rhetorically effective, but there are occasional mistakes in grammar, syntax, vocabulary, or punctuation.

MLA style format used shows minor mistakes.

All requirements of the assignment are met, but only 1 out of 2 paraphrases is clear.

C – Adequate

(7.5-7 points)

Some ideas are unclear, irrelevant, too general, or unrelated to the thesis.

Argument is understandable, but the structure of essay is slightly distorted due to confusing counterargument, and/or by lack of transitions.

Introduction is brief (missing a hook and sufficient background information), but thesis statement and main points are clear.

Some body paragraphs are missing clear topic sentences and/or lack sufficient evidence to support them.

Conclusion is very brief, summarizes main points (ideas), but logically connects to the thesis.

Style is readable, but inconsistent due to occasional mistakes (the sentence structure is repeated; grammar, syntax, vocabulary, punctuation or spelling mistakes occur).

MLA style format shows occasional mistakes (some problems with integrating paraphrases into the text, acknowledging sources through in-text citations and Work/s Cited page, etc.)

Most requirements of the assignment are met, but only 1 clear paraphrase and 1quotation are used (or only 2 quotations instead).

D – Limited

(6.5-6 points)

Some ideas are unclear, repetitious, irrelevant, or off the topic.

Structure is not very clear, the argument is confusing, and/or counterargument is missing.

Introduction is brief, and the thesis statement is vague, confusing or incomplete (main points are missing).

Body paragraphs have confusing topic sentences or lack some of them. Development of the main points is not sufficient.

Conclusion is very brief and not necessarily logically related to the thesis.

Style is ineffective due to frequent mistakes in grammar, vocabulary (word choice), syntax (sentence structure), punctuation (run-ons, fragments, etc.), and/ or spelling.

There is an attempt to follow MLA style formatting.

Some requirements of the assignment are ignored, and paraphrases or quotations used are not clear.

F – Deficient

(5.5-0 points)

The essay will demonstrate
one of the following:

It is less than 5 paragraphs in length.

Many ideas are unclear, irrelevant, or off the topic.

There is no identifiable
thesis statement expressing the argument.

Introduction or conclusion is missing.

Paragraphs lack unity (focus on 1 main idea) and coherence (logical flow of ideas).

Some assignment requirements are ignored; no information from the source used and cited.


Partially or fully plagiarized essay will receive “0” (zero) points.


To convert received points into percentage grades, multiply them by 10. (E.g. 8.5 points x 10 = 85%)

*** please keep in mind that this article was written in 2018, which was obviously pre-Covid *****

Hard Copy or Electronic Textbooks? Professors Are More Concerned About Keeping Them Affordable

By Claire Hansen

August 31, 2018

When an e-textbook at one university was priced at $999, students expressed outrage on social media. Cost can be a significant barrier, and most professors just want their students to have any version of the textbook, regardless of format.

When students at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette went to purchase an online textbook for an introductory accounting class this week, they were sticker-shocked.

While the hard-copy version of the book and the access code for online materials would run about $250 in the university’s bookstore, the e-book version of the text, available through the online learning portal WileyPlus, was priced at $999.

As soon as students saw the price tag, they took to Twitter to express their
outrage, in
many cases using language not typically published in The Chronicle.

But the whole thing, the university said on Twitter, was simply a misunderstanding. A statement emailed to The Chronicle and attributed to Jaimie Hebert, the university’s provost, echoed the tweets.

The university and the publisher worked together to set the sky-high price for the online text in an effort to discourage students from purchasing it, the statement said. Many of the materials in the book were “needed for homework and in-class assignments,” and they wanted students to buy the print version. They’ve since lowered the online price to match the hard-copy cost, according to Inside Higher Ed.

Unlike UL-Lafayette, many professors are embracing, or at least allowing, e-texts in an effort to lower college costs — and some are ditching textbooks completely.

While the $300 price tag for the accounting textbook and online code might still make students blanch, it’s not unusual. The price of textbooks increased by 90 percent from 1998 to 2016,
according to the American Enterprise Institute. It’s a significant barrier to access: Nearly 65 percent of students said they’d passed on buying a textbook because of its high price, according to
a survey by U.S. PIRG, a consumer-advocacy group.

Online texts are often cheaper than hard-copy books but can come with other challenges: Formatting might be inconsistent across platforms, and highlighting or note-taking is sometimes more difficult than on paper.

But many professors are ambivalent on e-texts, essentially shrugging their shoulders and saying, Hey, whatever is cheapest.

Elizabeth Rambo, an associate professor of English at Campbell University, in North Carolina, said that for her, it depends. Sometimes when she refers to a specific page or passage from the required text in class, students who own a different edition or an e-book might have trouble finding it. For study-abroad and comp classes, Rambo said in a Twitter message, she doesn’t have a preference.

Andrew Robinson, a physics instructor at Carleton University, in Canada, said while he prefers paper copies of texts, he simply specifies the textbook and lets his students decide on the format. “Intro Physics textbooks are $200-350, so affordability is important,” he wrote in a direct message on Twitter. (That’s about $155 to $270 in U.S. dollars at current exchange rates.)

Numerous professors who responded to an inquiry on Twitter said they encourage students to get the cheapest option they can — e-book, rental, library book, photocopy, borrowed book, or older edition — as long as students have some version of the book.

That approach can pose challenges, said Cassandra Volpe Horii, director of the Center for Teaching, Learning, and Outreach at the California Institute of Technology. Those challenges, though, need to be weighed against the potential benefits.

“In a classroom where there are multiple kinds of texts, it is a little bit of thinking to work through all of those different permutations,” Horii said. But “if that is enhancing access for students who would otherwise struggle,” she added, “that’s something to consider.”

‘Use the Right Tool for the Task’

Even die-hard print fans are easing up. For Meredith Broussard, an assistant journalism professor at New York University, the most important thing is finding the medium that works best for her teaching goals. Broussard used to have a
hard-and-fast rule against e-texts, but she’s gotten more flexible, a change she largely attributes to a shift in subject: She used to teach more creative-writing courses, but now she mostly teaches digital journalism.

Broussard now specifies when students need to bring a hard copy to class and when online viewing will work. If it’s a particularly complex text or if she wants students to dive into a discussion, she’ll require that students bring a hard copy.

“Over all, I think the best policy for teachers is to use the right tool for the task when we’re thinking about electronic versus paper,” Broussard said. “If my goal is to have people in a room together, having a meaningful interaction about a piece of writing, that works better if people read it in print and then bring the print copy to discuss, because that way the technology doesn’t get in the way of the interaction.”

Some individual professors, and even whole institutions, are trying to use
open-source material or eliminate textbooks altogether to ease the financial burden of college, even in disciplines where textbooks are traditionally standard, such as in STEM classes, economics, or — as at UL-Lafayette — accounting.

Oded Gurantz, an assistant professor in the University of Missouri at Columbia’s Truman School of Public Affairs, is teaching an introductory statistics class this semester. He’s designed the class to be textbook-free, he said.

Gurantz said it’s a simple efficiency equation: maximizing learning while lowering cost. He makes his lecture slides available online and writes his own practice problems for his students, something that’s normally included in a textbook. While it’s more work for him, he says it’s worth it.

“It feels like a fairly easy trade-off to make,” Gurantz said, while also noting that for advanced classes, an approach like his may not be feasible.

As an assistant professor of economics at Weber State University, in Utah, Álvaro La Parra-Pérez is teaching an intermediate microeconomics class and an advanced economic-history course this semester. While he does require a textbook for microeconomics, he has no preference for either a digital version or a hard copy. For the advanced history course, he’s teaching it without a textbook for the first time in six years, he said, substituting papers and articles. Before, the two textbooks he assigned for the course ran students more than $200 combined.

“A motivated student will read the materials no matter the format,” Parra-Pérez said.

Regardless of what medium students read their texts on, the most important thing is that professors teach students how to read it effectively, whether that’s instructing a class on how to best read a scientific study or teaching students how to use features of an e-reader to engage with text, Horii said.

Whatever text students can both afford to buy and read effectively is good enough for most professors who responded to The Chronicle’s inquiry on Twitter.

The “cheapest option” is best, wrote Chris Jones, an assistant professor of religious studies at Washburn University, in Kansas. “I will die on this hill and take everybody else on it with me.”

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