Argument Structure Activity


Access Worksheet







  • to determine important information for the purposes of your research
  • to practice evaluating and arranging evidence
  • to create an argumentative outline



1. Each of you will work with the following claim: "My classmate should be doing X five years from now."

2. On your own, come up with ten questions you will use in an interview with a peer. Relate these questions to the above claim, or tailor them so that their prospective answers will support the above claim. (Make sure that the questions are firmly established and that they do not alter during the interview.) Type these questions in a Word document.

3. Next, meet with your partner. Choose who will conduct the interview first. The interviewee should answer the questions asked and the interviewer should take notes. The interviewer should take special note of information that may provide reasoning for the working claim. (Remember, the above claim + a reason creates an "argument in brief".) The interviewer should record, verbatim, those particular statements that offer explicit evidence in support of the claim. Since the structure of the argument is unknown at this time, the interviewer should use his/her discretion at deciphering which material is worth directly quoting. The more specific, the more quotable.

4. The positions of interviewer and interviewee should now switch, and step 3 should be repeated with the new set of questions.

5. The partners should separate and, with their new-found material, try to complete an outline of
argument based on the structure we have gone over in class. You can access the document for the outline here. Remember, you are working with the above stated claim. Choices of reasoning should come from your deductions.

For example, if your claim was "My classmate, Bill, should be head chef at a fancy New York restaurant five years from now," you may choose reason #1 to be "because he is currently enrolled in cooking classes." Your grounds, or the evidence to support this reason, should come from the interviewee, or the source (a.k.a. "Bill"). Perhaps, in your notes, you have quoted Bill as saying, "I have been in cooking classes for two semester, both of which I have received the grade of 'A'." Such a sentence would provide perfect grounds for your first reason.

6. Once you have offered three reasons and grounds to support those reasons, create a rebuttal (from your own objections) to the argument you and your interviewee have created.

Using the above example, you might create the rebuttal of: "Being a head chef requires years of experience. It is highly unlikely it would only take Bill 5 years to be in such a position."

7. Finally, try for a counter to your posed rebuttal. Again, you should most likely consult your notes from the interview for this counterargument.

A counter to the above rebuttal might be: "Still, as Bill has mentioned, he has been cooking at "Hooters" for the past two summers. This experience, on top of future summer experiences, could be all he needs as a resume-builder."

8. After your outline has been filled in, print out the document and it in to me. You may also choose to give a copy to your partner (if you'd like).


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